Every morning on that boat, I woke up happy. I can still hear the generator grunting to life from the engine room at the foot of my bunk. It may have been the first alarm clock that didn’t annoy me. I loved dressing in the dark, trying to find my balance to put my underwear on as the boat rocked back and forth. I loved that moment, after making my way up the ladder, when I would open the doors and step onto the deck at sunrise, a sheen of dew underfoot. I loved climbing three steps down into the galley and entering its quiet sanctuary where perhaps I would find a watchperson nibbing on last night’s brownies. But more often than not, it was just me, four burners, a fridge, a freezer, and a handful of pots and bowls.
During transit I started the day by making coffee. Then I took out my red notebook and reviewed my notes from the night before: make dough for pizza; put spare ribs in the crock pot; and always first on the agenda, the breakfast menu for the day. Then I sipped my coffee, which I started drinking black, and got to work. By the time I put the food on the table, an hour or maybe two had passed. I still had a half cup of coffee left because I had completely forgotten about it. Then I experienced that moment that all cooks must feel, whether they are working for Thomas Keller or feeding a family of five: a combination of pride at one’s efforts immediately followed by pangs of insecurity… But did they like it?
I peeked down into the salon. They were all quiet. They were eating. All was well with the world.
It feels strange not to be going back to Neverland tonight. Although I guess I never felt at home with the Queeen or Captain Might, the boat had very quickly become my home. She’s beautiful, that boat. And when she’s sailing, cutting through the waters at eight knots like the seas are made of butter, you cannot help but be ecstatic, and confident that every poor landlubber on the planet wishes they were in your shoes.
Becoming a Poor Landlubber Again
When Allen said the restaurant in Manhattan would be opening soon and that Brian suggested I play hostess, my first thought was, “Brrrr!” But the timing is, as Allen says, perfect. When I said I would continue to look for boat work and Allen said I should come and stay as long as I could… And when he implied that I was pretty and smart, well, how could I say no? So for a little while anyway, I’m bringing the Sea Cookery ship to shore.