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Making bread the Clipper way

'Team Switzerland' approaches Rio Photo: Clipper

If somebody back home in London had asked me to produce some bread, I would have nipped across the road to the local supermarket and bought a loaf. It would never have occurred to me to make it myself.

But in the Atlantic Ocean, just south of the Equator, there is no Sainsbury's so the crew of my Clipper Race yacht Switzerland have to make it themselves each morning. But as I discovered when I had to do it, there are a number of tricky aspects.

On board Switzerland Credit: Clipper

Firstly, the bread has to be ready for breakfast at 0530 UTC so making it starts around 0230 UTC. I am not at my sharpest at 0230 UTC. Secondly, the only illumination in the kitchen is a set of dim red lights. Clipper Race yachts switch all the lights to red in the evenings to preserve their night vision - which makes reading the instructions on a pack of bread mix very difficult indeed. And thirdly, the whole boat is at a tilt of around 25 degrees. This is because our yacht is sailing at an angle towards the wind which makes it lean sharply, but that makes doing things on board really complicated.

Every time you take a step, you have to find something to hold on to so you can keep your balance on the sloping floor - it saps your strength as you need to haul yourself around the boat. Trying to pour ingredients requires a lot of patience and concentration. And if you're not careful, there is always a risk that objects in the kitchen will slide across the work surface and spill onto the floor.

In the end, my bread making effort was deemed a success - largely thanks to expert advice from my crewmate Ralf Nielsen who runs a baking business in California. If we don't get to our destination Rio soon, my limited bread making skills may be put to the test once again!

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