Nan’s Chocolate Cake
November 24, 2010

The last time I left off this story, I was hanging out in Palma, living for free aboard Necker Belle in exchange for doing the night watches, and finishing up my STCW 95 during the day. It was around this stage that I began to seriously apply to jobs through all of the various agencies and sell myself as a Chef. It was an exciting time, and I felt as though anything could happen. Within a week I had been put forward for a number of positions aboard boats from Marseilles to Miami. Late one evening, at 11pm or so, I received a telephone call:

“Hello, Is this Chef ____?”
“Yes”  I replied
“My name’s _____ and I’m the Captain of the yacht Gweilo, based in Instanbul.  The owner of the yacht has picked your resume which we received from the yachting agency, and well, we’d like for you to join the team…  The pay is 4500euros/month, and we would need you tomorrow if possible”

Sort of stunned, I eagerly accepted the position, and not at all sure how I was going to get to Turkey from Palma, said I’d be there on the next flight.

SY Gweilo

After a couple of flights and a breathtaking ride through a city of markets and mosques, I met my new boat. Her name, Gweilo, a 47m classic schooner, recently built in Turkey, based on the design of the famous Dutch built Windrose. The name “Gweilo” is Chinese for ‘foreignor’, and the tender was called “Gaijin” which is Japanese and means the same. An ugly pair of names in my opinion, but the boat(s) were spectacularly beautiful…. on the surface.




What followed over the next month can only be described as ‘interesting’ . Unbeknownst to me, all sailboats are NOT created equal, least of all those boats built in Turkey. This boat was falling to pieces… literally! I mean, the first time we went out sailing, the bloody workers had forgotten to bolt down the generator and it fell right on the propeller shaft! Down in the galley, equally outrageous mishaps were a daily occurrence. I counted five times that the hot water pipes exploded and I opened the bilge to a hot steam facial! It was like some sort of slapstick comedy- with anything and everything that could go wrong… well, going wrong! On top of the shortcomings with the actual boat itself, cooking for the owner was exceptionally challenging. I had no idea what he wanted, as his instructions and tastes changed daily. It started off that it was to be simple food- shephards pies, rocket salads, moulles frites, then he changed his mind and wanted over the top fancy, and then… he wanted old fashioned Turkish cuisine. The last one was sort of a spanner in the cogs- as from what I could tell- all Turkish cuisine consisted of eggplant and minced lamb! After a month of this mayhem while pottering down the Turkish coast, we arrived in Marmaris. I sat down with the captain, and it was decided that it would be best if a Turk cooked for the owner. I was out of my element, the boat was a mess with workers, and all in all the atmosphere wasn’t particularly fun for anyone- except the swarm of workers that were making a fortune on the constant repairs! I got a return flight back to Canada via Frankfurt, and so concluded my Turkish delight…

The sun setting in Marmaris, my final evening aboard.

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