Curious Tidbits

© 2012 Tami Stewart Contact Me

The Best Things...

So tired. Do you ever get so fatigued that if feels you are drowning? Being such an active person, to experience this kind of exhaustion, over takes my mood, my thoughts, my heart. My brain ceases to remind me that it will all be okay and that rest is the only and wholly effective remedy. And I’m headed for rest. A great long rest, a whole Seven Days of my kinda nothingness – ocean, turtles and beach.
The exhaustion hit as I sat cramped in a plane behind this terrible man who leaned his seat all the way back with frequent leg presses so that his hair gel was the fragrance du jour. Rude, rude, rude – this added to my ‘I’m exhausted and I just can’t take it anymore!’ But as always I was equipped with several distraction toys, which provided an alternative to whacking this guy on the head. Good because I had been looking forward to this trip to Palm Island in the Grenadians for a year & a half or something like that and did not want to get arrested for assault with a deadly purse.
My very best toy with it’s yet undiscovered potential is my IPAD. Yes, it’s still the 1 but considering I’ve not had time to thrill in all the potential, I’m good with it. One app is the Moodboard that’s been on the thing since I got it but haven’t had a moment to play with until that very moment of Mood = Depressed and no one wants to see that so I focused on mood uplift – putting together pictures from the last year. And yes, the ones above are only from the last year, except the one at the top of me laughing. That picture is about three years old but it is of my best self, relaxing with friends, wearing silly glasses, laughing – My ideal self….
Yep I feel better now…

Hoping & Dreaming

Contemplating a mortgage at 48 feels much different then contemplating a mortgage at 38. Do I really think signing a 30-year fixed rate mortgage is a good idea? I mean if I attend to the schedule outlined by the mortgage lender, designed to maximize their profit, I will be 78 by the time the damn thing disappears. But what other options are available? Where do I begin?
I like this house idea, this thought of creating a home of my own. How thrilling that I can even hopefully contemplate this notion. It is not my own hard work that funds this dream, although I do not deny that I work hard, many others do too and the idea of home ownership is the stuff of cotton candy fantasy for many. Me, I have grandparents and parents that work hard and the trickle down effect is in play. I think of my grandparents and wonder what they would think of this yachty thing I do? My maternal grandfather left school in 6
th grade built a successful company, worked hard, what would he think of my life at sea? My maternal grandmother, again a person who lived through the Depression picked cotton with her mother. The land was her family’s but when people yachting whine about how hard they work I goose chortle, you ain’t pickin’ cotton baby.
I wonder if my commitment to working hard can be traced to genetics? Nature/Nuture. Such a quandary.
Today, I did decide that purchasing a home is an excellent option for a person like me who yearns for private safe space away from all things painful. Oh wait, much of that I carry with me. Never mind that at least I can cry and scream in privacy. And paint the walls the color of my choice. I see yellow and periwinkle.
But I must continue to wait and plan and hope as buying a home at 48 is a wholly different sort of dream. Please no debt okay, all right aside from them obligatory 30 year or perhaps 15 ball and chain? But the rest of it, no debt as it robs freedom, joy, no debt – scary monsters. Save more, just a bit.
So for now I will stay on my 7 million dollar conveyance plus work abode plus sleeping area with all its bells and whistles. Poor poor pitiful me with all my hopes and dreams, oh wait, isn’t anticipation half the pleasure of all things.
Yes, the dreaming, the hoping, the fantasy – delightful!

STCW '95

A bit past due but better late then never. The STCW ’95 as it’s referred to is the Standards of Training, Certification and Watchingkeeping. When I decided to try out this hair brain scheme of boat working everyone said it was the minimum requirement for all yachties. The class aka certification does expire in five years but I put renewal off. Time, Expense, Bah Humbug were my excuses. Heck I think if I could manage five days off in a row the last thing I would want to do is spend $1000 renewing a damn certification.
I kept trying to determine what the consequences of not completing the course would be, a question, which no one of any authority would answer. Grr!! So here I went again back to school to learn the very basics of Firefighting, rescue methods and Social Responsibility. CPR/First Aide is also required but as time was short that section would come later in the year. Thursday and Friday were spent with Firefighters, Thursday in the classroom and Friday ‘in the field.’ The first class time around, it was November in San Diego, feel the cool despite attempting to put out the staged raging fire. Second time, it is Sept in Fort Lauderdale feel the burn, literally. And as there were 31 participants, divided into three groups it took until 1330 (that’s military speak for 1.30 p), for my group to move through a storage container where a small fire had burned for approximately four hours with each group spraying and steaming, repeat. First you climb a ladder to the top of the container, fully kitted out in helmet, mesh head covering, gas mask, jacket, pants, boats, none of it fits, all of it is heavy and holds the heat. Its 1.30 p, I’m drooling with no food in my system since 7 a, a physical collapse was inevitable. And due to a long history of loud music participation, I could not hear one word while down ‘fighting’ the fire. It was bewildering, threatening five minutes of ‘what the hell?’ Yes, I passed but I also almost passed out and threatened to throw up all over the firefighters, most of whom were rather good looking, do they come that way or is it just the uniform? Note to self in five years when I have to do this again, San Diego in November is a much better option for the firefighting portion.

Life dictated by Carpet

Absurd as it sounds my life is dictated by carpet. It all began back in March when you will note that blog posts dropped off precipitously a.k.a. they disappeared. When we arrived in the States that is when the ‘real’ work was to begin. The boat had not seen a maintenance yard in over two years so work was required & the boss wanted a few interior changes. A few turned into more then a few with decorators and family weighing in on the process. It was a flurry of what about this or that or this or those, pillows and carpet were the sticking points but chair covers, wallpaper and frames were all part of the process. I was integral to the process as there is nothing better for job security then making oneself indispensible. But Lord have mercy, I damn near lost my mind. As I am NOT an external processor AND grown apoplectic with the myriad of choices offered by the decorators, I was running on the ragged edge.
Then comes the dreaded carpet install. Oh Lord, even now seven months later I quake. Just call me the carpet Nazi! The carpet is beautiful and very white and you can see every foot imprint, yes, a gillion dollars for carpet that NEVER absolutely NEVER looks finished. Well, maybe if one backs out while vacuuming but inevitably a crewmember wanders immediately through to wreck the smooth tableau. Really, really?
Carpets suck! Now can I tell you about he drapery debacle?

