I am the Victualler!

I have been trying to work out with my team which role I should do on the boat! Being a Round The Worlder means that we tend to have the long term roles. I have thought long and hard about which role I would be good at – obviously not the medic or the engineer…maybe the team co-ordinator or the victualler. After Andy twisted my arm and I did a bit of research, I have put myself forward for Team Victualler! Oh boy, what have I let myself in for…

The Victualler on the Clipper race is responsible for menu planning for each leg, buying all the ingredients for each meal, organising each meal into a dry bag to ensure it isn’t soaked by the inevitable sea and then stowing it in an easy place in the boat ready for the cook that day to find and use! I have done a few sums and have worked out that on leg one, roughly about 35 days, I’ll need to plan 140 meals, times that by 20 crew and that is 2800 plates of food. Not much then. Oh well, it’ll be a piece of cake! And on cake, everyone needs to learn how to bake a cake and bake bread, at an angle!

“Bad cooking is responsible for more trouble at sea than all other things put together.” Said Thomas Fleming Day (1861-1927), a famous sailboat designer. From what I have noted even just on my training, food is really important. It can make morale or break morale, it can motivate a crew to push harder and faster or make them jack it all in and give up.

I don’t think I’ve got it that bad though…when you consider the conditions under which some nautical cooks have worked, it’s a miracle they ever produced anything edible. “Mess cooks” in the time of Admiral Nelson had to feed a fleet of up to 140,000 men without the help of fridges or canned food. Those Navy cooks had to stand for hours in high winds, boiling multiple portions of pease pudding, meat and suet puddings in nets and cloth bags, all in a tiny galley with limited fuel. Fortunately I don’t think the Clipper race will be that bad! I hope I won’t have lots of hungry, angry sailors shouting at me…

The key to this role is going to be preparation. I have already started looking up ingredients that won’t perish too easily, thinking about dried variations of food, other than just pasta and am thinking of little ways I can make the crew smile…a surprise wine gum should do the trick!!

From what I can tell, I am going to be surrounded by a fantastic crew who will all chip in and support where needed. Teamwork makes the dream work and this is going to be my mantra as I am trying to remember where I put the couscous for lunch on day 18 of leg 1, or when I have inevitably dropped the jacket potatoes on the floor after we have broached.

It’s another challenge to add to the Clipper adventure, but why not, it just makes it more exciting! I hope you’re all hungry for the next chapter of the armchair adventure!!