SEA Currents: Corwith Cramer
October 19, 2015
If You’re on Time, You’re Late
36°30.2’N x 06°15.8’W
Description of location
alongside the dock in Cadiz, Spain
Cool, overcast but not raining!
Today began at 0500 for me, a welcome reprise from the standard 0420 wakeup for a steward- roughly two hours before breakfast is rung up. The extra sleep is owed to our being in port, where there is no need to maintain the same watch-schedule we hold while underway.
Breakfast was oatmeal pancakes- I had pre-mixed the dry ingredients last night so that my morning would be somewhat streamlined. It takes nearly a full two hours to get through making a ship-load of pancakes on our diesel stove, who is lovingly dubbed ‘Roxie’ in reference to a classic song by the Police. Saving minutes on prep-work can be critical to getting food out on time, which is the name of the stewarding game.
Underway, the watch schedule is a hard and fast rule- it is the backbone of our way of life. Watches cycle through five time periods that make up each of our 24-hour trips around the sun:
Dawn watch: 0300-0700
Morning watch: 0700-1300
Afternoon watch: 1300-1900
Evening watch: 1900-2300
Three of the five transitions in each of these watch cycles are dictated by mealtimes: those between dawn and morning watch, morning and afternoon, and then the afternoon and evening watches.
Now here I’ll let you in on a secret: a steward’s primary objective is NOT putting out the most gourmet food you can imagine (Craig objects to here. He would like to point out that Nick and I put out FANTASTIC meals every day, six times a day). WHOA. Yeah, this is not your garden-variety cooking gig (not to say I’ve had any other kind- I’m an alum of SEA and learning the food ropes for the first time out here on a ship).
A steward’s primary objective is to get good food out on time.
“If you’re early you’re on time, if you’re on time you’re late, if you’re late…” Well, it is a sailing school vessel, so there are learning moments. This sentiment certainly rides at the forefront of my mind come mealtime. Punctuality is absolutely necessary in this world! Any laxity threatens the integrity of the system.
A properly run ship is a well-oiled machine of dozens of independent systems and worlds working simultaneously, often completely ignorant of one another, towards a common goal. A late turnover between watches can cheat 25% of the ship’s company out of precious sleep, reducing their abilities down the line and stirring feelings of discontent in the meantime. (the galley’s role in maintaining morale is a whole other story I won’t get into here) …or at least, these are the thoughts spurring me on with 10 minutes to go before ringing up lunch without a salsa to go with my chili and quesadillas!
Suffice it to say, it is an honor to be here, doing my best to keep the ship running smoothly and happily, learning as I go. Feeling lucky!
Love to all,