Pursing a Youthful Glow

“Let’s just get this out of the way, I burned my face off.”

That’s how I’ve been opening face-to-face encounters for the last four days. First off, I did willingly submit to laser burns and I know people are looking at my face thinking, “what the hell?” Some people feel comfortable politely asking but most strangers wouldn’t dare. It is telling that even the man who bags the groceries at the Coral Gables chi chi grocery store identified my redden face the result of a chemical peel and encouraged my pursuit of non plastic surgery options. He bags groceries, are chemical peels that common? Wow!! Just proves my rule – you never know what people know.
Yes, I underwent something called a CO2 Laser Treatment. How I understand it is that a laser is used to treatment sun damage and minor wrinkles. I won it at a charity raffle. So yes, I actively pursued the option to burn my face off. My inside cringes when I say that remembering all those women who truly do have their face burned off via acid thrown in their face so please understand I say it only tongue in cheek.
But it is a humorous that I pursued this dramatic facial burning, I do not deny that I’m vain. Yes, I look in the mirror and think, “look at that sun damage.” I wanted to do something about it but it’s expensive and painful and expensive but I won it so I couldn’t resist. Yikes! And they are stingy with the Valium allowing it only during the procedure. Then they send you home to scream and suffer with ice and Advil – what good is that? The first 24 was bad, no sleep and ice pack face but it’s better today, five days out, now I look like a bit like pepperoni pizza, white with brown/red curly patches.
The take home advice was a mix of white horror cream to mix with a big wad of petroleum jelly harkening back to high school makeup removal days. Age pays in product wisdom as according to Wikipedia:
Petroleum jelly's effectiveness in accelerating wound healing stems from its sealing effect on cuts and burns, which inhibits germs from getting into the wound and keeps the injured area supple by preventing the skin's moisture from evaporating.
But can’t we do better then that? The source of PJ, as we all know, is oilrigs and besides I know of no way to get petroleum jelly out of my hair. So a few drops of lavender, a tablespoon of vitamin e and loads of aloe are my cure de jour. I hope this is worth it. As for now, I’m still seeing those pesky sun freckles poking their little brown spots right back out again – they have been there a very, very long time.

All Boundaries are Imagined


I fell in love with two Asian stories this week. “One Forgotten Country” by Catherine Chung and the other the film, “Snow flower and the Secret Fan” based on Lisa See’s book. The boss just put in this wicked cool Samsung flat screen in the salon. As I fall asleep when I try to watch movies at night and haven’t been sleeping past five for the past month, I got up early and watched it in the salon. What a treat. The New York Times ripped the movie apart but I loved the message of women loving each other for who they are not for who they want them to be. We can all learn a lesson on better loving. So many quotes stick out from both pieces of work but I especially enjoyed these:

The world is always changing. Every day it's changing. Everything in life is changing. We have to look inside ourselves to find what stays the same, such as loyalty, our shared history and love for each other. In them, the truth of the past lives on. Lisa See

Joy stops time. Joy can stop time with the force of its insistent, incomprehensible weight. Catherine Chung

Alone in a Crowded World

Alone had always felt like an actual place to me...a room where I could retreat to be who I really was. “Wild” Cheryl Strayed

You might see me surrounded by others, laughing uproariously but there is loneliness here. Others might not see it but at moments of need it can stun me how isolated I am from people who share my passions.
It is my nature to seek aloneness. It helps me revive. It allows me to ruminate. It allows me to write.
I lived alone. I traveled alone. To be alone is not loneliness. But when I am unable to commune with those who share passions, questions, stimulating discourse please…Or worse when I’m absolutely flattened by sadness on whom do I lean?
As in any work setting, you have limited power as to who stands next to you. But in this setting one is often stuck out in the middle of nowhere (a beautiful nowhere but still nowhere) with only your crew mates for company and an educated populous is not a requirement. Can they perform a job, which is technical, often mind numbing, at times unrelenting and has the potential to endanger your life? Hm? A transparent, inquiring heart not on the skills required list. Even if I am the one doing the hiring there is no guarantee I won’t want to whack the person overboard three months later.
So at times this life is lonely.
I hurry to assure my reader that I have others with whom I can share the burdens of this life, just a phone call away.  But here? Not in this world of yachts and service. No, not here. Books? History? Psychological Inquiry? Morality? Ethical living in a corrupt world? These I ponder alone.
Maybe that’s better? Who needs to hear me babble?
And really, how much do I enjoy the inconvenience of people anyway?
That’s my old tough heartbroken heart....

Writing a Life


Writing a life contains it, explains it, and offers moments to reflect. But it comes from stillness, it requires peaceful rest fostering sufficient mental energy to create. When Phillip Stark is asked how can manifest such grand creativity he remarks at all that he does not do to foster his grand imagination: TV out, movies out, social engagements out…:

Isolation + Simplicity = Creativity

My life is no longer isolated or simple which lends itself to chaos, confusion and exhaustion. Since the boat returned from the around the Canal trip, it’s been one thing after another, similar to most peoples’ hectic, hurly burly lives. I wish I could summarize all that I’ve learned so I can review later and not miss anything. I will try in bits and pieces here.Cooking Triumphs!First Place - Homemade Mayo – Since the beginning of this cooking journey I’ve attempted Homemade Mayo. People speak of it as the holy grail of cooking and I’ve repeatedly been discourage by my attempts. How can I call myself a true cook when something as seemingly simple as homemade mayo alludes me? Well, let me tell you it doesn’t anymore, thanks to the blog:

She uses a food processor and for some reason her recipe worked for me. I was so proud of myself that I walked around the kitchen thumping my chest. I had no one to share my cooking triumph with as dinner for ten needed to be on the table in five and no kindred spirit was handy. So now I now take a moment to say Whooopie!!!

