Finally back at sea. After one long week in the harbor of Newcastle, waiting for 4cm2 to arrive. We’re finally a sailing ship again, instead of a living boat. And I am a ships cook, finally. I still had the feeling I had to prove myself as a real ships cook, because up until this point we were either sailing with very little wind or not sailing at all. I had plenty of time to spoil the crew with home made mayonnaise, union chutney or galley smoked mackerel. Now I need almost all my energy to keep standing behind the stove and peeling an onion takes so much effort. The waves smash spectacular over the bow and water streams now and then in front of my opened galley door. The water in the bucket under the tab gets over the side all the way over the wood and down by the oven. Clearly time to empty that thing. Cooking at sea is something completely different. This thing I love to do the most in normal life gets a whole new meaning on this ship. Somehow it feels extremely unnatural to start cooking at this place.

Being outside, looking at the waves rising as mountains and the always changing color of the water, or even climbing on the bow sprit to furl a sail, makes sense in this situation. But cooking is something that doesn’t belong here. Eating on the other hand is so important. You have to keep eating to feel fit and focussed. And as I know from all the places where I have cooked, food is from big influence on peoples mood. So I also enjoy to take care of everyone. To surprise them with something new and to have them here in the galley, cosy squeezed together, out of the wind for a moment. When I’m not too much occupied with my own wellbeing, I love to watch them, changing. Getting more brown or more tired, more quit. Hair getting mixed up and beards growing longer. I love to see them being eager to learn this new way of sourdough bread baking. They’re part of being involved in the galley life. Because it’s a whole other world.

When I sometimes help outside to set a sail, I can feel that other life, the excitement. Constant wind, cooping with the movements but in a more natural way. The ship works together with the sea and being outside you are able to anticipate on that. Your energy can float away, over the waves, up in the sky. Your thoughts can wonder away, into the sails. Here in the galley I can see the sea through the open door, shining like a silver jewelry because of the reflecting sunlight. But meanwhile I have to focus. I have to bundle my energy in order to create something new. I have to prevent the pots from running away from me, all those objects that don’t seem to belong at this place. Cups want to stand next to each other on a shelve. Chickpeas want to rest in piece for 24 hours in the water instead of jumping in and out the pot. Unnatural it all feels somehow to me, but yet so important. The meals are a moment of rest for the crew, regaining energy, meeting each other. Food has its function in this bigger picture instead of being something on its own looked at by the eye of a perfectionist, being me in most cases. I have to get used to that.

Maybe my thoughts about food are not easy to follow. Main point is that I experience some development. Within this clue less voyage, things are slightly changing. There is no goal, we’re not going anywhere. And so many things are the same every day.
But maybe because of that I can feel the little changes that are so big at the same time. The sea looks different every day, the wind feels different and the sun too. The people are different and I am different. No hour feels the same. My mind teases me now and then, for example when a gust of seasickness reaches me when I step into the galley.
But it’s also enchanting somehow to be at this place. It is a rich place for self inquiry and a continuing study of the group process. The whole month feels as a goal less gathering of moments but meanwhile the time continues without mercy and people get hungry again. My job goes on and on and on and after all, all these goal less moments become one, and they become my first experience on the Tres Hombres.
I do things I’ve never done before and one of these clue less things happens to be an adventure in the end. I learned to catch fish, got a bucket on my head, poured porridge while blocking myself with hands and feet between the mast and door and I got 23 mackerels from a fisherman I met in the laundry room.

The chickpeas are well behaving in the boiling water now. If the wind and the waves decrease a bit I can make risotto tonight. But with this movement I’m not going to stir for one hour.
Of course I wonder sometimes if this is something I could love. My father loved sailing and he would have loved to see me here. Here on the ship I see the real sailors as well, living for this feeling, feeling more at home than anywhere else.
But feeling me a sailor is something still far away, I don’t even know if it’s possible when you’re the cook. It’s a role so important and yet so different. But maybe I can manage to feel as a real ships cook then. Even already a bit after this month.
One hand for the ship, one hand for me and one hand for the risotto.

Judith
Ships cook

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