Cooking when the deck rolls and tips beneath your feet and objects continually slide away from you can be a challenge for even the most experienced land cook. Storing all the materials you may need to cook meals can also be difficult if you don’t have a large galley. Below, we’ve compiled a list of tips to help you learn to cook on your boat – or improve the quality of your cooking time. Cooking on board, if you follow the tips below, doesn’t have to be a hassle.
First and foremost, always consider the consequences of the motion of the boat. Holding a knife when the boat rolls across a huge wave caused by a passing motor boat could have disastrous, potentially lethal, effects. This also means that your pots and pans should be secured to your stove with fiddlers, so that a random wave doesn’t turn a pot full of hot water onto your feet. Bring a larger pot than necessary for whatever you want to cook (to account for the movement of water in the pot) as the contents will slop over the sides of what would be considered a ‘normal’sized pot on land.
Secondly, consider the fact that you don’t have much space. Basic food is the easiest to cook in small spaces, without much storage room. Switching spaghetti (due to the large amount of water it takes to cook) for penne or bow ties is always a good idea (it takes a smaller pot and less water to cook penne) – and similar substitutions can be made in most other areas. Try to consolidate your meals, to use as little space as possible, especially if you’re going on long trips without time to restock.
Favor liquids that can be stored at room temperature – your fridge will get full quickly. You’ll likely be hungrier at sea, so add a little more food to your daily meal plan – and be sure to plan out your meals as exactly as you can (i.e. ‘four onions’ instead of simply ‘onions’ on your grocery list). Use your freshest ingredients first – and have plenty of non-perishables for after your fruits and vegetables are gone. You’ll want a good balance between long-term and fresh items.
Finally, the effects of alcohol are amplified on the sea (due to the motion of the boat, some suggest), so you don’t need to bring too much alcohol – especially since it will take up much needed space. Canned beer, which is easy to store and unbreakable, is a good option, as well as favorite liquors (rum is always a good maritime drinking option) are often favored over wine as the drink of choice at sea.
Bringing a large boat into the slip can be disastrous without the proper communication amongst the crew. How many of us have tried screaming at one another, the wind carrying our voices away, and had some close calls – or had to go back out to try again – simply because we couldn’t hear each other? Often, the person at the bow and the captain can have a hard time communicating over the roar of the engine – so how can you make this process easier? By using hand signals, of course!
Using hand signals to give directions can eliminate the often unreliable element of hearing. If it’s dark out, the person giving directions can hold a flashlight. Having clear, pre-established hand signals can make for a safer docking experience – and can keep everyone from getting frustrated, or worse.
Here are some hand signals we think work well (use one arm, left or right, consistently):
- The person at the bow faces forward and points straight, port, or starboard so the captain knows to turn in that direction; the further away from straight ahead the person points, the harder the captain turns.
- To speed up, make a thumbs up sign and raise your arm up above your head; to slow down make a thumbs down sign and lower your arm. The farther down or up, the more the speed decreases/increases
- Make an X over your head to indicate the captain should stop.
Make a fist to indicate that the captain should reverse the motion of the boat
These are just some suggestions – you’ll want to make your own hand signals with your own crew, and you may need to change them from time to time, for ease of use. Depending on the design of your boat, certain signals may be easier than others and radio communication might be your best option – but many of the captains we’ve talked to have said hand signals are really effective. So give it a try next time you’re out on the water with your crew. Good luck and happy sailing!
With summer upon us, many are taking advantage of the nice weather and sailing to our hearts content – sometimes bringing our pets aboard with us. But there are some concerns about bringing Fido aboard in such hot weather. Too much fun in the sun can give your dog heat stroke, so there should always be a shady spot for your dog to cool off (and if you can manage it, a little swim can be a good way to keep your pet cool as well). Fresh water must be available at all times, and for the reverse (when Fido has to ‘go’) make sure there’s a doggie potty or pad for your dog’s comfort and convenience.
Even if your pet can swim, having a Personal Flotation Device (PFD) is a good idea. Your pet could fall in, and swimming for too long can exhaust even the most experienced & water loving dog. After buying your pet’s PFD give him or her some time to try swimming in it. Sunscreen isn’t a bad idea for your dog either, especially the tip of the nose, around the lips, inside stand-up ears, and right around the inside of the nostrils.
It may be best not to bring your pet unless sailing under good conditions. Many dogs do not like the feel of sailboats tossing and rolling under their feet. At first, it may be best to take your dog out on a few shorter trips, and if your dog is really nervous, just let him or her sit on the boat while it’s sitting at the dock. Not all dogs are fans of the water, so you may end up having to leave Fido at home on adventure days – but if you’re planning on bringing your dog out on the water with you, following the above tips could mean a lot to your dog’s health.