  1. Second Place – Nobu’s Black Miso Cod –

  2. I used Sea Bass but I rocked it. It was describied as out Nobuing Nobu – the pinnacle of praise on our vessel.

  • Third Place - Tuna Tartar - It’s the Bomb!

  • Cooking Disaster –

  • Fresh cookies daily are a must have on our vessel. Not as daunting as it sounds as the gang loves what we refer to as the “Kitchen Sink” variety of cookie: i.e. begin with a basic recipe for Oatmeal Raisin or similar and then just throw in whatever you have on hand – toffee chips, guava, white chocolate, coconut – whatever. I usually make a tub of dough, let it soak for a good hour or two or ten and then ball it up and freeze. Everyday I grab ten balls, throw them on a sheet pan and bam! fresh cookies. The boss actually is touchingly disappointed when fresh cookies are not available and he is so nice that I feel terribly guilty when I haven’t tended to my cookie duty – this coming from someone who does not even crave cookies.

BUT when in the Bahamas and resources are somewhat scarce (really just so damn expensive you wonder how people actually raise children there) do not try to substitute instant oatmeal for the long cooking variety. Disaster!! Wasting food makes me cringe but the whole batch had to go, nothing worse then watching a big luscious batch of butter and sugar and yummy go out the door simply because the damn oatmeal was decimated by the stripping of all that is good and healthy from it so people can spend five minutes less time at their stove. BAH!

3. Cooking “Love to Learn” or “Love to Have Time To:”
a. Sharpen knives
b. How to cook with Seaweed – it’s so good for you.
c. Fish Stock, Chicken Stock, Beef Stock – actually all stock….
d. Training crew to wipe the table up after eating –

What am I their mother????

What is Normal in Yachting...


Might be considered ??? not sure what the word might be for the over the top, crazy, does that thing really cost that much? Purchases that gone on in this world. It is a little world which one gets a peek at while working on this big shiny white thing that floats. Really it’s a HUGE toy / pleasure vessel / Floating Hotel however you want to describe it. For example the tissue holder that caught my eye at the “Suppliers” store.

Robb often calls the Supplier Guy for those hard to find electrical hook up thingys that seem to go on the blink fairly often and cost more then most people’s monthly food bill. I usually do not go through the suppliers as I like to feel and touch and see my galley stuff before it arrives on the boat and I’m stuck with it. And when all is said and done, I carry in my heart/mind/consciousness (into the back slashes today) the vestiges of grandparents who grew up during the Depression and a father who was always told to only order from the left hand side of the menu – check it out, it’s true the right side is notoriously more pricey.

So when I stopped by the Supplier Guy to pick up another electrical hook up thing I happened to ask if they could source these really cool plastic glasses called “Click Clack” made by Strahl. These are plastic glasses of the indestructible variety and due to improper washing technique by an earlier crew member (no names pls) our glasses were looking a might shabby. I tried to source them but the website has a super secret whole sale only code that does not allow the normal person to purchase said item – Grrrr!!! While speaking with the ever helpful Supplier Gal, I noticed a beautiful Tissue holder on display that the Mrs. would appreciate. The Supplier place has a whole section of do dads on display to entice the yachtie stew on the prowl. The Supplier Gal sent me the link in order to pass along the find to Mrs.

Hence this blog posting about the confounding excesses that one encounters while yachting – this beautiful tissue holder is a mere $285.00. Really? Truly? The trash can is a pittance at $510 – what and this s--- comes from the Philippines, where I’m thinking that the creation of said items is a mere fraction of the posted price tag. What is the average wage of a person that lives in the Philippines? And how much of the profit trickles down as the proponents of the BS of our current economic policy laud? Trickle Down my ass.

And this is only one example but really, $285, for a tissue holder, how can one offer that with a straight face?

And no, I will NOT be passing along that to the Mrs. She would look at me as if I’ve lost my marbles.

Questionable Excess x 2

Monkey? Skull? Monkey? Skull?


Personally I’m offended by the seeming honor of pirates by the plastering of the pirate/skull head on everything from t-shirts to flags to diamond bracelet (yes that is diamond bracelet – pictured above - who knew there were such things as black diamonds?).

Pirates are the original gangster thugs. They ride around in their floating cars killing people and stealing stuff, it puzzles me why people want to honor this behavior. You wouldn’t believe how many pirate themed yachtie parties are available to idiots who obviously do not know the history of the waters they cruise.

But the afore mentioned and pictured diamond bracelet baffles me not only on the pirate issue but on so many other levels:

  • it’s ugly
  • price tag - $250,000
  • it looks like a scary strange monkey head
  • it’s ugly
  • it sold

Really, someone actually purchased that? Really? One more lesson in that money certainly does not buy good taste.


Feeling Like a Rock Star!!

What other job lets me wear no shoes,
crawl on furniture and get paid?

photo 3

Sometimes I try to justify my job. Sometimes I make fun of it.

Sometimes I just smile and puzzle at what led me to be on a plane flying to Maine to meet my work/home at the age of almost 50 to live with and cook for people I did not know a year ago, (except one of course).

And sometimes I feel guilty that I have a job that I enjoy, that pays me well enough to live debt free and dream of the new MacBook Pro. I know enough about the world to know that very few get to live in that reality.

It’s as if my mind enjoys ruminating, chewing on what I do, why I do it and how I could do it better. Most people do this right? Maybe, I don’t live in anybody else’s head but it seems a great deal of my mental energy is spent speculating on matters related to living and working on a 7 million dollar yacht, living with people who are not my family (that’s a good thing) and creating meals people enjoy. How did I end up here? How did I get such good?

I often attempt to justify doing a job that can be said to have limited redeeming value. It’s not about saving the world, helping persons in need or providing a service no one else can – I mean I cook, I clean, I cook, I clean. Sometimes I feel guilty about doing something that I love; the guilt passes quickly, if not me who?

Right now, I’m awed that I get paid to travel around and take care of people – perfect job for a traveling hound codependent. Who ever said codependency is bad thing?

