The Motion of the Ocean
by Janna Cawrse Esarey.
I am going to award this book three stars out of five.
As the cover says, 1 small boat, 2 average lovers, and a woman's search for the meaning of wife. The parallels to my own experience plus the fact that this book serendipitously found me at a marina book swap ensured that I had to read and review this title!
Somewhere fifty miles off the coast of Oregon I realize the skipper of this very small ship is an asshole.Hmm, not a good beginning as far as I am concerned. But let's stick with the story. Janna and her husband,Graeme,after a protracted and at times painful courtship, set off to sail across the Pacific in their boat Dragonfly. To be accurate they set off to sail across the Pacific to Hong Kong with the intention of returning via the Northern Pacific making it a round trip.
He also happens to be my husband.
He's down below, cooking Top Ramen, which will be the fifth time we've had Top Ramen in almost as many days. Not that I'm mad about that. Actually, he's chopping carrots and cabbage and onions- and I can small the garlic from here- so it's bound to be good. Which makes him sound like a kind, nurturing, non-assholey sort of guy, cooking a meal for his bride on a boat that's rocking like the fun house in Grease.
Now it may be my age, the fact that I too have lived this (or a very similar) adventure but I just couldn't get to grips with Janna's writing. Perhaps I was expecting more of a sailing story and found that in reality I had got a book about a relationship. One that was examining in pretty close detail every aspect of this couple's life together.Far too much information at times! The fact that it is set upon the ocean seemed pretty irrelevant, it was simply a vehicle on which the writer was able to hang the tale that she wanted to tell. Nothing wrong with that I guess but I began to feel somewhat conned early on in the book.
I've got mesh bags for dirty laundry, hammocks for clean, collapsible buckets for water, milk crates for linens, tiny boxes for nuts and bolts, Ziplocs for medications, and woven baskets for just about everything else. Plus, I've measured every inch of cupboard space aboard Dragonfly and have systematically installed stackable,plastic,covered bins for all our foodstuff. Each box has a label, and each has it's place. I call it custom design. Graeme, having to pull out two bins of granola;a bars to access the bin of pasta, calls it a pain in the ass.A lot of her descriptions of life at sea ring true:
If you want to know what it's like to cook on a boat in rough seas, try this: First, rename your kitchen "galley".Then cut it to a fifth it's regular size (unless you live in Manhattan, in which case cut it in half). Then say goodbye to everything you might expect or want or need in a kitchen, and say hello to this: A shallow, leak-prone sink whose moldy caulk sticks out around the edges. A small rusty oven that has no chance of fitting a full-size salmon, let alone a turkey. Say hello to a three-burner, manually-lit propane stove whose knobs refuse to turn without the full-court press of your right palm pushing while your left hand trembles with its damp match that-damn!- blows out in the slightest breeze.
Don't offer your greetings to a garbage disposal. A dishwasher. Or countertops. But hey, what you lose there, you make up in faucets! You have three: One saltwater foot pump that draws directly from the frigid and, depending where you are, polluted water beneath the boat, and smells sulfry, like millions of tiny organisms have crawled into the pipes and died (they have).One freshwater hand pump that's made of brass, and therefor looks very nauti-cool, but that loses it prime, i.e., it's ability to pump water, in between each use. And one normal freshwater faucet that has hot water if the engine's been running long enough, but which your evil husband forbids you to use because it draws off the batteries and Rule of Rules: On a boat, where you're unplugged from the grid, you must!conserve!batteries!
Now take your new galley, stock it with crappy cooking gear you used car camping and place it in the small,stuffy,mildew-prone box that is a fibreglass sailboat hull. Now, tilt, or "heel" the whole thing thirty degrees- that's right, make your floor as steep as a hillside- and bash the whole thing into waves as hard as brick walls. Over and over and over.
OK. Now. Cook!
Well I expect that was accurate on their boat, and on many out there on the ocean but I was beginning to find the whole tone of this book a bit exaggerated and 'hyper'. With a husband who had been a deep sea fisherman and parents who were experienced bluewater sailors I was starting to think that Ms Esery was complaining a tad too much. Come on, a lot of this was no surprise to her and yet we are regaled with 'shock horror' prose in virtually every chapter.
Maybe I know(or think I know!) too much about the subject but ultimately this book irritated me with it's naivety, which I felt was somewhat contrived, and it's introspection that just didn't ring true for me.
The king scrapes the bottom of the bowl with his cracker.
'Good dip,' he says, looking at me. 'Tuna?''Sardines', Graeme says.
I shake my head and point at Graeme, the real chef.
I found myself becoming increasingly irritated with Janna's self indulgent critique of the minutest details of her relationship with the long suffering Graeme. I am not at all surprised that they are no longer cruising I'd have thrown her overboard a long time ago!
There is a scarcity of food related quotes in the book, a bit of a surprise as in my experience a lot of sailing revolves around the galley and what is being prepared for the next meal. So I had a hunt round for a sardine dip recipe. I can't say the idea excited either myself or my husband but what the heck. That's what Food for thought is about right? Trying something you wouldn't normally do!
So a trip to the market furnished me with the necessary ingredients and I set to. Now you can pop all this in the food processor, I minced everything first in my hand mincer, jolly good job it did too!
8oz cream cheese
1tsp lemon juice
1tsp Worcester sauce
2 green onions
large bunch of parsley
pinch of chili powder
1 tbsp butter
2 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper
Blend everything together and chill for at least an hour before serving...
Actually it was pretty good though I may have overdone the parsley a tad, still it turned out an attractive green colour without too overpowering a taste of sardine..
To go with it I made a batch of cheese biscuits
100g cheese (I used half Parmesan, half Cheddar)
poppy seeds, sesame seeds and caraway seeds
1 egg yolk
Heat the oven to Gas Mark 5
Rub together the cheese, butter and flour until you have a smooth dough. Form into a log approx 5cm in diameter. Cover tightly in cling film and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Grease two baking trays. remove dough from fridge and using a hot knife cut as thinly as possible and lay biscuits on tray.
Combine egg yolk and water and brush biscuits. Sprinkle with little paprika and then one of the seeds. I made 8 in each flavour.
Bake for 5-10 minutes until lightly browned.
Now these really were good, cleaned them up before they had a chance to cool!
Soon there's a long, fat tuna on deck, slapping and bleeding all over the place. Naked Man bonks it with his fish bonker. Naked Man bonks it again. The fish gives one last quiver and then Naked Man is crouching with knife, slitting the belly and slicing out guts. Let's hope he doesn't slip with that knife. I avert my eyes for about the fiftieth time and busy myself gathering chopsticks and soy sauce and wasabi.
Yes! Now the girl is getting in touch with a bit of gourmet heaven~! I delight in catching a fish and preparing sushi, there can be nothing better, or fresher in the whole world..
The video is one we made for my husband's mother's birthday to show her what the cruising life is really like.I hope that you enjoy sharing it with me. As you can see we have somewhat more comfort that the writer of the book, and a much better galley!