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How to cook while sailing on a boat or yacht

If you are looking for a way to save money on your charter cruise in Croatia, one of the best ways to do it is to plan to do some cooking on your vessel. You can catch fresh fish yourself and prepare it own your own using some simple, basic ingredients. Not only does this cut back on your Croatia charter holiday costs, but it also is a fun activity in its own right. Get your friends or family involved, and it is a great way to build vacation memories together.

But hold up—it isn’t easy cooking on a boat, is it? Just cooking in your own kitchen at home might be a challenge at times. When you think about juggling all those dishes and utensils on a tilting vessel at sea, you might feel overwhelmed at the prospect.

You’d be quite right to be concerned; cooking on a boat does pose some unique challenges. But there are solutions! Let’s take a look at some of the most common obstacles to cooking on a boat and how you can overcome them.

1. You do not have a lot of space to work in.

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We have all heard the phrase “too many cooks in the kitchen.” Well, with a galley, that does not even necessarily apply—you probably are not going to squeeze more than one cook into your galley at any one time. That is how little space you have to work with. Even one cook may seem like one too many.

So what do you do when you have little counter space, maybe one or two burners, and possibly no oven?

  • Only bring the most basic cooking equipment, dishware, and cutlery. Bring just one pot and one pan.
  • Bring a cooler with you. You can use this to hold drinks, condiments, and more.
  • Plan simple recipes in advance which do not require a lot of ingredients. Also make sure you are planning recipes that you can make with limited equipment—and limited personnel.
  • Think about ways in which items can double up in terms of function. Need a rolling pin? Use the wine bottle you already have onboard.
  • Consider bringing a simple hanging net of some sort with you. Ask if there is a way you can temporarily install it on the charter vessel. You can keep all kinds of useful items and ingredients in a hanging net. And unlike a hanging bin, you can crumple it up into a compact little ball and stuff it in your suitcase when you are not using it.

You might also think about whether there are tasks you can “outsource” outside the kitchen. Need to chop vegetables? Hand a cutting board to another passenger and have them do it out on the deck.

2. You will be cooking with few or no electrical appliances.

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You probably are not going to have a food processor or blender onboard, but the good news is that you do not necessarily need one. Many of the same tasks which you can perform with a food processor you can do by hand using a masher, spoon, or knife.

At that rate, loads of recipes do not require electrical equipment at all. Stick with those, and you should be good to go. Try our Brodet Fish Stew Recipe.

3. The boat may be rocking while you are working.

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This isn’t just an inconvenience—it is a serious safety concern. Even in seemingly calm conditions, you never know when a surprise swell could upset your cookware and utensils. If things are not properly secured, that could result in getting cut, burned, or stabbed.

Thankfully there is equipment you can bring onboard with you to help you deal with the motion of the vessel. Pot restraints for example can hold pots, pans, and tea kettles in place on your stovetop. They may in fact already be available onboard in the galley when you arrive on the charter boat. There is also non-slip cookware you can use—cutting boards with rubberized edges and so on. Keep covers on knives.

Finally, make sure you are secured while you are cooking. If you suddenly stumble because of a wave, you could manage to hurt yourself even if everything else is securely in place. Sit to do your cooking tasks when possible. When you have to stand, just make sure you are as stable as possible.

4. There is not a lot of water to use in your cooking and cleaning.

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You have a limited water supply on the boat at all times, and it is an essential survival supply. So you must never waste a drop. Here are a few tips for conserving your water supply:

  • Turn off the faucet the moment you are done with it. If you are washing dishes, turn it on, get the dishes wet, turn it off, wash the dishes, then turn it on briefly again to rinse.
  • Never use more water than necessary to cook or make drinks.
  • Make use of liquid from cans.
  • If you can repurpose water you just used, do so, even if you normally wouldn’t think of it (like pasta water).

It takes time to get used to these new routines, but once you do, you should find they become second nature.

5. It is easy to overheat in the galley.

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Think about the weather before you start cooking. In the middle of a hot day on the Adriatic, cooking a stew in the galley is probably not a great idea, because the galley traps heat. But it might be the perfect meal to prepare on a cold night when you are struggling to keep warm anyway.

On a hot summer day, prepare cold food or use the grill out on your deck. Grilling out on the deck also helps to solve problems with limited space.

6. You are not going to have a lot of ingredients to work with.

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It might worry you that you cannot bring a ton of ingredients onboard your Croatia charter boat, but it shouldn’t—there are a lot of awesome meals you can make with the simplest, sparsest ingredients. And if you run out of something, you can always come up with a clever substitution. Who knows—it might taste even better than what you had originally planned.

For an example of a simple recipe which is easy to prepare on a boat with minimal ingredients, scroll down to the bottom of this article. You will learn how you can prepare your fresh-caught seafood Mediterranean-style by baking it in foil - Read our full recipe.

So now you know the basics of cooking on a boat. There are a lot of adjustments you will have to make, but once you do, you will find that it is not as tricky as you think. Enjoy preparing your own delicious recipes onboard your Croatia charter yacht!