72 Hours in FLL


Robb and I are headed back to Nassau after 72 jam crammed hours in Ft Lauderdale. We flew to Ft Lauderdale to begin the new job search. The majority of vessels are in transition to the Med so the job options are scarce. I interviewed for one stewardess position that I would love to take but the timing just does not click. Taking the position would mean four long months away from Robb and both of us would regret that decision. It would be a great opportunity as it’s a very high-end charter vessel ($170,000 a week) with every bell and whistle you can imagine. You would not believe the complexity of running a boat of 160’ (interior is 8200 sq feet with butt ugly bed covers – ew!) The chief stewardess has been in the industry for twelve years and could teach me a thing or two about the white glove service. Some of these gals are clearing $12,000 a month. You live and breathe the boat but for that kind of money I could do it for a year or two (but without Robb? What fun would that be? Besides the captain gets the best cabin).
We go back to Nassau with another week with just the two of us onboard. It is always a time to clean, spit shine, buy food and fix things but at least it’s just us crew and we can take off for a scuba dive any time. Nice life. Traveling mercies to all - T

Shrimp Curry

Yumma Do!


Hey guess what? I’m going to create a page with recipes. Since I’m supposed to be learning about cooking and I’m trying all kinds of things perhaps it would be helpful to share yummy discoveries? It will take me a few days to put it up but I like it. People could also email recipes they want me to try; I’ll make it and then give a review as to how it was received. The first recipe would have to be the Shrimp curry recipe I found surfing the Internet. The first time I made it I snapped a photo – it’s bleary from the humidity out on the back deck but you get the general idea.
Cooking on a boat without a broad repertoire necessitates surfing the Internet and searching cookbooks for inspiration. My criteria is simple, do I have the ingredients? Does it look interesting but not too interesting? And is it spicy? We like spicy. The Shrimp Curry was a huge hit with all the women asking for the recipe so give me a few days and I’ll post it.
Traditionally it is plated with sweet potato fries but I did not want to try the whole deep fry thing on the open ocean. Robb and I some at the Blue Bar in Harbor Island and next time I’ll take the risk. They are definitely worth it.

Lost in Work Mode

Focused on making it through


Robby reprimanded me severely for my lack of recent blogging but during an owner onboard period I’ve barely time to think much less compose a coherent sentence. But I’m back. Owners left Sunday at 6 a.m. and the rest of the day was spent in bed. Normally we at least get up for at least a swim but not this time. We laid around exhausted for a full 24 hours waking up relieved (if not quite 100%) on Monday. Now I will get back to pondering and scribbling – trying to make sense of this crazy yachty life. Thank you for your patience.

Almost My Birthday!


I love my birthday! As it usually means, weeks of dreaming about something extra special to do and the cool people I have to celebrate the special day. Then on the particular day my family calls and sings me happy birthday. We all laugh at what atrocious singers we are but the ritual inevitably produces more laughter then cringes. It’s also a day to reflect on where past birthdays were spent and to dream of the coming year. Bucket list seems to have overtaken the common vernacular so I incorporate the new vocab here. As most people who know me are aware, I’m not very good at planning my life but I’m very good at planning my vacations and birthdays are vacations (at least in my mind). So this year, I’m checking off a long-standing bucket list item; I’m going to try to swim with sharks. This was a goal for my South African trip a few years ago but alas the weather did not cooperate and this year who knows but I’m going to make the effort. One previous scuba dive included a shark sighting but it was a four-foot nurse shark that swam quickly away when she spotted us. This time I want to watch. As you know from reading my “Inspiration” page, I’m focused on the shark issue and want to swim with them before they are all killed for their fins. In the Abaco island area there are all sorts of shark dives and I’m signing up for the least intrusive to the shark habitat, no sense feeding something that might eat you. I just want to see them glide by and wonder at their coolness. What are you doing for your birthday?

Decorating Choices


A confounding, bizarre, and just plan blah! Aspect of this industry is adjusting to other’s decorating choices. Anyone who has visited my humble abode at 6348 knows I’m drawn to yellow, periwinkle, blue, and violet, what I consider happy colors. My office mates will recall the periwinkle palace; the entire office might be painted poop brown but not my space, thank you very much. But now I have offered up that freedom in the name of sailing the seven seas. What confounds me is defining what means what to the other person, an example: When someone asks that flowers be purchased I think happy flowers such as stargazer lilies, baby’s breath, Gerber daisies but how wrong I am. Nope their choice is greens. I sure wish I took a picture of my purchase for comparison but alas I did not think it noteworthy until I was corrected. An example of greens is pictured above, now who should we vote off the island?


Everyone Has Gone Away!!


All guests left today and as you can tell I’m flattened. I need about two days of sleep and quiet. Then it will be my birthday and I’m ‘stuck’ in Marsha Harbor. Oh wah! More after I recover from guest shock.

Where are we Today?


Harbor Island, Bahamas

Oh so pretty!! Guests arrived Saturday and we were off. We docked yesterday at Harbor Island and today no meals to prepare. There were some hateful comments this morning about my inability to do laundry but who the hell cares when I’m watching the turtles and walking on pink tinted beaches? Made luscious apricot carrot muffins this morning and last night air lifted my first chocolate souffle. Feeling loud and proud! Love you all.


When Do You Pray?


When do you find time to pray? For me, it is often quick snatches as I run through my day. Prayers are desperate pleas of help me, help me. This new life altered my life in a myriad of ways – both good and not so great. In my past incarnations, prayer, exercise and rest were integral pieces of my sanity. Now these elements are snatched out of time as I dash about in frenzied activity. So I grab moments of prayer when I stare at the ocean, glimpse another gorgeous sunset and as I slowly come to consciousness in the early morning. Help me see, I pray just help me see. Let me see truth, let me see hope, let me breath light, let me remember the gifts. I will pray that for you too.

