Nemo and the Mermaid Board Poseidon

 Editor’s Note: Poseidon is host to many friends and characters alike.  This past Memorial Day weekend was no exception, as she was boarded by two characters called Nemo and the Mermaid.  Our trips with Nemo and his mermaid mate are always memorable, but rarely recorded.  Nemo often threatens to write everything down, but we’ve never seen the evidence.  This time, to our pleasant surprise, he actually did what he has often said he would do and even more wondrous, remembered (eventually) to send us the file.  You’ll note that he refers to himself in the third person, but this is merely a Nemo quirk.  He talks that way in person, too.  (“Nemo is getting hungry.  Nemo would like a beer now.”) It’s a little strange, but we’ve gotten used to it, particularly since he has a perfect memory for what was served, conveniently allowing us to link to the recipes.



MV Poseidon’s cook and her master and commander (the boat’s, not the cook’s) take Nemo and the mermaid out to Santa Cruz, Nemo thinking is the cook really the master and commander? 

More at home in the water than on the boat, the mermaid rides the sofa for eighteen miles and misses her cousins, the dolphins.  Little does she know she’ll meet their giant brothers a couple of days later, up close and personal.

They say about these waters, if you don’t like today’s weather just wait till tomorrow, and the night before Poseidon sinks her anchor at Yellowbanks, sails have blown out and boats careered into each other all over the anchorage.  By lunch time, however, it’s calm and an Italian Tuna Salad is the perfect way to ease into a few days of vigorous food exercises. 

Almost as gratifying as experiencing a great meal is its anticipation and, reading and lazing – even some cold water swimming – that anticipation builds as the cook makes the bread for tonight’s meal.  She’s planning Mussels and Clams in the Bag, which will be grilled on the ship’s barbecue. The crew seems intent on the ‘in the bag’ part of the recipe and a couple of high test fruity drinks gets them half way there.  So the first day eases into the first night and all too soon comes sun-up the second day, Sunday, kicked off with the master and commander’s Macedonia, a breakfast fruit salad fondly remembered and recreated from his days landlocked in Eritrea – the days before he discovered the sea.

Par for the mermaid’s food course, she’s already worrying about a calorie count – well, one would if one were concerned about personal buoyancy; but the glorious thing about food on MV Poseidon is that the boat eats ‘clean.’  Hard to describe exactly what this means without going into an excessive detail bordering on smug.  It’s enough to say that nothing is processed, almost everything is fresh – most of it bought local.  Without being obsessive, the cook is very strict about her ingredients and nothing except the sheer pleasure of the galley goes to extremes or excesses.  So it is that even a creature as choosy as the mermaid can abandon her food fetishes when she’s aboard, and revel in the meals.  Buoyancy is not longer a factor …

The Sunday lunch is a Crab, Mango, Tangerine and Avocado Salad – the crab from the local fish market, the tangerines, mangos, butter lettuce and avocados from the Farmer’s Market.

That afternoon, the master and commander determines to impress Nemo with his fishing skills.  Or is it Nemo trying to impress the master and commander? Either way, nothing finds its way onto their hooks.  In fact, only one boat in the area catches anything  – its own anchor.  The self-deluding fisherman (aren’t all fishermen self-deluding?) is sure he’s latched onto the biggest ray in the Pacific but after an hour’s heaving and hauling the sad truth is revealed.

Poseidon’s crew turns away.  Fishing can be humiliating enough without witnesses to that humiliation.

On to the evening’s cocktail party, friends dinghying over from various boats in the anchorage, many bringing varieties of cocktails hitherto unknown by man, beast or sailor.  The cook intends to serve a ceviche but the peaceful hours leading up to the party play games with her cooking reflexes and she’s forced to make a rapid last minute adjustment.  The ceviche turns into a Santa Cruz Shrimp Cocktail – infinitely preferable to ceviche, in Nemo’s never too humble view. 

Served with home-made-just-fried chips, it disappears down gullets faster than an anchovy down a sea bass.  Sighs and moans of pleasure replace conversation and the only complaint is Nemo’s:  his plate’s empty and so is the serving dish.

The guests leave, dinghies weaving in the general direction of their host vessels, and Poseidon’s crew settles in for the night, but not before one of the finest, lightest, most welcome suppers anyone can remember:  Sesame Crusted Ahi Tuna on a bed of Spinach.

It’s the perfect end to the day and hard to believe that any succeeding meal can improve on it.

Oh, ye of little faith.

The great thing about a powerboat is that when the night’s insistent swell slaps you around like an old-fashioned music teacher, four-four and on the beat, you just say ‘fin,’ up anchor and abandon the lesson.  Sure, even the most hard-boiled sailors have iron gennies these days but there’s something different about two big Cats and plenty of avoirdupoids. Poseidon has the Cats and she weighs in at 60 tons.

Smugglers’ to Prisoners’ is a short step and the ship’s company hangs out there until their anchorage of choice, Pelican, clears out; unlucky those whose work schedules insist – and the crew is happy to have taken extra days off.  The cook, Nemo and the mermaid head for shore and a delightful walk, but the master and commander has an urgent mission to test the pilot house bunk. 

The cook cools out at a gnarled and long-abandoned picnic table while the mermaid and Nemo gather wild fennel for the evening’s Barbecued Shrimp, which will be part of the evening’s self-assembled Poblanos y Mas de la Bahia de Pelicanos

Mexican food is one of the few subjects which make waves between Nemo and the mermaid but here he minds his Ps and Qs, not only because he fears the lash of the mermaid’s tail but because he has a blind belief and total faith in the cook.  He knows that, in her hands, Mexican food bears little relation to the stuff he’s experienced in mediocre Mexican restaurants. 

But before it comes to this, there’s the traditional Memorial Day barbecue, except that the burgers bear no relation to that word other than they’re beef, round, and are served on buns.  For the first time on this trip, the mermaid sticks to her culinary fins and substitutes a Portobello mushroom for the red meat.  Grilling the Portobello puzzles the master and commander for a beat but a cold beer brings him to his senses.

To be continued in part two……