January 20 Interview
Carl Owen Wood (C.O.W.), Chief Steward
Conducted by Alison Sipe, Graduate Student, University
of Delaware College of Marine Studies
Hometown: Born in Southern California, but now lives on Martinez Lake, an off-shoot of the Colorado River
in southern Arizona.
Favorite musical groups: Ever-changing.
Favorite movie: This is also ever-changing, but recently he has been moved by the stunning realism of Saving
Hobbies: Loves to be outside and in touch with nature. He does many outdoor activities such as
kayaking, body boarding, and paddling in the Fisher's Bay area of Martinez Lake while observing the natural world
and knowing that life is good. In addition to all of the athletics, he is also satisfied with sitting in
a lawn chair and watching the water trickle by.
General job description: As Chief Steward, Carl manages time, menus, supplies, and all people involved
in feeding the people onboard the vessel. He participates in the preparation of breakfast, lunch, dinner, and the
most-cherished afternoon snacks.
What is the most unusual dish you have prepared on board? The concoctions he creates for the ceremonial
Equator crossings are the most interesting, or should we say nauseating. Crossing the Equator while on the
ocean is a rite of passage, which involves good-hearted initiation rituals. Without revealing any secrets,
Carl notes that the slop he prepares for the Crossings includes such delicacies as anchovy paste, chocolate sauce,
Dijon mustard, raspberry jam, old spaghetti, and jello studded with eggshells. All this, with a hint of curry
flavoring. He certainly didn't learn this recipe at the Hyde Park Culinary Institute!
What is the crew's favorite meal? Everyone loves pizza. Carl does not skimp on toppings and
bakes a delicious crust to serve them on.
What is your favorite dish to prepare? Tuna cooked to perfection and topped with pineapple salsa.
How did you choose your current occupation? Carl and his older brother grew up spending lots of time
on his grandparents' farm and in his parents' garden, so they have always been in touch with cultivating livestock
and crops. He has worked in kitchens since he was 14 years old. He spent three years in college, but decided
that his skills were elsewhere and so pursued his cooking talents. Carl perfected some of his techniques through
taking courses in the Culinary Institute at Hyde Park in Manhattan. His work in restaurants evolved into a
position as the steward on a scuba-diving charter boat, and he soon discovered that blending his cooking talents
with life on the water was a perfect mix for him. He first began working on oceanographic research vessels
in 1987 and has been keeping the ship and science crews' bellies full ever since.
Best aspect of job: Cooking is an art, and it allows Carl to create. He finds great satisfaction
with pleasing others as they enjoy his food.
Worst aspect of job: Carl feels that living at sea can be difficult since other parts of life associated
with land only come in doses. He wishes he could be closer to his family, and at times misses the normalcy
of the immediate world.
How many days per year do you spend at sea? Carl spends about nine months per year at sea - his rotation
includes four months on, followed by a two-month vacation.
What's next? On January 31st, Carl is meeting with an architect to discuss his plans to build his
new home constructed of straw and covered with stucco. Patios on the second floor with both SW and NE exposures,
in addition to another open roof patio designed especially for viewing meteor showers will provide him with a prime
view of the Arizona skies. The second-floor jacuzzi doesn't sound too shabby either.
Did you eat your brussel sprouts as a child? Yes, Mom and Dad had the "two bites and no comment"
rule. He did not like to eat okra and eggplant when he was a child, but now savors all vegetables.
What is it like to be involved as a Swimmer for the Alvin's launch-and-retrieval activities?
Carl loves swimming. Since he grew up in Southern California, he has always swam in the ocean and rode the waves. He
began swimming competitively when he was eight years old and continued to race through high school. His best
event was the 50-meter butterfly. Ouch! He has been a Swimmer for the Alvin group for over five years. The
Swimmers are involved with the launch and retrieval of the submarine - assisting the pilot before the dive and
helping to ensure it is lifted from the water and placed back on the ship safely. While in the water, he loves
the freedom of three dimensions. The people in the sub often look out their portholes and spot Carl doing
somersaults and corkscrews through the water. It is always clear that Carl enjoys what he is doing because he makes
it fun for himself and those around him; one of his colleagues comments on Carl's gift to at the same time perform
his job with the highest levels of perfection.