Let there be Bread


When I asked people about bread making, they all responded with peshaw, who needs it? Well, when docked in the outer islands with no Central Market or Whole Foods or even a Piggly Wiggly in sight, bread is essential. I have a cookbook on making whole grain breads so I just dug in and gave it a go. This one is whole wheat bread with rum raisins and walnuts. What a revelation. It lacked sufficient salt and would benefit from a touch of molasses but otherwise it was scrumptious. I don’t even eat bread but I’ll eat this bread. Feeling loud and proud in the Bahamas outer islands.

10 April 2008 - Location Bahamas


It would be difficult to compare all the benefits of Judy’s situation in Denver - amazing friends, meaningful work, a beautiful home, opportunities to ski - just to name a few but boy the weather here is certainly an improvement. Love you Jud!!

10 April 2008 - Location Denver

Denver 10 April 08_1

On or about 10 April 2008 my sweet friend Judy Becerra sent me a picture of her backyard in Denver CO. No text with the message but the picture spoke volumes. Brrr!!!

Off to the Outer Islands

It’s 5 a.m. do you know where your children are? Anybody else remember that commercial? Seriously, it’s 5 a.m. what the hell am I doing up? Who knows. Wanted to let everyone know that we are off on charter for a week. We will be in the outer islands which means no blogging and no emails but please continue to communicate. It’s reassuring and heartwarming to click open missives from my pals when I return from the voyages. We will be back in Internet communication next Sunday. Love to all - THighborne Cay East Shore_jpg

Cinderella's Schedule


A friend asked the other day how I spent my days. I wrote the daily duties when owners are onboard and thought I would share it with a larger audience. Any takers? 
Morning -  
The owners get their own breakfast I just have to get everything set up.  The owners (O2) onboard now don't get up until 9 a so I have this extra time.  They like coffee, smoothies, cereals.  If I have time (or if I'm feeling nice - usually the first few days of the charter), I will bake fresh muffins or suggest omelets.  The other owners labeled (O1) are early risers and expect two types of coffee and oatmeal fixins.  They want fresh blueberries every morning, which is going to be a real bitch in the Bahamas when blueberries cost $6.00 for a small tin. And let’s not even talk about trying to keep them fresh while we sail the outer islands with no Piggly Wiggly in 100 miles. Anyway, O1 usually has four guests onboard so I set out cereals and fresh muffins and fruit for them as well.  All different types of guests come onboard but all have been super.  The guests are always happier about things then the owners so I tend to focus on their positive energy.  Everybody gets up at different times so I just make sure nothing runs out and everyone has what they need.  In the background I empty the dishwasher, clean the glasses from the night before etc.  O1 insists that the back deck cushions be out when he wakes up at 6 a. so I'm usually up throwing those 15 cushions around and uncovering the flag.  The flag was a huge deal on the last trip as it was ripped in the storm and we did not think to replace it.  Huge finger shake on that one.  It was a small rip!!! And we forgot.  As most people who love me know, focus is always difficult and the details sometime slip away.  If you can believe it, Robb is even worse - eh gads what a pair.  While breakfast is going on and people are reading the newspapers, I head down to make all the beds and clean all the bathrooms.  Usually at least two staterooms (normally three) are filled (there are four total guest staterooms are on the boat) so that means 2 beds and 2 heads.  It's called heads and beds in the yachty world.  I don't really mind cleaning the toilets it's arranging all those damn bed pillows just so.  If we are moving to a new location (in the Bahamas we move every two days are so), I help with the move, i.e. putting the tender on top, the bicycles, the power lines, the gate, this and that all have to be stowed.  Then lines are thrown, fenders (the cushy things on the side that keep the boat from rubbing against pilings) are pulled in and we are on our way.  Usually there is much running to and fro during this time and lots of yakking on walkie talkies, esp. if there is wind.  Robb's poor hearing is a factor as is the number of walkie-talkies that have ended up in the water during the dashing about.  After we sail away, I start cleaning up from breakfast and preparing for lunch.  In the smaller islands, my frig is it so they usually eat all meals onboard.  Lunch is a wide range of whatever, fish tacos are awesome, O1 enjoys wraps so that makes it simple.  Often I will do a soup or salad or sandwich.  Nothing can be repeated on a trip so I have to keep in mind what I served last week and the available stores.  One member of the O1 couple only eats seafood - no chicken, steak etc, which complicates matters. You wouldn’t even begin to imagine how hard it is to acquire fresh fish in the Bahamas – how odd? Usually, I make a huge Costco run before we leave the mainland so our frig is crammed before we begin but those stores fly out the galley. The larger boats or boats with owners who are real foodies will fly in specialty stores at a huge markup.  If you want Kobe beef and you are in Highbourne Cay (a very small tiny little place) you can get it if you are willing to pay for it and even then only on Friday when the mail plane arrives. 
After I do lunch clean up, I usually try to lie down for one hour - usually it's a forced lie down as my body refuses to function.  It feels great.  The afternoons are spent with laundry, cleaning mirrors (which I suck at) and preparing dinner.  If I'm lucky I will get to go snorkeling or walk on the beach during the afternoon but not if dinner is going to be complicated.  If they are going out to dinner, then the above mentioned two activities are a definite.  Last week I got to snorkel for about one hour but it's always with the owners so you must make sure they have everything they need and aren't drowning themselves.  I never forget that I'm on duty.  Dinner is served at 8 p and usually takes at least two hours to prepare depending on what is being served.  Dinner is always three courses, sometimes four. The whole preparing yummy dinners thing is going so well the guests never want to leave the boat. Eck! There is something to be said for not cooking too well.
Opps I forgot to add that about 5 p I have to have snacks out.  Snacks always try my patience and besides do people really need to eat this much? Snacks range from Brie en croute, something in phyllo dough, chips and dips or the good old standby cheese plate.  Living alone I never imagined how much food six to nine people can consume in a day. Yikes!
Anyway back to dinner - it's often a salad, followed by meat, starch and veg, ended with some type of decadent desert.  There is always much wine involved and the fresh bread I've prepared.   I've been reprimanded severely for my poor napkin folding skills, as setting the table is my responsibility as well.  My brain just does not work that way and besides there are people starving in the world who cares how the damn napkin is folded.  O1 enjoys eating on the back deck which we love b/c they are far away from the kitchen so I can play my music and scream damn it when I burn myself on the oven which I inevitably do every night.  O2 always always wants to eat in the dining room, which is a pain in the ass.  The dining room is flush with the galley so no music and no damn it.  There is a door that can be closed b/t the two rooms but gets stuck on it's track more often than not.  While they are eating the main course, I run down and turn down all the beds and set water out by the bed.  Usually I'm cramming pillows hither and yon, as I'm tired and very grouchy by this point.  I've also gotten in trouble for putting pillows in closets b/c it takes up too much space? Whatever, I mean why do you have so many damn pillows in the first place?  Back to the galley for clean up.  I'm working on the whole clean while you go thing but have not mastered this skill.  Usually the galley looks as if a cyclone has blown through.  After clean up is complete I fall on my face.
I loved the movie Gosford Park and it is an accurate picture of things. Blessings we have no bells on the boat. I’m tired just reading all this crap. I’m off for my nap.

