We spend a great deal of our time doing it. We talk about it multiple times a day with close friends and even strangers. You must do it for your very survival. That’s right, you have got to EAT! Add a boat and water to the recipe and that just brings out the fun. That is if you give a little thought to the process and plan it right! Here’s what you need to keep in mind.
1. Safety first!
We have all heard the story of that guy who lit his boat on fire. I don’t want you to be that guy. So find your extinguisher, and check that it is not only the right kind for galley fires, but also that it is in good working order, and is not past its expiration date. Make sure it is USCG compliant for your boat. Also, check that your galley has adequate handholds, or a galley belt so that you don’t end up on your butt along with the catch of the day.
2. Operational galley!
Cooking is more fun when you have a safe and organized space. Make sure you have secure storage for your tools, keeping them near to hand but out of your hair in the event of rough water. Be sure you are equipped with good, reliable kitchen equipment. Check the basics before you cast off. Does the stove work? Do you have gas or charcoal for the grill? Is the fire extinguisher close and functional? All the food you brought is worthless if you can’t cook it!
3. Tools of the trade!
Make sure you have the necessary utensils with which to cook, serve, and eat your meals. Thinking through the steps of your meal preparation is part of planning a successful boating trip. If you remember to bring the linguini for the clams, but forget the necessary strainer cooking suddenly becomes more complicated. Jury-rigging cooking equipment while underway can lead to burns, messy clean up, and even worse a ruined dinner!
4. Sanitation is a must!
I know it’s hard to believe, but rum does not clean everything! Make sure to have enough dish detergent, all-purpose cleaner, and supplies to sanitize your boat. Also remember that you don’t have a lot of space so repackage cleaning supplies into smaller containers that stow away more easily onboard.
5. Likes, dislikes, and itchy throats!
Be sure to inquire about dietary needs, and those all-important allergies when hosting guests aboard your boat. It’s not a good day when you serve up your special chipotle shrimp quiche, only to then find your friend in anaphylactic shock from the seafood.
6. The staples!
It is amazing to me how much better some things are with just a little salt, pepper, or dried basil. Your basic staple spices take up very little space, and can change a simple fish and rice bowl into a dish worthy of your Capitán!
7. Food plan of action!
Eating on the boat does not mean you have to eat pork and beans from the can. Some of the best meals in my memory were served offshore in the fresh air of the open ocean. It does however take a bit of creativity, planning, and preparing to serve meals that match the satisfaction of a day out on the water. You need a detailed list, precise measurements for each ingredient, and adequate shopping time. Write out the exact amount of garlic cloves or onions for each meal for example. This will keep you from turning up a few eggs short of a dozen.
8. Prep, prep, and prep some more!
The key to any galley’s efficiency is based on its prep. You can clean, chop, and bag veggies in advance, saving time and space. You can grill up chicken to serve cold over salads with premixed or bottled dressing. The options are only limited by your creative appetite!
The most important thing to remember is that meals don’t need to be complicated to be good. Simple fare, freshly prepared, served in good company after a memorable day on the water is all that most of us ever looked for in the boating life. Cheers!