Stuart Ratlidge has spent the past decade cooking up meals across the world – all from the galley of a ship.
The Whakatane local is the second cook of the Fairway, and lives onboard for weeks at a time, as he helps prepare three meals a day for a crew of 33.
It’s no easy feat getting those meals ready, and Stuart ensures the crew have only the best.
“We prepare everything from lamb racks to beef fillet and even salmon. But while we produce top-end restaurant quality we also have dishes like corned beef and home-cooked meals that the crew would miss from back home,” says Stuart.
It’s an around the clock job to feed those onboard, with Stuart’s shift starting at 7am and finishing at 7pm for 28 days straight. There’s also a night team that cook for crew members, as the Fairway is a 24-hour working operation.
Stuart loves the lifestyle and, having had the experience of running his own restaurant and working in hotels, he wouldn’t change a thing.
“I was drawn to the attraction of a different lifestyle. The work is consolidated into 12-hour days, which means after so many months of work I can afford to have a few months off,” he says.
“Working on ships has been a great opportunity, and we get to work with great produce and be creative.
“Good morale starts in the galley, so we like to make sure everyone is eating well.”
As some of you may have noticed, the Fairway is not around today! Late yesterday she headed off to Wellington to refuel. All going well, she will be back dredging tomorrow.
The yellow tug working around the Harbour is the Capricorn Alpha tug. The tug is a ‘sweep tug’ and is working on the Channel Deepening Project.
The tug tows a large blade along the sea floor to even out the troughs and humps left by the Fairway. She also helps scrape off the shallower parts that the dredge can’t reach. It might look like she’s working in circles, but she’s definitely hard at work!
Check out the great video below from Analia Fisher at local Lyttelton videographers www.takefive.co.nz
The Fairway has dredged 3.5 million cubic metres – or 70% of the proposed volume - of silt off the sea floor as part of the programme to widen, deepen and lengthen the navigational channel to allow larger ships to access the Port.
To achieve this, the Fairway has made around 275 trips to and from the disposal site.
Netting has been put in place at the end of the cruise berth site to ensure seabirds don’t get too close to the construction works.
Following advice from wildlife experts, we have installed fences and netting to discourage the birds from nesting there, as construction in this area will shortly get underway.
We’ve kept watch on the birds, and can see they’ve moved to the adjacent Z-Berth wharf - a much safer area.
The Fairway had a successful trip to Wellington, her fuel tanks are now full and she commenced dredging again this morning.
After two weeks of dredging, the Fairway needs to top up her fuel tanks. That requires a trip up to Wellington, so she'll be away for a few days (it takes a long time to fill her tanks!). We hope to see the Fairway back on Wednesday evening or Thursday morning.
Last week the Fairway had a visit from Environment Canterbury (ECan) staff so they could have a look at how the dredge works – inside and out!
ECan compliance officers, customer service staff and a marine scientist made the visit to ensure we were complying with the conditions of our dredging consent. By coming on board and getting first-hand information the ECan staff now better understand how the dredge works and can confidently answer any of the public's questions.
Before getting on board, they went through a safety briefing on shore. It was a picture-perfect day on the water, so everyone enjoyed heading out on the survey vessel to get to the Fairway.
ECan staff had plenty of questions about the dredge, and one of their top priorities was to hear how we are keeping an active lookout for marine mammals and how we record any sightings. All of the Fairway bridge crew have been trained in marine mammal observation and they keenly record any sightings made to help us better understand marine mammal behaviour around dredgers.