FROM 1-11. South Atlantic-26°S

Apr 10, 2005 - 0430hrs UTC │Dog Bowls : a Short Dissertation

0430hrs 10 Apr 2005 UTC Map Ref 160

Once again in good weather – balmy and warm, water 24 degrees. 20 – 25 knots from the east and looks ok for a day or two more. Fingers crossed. Berri now further north than she has ever been with me – we are north of the lagoon entrance at Lord Howe Island which is about as far north as we have been together. Another small milestone. Passing Rio will, I hope, be the next. Then NE Brazil and the equator in about three weeks AGW. We are three days behind schedule though, after all the storms.

On elegant solutions to intractable problems: Episode 1 (it may turn out to be the only one)

Boats, especially little ones like Berrimilla, tend to crash around a lot and move in 3 dimensions. Everything has to be tied down or otherwise restrained. Every horizontal flat surface has a “fiddle” around its edge – a little wooden wall to stop things sliding off and there are special fittings for holding mugs and glasses. (Always plastic ‘glasses’ and bottles and containers – gin, olive oil etc decanted from glass into labelled plastic – broken glass in a boat is a dreadful health hazard and completely avoidable). In particularly violent pitching and rolling, ordinary plates, cups, spoons, books, spectacles laptops etc simply launch over their fiddles and fly across the boat to crash into something on the other side like my head. A normal plate or bowl is exactly the right shape to assist such a launch and they are diverted upward by fiddles. Unpleasant and dangerous but if the plate is full of hot food, even more so, to say nothing of the wasted effort cooking and required later to clean up the mess. And if the plate is actually stopped or slowed by the fiddle, the food it contains will continue on its own. Yet to survive out here, or to remain functional in a fully crewed race over several days, hot food is essential.

There are various ways of dealing with this – simply ignoring the problem and grimly hanging on to plate, mug or whatever the unfortunate cook has managed to fill is one option, but it’s not easy to hold a fairly shallow plate with one hand, moving it in harmony with the boat, and using the other hand to hold on and eat with at the same time. Or just cooking instant noodles in those prepacked plastic bowls works works quite well but you cant live for ever on those.

Or consider the humble dogbowl. It is conical, usually with a turned out lip or flange around the base. The cone  contains a deep ‘crater’ with vertical sides and a flat bottom. This is an inherently stable shape and if placed inside a fiddle, it will not jump over it in any but the most severe conditions. It can be placed on the floor in reasonable conditions without tipping, sliding or spilling. Food in the crater is effectively contained by the vertical sides as long as the bowl is not filled too full

Several of them can be stacked in almost the same space as one alone and the top one can be filled by the cook without having to hold on to the stack as with normal plates and bowls. The dogbowl is easy to hold with one hand folded around the base and flange either palm up or, if sitting braced on the floor or in a bunk, with the near flange resting on ones collarbone and the thumb of one hand inside the outer part of the flange and the fingers on the outside. This is a particularly effective way of using it because it gets the food very close to the mouth with the bowl below to catch spillage and avoids long travel with a spoon, spilling greasy stew on ones trousers and shirt on the way. And they are easy to clean and stow as well.

Berrimilla has a set of 6 stainless steel dogbowls with 200mm craters purchased from Woolworths for the 1998 S2H and invaluable ever since.


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