National Fisherman

At Sea Diary

Matt MarinkovichMatt Marinkovich’s weekly At Sea Diary entry is a popular feature of the National Fisherman Web site, and now you can post your own reflections on Matt’s experiences fishing in the Pacific Northwest and North Pacific.

March 5-May 4, 2008 — As long as the Discovery has been in service, it has had a Jenn-Air cooktop in the galley, with a griddle that interchanges with a double burner; it used to have a grill as well, but I got rid of that a long time ago when I started bringing a gas barbecue on the trip. That thing had been on its last leg for the past five years, but Mike kept tweaking the wires to make it last just a little bit longer.

He suggested getting a new one, but I said as long as he could keep this one going, I was more than happy with it. All the Teflon had worn off the griddle so I could use metal utensils when I cooked, and although the griddle was warped and wavy way beyond a simple nuisance, it was seasoned so nicely I had no intention of parting with it.

I guess that old cooktop gave it up when Mike went on his fall tuna trip, because there was a brand new Jenn-Air griddle looking at me when I showed up this spring to help put the gear on. It looked quite glamorous, with its sleek, modern low profile and brand new Teflon griddle.

By the time we left for fishing Mike had toughened it up by welding on side rails made out of some scrap aluminum he had lying around. I asked Mike if I could grind the Teflon off, but I could tell he wasn't into that idea. He handed me a plastic spatula and told me to have at it.

One of the built-in safety features is that it doesn't get very hot. I could burn food really quick on the old one; but this new one, well, I didn't burn anything all season long. That may sound like a good thing, but if you've only got 20 minutes to cook, you want to cook on HIGH; this thing's HIGH is medium-low at best.

There's just no power — when I used to turn the old one on it pulled down the generator so much I thought it was going to kill the engine; quite frequently it would blow the breaker. Now when I turn the griddle on the generator doesn't even waiver a bit, and it didn't blow the breaker all season.

Of course I've adapted; I crank the old oil stove up and cook on the giant frying pan. This seems like a simple remedy, but in doing so the stove turns the galley into a heat pit — all the windows and doors have to be shut to really get the stove surface hot.

The problem is when it's really rough the stove doesn't get very hot because the float in the carburetor has trouble floating as the boat is being tossed about. Either way, I've maintained the practice of keeping the big frying pan on the stove all the time, in case I need to give something a quick sear, of which the new griddle is hardly capable.

With all its deficiencies, it still performed just fine, and I really have nothing to complain about. After all, having a low-power griddle is much better than having no griddle at all.

TO BE CONTINUED...

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