Happy Mothers Day to all the mothers out there! Aboard CV23, team WTC Logistics, during the 2019-2020 Clipper Round The World Race, we rotate through a position called Mother Watch. Step aboard in this week’s video to see what it’s like!
It’s not all fun and games aboard “Black Betty”, the nickname of our yacht due to the black colored hull. The key to a successful mother watch is in the preparation, and that happens before we even leave the dock.
The crew responsible for the meal planning, called Victuallers, create a set menu for each day while we are at sea. To keep things simple, there were seven different days of meals before the menu would repeat itself.
Below are photos of the victualing process while we were in Airlie Beach. We had enough food aboard for 18 crew, at 3 meals per day, for 35 days. All the labels were removed as they can grow mold if they become wet. The food is broken down into meals and then placed in a dry bag for each day. The dry bags are then stored in the bilges. It’s important to keep the weight low in the boat, it’s a racing yacht after all!
All duties aboard the yacht are shared, and mother watch is one of those assigned duties. With the number of crew aboard we rotated through this position every eight days, with a crew member from each watch making up the pair. For the first of the two races in Leg 5, I was on mother watch three times.
My mother watch partner was an around the world crew member and watch leader from the opposite watch. On a side note, up until Leg 5, the watch leaders had not participated in mother watch, so it was a new experience for the both of us!
I like to keep the mood light aboard, especially when crew are tired and could use a pick me up. Due to the extreme heat below deck while in the tropics, I decided to nickname the galley “Hell’s Galley” for the day. It was an instant success and subsequent mother watch pairs followed suit, naming their galley day’s as expressions of themselves. It was a subtle way to increase morale aboard.
With the way the watch rota was setup, one of the mother watch crew members started their shift from 0000 to 0600. This person would be in charge of cooking the bread. Most food items aboard are all pre-packaged as fresh food does not last long without refrigeration. The daily fresh baked bread was always something to look forward to in the mornings.
The “Lazy Mother”, or the mother that was off watch from 0000 to 0600 would be woken at 0500 to help setup the galley for the ongoing watch breakfast service at 0530. We tried to keep breakfast simple, fresh bread, toast, cereals with instant milk, tea and coffee. A funny moment during the first mother watch was my partner cooking the bread without adding the yeast. When she woke me up she said something didn’t look right. The bread came out of the oven as a solid brick! Luckily there was some leftover bread from the day before to make toast with!
We would from time to time make pancakes (a huge hit) and twice we had cinnamon roles (another huge hit). The ongoing watch would eat from 0530 to 0550 and then go on watch at 0600. The off-going watch would then come down to the galley to have breakfast.
With breakfast served it was time to clean up! All washing is done by hand with salt water and soap and then given a fresh water rinse. Fresh water is in limited supply aboard and must be used sparingly. Once the washing was complete, the mother watch crew member that had started their shift at midnight would then have a few hours of rest.
As a lazy mother, it was my role to pull out the dry bag for the day’s lunch and dinner. The Victuallers do an excellent job in laying out the meal plan and cooking instructions. I would prepare the food and then I had an hour or two off before lunch service.
The rest time would be used to catch up on my media editing, writing in my journal, or just relaxing. Aboard our boat the mother watch duty was a welcomed respite from the daily grind of sailing. A “day off” every week so to speak.
As lunch time was approaching it was time to get everything ready for the ongoing watch at 1300. They would eat at 1330 and then the off going watch would eat. The cycle would repeat itself just like the breakfast service.
Dinner service was always something to look forward to. Meal time marks the passing of time while at sea and good food can boost morale. It’s amazing what a warm meal and dessert can do!
With dinner service complete, our day would finish with a full clean of the galley, all food slops dumped overboard and the floorboards in the galley and main saloon scrubbed clean. Due to the watch rota, the lazy mother would not have to report back on deck until 1000 the next day. What luxury to get 8+ hours of uninterrupted sleep! Luxury indeed.
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