Seaplane Produce Delivery Saves a Yachtie Chef From Frozen Veggies

Categories: Rants
Photo by Sara Ventiera
When down island, sometimes the only produce stand looks more like a seaplane.

Chef Sara Ventiera is on a three-week trip to the Bahamas, manning the kitchen on a 91-foot yacht. She will file regular updates from the waters about what it's like to work on a yacht, from pretrip provisioning to seaplane produce delivery. Click here for previous reports.

The radio crackles to life with the pilot's voice nearly overpowered by the buzzing engine in the background. "Captain, ETA, five minutes. Repeat, ETA, five minutes," says Paul, the pilot.

The still water is a bright turquoise under the cloudy gray skies. It had just started drizzling. We circled around in the tender, waiting. One of the guests is planning to depart. I was waiting for my produce delivery. Then we hear it: the muted roar of a single-engine seaplane in the distance. Our chariot approaches.

We watch it descend quickly. There's a whoosh as the pontoons hit the water. Time to
move. We follow the plane to its destination, a desolate beach just outside the marina. We approach slowly, tilting the engines of the tender, careful not to damage the props in the shallow water. We beach the bow. Paul greets us, waving from one of the pontoons. Off jumps the captain and the departing guest.

The makeshift runway.

The pilot escorts the guest onto the plane. As I watch him climb aboard, I can see my produce boxes in the baggage compartment, not much larger than the trunk of a small SUV. The captain walks over and carries them back, handing them to me over the bow. We precariously back away from the beach. As we idle back, Paul cranks up the plane's engine. It whines and roars as the plane glides atop the water. He quickly passes us to line up his runway. He chooses a clear path between two small rocky islands. From our point of view, the trip looks as effortless as an afternoon car ride.

We arrive back at the boat, fresh produce in tow. The plane has come just in time. I was running low on nearly everything. My daily rations of berries, eggs, and greens has been replenished. Had it not been for Paul and the seaplane, I would have been serving frozen vegetables.

Now that the guests have left, the ship is down to the crew, the boss, and his wife. And a few new boxes of produce.

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