It is Finished

You know every day I learn something. It’s humbling (occasionally mortifying) but effective in my pursuit of life and food creation. The dinner for 20, which evolved into dinner for 29 went off with only minor hitches. Considering the increase in customers, this was nothing short of a miracle but hard work and planning contributed it’s magic. I began cooking at 6 a.m. on Thursday and did not finish until 11.00 p.m. Friday. I slept for about six hours in there but otherwise it was pedal to the metal chopping and saucing. Robb was an integral piece of the final product as I rushed to churn out 50 sea scallops wrapped in proscuitto, five pork loin – (I need to learn portion control), roasted green beans, spicy shrimp with pineapple as well as desert, which is a story in itself. I was abandoned by my formerly extremely helpful first mate that has a bee in his bonnet for reasons unknown. People were a bit sauced by dinner presentation which always helps and people raved. Did they rave!!! What satisfaction, what relief, what exhaustion. Some unanticipated guest arrived in the galley at 10.30 p.m. requesting hot herbal tea and I almost decked her. Blessings Robb was there to take over, as I still needed to work on turn down. I was flattened but proud.

Swimming with Sharks

Swimming with Sharks
You ever met those girls who didn’t like other girls, whose goal in life was to destroy, defame, disdain? Have you ever met those women who do not know how to show respect for others of their sex? Their fear and pain results in vainglory, competition and slanderous snips? There is no excuse for this violence and it is such violence. Acres of space must exist between this type and myself. A no trespassing sign stands at the edge of my sphere. No evil beyond this line shut the door as evil reaps only destruction. Now we all know there are men of this ilk but I do not dwell on those today. No I focus on the female ones who believe they must live in constant competition to stay on top, in control, above those they deem less. You might think there are no women such as these on this boat but you would be mistaken. This darkness comes in all forms and it lives here on this tiny bit of space. You might consider a 100’ foot boat a vast arena but when evil morphs it seeps into every crack until the impulse is to swim with sharks – it would feel safer.

Disneyland on Crack

It always strikes me odd where people will drag their children. We have all witnessed the 3 year old at the “R” rated movie, the 5 year old in the bar or how about the annual family sojourn in Vegas? Remember when the Vegas PR firms tried to sell that? Bugsy is rapidly rolling. Add one more destination to the pseudo kid friendly environs. Atlantis is touted as “the” resort in Nassau but to me it’s like taking LSD and heading to Disneyland with Vegas wrapped inside. Close your eyes and imagine thousands of drunk people with minimal clothing, garish lights, casino desperation and the hard sell at every turn? In its defense Atlantis comes with several extremely cool pools and one of the best aquariums on this side of the planet but do you really want to cart your children there? We were docked there one night and I’m still recovering. All right, I don’t have children – never have, never will – so maybe my disdain is unwarranted? Vacation is defined by dreams but this one gives me nightmares.

Sampson Cay Club


Who knew there were so many islands in the Bahamas. It proves the adage that to really know you must go. Yesterday was a full on thunderstorm and it looks like we are up for another one today. No matter, there is water all around and the marina is very protected. We have two owners onboard and three crew. Does the crew always have more fun than the owners?

The Boat on our Own

Moving from Bimini to Chub Cay

It is Tuesday March 18 and we are lumbering away from Bimini. We are scheduled to dock at Chub Cay this evening and then on to Nassau tomorrow. We pick up the other set of owners on Friday having waved goodbye to the primary pair this morning. We are never sure how many guests will arrive in tow but for now we focus on the NOW. Now means lovely music drifting through the speakers, no uniforms and no performance anxiety. Not much happens in Bimini but the water is the full spectrum of azure blue and the angelfish are never far below the service. The tarpon are six feet long and hang out below the dock. The clarity of the sea is such that you can see the sand 20 feet below the waves. Today is windy running 10 to 15 knots. The spray flings itself onto the windows so much that the wipers are required even though it is not raining. We are cruising at 15 knots with no other boats in range. These cruising days are relaxing as the boat is rocking to the point that sitting upright is all one can do (or napping).

Headed to Bimini


We finally are heading somewhere outside the bounds of the USA. Just a short 50 nautical miles east lie the islands of Bimini. We are prepared to depart on Tuesday or Wednesday depending on weather. It is not clear when we will return as the owners are not sure when they will return. It is possible we might be ‘stuck’ in the Bahamas for a month. A little bit of cleaning, a whole lot of cooking and some serious scuba. What will be lacking is a reliable Internet connection and what is expected to be exorbitant roaming charges on the phone. So be patient, send love and I’ll yak when I get back. Love to all - T

Dawn Cameron & Tony Fergusson Web

Can you think of anything more romantic?

