September 30, 2012
Saying Good Bye


September 15, 2012
Reflections on Our 27 Year Circumnavigation


September 01, 2012
Sea of Cortez Sailing


August 15, 2012
Back to the Sea of Cortez


August 01, 2012
After Circumnavigation: What to Take, What to Leave Behind


July 15, 2012
Mexican Booby Trap


July 01, 2012
Tackling the Tehuantepec


June 14, 2012
Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala and Mexico


June 01, 2012
Sailing northern Costa Rica and Nicargua


May 15, 2012
Costa Rican Cruising


May 01, 2012
New Found Friends in Golfito, Costa Rica


April 15, 2012
It’s a Jungle Out There


April 01, 2012
Hunting and Gathering in Panama


March 15, 2012
Money.... Money.... Money


March 01, 2012
Feel Free Transits the Panama Canal


February 15, 2012
Transiting the Panama Canal


February 01, 2012
Feel Free is Back in the Pacific


January 15, 2012
Charter Skipper for a Week


January 01, 2012
Confessions of a Charter Cat Chef


December 15, 2011
Away to the Andamans Part 2


December 01, 2011
AWAY to the ANDAMANs


November 15, 2011
Sailing in a Freshwater Paradise


November 01, 2011
To Barf or not to Barf, that is the question


October 14, 2011
Remarkable Cruisers


October 03, 2011
The Sea of Cortez, Another World


September 15, 2011
Panama Canal Here We Come


September 01, 2011
Sailing for Humanity


August 15, 2011
A Hard Lesson on the Hard and Reflections on Boat Work


August 01, 2011
Here Come the Lion Fish


July 15, 2011
The Joy of Books


July 01, 2011
The Sailors of San Blas


June 15, 2011
The Good Life in Kuna Yala


June 01, 2011
The Dirt Dweller in Paradise


May 15, 2011
People of the San Blas, Then and Now


May 01, 2011
Cruising in Kuna Yala


April 15, 2011
Near Disaster in the San Blas


April 01, 2011
At Last in the San Blas


March 15, 2011
Chilling Out in Cholon


March 01, 2011
Ah, Cartagena!


February 15, 2011
Cruising the Cape Horn of the Caribbean Part 2


February 01, 2011
Cruising the Cape Horn of the Caribbean Part 1


January 14, 2011
Aruban Interlude


December 30, 2010
Hunkering Down for a Hurricane


December 15, 2010
A Day in the Life - Our Passage to Aruba


December 01, 2010
Stuck in Curacao


November 15, 2010
Stormy Night Sailing


November 01, 2010
Sailing In The Sticks


October 15, 2010
Safety, Security and Circumnavigating with some tips on how to stay safe


October 04, 2010
Feel Free Transits The Suez Canal


September 15, 2010
Red Sea Sailing


September 01, 2010
FEEL FREEs Voyage Into the Red Sea


August 15, 2010
And just a little further, to Curacao


August 01, 2010
Bonaire Diving


July 15, 2010
Then To Bonaire


July 01, 2010
Cruising Remote Venezuelan Isles


June 15, 2010
Cruising St. Vincent


June 01, 2010
Right Place, Right Time


May 15, 2010
The Spice Isle


May 01, 2010
To the Grenadines


April 15, 2010
We Be In Barbados Mon


April 01, 2010
Atlantic Passage Part II


March 15, 2010
Atlantic Passage Part 1


March 01, 2010
Provisioning for the Atlantic Crossing


February 15, 2010
Atlantic Crossing Preparations


February 01, 2010
Cruising the Canary Islands


January 15, 2010
Out Of Africa


January 01, 2010
Come With Me To The High Atlas Mountains.............


