Some of you might not know that I'm American, and that 27 November is the American holiday Thanksgiving. Celebrated with heaps of delicious food, family and festivals, it also happens to be my favourite holiday. However, instead of enjoying a massive turkey and stuffing (my absolute favourite), I'll be 'enjoying' freeze-dried food.
Recently, I went where only a few people (plus the astronauts) have gone: freeze-dried ice cream. It wasn't half bad, but as I explained to Sophie it's something I'll probably only need to try once... a year, if that. I'm unsure what confused me more, the fact that I was eating something "they" decided to call ice cream or the fact that the strawberries tasted only 40% real.
We've been lucky with one brand of freeze-dried food where the meat is real meat, however this leg's meat is far from real. Sophie describes it best as "the leg of squishy meat". Yep, that's right... you chew and chew for a long time as the 'meat' squeaks between your teeth.
How do I describe the 'lamb'? Dare I start with the colour? Which is more like grey with black dots. Ah yes, the rare spotted lamb meat, only found in packages! Similar to the 20% chicken, the lamb is cubed and indefinable.
Out here, food is fuel; so it's not necessarily meant to be 'good' per say. It's amazing when freeze-dried food actually does taste like the real deal, but that's almost like a treat. We have to eat in order to properly function, both within our own bodies and on deck. If we suddenly become food snobs then the boat's performance goes down. Perhaps it's a bit of a Catch 22.
Despite the tough times with the cuisine, our performance has been top notch recently as we fight our way to the rest of the fleet. Yesterday, we achieved the seemingly impossible: sail on the incorrect (or less than ideal) sail and make massive gains on the fleet.
In the early morning hours, one of the girls shone her light on to the front sail and noticed a few torn holes in the sail. The team rode it out with the torn sail for a little while longer, until they had a weather window sufficient enough to sail on the smaller (and incorrect) sail.
After lugging the sail down the deck and into the boat, Stacey and Abby started to prepare the sail for repair. Both sailors were "off watch" and began using their vital down-time to repair the sail, a job projected to take at least two hours.
First, the sail needed to be dried, so the girls used the engine and acetone to dry off the sail. Next, Stacey cut new pieces for the repair and used 5200 to glue the patches to the sail. Finally, the sewing machine was brought out to put the final touches on the repair. Two-hours and twenty minutes later the sail was hoisted and SCA was on the correct sail again.
While the girls below deck fixed one of the more important sails for the leg, the girls above deck were sailing incredibly well and fast. (Not saying they normally don't!) But the deck team's performance was so on target that we were the fastest boat in the fleet for the next position report.
What this proved was how Team SCA works as a team. Both Stacey and Abby worked straight through their off watch time in order to better the team's overall performance. Both women did it without batting an eye; in fact they both had smiles on their faces despite working straight for nearly 12 hours once they finished their second watch. It all goes to show that the extra time, effort and training that our sponsor, SCA, has drummed into the team has helped us to gel so well together, no matter what the oceans throw our way.
So it's Thanksgiving, and we're sailing well as a team through incredibly unpredictable wind shifts and patterns. We're sailing hard and fast but the important thing, the thing that keeps us pushing forward strong is that we're sailing as a team. We are a strong team, and we are a team that does not give up - even if the food is less than ideal!