Race 1 - Day 17
Crew Diary - Race 1, Day 17: Liverpool to Punta del Este
05 September

Tessa Hicks
Tessa Hicks
Team GREAT Britain
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Today at 0516 hrs, we crossed the virtual line that marks the start of the Doldrums corridor…time for decisions.

Thought I would enlighten our GREAT Britain supporters on the most vital non-sailing role, Mother Watch (MW).

This starts at 0400 and lasts for 24 hrs, involving one person from each watch. In reality, this usually means bouncing out of your bunk, bright and chirpy, at around 0630 hrs, full of enthusiasm for being in the hot galley for the next 12-15 hours!

Busily, you put the kettle on and put out the cereal – an onerous task as there is a choice of granola or granola. You bring in Daisy the cow to provide freshly made milk (well, made from powder but we have a lot of food fantasies on this boat), and put out all the jams, marmalade, honey, peanut butter, Marmite etc. and don't forget the golden syrup for skipper Andy. With cheerful smiles you greet the first watch needing breakfast around 0730 am, then more smiles and cheer for those coming off watch at 0800 hours. You manufacture toast and more toast using the large frying pan. You cope with endless requests for tea, coffee, milk, more spoons, we need more peanut butter (search for next pot in cupboard), another cup of tea – was it white or black? If it is a Sunday, it is treat time – bacon and eggs, even embellished with a few baked beans if it is a five star day. Finally the hordes are fed, and wash up number 1 of the day begins in the tiny sinks.

Next is bread baking and cake cooking. Usually one Mother does this whilst the other cleans the heads, another MW duty. Back in the galley, you slave over kneading 3 loaves of bread, a great way to beat out any frustrations on the innocent dough. The instructions say prove in a warm place, but you can just leave to successfully prove in the heat of the galley in which you are slowly cooking and profusely perspiring. The challenge of the oven is next – ignore any cooking instructions and multiply by x 2-4. A temperamental beast, the oven may cook bread in anything from 45 mins to 2 hours. When it is particularly moody it may throw in extra challenges as it did on my MW. A smoky smell, a waft of smoke, open the oven and the expensive silicone baking pan is on fire. Quick, put it out – our first (and hopefully last) galley fire.

Whilst the bread is cooking prepare the lunch, needed at 1330 and 1400 hours for the 2 watches. Anything from tuna/sweetcorn/mayo wraps, salads or rice or couscous or quinoa with assorted tinned bits in, to the least popular smash and corned beef hash – an amorphous pink mass suitably served in our very own metal dog bowls. A description that is also reminiscent of Andy's attempt at making Angel Delight! If well organised, one MW crew member does bread and lunch preparation whilst the other has some time off, joining you to serve lunch to the GREAT Britain crew (don't forget the Sriracha sauce for skipper Andy) and then usually doing wash up number 2. Cake baking is fitted around all this – more oven fun, and by now the oven has been on for hours, heating the galley itself to oven temperature. Such a delight, especially as we approach the tropics! Once fresh cake is available, it rapidly disappears…

One or both of you then do all the preparation to serve supper at 1930 and 2000 hrs. Popular choices include spaghetti bolognese, chickpea curry, chilli con carne but what you cook is determined by what is in the food bag for the day. Don't forget the Sriracha sauce for skipper Andy. We all miss the fresh vegetable supply which ran out after about 10 days, but it has to be said that tipping veg out of cans is a lot less time-consuming to prepare. Well, it is now that miracle fixer man Ray has mended the tin openers!

Then the second cleaning of the heads is due, and of course wash up number 3 – extra fun as 2 huge pans to wash, neither of which fit properly in the sinks.

Your day is done, and you feel that you have played your part in feeding our motley but great crew, keeping spirits and energy up for another day of toil on this crazy Clipper Race adventure.

Of course, I have not even begun to describe how much more interesting MW is when the boat is bouncing up and down large waves, and/or heeled over at 45 degrees. For example, trying to stand upright by wedging your hips against the worktop on one side, your feet against the other side. Everything sliding and crashing around, or trying to leap over the raised edges around the worktop. Bowls and pans that can only be a quarter full before their contents do a tidal wave impression over the side. All such fun...

Your MW perk/reward is extra sleep during the 24 hour stint, but then there is Good MW and Bad MW. Not to do with cooking skills but the fact that due to the watch system one of you gets about 8 more hours of extra sleep than the other. I'll leave you to figure that out for yourselves!

Farewell for now from the Doldrums....

Tessa x