December 15, 2009
Two Years Of Mediterranean Sailing


December 01, 2009
Moving On To Morocco


November 18, 2009
Leaving The Med


November 13, 2009
Reaching The Rock Of Gibraltar Milestone


October 15, 2009
Sailing Spains Costa del Sol


October 01, 2009
Sailing Spains Costa del High-rise


September 15, 2009
Sailing The Spanish Isles


September 01, 2009
At Sea Or On The Hook, These Recipes Travel Well


August 15, 2009
An Interlude At Menorca


August 01, 2009
A Pleasant Passage To Menorca


July 15, 2009
The Agony And Ecstasy Of The Tunisian Coast


July 01, 2009
Tripping Around Tunisia


June 15, 2009
Tales From North Africa


June 01, 2009
Dont Freak If Your Fridge Fails


May 15, 2009
Into Africa


May 01, 2009
Meandering Around Malta, Then Off To Tunisia


April 15, 2009
Low-Tech DIY Ideas For The New Economy


April 01, 2009
The Med Set A Few Cruiser Profiles


March 15, 2009
That Sinking Feeling


March 01, 2009
Thailand to Oman: Three Passages, Three Ports


February 15, 2009
Doing Hard Time in Malta


February 01, 2009
Pirate Alley Part 2


January 15, 2009
Pirate Alley Part 1


January 02, 2009
So Many Islands, So Little Time


December 15, 2008
Cruising With The Bear


December 01, 2008
Versatile Vinegar, The Boaters Friend


November 15, 2008
What I Did In This Summer -- Dock Masters In paradise


November 01, 2008
Over The Top Of Oz


October 16, 2008
The Tumultuous Tasman


October 01, 2008
Sweet Memories Of The Splendid Surins


September 15, 2008
And Then We Were In Malta


September 01, 2008
Feel Frees Siracusan Story


August 15, 2008
The Best of Times, The Worst of Times


August 01, 2008
All Tied Up In The Ionians


July 15, 2008
A Greek Odyssey Our Journey to Ithaca


July 01, 2008
Anatomy of a Near Catastrophe


June 15, 2008
Good-bye Turkey, Hello Greece


June 01, 2008
More Winter Cruising in Turkey


May 15, 2008
Winter Cruising in Turkey


April 15, 2008
Talking Turkey: Marmaris Marina Living


April 15, 2008
The Joy Of The Side Trip


April 01, 2008
Return to Marmaris, And The Budget


March 15, 2008
Passing Time And Dodging The Meltemi


March 01, 2008
Home Sweet Home


February 15, 2008
A Little Working, A Little Cruising


February 01, 2008
Working Our Way Around The World


January 15, 2008
Welcome Aboard Feel Free


January 01, 2008
Liz Tosonis and Tom Morkins Feel Free


January 01, 2008
About Tom Morkin and Liz Tosoni


January 01, 2008
About Feel Free


January 01, 2008
Voyage Itinerary


January 01, 2012
Confessions of a Charter Cat Chef

Liz Tosoni

Tom’s had this idea for years: wouldn’t it just be the coolest gig going- skippering a charter catamaran in the Caribbean, taking guests out for dream sailing trips in warm climes during the winter months, and getting paid to do it?

I’ve always thought on the other hand, romantic, yes, maybe, BUT, imagine the unromantic side of the coin-the cooking, for example, how time consuming, how challenging, how downright scary for the likes of little ‘ole me. It’s one thing to produce meals in Feel Free’s galley, for Tom and me and for various friends and family members, but to put together gourmet meals for groups of six or eight holiday makers day after day on a luxury yacht? I’m a sailor, NOT a chef. No, that’s definitely not my schtik!

When we got the invitation to do just that though, to be “Captain” and “Chef” of a 44 foot Lagoon catamaran, for a week, in the British Virgin Islands, with six guests from the U.S., well, I couldn’t deny that it was a good opportunity to check it out. How could we say no to such an offer- getting paid to run a luxury yacht for a week in a tropical paradise?!

I agreed to do it but that didn’t mean I wasn’t terrified. Terrified! The three couples who chartered the vessel were expecting haute cuisine for a week. Oh my gawd, how am I going to manage it? I ruminated. Not to mention Tom who was also a tad apprehensive. After all, we didn’t know the boat. We had never operated a catamaran on our own. To put it mildly, we were filled with trepidation as we arrived in Tortola the night before the charterers were to arrive, but truly grateful when friends Gord and Ginny, who had introduced us to the Charter Company, Festiva Sailing Vacations, were there to greet us and give us a quick tour of our catamaran, Dessie.

I tossed and turned that night on board the yacht and when daylight appeared, bright and clear, reality set in. The rooms had been more or less made up but the rest of the boat was in complete disarray, inside and out. Soon enough cleaners and technicians started to arrive, as did the fellows from the grocery store who layed on a cornucopia of food- fresh vegetables and fruits, dairy products, meats, pastas, flour and rice, cake ingredients and dessert mixes, canned goods. juices, snacks, condiments, herbs and spices galore, toiletries, paper products.

Then came the booze and soft drinks, boxes and cases of it, wine, beer, spirits and mixes, enough to satisfy a navy for a year it seemed! Where does it all go? Where do we stow it?

