Our Thanksgiving was special this year. In addition to our “kids” Markus and Sabine, we had Sabine’s sister Maria and her friend Gottfried here from Germany.  This was their first traditional American Thanksgiving.  Gottfried was intensely interested in the process of taking the stuffing out of the 24-pound turkey. (See Photo.)

Gottfriend and Maria

Gottfried was our skipper from France to St. Lucia during our Voyage One.  And Maria joined us in Tenerife, Canary Islands, and sailed across the Atlantic with us.

Gottfried reminded me of the Thanksgiving celebration on Pacific Bliss, enduring heavy seas during the Gibraltar-to-Canaries passage.  This was definitely NOT traditional!  I used our pressure cooker to cook up a chicken and what was left of our tired vegetables. The seas were too “lumpy” to use our non-gimbaled oven!

Gottfried watches Gunter

Following is an excerpt from my new book, In Search of Adventure and Moments of Bliss: Maiden Voyage:

Thanksgiving at Sea

33°  30.5′ N, 9° 56′ W

…As clouds race in to snatch the sunrise, my thoughts turn toward traditional Thanksgiving celebrations with friends and family at home:  a giant turkey monopolizing the table, surrounded by dressing, mashed potatoes, gravy, side dishes, with an assortment of pies on the side board.  I miss the phone calls to and from our children and others who can’t be with us.  It feels so, so lonesome out here.

Okay.  Get with it.  I continue my soliloquy at the helm while the guys are fast asleep…

I retrieve the pressure cooker and its cover with the rubber seals from our pan storage underneath the galley sink; then, I fill it with chicken, along with some tired celery and greens from the fridge.  I take the manual down from the recipe shelf, look up the correct amount of water, and bravely set it on the burner.  The cooker hisses steadily as it reaches full pressure.  Mesmerized, I think back to how, as a preschooler, I hid behind my barefooted mother’s muumuu-style housedress, peeking out to watch the steam volcano, waiting for it to “blow its top,” an expression my German father used all the time.  Now, I wait for the valve’s three red lines to appear, then watch Günter carefully lift it from the stove and into the sink.

It worked!  As Pacific Bliss lurches through the waves, the four of us enjoy a Thanksgiving dinner in the salon.  The chicken is not overcooked like my mother’s beef; it is surprisingly juicy and tasty, and the vegetables are firm.  Christian has recovered and regained his appetite.  Günter is hungry, as usual.  I’m starved.  And Gottfried is amazed.  “I never knew pressure cookers were so useful,” he admits.  “When I bought my used boat, I threw away the cover to the cooker because it wouldn’t fit well in the galley shelves.  I thought it took up too much space, so I used only the bottom, and then couldn’t find a good top to fit tight!”

This is a Gottcha Gottfried moment I cannot resist:  “Serves you right!”

We all break out laughing – especially Günter, who is a like-minded “minimalist.”  The two of them have been driving me berserk because they insisted on having as few items on the boat as possible, using the excuse that a catamaran must be kept light…

Now, on Thanksgiving, after gorging, we feel just like Americans always feel after their Thanksgiving dinners:  stuffed like a turkey.  And I store my pressure cooker, feeling like I have made a new friend.

Gunter carves the Big Bird

To read more, you need to buy the book!  It will be available on Amazon in a few weeks.

In the meantime, please read my original journal entry from our Thanksgiving at Sea by clicking here.