During the closing weeks of 2019, I was presented with an opportunity to go sailing, but not just for a weekend or a day — this was a three-month commitment. I could join Call of the Sea’s schooner Seaward as cook for her entire Mexico chartering season. While I admit the decision wasn’t too difficult to make, I did experience a period of anguish over the chaos that would ensue once I told my boss I was going.
My desk job was more than just a simple series of steps that could be picked up by anyone at a moment’s notice, and that was exactly the time I was giving my boss to prepare for my departure. As I began my carefully prepared speech, guilt and sheepishness made my announcement feel less positive than it sounded during practice. But wasn’t it my boss who had circulated Bill Shannen’s Sail Magazine story that applauded Latitude 38 employees for being the type of people who would quit their jobs at a moment’s notice and go sailing?
As far as I could see, I was only doing my job.
I continued my now-fumbled speech and watched as shock was gradually overtaken by furtive planning. In the end, and with a true sailor’s grit, my boss said he understood and wished me well.
With the hardest task over, the rest of December flew past. I rushed to tidy loose ends and execute a manageable handover, all while trying to prepare for my end-of-month departure. Putting aside the fact that my last charter-cook gig was not what I would call a good experience, I embarked upon a hasty study of menu planning and provisioning for up to 16 people. Oh, and did I mention my propensity for seasickness? Regardless, I refused to be deterred. On December 30 I stood proudly aboard Seaward with the rest of the crew as we welcomed our first guests, 12 youth sailors from the San Francisco Sea Scouts.
Never before had I embarked on such an adventure. The collective anticipation on board was contagious. Belowdecks was literally buzzing as the young sailors and their two leaders chose bunks, stowed gear, and milled around surveying what was to be their home for the next week.
In what seemed like mere minutes, we were underway. A quick lunch of MYO (make your own) sandwiches gave way to untying dock lines and waving to a handful of family and friends as we cast off and motored into the Bay. By the time the Golden Gate Bridge came into view, Seaward’s crew had organized the young Scouts into deckhands. Observers were no doubt perplexed when the captain steered the big schooner through a demonstration man-overboard maneuver.
The housekeeping completed, we were now ready to depart, and beneath a fountain of flowers cast lovingly adrift by a crew member’s abandoned husband, we set our sails and steered a southerly course toward Mexico. Never in my entire life had I envisioned this. As far as I was concerned, I was done with charter-boat cooking, and it wouldn’t particularly have bothered me if I were done with sailing. But there was something alluring about this journey. In fact, I could (and did) list many reasons why I wanted to take on the challenge. Yet at the same time, I could have listed just as many doubts that I had successfully pushed to the back of my mind as I continued my forward march into the somewhat dubious career move of becoming a charter-boat cook.
It’s only three months; how hard can it be?
If you’re interested in Monica’s former job here at Latitude 38, please check it out here.