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Cooking On-Board for Beginners

Cooking On-Board for Beginners

Many new sailors who are setting out for the first time probably have a mental list of things they’re looking forward to. Sunsets in Bali, diving in New Zealand, beach hopping in Greece. They’d be frantically ticking them off in their head, anticipation rising until someone halts them in mid-dream and congratulates them for the bravery they’re showing for cooking on board. That’s when it will probably hit for real – how do you cook on board?

Naturally, they would have thought about this already but in reality, it isn’t until you’re really about to set sail that you stop to think of the bare logistics. It is at this point that they will probably gulp and run a hand through their hair thinking, “About that…” Well, we’ve got great news for you. What might seem extraordinarily overwhelming only needs a tad bit of practice? Be warned though, this is not something you can wing. You can’t run down to your nearest grocer when you’re twenty miles out at sea.  So here are a few tips to get you started on your trip, without the cooking hassle.

Make lists. Make many lists.

If you’re about to set sail and plan to be out at sea for long periods of time, plan out each day in terms of food. List ingredients, utensils, hardcopy recipes and amounts. Make sure you’ve got everything on board before you set sail, and if you still realise you’ve forgotten an ingredient behind, improvise and substitute (in a sense, that’s the beauty of onboard cooking – spontaneity and creativity with ingredients). You won’t be using electrical equipment so find utensils which can substitute this. If you forgot parts of a recipe, there will be no internet to fast check, so print everything before you go!

Think basic

Don’t get ingredients you can only use for one specific thing. Get basic ingredients you can use and re-use for multiple meals. Stock up on cans rather than fresh. We know this is common sense but some people fail to realise that, without the proper temperature (and in a boat in Summer, this could get to boiling levels) vegetable and fruit will be the first to ripe and eventually rot.

Space is limited and precious

Be flexible with your limited use of working space and see whether you can double surfaces for multi-purpose tasks. Dispose of any extra packaging, which is taking up space without many purposes. Many boxes usually have plastic packets inside which is usually enough. Foods like cereal boxes, readily mixed couscous, anything that has boxes that contain separate packages, can go. Before you go about dismantling everything, however, make sure the outer packaging isn’t there to protect what’s inside from breakages or spillage. Better take up space than having accidents on board.

Water is also limited, precious and essential – so don’t waste it!

Remember, you will need water not just to drink but also to shower, wash dishes, make drinks with, cook. Try to reuse the water as much as possible. Water found in cans can be used to cook with. Never leave the faucet running when you’re washing any fresh vegetables. Rather, fill up a bowl and soak them there, reusing the same water.

The boat WILL rock

And on that note, secure everything on shelves that could potentially fall and break. Use non-slip utensils and pots as much as possible. Use plastic dishes unless the occasion demands something finer. When the water is particularly choppy (and you will encounter such situations) prep your meal while sitting down as much as possible. Never leave anything, especially objects which could cause harm, running around on surfaces. Although you may be anchored in a very calm space, a boat may whizz by and rock your boat unexpectedly. So be prepared. Always.

Although these tips are meant to help you be more at ease with cooking on board, they are in no way a sign that things will go wrong when you cook in the galley. Cooking on board is one of the loveliest experiences you’ll have when you’re sailing. Think; dazzling sunrises and sea the colour of an emerald as you (carefully) flip pancakes for your al fresco breakfast anchored near a deserted island in Croatia. Tomorrow it will be Italy. Give us this cooking over any, any day.