Mission & Objectives
Scientists & Crew
Steward Carl Wood
Carl Wood on the deck of RV Atlantis.
Woods title on RV Atlantis is Chief Steward.
But his real role on the ship includes so much more than
managing the kitchen (or galley) and ship supplies. A southern
California native, Carl loves to swim and can often be seen
in a bathing suit and flippers aiding in Alvin recoveries.
Blindfolded, youd think the food he cooks came from
a high-powered gourmet restaurant. Think of him as one of Atlantis several
Carl makes his land-bound home in Martinez Lake, Ariz., near
Yuma in the southeastern part of that state. But hes been with Woods Hole Oceanographic Institutions
marine operations since 1987, and hes proud to think of this vessel as
his home too.
the simplest way of describing your job?
CARL: As a steward, youre in
charge of making sure we have enough food when we set sail, and
enough cleaning materials. You also need to make sure sanitation
standards are being met, and that food preparation standards are
being met. But with Al (the ship cook), his standards are so much
higher than the official ones that you dont have to worry
much about that.
seems that you do a lot more than that description suggests, though.
CARL: Yeah, Ive been working
with these people for more than 15 years. So, I proved myself pretty
early on, and ever since then theyve let me do my thing.
The captain is my immediate boss. I deal with more of the programming
issues, making sure things in the galley run smoothly.
And I cook, of course. Al and I switch up meals, so that usually I spend more
of the early time of the day working. That helps so I can swim with the Alvin
crew in the afternoons.
do you figure out how much food to bring?
CARL: You dummy up a menu that covers
4-6 months. You dont stick to it day to day, of course, but
that gives you a rough outline. A lot of it is math: You figure
on sausage links twice a week, sausage patties twice, fish a certain
number of dinners per week, and go from there. You figure on 48
people per meal. 35 steaks per meal, and so on. Its not exact,
but after a while you learn how to do it.
I can order all the frozen and non-perishable food 4 months in
advance. Then the perishable stuff produce, some baking supplies you order each
port stop. The great thing is, WHOI gives me a lot of freedom with things like
my budget. And the money can be averaged over a long period four months
-- so you can order tenderloin and shrimp if youre smart about it.
amazes me that you can plan meals that far in advance.
CARL: Well, you do the primary things
first: strip sirloins, whole turkeys, things like that. Then, leftovers
determine what we do with soups, casseroles, stir fries, barbecue
sandwiches, things like that. I learned how to do this over 15
years. The one truly unique thing about working in this environment
is that you cant run out to the store if somethings
missing or you dont have enough.
could get away with cooking much less interesting meals than you
do. People would be satisfied. But the food that you and Al cook
is really original. Where do you get your ideas?
CARL: I eat out 15 times a year. Ive
worked in kitchens since 1972. I took classes at the Culinary Institute
of America. I look in newspapers, cookbooks. I remember things my
mom made and try to recreate them. I ask one of my 21 friends on
the boat; they think of things they havent had in years. The
key for me is I use the best ingredients possible: heavy cream, real
butter, extra virgin olive oil. And I know how to tweak things to
give them a little something extra, with sauces, different vinegars,
things like that. I have fun with all my ingredients.
seem have fun a lot.
CARL: I do whatevers fun. I
swim, I cook, I get out on the water. I was a competitive swimmer
from age 8 to 16. On this ship I can travel the globe, see the
world. And the people out here, were here for a reason. We
like this life, we like where were at, were good at
what we do. Ive known a lot of them for 15 years. Ive
grown a lot as a person here, and this is where Ill be til
Im done. Im at peace. Im home.
about your life off the ship?
CARL: Thats another thing living
on a ship is good for: It occurred to me a while ago that I can
live anywhere I like. I moved to southeastern Arizona because thats
where Im happiest. I grew up in Escondido, which used to
be farmland and a really neighborly kind of place, but now its
changed so much, its gotten so overdeveloped, and its
really not home anymore.
Where I am now is pretty undeveloped, no one is in a hurry to do
a free wilderness. I can go out my door, get in my kayak and go down the Colorado
River and just be there, alone. The birds know me there.
interesting that you value wide open spaces but you enjoy life
on a relatively small ship. Theres that prison-like feeling
people talk about with life at sea.
CARL: Yeah, but, you know, were
in prison no matter where we are. There are walls and boundaries
everywhere in life, limitations you set up or that are just there.
You get rid of one, theres another. So you have to learn to
move around within that. On board, there are great people, great
movies, books, the water. Im very happy.