Dawn & Tony

Dawn Cameron & Tony Fergusson Wed

As Robb and I trip through this yachty existence, we discover interesting people who turn into friends. Robb is Mr. Social with a capital “S” and keeps me from my solitary existence of books. One of his favorite activities is inviting people out for a bit of dinner and the obligatory bottle of wine or two. Through another boaty pal, we met this delightful couple Dawn and Tony. I write it their names in that order specifically to hinder comparison to Tony and Dawn that 70s trio, which brings up frightening visual images of big hair and elevator sap.
On some of the larger yachts, relationships between crew are verboten. One can only imagine the drama that ensues when young, sexy, people join each other in tight living quarters in warm climes that require little clothing. Add to that a bit of alcohol and Yachty Melrose Place blossoms (read, Tami and Robb). To stave off that drama, larger yachts will fire people if they seek a life partner from within. So what do Dawn and Tony do, they sit down like rational, intelligent creatures (you can tell they are not from Texas!) discuss their relationship criteria, compare, contrast and quit! They actually quit their posh yachty jobs to love and travel together. Isn’t that romantic? This was a year ago and last month they flew off to New Zealand, Tony’s country of origin to say, “I do, I do to you”. Simple, elegant and lovely with a bit (well more than a bit) of wine thrown in. Can we all sigh with a bit of romantic longing?

Pass the PEDS

I crave performance-enhancing drugs (PED). Where would one acquire such products? Are they illegal? I’m not Barry Bonds or Marion Jones. I don’t compete so I can’t be a cheat. Or can I? Hm? It’s a dilemma. Who doesn’t want more energy, more memory, more muscle to do more, be more and well, not to have more – more stuff just means more of a headache but just to enjoy more. Who said we needed to sleep? And isn’t coffee a performance enhancing drug? I don’t want to hit a home run I just want something that can give me a bit more pep. When the owners leave after two weeks and we are ‘stuck’ in the Bahamas I just want to enjoy it. Can’t sleep simply be an option among many, like scuba diving? Any ideas?

The Man Look Phenom

What is this phenomenon of the man look? “Where is…?” is the constant refrain on this vessel. Is it true elsewhere? When I discover four bottles of stain remover, I ponder why? Why when there are three bottles of stain remover present do the gentlemen on this vessel purchase more? The answer is found in the man look. It is the brief glance, perhaps a movement of the head (never a movement of the hands) and alas it must not be there. Either the shouting of where is…happens or worse, particularly on a boat with storage issues another is purchased. Heretofore, my experience with the man look was very limited but now I’m somewhat of an expert. It’s a fascinating phenomenon. Does anyone remember those very clever “man law” beer ads? As my viewing of sports programming is limited I only caught a couple but they were so spot on. I’m afraid I missed the one on the “man law” of looking but not finding. Is it genetic something imbedded in the X chromosome? And what do they do when there is no Y chromosome around to answer the all important question of “Where is…?” And then why does this willingness to ask this ever-present household question not manifest itself when managing transportation issues?

Dial Down the Testosterone, Please!

The Boss Of Us

Can someone dial back the testosterone on this boat please? Ugh! I’m living with a petulant, arrogant 13 year old. I assumed that when I made the choice to not have children, I would not be living with such a gruesome facsimile of an individual. Parents put up with petulant 13 years old (or not depending) because they are linked by blood and history. Adolescent behavior (for most) is a stage that passes into agreeable adulthood. As for the deeper meaning of why people have children that they know will turn into petulant 13 year olds I have not any real clue as I chose to opt out of that lovely human passage. Anyway, our engineer, first mate whatever you want to call him is in a snit. This snit began around the time we returned from up North, Oct 1 and continues today. This is way to long for a snit, let’s call it a personality take over or perhaps a personality revelation. Perhaps he played nice for a certain period of time and this is his essence revealed? Eh gads, no wonder if does not have a girlfriend. If he sneers at me one more time I might just have to use the F word. Can you envision the perfection of the 13 year old eye roll, lip curl of a 33 year old male?
Yet, my psychologist’s mind attempts to find the deeper psyche reasons for his angst. Why I waste my time I haven’t a clue as you can lead the horse to water but whether he drinks or not is his own business. Despite that reality, I entertain myself with the whys of human behavior. In this case, I conclude that the behavior is sourced in (as perhaps all 13 years old behavior) in “You can’t tell me what to do!” Robb is the boss of us. I’m okay with this as when Robb and I disagree on the way of doing things I can acquiesce (he is the boss), throw a fit (as I did yesterday) or tell him to do it himself (used that one yesterday too). I have power born of communication and strong emotional ties. Our fractious engineer is a silent minion of resentment. Robb is one of the most laid back persons I have ever met but he does have his quirks. Some things are his way or no way. This is true about all of us at least anyone with strong identity issues (can anyone imagine living with me?) So the engineer struggles and I suffer (Robb ignores him). At the end of the day, Robb’s the boss of us and we must comply. Have to run make the boss his mocha, pant, pant. Love your beloved galley slave.

Are you Listening?

If no one is listening, just SCREAM!
Punk music can be so confusing. It is loud, angry, almost frightening in it’s pissed offedness. I wonder if it is because no one was really listening. Haven’t we all experienced that tingle of awareness when the person in front of us is not really hearing us? Our intended audience is simply shutting us out. A typical response is to speak louder as if that would help. This does not aid the listening process but results in a turning away whether physically with a back turn, an internal wall that is revealed in their gaze or their returned scream. I have sympathy for those enraged punk rockers, I too want to scream, stomp my feet and ram into others. Are you listening? Are you hearing me? If you will not listen I will get louder and louder until you are broken by my thunderous sounds.

Enjoy the Silence

Framing the Chaos
Do you ever find you are having a hard time sorting through the oncoming torrent? The world can be a pressure hose of noise, media, have tos, emotions that is aimed directly at your face. So much of what is essential to sanity gets blown off the radar by this torrent of chaos. So often I hear the lament of those who are single, ‘oh whoa is me’, yet peaceful reflection that which reminds of who God created us to be and what he has called us to do only occurs in solitude. What are we so afraid of? In the past week or so, my eyes pop open at 5 a. BAM! P2B (prior to boating) that was the norm but I also went to bed at 8 p. Now that my bedtime is pushed back my eye open time should move forward but not this week. Even though I know I will have to include a siesta in my day to make it, I enjoy the early morning hours. It is time to think, to breathe, and to enjoy the silence. What bliss!
P.S. I’m aware that the reverse is true as well, those sneaky night people who are amazingly awake at 1 a.m. to reflect and send thoughtful emails. Wow! Those people are amazing.

