The days on the ship can get long and dreary when the weather is bad and the sea is too rough for ROPOS to dive. During this cruise, we even had days when the decks were “secured” – i.e. it was too dangerous to go outside because of the swell height. Waves were crashing over the side of the ship, and there was nothing to do but wait for the wind to die down and the weather to pass. What can one look forward to, trapped inside a rocking ship with un-deployed equipment and grumpy co-workers?! Dinner, of course!
The meals on a ship are of crucial importance for keeping the spirits of the crew and passengers up and meals serve as a key social time on the boat. The galley crew serves three meals a day:
- breakfast from 7:15-8:00
- lunch from 11:30-12:15
- dinner from 17:00-18:00
On this cruise, 3 men kept a crew of 21, and science party of 23 people well fed and happy (at least for as long as they were sitting in the mess!) Meet Dan, Tony and Mike!
Dan, the ship steward is one of the longest serving members on the R/V Thompson crew; he has been with the ship since it was first commissioned in 1991. Tony, the second cook, started cooking in his home town of New Orleans, and has been faithfully serving up chow on the Thompson for the last 10 years. Mike, the mess attendant from San Francisco, brings good cheer and hard work to the mess hall, cleaning up after everyone.
Every day, breakfast preparation begins at 5:30am. A typical feast includes eggs, French toast, sausage, bacon, fresh fruit, yoghurt, warm homemade muffins, cream of wheat and sometimes even specials like breakfast burritos.
Mexican day is a popular lunch, with enchiladas, tacos, Mexican rice, and all the toppings including homemade guacamole. Some in the science party especially appreciated the spicy food on board! No bland cooking here. Dinner could include everything from steak to ribs to salmon to stuffed peppers with sides of potatoes and vegetables, and a well-stocked salad bar.
Planning for the day’s meals happens in the morning, when the galley crew “go shopping” in the storeroom where all the food is kept and decide on-the-fly what to cook for the day. The menu for each meal is posted on a whiteboard, along with announcements such as “Happy Birthday, Andy!” (The galley crew are responsible for the all-important job of baking you your birthday cake, should you have the good fortune to celebrate at sea.)
So, how much food do you need for hungry people spending days at sea? When the cabins are filled to capacity on the ship, 1000lbs per month of meat alone are consumed!
You might be wondering what happens to what remains uneaten after everybody has taken seconds and had dessert. Don’t worry, the food doesn’t disappear. Just like your kitchen at home, you can find a well-stocked leftover fridge on the ship, perfect for a midnight snack. This is crucial, since operations on the ship continue 24/7.
The amazing thing about the cooks in the galley is that they keep cooking in any weather, and the food is still delicious. Thanks for cheering us up with food, no matter how strongly the wind was blowing and how high the waves were! Cheers!