BTS: Well THIS is gonna cause a problem…

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Now that the holidays are over, I’ve FINALLY had the opportunity to start reviewing the TONS of video and photo content we shot during the San Juan Cruise. To give you an idea of the volume I’m talking about, it resides on a 2 TB (that’s terabyte) external hard drive.

It’s been fun because I can see things that have made their way into the episodes. And, at the same time, there are the other things that happened that we didn’t show you…yet. Some of them may still make it to a later storyline, but for now, it’s not quite left on the cutting room floor, but it didn’t make it into the actual episodes.

I don’t know about you, but I LIKE the BTS (Behind the Scenes) stuff. Except, when I don’t look good in them…ok, not really, but I had to say that. Like anyone, I only want to look good on camera like…120% of the time. Don’t catch me with a clump of hair sticking out of my meticulously woven braid, or, you didn’t tell me I had that huge splotch of sauce on my chef’s jacket. Yes, it’s real…but we all know “reality TV” isn’t always real!

Never mind…this is a snippet of video I caught today of something that happened while all the OTHER stuff of running the charter and filming it happened. It’s kinda a real “this isn’t going to be good” story because, the problem, if not solved, is a MAJOR gamechanger for the charter.

By the mere nature of boating, plumbing systems are always a challenge. Most people who are not used to boating — and even those who are — are always somewhat in fear of the heads…what we call “toilets” on the land. I don’t care how modern or how fancy your superyacht is, heads plug up. Whether its from the excess amount of toilet paper a guest has used doing their business or, foreign objects flushed or dropped into them. On one yacht I was chef on two years ago in Alaska, the crew head kept plugging up. We couldn’t figure out why until, during the third exploration of the offending beast, Captain found a huge wad of plastic bags stuffed into the bottom. Folks…don’t know why they were there, but a clump of plastic bags in a marine head isn’t an accident. Disgruntled crew member from the previous Captain/management team? Dunno…

Sinks, too, are complicated. Consider that you have maybe 4-5 or even more sinks that serve different purposes that have to have their water and outflow go somewhere. Let’s talk about the differences between “black water” and “gray water” another time, ok? Let’s keep it on topic so you can appreciate the video coming shortly.

In older boats (I don’t mean ancient, I mean, even boats build as recently as the 80s and 90s) it was permissable to have outflow from the galley (kitchen) sink to either go directly overboard (if there was a disposal that would chew any solids into little bits) or it went to a “sump” (think holding tank) that eventually would be pumped overboard when it got too full.

But…it needs a pump. And, when that fails…um, where does it go? Nowhere. If you combine that with other sinks that may be in use, you stand a chance of overloading the system and you have…uckage. Sinks back up, not just the galley, but the dishwasher, any sinks that may be linked…like those the guests are using. You get the picture.

That was my reality the morning of the second day of the charter when, all of a sudden, the sink in our crew head backed up. Then we heard one of the guest stateroom sinks was having problems and then…why is my galley sink not draining?

My reality: I’m about to serve breakfast to 13 people, including crew. I do believe in “clean as you go,” but my sink is full of ucky water and I have all these dishes to do. As soon as breakfast is over, I have to immediately turn around and start lunch! I can’t afford a sink/dishwasher down.

As a food service professional, my mind is already reeling: we generally think of a three-step process for ensuring our dishes and kitchens are safe and sanitized. Step one: hot water and soap. Step two; rinse. Step three: sanitize. A working dishwasher handles multiple functions, but if I can’t even use the sink…well, crap.

I can boil water in a pot on the stove and use a bussing tray to do Step one. I can rinse using the fresh water hose on the swim step (underway, well, that’ll be fun!) I can do a bleach and water final rinse using a bucket, but people we are talking 13 sets of dishes and it’s only DAY 2! What if we don’t get it fixed? And, can you imagine the spots on the wineglasses? It seems like no big deal, but when you are running a charter for guests that are paying good money and have looked forward to this for months…even years!…well, it’s not acceptable.

Yet, as I say in the intro to the Day Two video, you gotta “never let them see you sweat.” Sometimes it’s way easier said than done.

Fortunately, even though the sump pump had been previously replaced and had failed again, Captain was able to get it back online and get my sinks all working. Yes, I lost some time, but we didn’t inconvenience the guests too much and we never had an issue with food safety. The biggest frustration was with Captain who was bailing all manner of greasy, floaty food and bathroom uckage (my word) out of the sump, and me dancing around trying to act like life was no problemo as all this is going down. Then, of course we had a whole film crew on board, without which I couldn’t offer you the fun you get to experience.

Ah, the glamorous life of a yacht show filming a TV show. Sometimes…not so much!

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