Dinner for 29?!@x?

You know every day I learn something. It’s humbling (occasionally mortifying) but effective in my pursuit of life and food creation. The dinner for 20, which evolved into dinner for 29 went off with only minor hitches. Considering the increase in customers, this was nothing short of a miracle but hard work and planning contributed it’s magic. I began cooking at 6 a.m. on Thursday and did not finish until 11.00 p.m. Friday. I slept for about six hours in there but otherwise it was pedal to the metal chopping and saucing. Robb was an integral piece of the final product as I rushed to churn out 50 sea scallops wrapped in proscuitto, five pork loin – (I need to learn portion control), roasted green beans, spicy shrimp with pineapple as well as desert, which is a story in itself. I was abandoned by my formerly extremely helpful first mate that has a bee in his bonnet for reasons unknown. People were a bit sauced by dinner presentation which always helps and people raved. Did they rave!!! What satisfaction, what relief, what exhaustion. Some unanticipated guest arrived in the galley at 10.30 p.m. requesting hot herbal tea and I almost decked her. Blessings Robb was there to take over, as I still needed to work on turn down. I was flattened but proud.

Proposed Menu for 20

Hello gang – I wanted to pass along the menu for the dinner party for 20 on 7 Dec 07. Remember as you review that I will not be a guest as well as cook. When you throw a dinner party, there is the expectation you will want to interact and enjoy the guests. That is not my role. I’m purely kitchen help. The sauces and desserts can be created the day prior to the event, which relieves the load. Let me know your thoughts. P.S. This is the last announcement I will be sending to all as I don’t want it to become annoying. Thank you to all --

Smoked Salmon Tostada with a Chipotle Tartar Sauce
Grilled Chicken Quesadillas with a tomatillo salsa
Black Bean Dip, Guacamole & Salsa with Corn Tostadas

Proscuitto Wrapped Sea Scallops with a Mango & Roasted Bell Pepper Coulis.
Chipotle Pan – BBQ Pork Tenderloin.
Corn and Anaheim Chili Pudding
Roasted Pecan Crusted Yams

Frozen Chocolate Pie with Pecan Crust ala Ashley Price
New York Cheesecake with Sweet Cherry sauce.

Questions –
What green thing can I put on the buffet table?
Am I doing too much starch?
Does cheesecake really go with this menu?

Meeting with Charter Broker

Met with Charter Manager last night. That is distinct from the charter broker but for you who do not have at least $40,000 lying around to spend on vaca – do not bother. She was delightful. Of course every yachty meeting includes a bit of vino and the one we drank last evening was delightful. It is from the Klinker Brick Winery – 2005 Lodi Old Vine Zinfandel reasonably priced at $13.99. It is a layered wine with the first notes being deep rich cherry followed by an underlay of chocolate. Absolutely exquisite.

Menu for 20

The aforementioned ode to coffee is written to give credit to what is keeping me going these days. Every morning for the past month, I wake up earlier and earlier ruminating over the dinner for 20. Yesterday, I discovered that not only will it be a cocktail party followed by buffet dinner for 20 but it will take place on Dec 7th, not the 4th which was the previous delusion. Oh Lands that puts a kink in the works. Why you may ask? Well, that means I will have to provision for the party at the dock in Miami without a car. Yes, yes much of what I need can be purchased before hand but only the freshest of ingredients will do for this group of foodies. I mean everyone coming to the party is from New Orleans and they know good food. And my Greek crew chorus bleats for only the best – man are these guys spoiled. Oh my, Oh my. It’s also the middle of winter everywhere else so do you serve a ‘winter’ menu or stick to your own locale? Soon, very soon the menu will be posted and I need feedback. What to serve? What to serve?

Scratch Stock

Scratch Stock

This is a scream of desperation to all my rowdy pals who ‘really’ cook. When I say ‘really’ cook I mean they enjoy it, they work at it and other people admire their cooking finesse. My question goes to you – do you make your stock at home from scratch? You might wonder, why is my obsessive friend, obsessing about this at this moment? Well, I’ll tell you. It’s another book of course, The Making of a Chef by Michael Ruhlman. The book is his account of completing a portion of the classes at CIA. (for the uninitiated that’s not the CIA of covert ops but the CIA – the Culinary Institute of America). In his explanation of his mission for the book he writes, “Recipes are a dime a dozen. You could follow them for a hundred years and never learn to cook…If you didn’t know how to make a great stock, if you didn’t even know what a great stock tasted like, you were doomed to mediocrity in the kitchen, at best, and at worst, ignorant foolishness.” Hm? Perhaps I do not want to adopt his ideas of cooking into my own frame of reference but am I deluding myself? Perhaps I’m doing this all backwards, I’m cooking and trying to learn how as I go along? These are, of course, rhetorical questions as I get paid to cook and I better damn well do it says my credit card companies but do you understand? I’m sending this directly to everyone on my contact list, as I need to hear from you. Please help. And by the way, happy grateful day. Despite the distress of this particular missive, do not doubt that I realize my blessings, which are abundant. Kiss someone you love and be glad you are with them

Let the Adventure Begin


This date will live in infamy in my mind as this is the day when I launched into my new career. On 11 Nov 06, I received a phone call from a hither to stranger, Captain Robb Shannon. Little did I know that phone call would transform my existence as I knew it. Twenty four hours after hearing his voice for the first time, I would join Captain Robb Shannon on an adventure to Mexico. From the first day, after running into an anchor, getting sea sick and riding off into the Pacific Ocean life has never been the same. Change is scary but in a series of impulsive moments I took the plunge and I’m living on the water. I dreamed about it before but never imagined it would come to fruition. It’s not a perfect life, no life is, but it is stunning.