SAN DIEGO — Plowing through the Indian Ocean in the Volvo Ocean Race, the sailors aboard the U.S.-based Team Alvimedica found Thanksgiving treats stashed in their food bags Thursday.
There was turkey jerky, pumpkin cookies and even cranberry sauce to spread on their normal freeze-dried fare.
"The turkey jerky was as good as it gets," skipper Charlie Enright said by satellite phone.
Enright, of Bristol, Rhode Island, said the Thanksgiving food was a surprise from the sailors' wives, girlfriends and shore crew.
"As you remember those you leave behind, you realize people are rooting for you out here. That's pretty cool," Enright said. "We didn't realize the extent it was going to be. We got pictures of our families, little videos and stuff like that."
Still, for the sailors, "it doesn't get a lot bigger than the food," Enright said.
The turkey jerky was as close to the real thing as the crew was going to get. Because of space and weight restrictions, the crew's meals are freeze-dried. The main meal Thursday was freeze-dried roast chicken.
"Poultry is poultry and we'll just have to pretend it is turkey, though we were given some special cranberry spread to help the cause," on-board reporter Amory Ross wrote in his blog.
"You can only eat mush for so long, no matter what it tastes like," Enright said, referring to the freeze-dried food.
Team Alvimedica was alternating between fifth and sixth place in the seven-boat fleet, some 30 nautical miles behind the leader on the second leg, from Cape Town to Abu Dhabi.
The Thanksgiving meal came as the crew tried to dodge wind-sapping clouds and prepared for a cyclone that had been downgraded but was still expected to give the fleet a rough ride.
Ross wrote in his blog that while only four sailors on Team Alvimedica are Americans, "it's realistic to say we are a family of nine for the next year."
He offered up some things the crew was thankful for:
— "Thanks to the nice clouds in our FUTURE, and not those of our past. We have not exactly won the Thanksgiving Day lottery_it has been a tough morning of getting bounced around underneath clouds. Five tacks in six hours_uggggh."
— "Thanks to whoever invented deodorant, as this is one absurdly smelllly bunch."
— "Thanks to the Cyclone in our path for getting downgraded, and for being 'disorganized'_very much like we feel at the moment, actually. Five tacks makes a mess of the stack and life onboard is somewhat scattered. Like the cyclone. A relief!"
— "Most importantly, Thanks to our families for understanding our absence from the dinner table! We know what we are sacrificing to be here but we are doing what we love and that will have to suffice for now! A very Happy Thanksgiving to all of you from those of us at sea on Alvimedica!"
Team Alvimedica is based in Newport, Rhode Island, and sponsored by a Turkish company. It is the youngest of the seven crews, with an average age of just more than 31 1/2 years. It finished fifth on the opening leg.
The Volvo Ocean Race began Oct. 11 from Alicante, Spain, and will end in Gothenburg, Sweden, in June. It will cover 38,739 nautical miles. The U.S. stopover is in Newport from May 5-17.
Follow Bernie Wilson on Twitter at http://twitter.com/berniewilson