The Art of Cooking at Sea


Gimbaled stove with pot restraints

Gimbaled stove with pot restraints

Note: The following is taken in part from my memoir, Sailing with Impunity: Adventure in the South Pacific.

There’s truth to the mariner’s adage “One hand for the ship, one hand for yourself.”

It gets tiring, always hanging on to something to go anyplace on a rocking, pitching boat. Life got complicated with the effort it took to do the simplest thing. But even when the seas were rough, we had to eat. Occasionally, it really was too rough to cook and we’d have something like crackers and cheese. But I normally managed to cook a hot meal. We needed good, wholesome food to keep up our strength and spirits.

In Impunity’s galley, I strapped myself in so I wouldn’t be pitched out. Still, I needed to hang on to something while I cooked. Bruce rigged bungee-cord holders into which I placed bowls, measuring cups, jars or pans while I prepared a meal.

The gimbaled stove rocked gently to keep the stove level. The stove top’s stainless steel pot restraints could be adjusted to snugly fit around any pot. My favorite pot during rough weather was our pressure cooker. I didn’t always use the pressure feature, but the lid could be secured and not fly off. If I needed a second pot, I often used my dutch oven, but I had to secure the lid closed with three clothespins.

Cooking a meal at sea seemed to take twice as long, and use twice the energy as on land. I was rewarded with Bruce’s appreciation of a good meal and the knowledge that we were eating nutritious, well balanced meals. Occasionally, seas were calm, but most meals at sea were a constant challenge.

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