Episode 1: The San Juan Cruise (Day 1 – almost)

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Our home for Episode 1, the Pacific Shadow was a gracious platform for good times

Well, after months of planning and preparing, we were finally poised for the actual shoot. We were headed to Anacortes to meet the boat, do the final provisioning and get ready to meet the guests!

It had been a tough week. Not only were there a hundred details to check and double check, but no less than 5 days before we were ready to leave, I learned I had lost my stewardess for the trip. I won’t go into details, but she ended up having to go back to a previous job she’d been laid off from, and her former boss wouldn’t give her five extra days to work with us before she returned to her prior job. Panic time: where was I going to find someone on short notice, particularly given that there was very little budget to pay for any travel or last-minute expenses?

With all that had been going on during this time, this last “minor detail” (heavy on the sarcasm) just about derailed me. I was already so stressed out…this felt like the last straw.

Fortunately, we DID find someone willing to take the job, on short-notice, with our limited resources. And, as it turned out, she was amazing! More about Charli later, but I was so glad to have her on the team, for many reasons.

Ok, the day dawns and it’s time to pack up the car! Given the short notice for this job, I had to pack more than I normally would. I couldn’t afford to get aboard only to discover I didn’t have a spice or a piece of equipment I needed. And, I had ingredients from our sponsors to pack up, too. By the time we got my car loaded, it was PACKED to the gills. I don’t think we could have added another thing!

The car is packed…headed for the boat!

So the drive to Anacortes was efficient and I used that time to check and double-check my lists. I say “lists” because there are always multiples. I’m uber-organized because, in this business, you can’t afford to leave something out. It’s not like, once I leave the dock, I can just run to the local store and buy something I’ve forgotten or run out of. That’s one of the challenges of my job: you have to have it on board when you need it. Full stop. When I am “shopping” and planning for a week+ of remote cruising, there may be no place to reprovision. I’ve become really good at improvising (as you’ll read about in later posts about the trip), but some times there’s no really simple work around. And, that can cause stress for me, at a minimum, and negatives for the guests (although we avoid that at all costs! Guests’ experience is key!)

We get to the boat, the Pacific Shadow, start unloading box and box and box, along with other gear, the box with china (see, I don’t leave anything to chance…gotta make sure I have the right serving pieces for my meals!), pantry staples and my portable spice towers, knife kit, clothes, my recipe “bible” … booze, wines, meats…and then you gotta stow it all. Before I go do the real provisioning.

A quick note about my spice jars. I’ve made these for a couple of boat owners, but I also have a set. They are actually stacking food-safe acrylic “jars” that are used for small things like beading, but they screw together and I have them arranged in alphabetical order. Makes the collection compact and, because they are refillable, I can buy spices in bulk. I have everything I need for my dishes, the spices are fresh, and I can travel with them. If I need to add a spice, I just screw in a jar where it would go in the alphabet, affix a label and done!

Again, given the size of most boats, compact is good, but I’m not going to live with 20-30 spice jars of dissimilar sizes…and all that wasteful packaging, when I can buy and organize it as I want it.

So…shopping! Because I had no room left in the car, I decided to put off hte provisioning shop until after we unloaded the first set of our stuff on to the boat. Then it’s time to hit the first store. Some places, like Anacortes are great because the stores are right within walking distance to the marina. You can just hop off your boat, grab some groceries and walk back.

Unless you’re like me…. Because of the size “shops” I often do, I can’t possibly walk back to the boat with my wares! I have been know to fill three grocery carts …at one store alone! Sometimes I have the luxury of getting the groceries delivered by the store; sometimes I catch a taxi and take the groceries back that way. Frequently, to make transport to and loading on the boat easier, I use boxes instead of shopping bags. In any case, it is a lot of groceries and it’s a lot to schlepp back to the boat. The pic below will give you an idea of what I’m talking about. This took place last year in Canada, and most of the time I only had to reprovision for 6-8 people total, and could expect to be able to “run” (read, speed boat) into town if I had to go back for more fresh stuff. But you get the idea…

Yessiree…I buy a LOT of groceries!

And I’m usually not lucky enough to find everything I need at the first store I visit. Sometimes they just don’t have what I need, or they have run out of what I need (common in remote places). Or, I just don’t like the look of certain produce or meats. This is the first time I may have to retool my plans; if I can’t GET limes or lemons (this has happened more than once), well, if I don’t have enough left on the boat already, I’m not making my Prosciutto Wrapped Chicken Breasts in Lemon Butter Sage Sauce. Plan B?

On this trip, I only had to hit the local Safeway, “The Market” for a few last-minute fresh things, and the local fishmonger (Black Rock Seafood) for their local King Salmon. But, to now stow this stuff on an unfamiliar boat…again, pretend you are entertaining for 12 people for a week at a house you’ve never been to, don’t know what they have for pots and pans, and you’re not sure of how big a fridge or freezer they have, let alone a pantry. And, you can’t leave to go get anything you have forgotten or realize you need but hadn’t planned for. Starting to see my dilemma?

Ok, we have shopped, we have stowed. The film crew has arrived. I refuse to cook so we order pizza … and the fun is about to begin! I’ll tell you what happens the next morning when I wake up and we go LIVE!

And, if you want to see what Day One really looked like, you can view it here! (or click on the image, below!) Welcome, and enjoy our cruise!

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