SENSES #5 - A taste of the ocean by Jeremie Lecaudey, OBR on Dongfeng

Think of a swimming pool. You don’t get out of a swimming pool without the taste of water even if you didn’t actually drink it. Same thing happens on a boat with the constant river flow of salty water giving you a natural taste all day long.

The one thing you don’t need on a boat is salt. You will see pepper, barbecue sauce, Tabasco, olive oil, and a collection of spices from piri-piri to the skipper’s grandmother’s mix – anything to make the freeze-dried food taste a little bit better.

Yes, you will taste vomit at least once in your lifetime if you get on a racing yacht, whether it was sea sickness or your last freeze-dried meal, the one you kept aside for so long it is now flying off your stomach. It happens. We get a few medicines to sort us out but on a windy day upwind you might as well just cope with it, or puke and once you’ve reached the limit there is nothing but the pleasure to be at sea.

Getting back to food, to give you a taste of what a freeze-dried meal feels like once it is your mouth, it is a generally a bad taste, irrespective of who you ask on any boat in the fleet. Some eat them straight out of the packets, some with bowls, or cups. Whichever way you eat it, it doesn’t really matter, the main secret is just in putting enough boiled water in for the right amount of time. A Chilli Con Carne for instance would seem like a good example of a meal that would work well as a freeze-dried meal, but if the beans aren’t left in the water long enough you end up with cracking beans with some sort of tomato taste…

We are still looking for solutions to replace freeze-dried food so if you want to be rich and have some sort of miracle replacement for fresh food, let us know and we will buy your product. Keep in mind that the main reason we take freeze-dried food is due to the weight, otherwise there are substitutes out there with a bit of water that make your meal a lot better, but a lot heavier too.

Ten sailors on board means 10 meals-per-day, breakfast, lunch and dinner. That’s 30 multiplied by 20 days at sea to make 600 meals. When you thought a gram wouldn’t make a difference, now it does.

Yesterday I witnessed the navigator – Pascal Bidegorry - stacking the soap in the kitchen one metre more to the windward side, and then moving on to stack pretty much anything he could move back or to windward in order to get more weight in the right place. We were 20 miles from the leader, we are now two miles from the leader. So was it the stack or the seaweed? I guess a bit of both.