On Sea Legs Still

On Sea Legs Still

When Captain Flash walked out in her period costume this morning, she looked like a big French pastry. Or a cloud. But we did as she said, and came in guns ablazin’. Bly fired four 8-ounce rounds and two 6-ounce rounds from our 6-pound carronades. Around 1 pm, she docked the boat in 20 knot winds, to the sound of bagpipes and a crowd of about 20 on the pier. Then we all sat down for a lunch of sub sandwiches and a salad buffet.

Our first mate got off later in the afternoon, presumably headed for another vessel. I had christened him Seth #2, because of a story he told us, but also just in case we get another Seth. Seth #2 was only with us for the transit up. He’s usually a captain himself and before he left said if I should ever want to sail with him, to let him know. (He hated my cooking.)

So far I’ve only been on land once: between our grand arrival and dinner, I took my first shower in a week (!). It was this crazy kamikaze shower at the marina that shoots out in hard spurts in odd directions, but who cares? I was in there for 45 minutes.

Cleaning up after dinner, I tripped on the way down the steps from the galley to my bunk. I blamed it on my sea legs – as if we were still on a heel. As we were washing up, Bly said he coulda stayed out there three more weeks. It’s funny how it works, until you have your sea legs, you can’t way to see land. Then, when you’re sitting beside the dock again, all you want is to be at sea.

Strengths
It’s now been almost two months since I joined this floating placebo, as they call it in the Muppet Movie. Only now are we really getting to know each other, our strengths and weaknesses. The crew gave me permission the other night to write about their faults. Or, not permission so much as wiggle room. I decided to start with their strengths.

Rigby is a born socializer and salesman. In every port, give him 24 hours and he’ll know the mayor, have a new girl on his arm and a bartender who gives him free drinks. We tease him about this, but there’s no doubt we all secretly wish we had his ability. His real superpower… Bly is the athlete. He understands movement intuitively – he knows what combination of action and muscle to combine for the maximum result. We tease him, too, when he disappears for an afternoon and ends up running 28 miles to the next town. I want to say, “Drop down and give me 20,” just for kicks. Harrison is our thinker. He sees things in the big picture. He’s cautious and observes before acting. The kind of guy you want around when stuff is about to go flying. Eve is the mechanic; she works best inside puzzles and by breaking things apart. Smith just plain knows everything. About chemistry, biology, history, baking. smart as whip and knows the boat like the back of her hand. I love ’em all like family. They form a family, with all their likes and dislikes, struggles and laughter.

It’s going to be a strange moment, when the crew change happens and the people that make this little vessel home get off and go on to new adventures on the Big Blue Wet Thing (ah, curse that silly movie!). In the end, in early September, Eve and I will be the last crew members standing. I guess by then there will be a whole new world that will have grown up around us. Young upstarts like Harrison and Bly and Rigby that we can’t even dream up just yet. I just hope they’re good eaters.

Tuesday’s Menu
Breakfast
Sausage gravy and biscuits, eggs scrambled with cheddar cheese and, just for kicks, I made an onion gravy for the vegetarian. It was so yummy that all the meat-eaters had some too.
Lunch
Salad and sandwich buffet
Dinner
Slow-cooked pork shoulder that had marinated in mojo sauce for two days (though I’m not sure that was worth it).
Scalloped sweet potatoes with goat cheese. (It was a day of roux.)
Rice
Assorted toppings including caramelized onions.
Dessert
A few shots from a bottle of scotch that the friend of then mayor brought down to the dock.

Scalloped Sweet Potatoes with Goat Cheese
Make a roux starting with butter (or maple butter if you’re lucky enough to have been given some). Add flour until the roux starts to form, then add milk or heavy cream (I also had this on-hand). After the roux forms, add goat cheese until the mixture has a nice thickness, tastes like goat cheese and maple and butter. Add salt, cracked pepper, a hint of cayenne, white pepper, and a hint of cumin.

If your sweet potatoes are as giant as mine were, cut them into quarters, then slice thinly. I kept the skin on.
Butter the bottom of a cast iron skillet. Start to layer them: sweet potatoes, roux, sweet potatoes, roux. Then bake at 350 for 45 minutes to an hour.

If Cap liked onions, I would have added onions. But since she doesn’t, I caramelized a bunch and served them on the side.