The idea sounds great: Let’s invite the Smith’s out on the boat for an afternoon cruise, anchor over in the cove and cook up a nice dinner!

At first glance, a great idea!  But then comes the execution of that idea, and the logistical challenges start to add up.

Food prep on your boat can be a rewarding, and delicious, experience, but it does take a little planning and forethought for it to come together.  Planning to cook a meal on board doesn’t have to be daunting, but it does take a little preparation.


First of all, if you’re planning on anchoring in the cove, that means you’ll have to have everything you need on board … there’s no “oops, forgot the mustard…I’ll just run down to the store and get some!”  So you need to plan a menu, gather all the ingredients and pack them on board (you’ll likely need a cooler with ice to keep everything refrigerated until you’re ready to cook) and make sure you’ve got all the cooking pots and pans, utensils, cooking oils and condiments and spices as well as plates and silverware for you and your guests.  

A fun way to cook onboard is a small charcoal or natural gas/propane hibachi. Some can be attached to the brightwork on the fantail, while others can safely rest on a flat part of the deck (keep well away from children and fuel).  But having one of these will let you grill some protein–beef, fish or something else–while you use the galley to steam some vegetables or make a pot of rice. 

What to Serve

What to serve?  Obviously, you’re not going to be making a Thanksgiving-size meal with all the trimmings.  Keep the menu simple and easy.  Something that can be sauteed in one pan is ideal, perhaps accompanied by a tossed salad.  If you have a grill, think about some kind of shish-kabobs which you can skewer in advance at home, put in a sealable plastic bag with marinade, and let them swim in the cooler until you’re ready to grill.

If you want some recipe suggestions, as well as dozens of articles about cooking onboard a boat, visit  Most of the recipes and ideas have been contributed by people who live aboard their boats, so they know of what they speak!

Finally, don’t forget the wine!  Not only does a good wine help improve almost any meal, but if something goes wrong in your onboard cookery (as it usually will), a couple of glasses of wine is the perfect antidote!