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Behind the Scenes of our Summer Sailing Shoot

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“Guys – the hatches are all closed, right?”

On a sailboat, there are plenty of good times to ask this question: say, right as you’re pushing off from the dock, leaving the marina, or even (if you like to live dangerously) as you’re sailing along on smooth seas. Really, if you think about it, there are only a couple of clearly wrong times to ask this question. The exact moment that some unexpected wake crashes across the bow of your boat? Yep, that’s one of them.

For those uninitiated, “hatch” is the nautical term for an opening in the deck of a ship – an opening which can of course be closed to keep people in and water out. On this particular afternoon, we would apparently forget this function.

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Let’s back up to set the stage a bit. Four members of the Marx Foods crew – Matt, Ryan, Justin, and me – as well as a friend of the company, Saskia, had all come out to Shilshole Marina for a video shoot highlighting Silver Fern Farms Venison. From the marina, we hopped on a beautiful 36 foot sailboat, cruised down into Elliott Bay, and got some video footage with the Seattle skyline as our backdrop.

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For the video crew, video shoot days mean tons and tons of work. The same goes for our actors, Justin and Saskia, though the work is a bit more relaxed and tends to include eating something delicious. As for me, well, a day like this is pretty much an excuse to hang out on a sailboat for a day and call it “working.”

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I don’t have much experience with sailboats, so naturally I was designated the backup captain (probably just because I didn’t seem to be helping with anything else).  When the time came for Justin to concentrate on grilling, I took over as captain. My primary duty was to make sure we didn’t crash into something or, as Matt so eloquently put it, “Just try not to kill everyone on the boat.” I thought about responding with a quote from Captain Philips – “I am the captain now!” – but I decided against it since my poor passengers were probably in almost as much danger as Tom Hanks was at the time.

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From there, I led us haphazardly around Elliott Bay for a couple hours, somehow managing to avoid the other boats in the bay.  We soaked up the sun, enjoyed some incredible venison, and savored the experience of “working” on a sailboat for a day. The time eventually came to call it a day, so Justin (back at the helm again, to the relief of our white-knuckled passengers) got us pointed back in the direction of the marina.

No more than five or ten minutes later, a boat sped across our path diagonally. At the time no one seemed to think anything of it – I can’t even recall what color it was – but in no time we found ourselves cruising headlong into the largest wake we had seen all day.

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“Guys – the hatches are all closed, right?”

The answer to this question was, of course, no. So when the wake started slopping over the bow of the boat, gallons of it crashed straight through the open hatch and directly into the bedroom. Now, this was an overhead hatch we’re talking about (picture a 2’ by 2’ square skylight directly above the bed) so the water wasted no time pouring right in and getting comfortable on the bed.

When we had crested the last swell and the water had finished cascading through the hatch, Justin went down to survey the damage. The contents of the bedroom were completely soaked and the boat was doomed to smell like low tide for a week, but otherwise we came away relatively unscathed. Most importantly though, the accidental bedroom waterfall meant that my sloppy shift as captain wouldn’t be remembered!  In fact, I think it makes me a better captain than Justin, though this is up for some debate.

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Looking back on this day, the fact that these had been our only challenges really puts things in perspective – we’re pretty lucky to get to have this kind of work day. Ok, if you add in the top notch venison and the super tasty recipes, expertly crafted by Kim Brauer and Becky Selengut, then it becomes clear that we’re just completely and totally spoiled. It’d take a lot more than my blundering shift as captain and some misplaced ocean water to mess a day like this up.

Reed Buchanan is the Marx Foods buyer and also helps coordinate the Service team. You can read more about him and his aversion to bok choy here.



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