Crew Perspective: ‘Four hours should be plenty of time for four crew to cook dinner right?’

10 February 2021

Race Crew: Liz Copeland
Team: Visit Sanya, China
Leg 5: The Asia-Pacific Challenge
Day 15: 06/02/20

On Visit Sanya, China we run a three watch system. The various support watches have a set task and for Leg 5 that task is done for the whole of the leg as there is only a two hour time change between Airlie Beach and Subic Bay so there is no opportunity to shift meal times by four hours. We operate the boat on UTC which is currently 9 hours different to local time. I am on dinner watch for this leg along with three of my crew mates. Dinner time is midday UTC currently translating into 2100 (9pm) local time. Confusing you say. Trust me you get used to it very quickly.

So last night we were due to cook a very yummy vegetable stew with rice. This is a new recipe courtesy of Will’s wife Dorrey. Four hours should be plenty of time for four crew to cook dinner right? True until you here the dreaded words ‘the Code 3 is coming down’ right when you are coming off deck watch and onto support. And of course the Code 2 was going up. So one of our watch donned his lifejacket again to help on deck with the sail change while the rest of us were poised at the bottom of the companionway praying that the Code 3 was going to come off the deck in an orderly fashion. This almost never happens as those on deck just want to get all that sail off deck as quickly as possible.

The tack came down first – tick. We ran it aft down the starboard aisle towards the nav station. We found the luff line and tried to pull it towards the sail locker in the bow. Here’s where things go wrong. Those on deck are enthusiastically stuffing whatever sail section they can find down the companionway to get it off the deck. Sail was tumbling down making a big pile of sail in the galley saloon area. Finally we retrieved the head but it was too late with several twists in the sail between the head and the tack. The clew came down last – tick. So we ran the luff line from tack to head to find the twists. The sail was so salty covering us all as we struggled with huge amounts of sail to make a hole in the sail big enough to pass the bulky tack through to untangle the sail. This I liken to giving birth where you are trying to pass a very large object through a very small hole.

Two hours into the dinner watch and we hadn’t even boiled the rice. Another hour and we should be serving up dinner to the waking deck watch. We were all salty and sweaty with volumes of sail filling the galley. This is the life of a dinner support watch on a racing Clipper 70 yacht. We worked on and I am happy to say that the Code 3 was eventually bound with elastics and packed in its bag in the sail locker ready for its next hoist. Dinner was served on time and we even managed to serve up canned fruit for dessert. I slept like a baby in my four hours off before climbing back on deck for my four hour night deck watch

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