By Jess Rego on February 4, 2019
There is very little in this world that we can control. That is a lesson we are learning every day out here in the big blue. You can wish for faster winds and bigger waves but the weather is beholden to no man. Willing yourself to push faster is a non starter when technical issues crop up. All we can really control is how we react to these obstacles.
And food. Yes, food. It’s one of the only variables we had a hand in during this voyage. While we worked within the confines of a tight budget, often buying surplus from other teams, it was still a priority to ensure everyone had enough variety and treat meals to make the two months adrift bearable. Early on in prep we became aware of just how important this would be for maintaining positivity so I spent endless hours on a crazy detailed spreadsheet ensuring that I was hitting my nutrition balance, getting the right amount of calories and didn’t have too much repetition… or chicken tikka!
Like all good plans, this swiftly went out the window when we got to sea. Carefully labelled day packs were pulled out and dismantled at random. As we realised we weren’t likely to finish all our meals we became more selective - chicken tikka always went back in the hatch. But nevertheless I’m glad for the amount of time we put in to prepping our meal plans. The variety has been great and we have become absolute masters of jazzing up even the dullest freeze dried, just add boiling water, bag of food.
If you are thinking about an expedition let me give you one lifesaving tip. Are you ready? Take condiments. Sauces, powders, herbs, oils, spreads and even dried veg. Yes, it will take up some space and add weight. No, you won’t regret it.
You want to jazz up your mushroom risotto? Vegemite. Chicken fried rice? Soy sauce + siracha. Fajita is great with a touch of barbecue sauce and you can’t beat salmon and broccoli pasta with added dried veggies. When something gets boring again just chuck a new sauce in and it’s a whole new meal! Lime juice in my fried rice was the latest delicacy discovered. Honestly that last minute panic purchase of every sauce in Sainsbury’s has become the best prep I did.
And it doesn’t stop at meals. We’ve become master chefs of the Atlantic when it comes to snacks and treats. I’m not just talking peanut butter on Oreos or dried pears dipped in biscoff spread… honestly, do you think this is amateur hour or something??
Team treats have included amaretto soaked peaches over a biscoff and hobnob crumble and topped with a bit of condensed milk. Nothing more heavenly has ever been consumed on an ocean rowboat, I’m convinced of it. However a near second was our pineapple ginger surprise. Similar but soaked in ginger and lime juice with a ginger biscuit crumb. So yum.
It’s not just about food, of course. It’s taking the time to create something delicious, a touch of luxury in a hard day. To use your creative brain for more than figuring out ways to patch a broken seat. To take the moments as they come and carve out space for enjoying ourselves. Because as rewarding and wonderful as this adventure has been, it is not exactly an enjoyable endeavour for the vast majority of the time.
Now that we’re on the last jar of biscoff and peanut butter it’s a good thing we’re on the home stretch to Antigua where I’m sure there will be even better treats awaiting. Though nothing will ever quite compare to our boozy peach crumble under the stars.
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