Galley Wench Tales

Exploring the world through the people we meet
and the food they eat.

View across the Columbia from Sauvies…. the infamously volcanic Mt. St. Helens still somewhat snow-peaked.

Ahhh, the glamours of boating.  Such a romantic life — and it is — often.  But also not always.

Take the other night, for example.

After a blissfully uneventful ride out to our favorite beach on the Columbia River, a relaxing day in soaking up the summer sunshine, we were hungry for supper.  We mellowed to the sweet guitar strains of Steve Morse while I began cooking us up some chili.  To enhance the breeze, I pulled out the window screen in the galley to let the air flow unfiltered and pointed the fan to blow the steam out.

  • Ingredients, pan, and other necessary accoutrements pulled.
  • Chopping, browning, draining done.
  • Final ingredients added, and set to simmer.

The salivating scent of chili spices prompted me to remind myself we could wait the 25 or so minutes for the concoction to cook.

And then…

Busy washing up everything but the simmering chili pan, my hands were occupied as I gazed placidly at the nearby shore.

Suddenly, a particularly violent set of wakes (which occur when the force a ship’s movement through the water creates displacement which can create ripples in the forms of waves) from a tugboat’s passage on the other side of the river rocked our world.

Wayne watched the sequence unfold in the kind of hypnotic slo-mo action that arrests rather than prompts action.  He retold his observation on the chain of events….

  1. The screen, left loose behind the stove cover, ever so gently tipped toward the hooked stove lid
  2. The hook on the stove cover, popped up, unhooking the stove cover
  3. The stove cover responded to the gravitational pull with a rapid downward decent
  4. That decent ejected the simmering chili off the stove, through the air, slamming onto the the galley floor
  5. The force of the landing knocked the lid off the saucepan
  6. The contents of the saucepan exploded onto the floor
  7. A royal, scalding mess ensued

Depriving us of our delicious dinner.

Destroying the cleanliness of my recently vacuumed floor.

At least we didn’t get scalded.  

Squeegee and a dustpan shortened the work of cleaning up my colossal mess.

Once I got past my shock and profound disappointment over the decimation of our supper, I determined the most efficient clean-up tools were a squeegee, a plastic dustpan and Wayne pointed out as there was far more than one dustpan full of goo, the saucepan made a more ample receptacle.

Wayne then took a hammer to the tenuous stovetop cover’s hook, securely embedding it into the wood.  “If you ever want to use this, you’ll need a screwdriver to loosen it,” he informed me.

Natch. Latch hammered in. Preventative maintenance for future chain reactions complete.

We supped on tortilla chips and hummus dip.  Easy.  We devoured them in a mix of hunger and disappointment, perhaps even finishing before the chili would’ve finished cooking.

Despite getting waked again, I made the chili the next night for ourselves and friends without incident, and it was good.  While prepping it, I carefully tracked all wake-able items, stashing them into fiddled areas, sinks and other safe areas whenever possible.

Our former sailboat stove was gimbaled (used a rotating device which kept the stovetop level even when the boat was not) and had a fiddle (bar across the open area, also to prevent objects from sliding into the open air when disturbed).  I also deployed all sorts of tricks to keep things from flying… silicon potholders, storage tubs, baskets, etc.  In our near 20,000 miles of cruising, airborne incidents of the gastronomic variety were very rare.

“You look so graceful, even when the boat’s moving,” commented our chili-eating friend Ellen.  “You can tell you’ve spent some time on a boat.”  

But not enough time on this boat, yet!  Truth be told, several times I’d narrowly averted similar spillage disasters on this boat on our passage down.  A little preventative maintenance and that mess could’ve been avoided.

If you’re new to boating, or newly entering less-than-always placid waters, take a good look at what could go wrong, and take steps to avoid it.

After all, isn’t it so much nicer to learn from someone else’s mistakes?

Serendipity making her maiden voyage into our very protected slip at Jantzen Bay, Portland Oregon.  No wakes there.

Location Location
This post was inspired, written and posted off of Sauvie’s Island (N45.47.449 W122.47.189).  When we’re “home” in our still new-to-us Puget Trawler, in our slip at Jantzen Bay on Hayden Island, we’re in a very protected spot.  About the only boat motion we get is stepping on and off the boat.  However, there’s still much to be done to set out boat up so things don’t go bump in the day or night.  Meanwhile, when we’re out and about, vigilance will be our modus.  Some mulling, measuring and shopping is in order.