In the midst of this frenzy of activity, I was trying not to panic. My mind was trying to concentrate on the meals. The guests would be arriving tired and hungry at 5:00. I had to think ahead to what I’d be serving not only that evening but the whole week. Here’s what I was given as a guideline for the week’s menu. It turned out to be my Bible!

Before arrival, I had this mistaken idea that all the food items would be neatly packaged and labelled by the day and the meal. No such luck! Even if I found homes for the mountains of goods, how was I ever going to be able to locate them later when I needed them? Okay, one step at a time, I reasoned with myself. Stay calm and focused. So I studied the menu for the first evening and here’s what I found:

Snack                  5:00-5:30 pm

Chips and Salsa

 

 

Dinner                 7:30-8:00 pm

 

 

Tuna Fillets with P/apple and Green pepper sauce.                    

 

Spinach and Plantain. Tomato and Herb Rice.

Dessert                8:00- 8:30 pm

 

 

Ice-cream and chocolate sauce

Easy peasy thought I and even knew exactly where all these items were; then, I looked at the recipes:

Whoa, scrumptious sounding, but time consuming! And this was just the first night. How am I ever going to be able to find the time to prepare it all?! The guests would soon be arriving, and shortly thereafter, wed be heading to a nearby anchorage, then dinner, and then there were the preparations after the meal for the next day.

Honestly, amid the chaos of that day, I felt as if I were in a nightmare, didnt have a clue as to how I was going to be able to get through the week, and the guests hadnt even arrived yet! Secretly, I was so mad at myself. Why on earth did I ever agree to this?

Well, by the time our six guests arrived, somehow, a miracle happened. Everything did get stowed and all systems were pronounced to be in good working order. Dessie was ship shape. We headed out to our first BVI anchorage following buddy boat Claire, skippered by good buddies Gord and Ginny.

The evening meal went by without a hitch. Another miracle! The guests declared the meal delicious which much encouraged me; however, my stress level was still high as I had the next day to gear up for.

Breakfast and lunch were straightforward enough but what really got me going was the beef tenderloin dinner. Look at the instructions:

"Take the tenderloins and cut the ends off. Depending on how thick you want your steaks you can cut three or four steaks out of a tenderloin, so you need to cut them into rounds. Turn the cut pieces upwards so that they look like little towers. Use your fingers and massage the meat to make a larger surface area on either side (top and bottom) Using the palm of your hand and simply flatten the piece of meat. It should now look like a round thick piece of steak. Place in marinade for as long as possible."

Ohmygawd that seems complicated! What is it, a massage parlour for meat? In the end, on the good advice of Gord and Ginny our mentors, Captain Tom just barbequed them the old fashioned way, and again, another meal success! Dessert was another matter. No chocolate cake mix to be found! So it was Fruit Crumble instead- the dessert suggestion for Day 5.

The days went like this: up at 0615, put on the coffee and hot water, start chopping fruit or do other preparations for breakfast. By about 0830, serve breakfast, do dishes. Around 0930, raise anchor or drop mooring ball, get under way, raise sails. 1000- start preparations for lunch. 1100- drop sails, anchor or pick up mooring, get back to work on lunch while guests swim or go for a wander ashore. 1230- serve lunch, do dishes. Guests would spend afternoons snorkelling, swimming, visiting their friends on Claire, or wed set sail for another anchorage, while I was in the galley making dips for Happy Hour as well as main meal preps. 7:30- dinner, followed by dessert, dishes. Evenings found me baking bread or making a dessert for the following day.

Guests partied in the evenings and boy did they know how to have fun! Heres Ginny dishing out a birthday cake in Claires galley. By the way, thats Pina Colada cake to die for, a huge hit.

You get the idea. It was full on galley duty interspersed with crew duties.

There were no meal disasters, and I discovered some delectable recipes which I will definitely repeat in Feel Frees galley, not only main courses but also marinades, spreads and desserts.

The guests were very appreciative. In fact, they claimed that the food was wonderful.

By the end of the week, I was exhausted though. Beautiful as the islands and anchorages were, the navigation is all a blurr for me, unheard of aboard Feel Free. My feeling was one of relief, so thankful it all turned out. Were I to do it again, Im positive it would get easier and easier. But would I do it again? Whats your guess?

I have to say there were a few technical hiccups along the way to be sure, so stay tuned to hear Toms version of the story.