Great meals are an important part of any memorable holiday, and sailing vacations are no exception. There's a widespread myth that cooking onboard is difficult, but here at Sailogy we sincerely disagree. What is important, however, is a bit of good planning beforehand. Since you'll most likely be doing your own shopping and cooking, take a look at our suggestions before setting sail. And...bon appetit!
Sailogy's top tips for eating onboard
Appetites increase on the water. You may think you know your friends’ eating habits pretty well, but there’s nothing like a day spent at sea to work up a serious hunger. So keep this in mind when shopping--and increase quantities accordingly.
Bring a few of your own tools. Chartered boats will provide you with a fully-equipped kitchen, but keep in mind it is a rental and certain tools might not be up to your “standards”. You may want to bring a favorite knife or two, a pair of sharp kitchen shears, a small, clean cutting board, a good, reliable corkscrew, can opener, or any other little gadget that you won’t want to be without. Many experienced sailors swear by pressure cookers, which reduce cooking times considerably and are great for making meals in larger quantities.
Be sure you understand exactly what your galley kitchen includes. Some boats may not have an oven. Or a coffee maker. To avoid last-minute surprises, check the equipment list of your particular boat very carefully and don't be shy about asking your charter company to send you an exact breakdown of what the galley kitchen comes with.
Stock up as much as you can from home. If you can fit it in your luggage, bring necessary--but often expensive things--like spices, jam, coffee, condiments, or anything that’s vacuum packed or sealed (like cold cuts and cheeses). While it’s great to eat local foods, you’ll probably want some of your familiar ingredients, and grocery stores near harbors tend to be expensive. Obviously, dividing the at-home shopping list between all the passengers is a good idea.
Ask about your fellow travelers’ preferences, allergies and restrictions before leaving. This may seem obvious, but a sailing holiday is no time to discover that your best friend's girlfriend is allergic to cheese, or that someone else can't stand tomatoes. Successful meal planning means making everyone as happy and well-fed as possible.
Don't forget your skipper! If you're sailing with a skipper, remember to add an extra person to your shopping calculations. Your skipper will be working hard all day, and it's expected that he or she will be enjoying all onboard meals with the rest of the crew.
Remember that storage space will be limited. Especially in the fridge. Many boats have a tiny freezer, or none at all. Choose liquids that don't need refrigeration, like Tetra-packed juices and UHT milk.
While we're on the subject of drinking...Some people say the effects of alcohol are amplified at sea, so don’t think you’ll drink as much as you would at home. Plus, space is strictly limited, and bottles of wine and beer take up much of it. Canned beer is better than bottled, and if your fellow passengers enjoy them, you might want to think of preparing cocktails with vodka, rum, and soft drinks (a better alcohol-to-space ratio), and keep wine bottles to a minimum. When it comes to water, factor in about 1.5 liters a day per passenger. It's important to stay hydrated under the Mediterranean sun!
Remember: chopping while cruising isn't easy. Even those with expert kitchen skills might find it challenging to mince onions while sailing at 10 knots. Think about quick, easy, hand-held lunches that can be assembled in the morning while you're still moored. Sandwiches, bruschetta and cold pasta salads are meal ideas that allow people to help themselves.
You know what they say about too many cooks... Galley kitchens are small. Usually just one person will be able to prepare a meal, so unless there's someone who wants to be the "designated" cook, it's a good idea to assign meals on a rotating basis. And to promote harmony, remember the cardinal rule: He who cooks does not wash dishes!