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Sea life of an intendant on a mission

Happy crew, happy boat is a saying that Race for Water Intendant, Christelle Brigeot-Mathieu, keeps in line with her responsibilities. 

Christelle is part of the Race for Water 2017-2021 odyssey around the world to promote clean ocean and how to best reduce plastic leaking into the ocean. 

She spoke to the Samoa Observer earlier this week about how she loves her job, and being only one of three females on board the boat.  

“My role is to obviously buy all the food and also make sure that the boat is clean,” Christelle said. 

“I have to make sure that everyone is doing their daily routine like cleaning the bathroom during the hoovering and cooking. Everyone cooks - two crew members at the same time; one chef, one sous-chef, and they have to cook for the whole day. 

“Sometimes there are better cooks than others, but we help each other and we make sure we have a good food, good meal, because for us when we’re on sea, when we are sailing, one of the most important thing during the day is sharing a good meal together, and talk about something else rather than the job.”

Because French obviously like a good meal, Christelle said she has to be a “little mother” on the boat in distributing rations for the crew.   

“I have to make sure we have a lot of fruits for our voyage. When we stopover at a certain place I go out to buy food.”

Last Saturday as the Race for Water docked at the Matautu Wharf, she went to the fish market at 6am to buy lobsters and crabs. 

“I know that there is a fresh market and supermarket, so I try to buy local because when we stay at one island we try to buy fruits from the island, the fish, the meat from the island and we try to eat like the locals,” she said.  

“For the next navigation to Tonga, I will buy fresh fruits from here because we have nothing left from the last navigation, so everything will be from Samoa, good bananas, good pineapples. 

“We have everything on the boat. I know that this crew they like fresh fruits. So I always make sure we have plenty of mangoes, avocados etc.” 

Christelle said some time she would spend about $1,000- $2,000 tala, maybe more depending on their stops. For Samoa, they are only here for a week. 

“It’s only one week this time, last time it was two weeks of sailing so it was a bit more. I try to have a budget, but at the same time I try to buy things that will make the crew happy, so I try give what they want, because we’re a Foundation and we do not have enough money, but we have enough to buy local.”

Sometimes the ration goes faster, so she has to keep some away and give the each crew member a small portion at a time. 

“Like for the mangoes, I have to keep some away and give them little by little. So I have to give them bits otherwise they can eat everything in two days and then there are no more mangoes. So I’m like a little mother for the crew,” Christelle said. 

“I try to make everyone happy, so that they have what they want to eat because when you are away from your family, sailing for two weeks, we don’t have internet, the food is very important and also the cleaning of the boat, because when everything is messy, when everything is dirty is not good. 

“I make sure that everything runs smoothly and everyone is happy. Sometimes it is a challenge, I miss my family, and anything can happen in France when you’re away.”

Christelle joined the odyssey in Tahiti last two months and has never regretted her decision.  

“I enjoy it, it’s wonderful. It’s such an opportunity to travel and work for a cause, it’s so interesting. And being in Samoa, it’s so wonderful. 

“I have never been here before. We got a chance to cruise around the island a little, it’s a beautiful island. I am very excited to be here.”

She is not only a “mother” for the crew; she also has a part to play in the general operation of the boat. 

“I help out on the float when we arrive. I do my watch also 2 hours per day and per night when we’re sailing, I do pretty much the work of the crew, but I take care also of the interior and everything,” Christelle. 

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