Preview: Cooking At Sea

A good sea cook is worth a price beyond pearls.

Since he or she is responsible for the care and feeding of a crew using a limited list of ingredients, has only a tiny and sometimes awkward space with minimal facilities, and is often in miserable conditions, a sea cook must be blessed with a strong constitution, imagination, sense of humor, and a very inventive spirit. If you find one and good sea cooks are not only legendary but often in great demand – pamper them and make sure that your crew does too.

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5 Responses So Far to “Cooking At Sea

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    Ann M Gifford says:

    I’ve sailed as cook on some memorable trips, especially one to Disco Bay Greenland.
    A benefit to being cook on high latitude passages is that the galley is usually the warmest place on the boat( and it’s visually close to the bar as well!
    Bob Morris
    Woods Hole

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    Skip Kemp says:

    I just found this and enjoyed reading. While working at my first job as a marine biologist state employee (read low salary) it was not uncommon that I would bring back some “strange” seafood from trips with commercial fishermen clients. I learned early on to make the most of what was available from the sea and came to appreciate the multitude of flavors from seafoods each species having it’s unique flavor profile. Since then I have expanded my palate to include raw fish sushi and sashimi, which is one of my favorite things to eat onshore and even onboard… and there’s another use for your rice. I always carry a small bottle of soy sauce or tamari and tubes of ready-made wasabi and ginger paste with me on fishing trips. If you are on an extended trip and want to get fancy (or if you are not catching many fish) you could pull out the nori and pre-sliced veggies and make sushi rolls. I have found that many folks are willing to try raw fish for the first time while fishing. I don’t know, maybe it’s peer pressure or just the close proximity of the sea in case they can’t get it all the way down. On one long trip I caught mahi mahi and even tried the raw eyeballs, but that’s another story!

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    Michael S. Ellegood says:

    Good, sound advice. I would underline a comment by Kaci who mentioned the pressure cooker. I have found that to be an indispensible tool at sea. The food cooks faster, uses less energy and doesn’t heat up the galley as much as conventional methods The biggest advantage is that when the cookpots depart the stove because of sea conditions, everything is contained!

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    Great article, Ginny. And love that you included a focus on a sense of humor, inventiveness and that crew should do the dishes! Lin Pardey’s book, Care & Feeding of the Offshore Crew is one I’d add to the list. She rewrote every chapter a few years ago, and as with other Pardey books, there are detailed sections for those who want technical planning specifics and romping good stories of life at sea, for the rest of us! Having been the cook, as well as the engineer and fore-deck crew for some pretty wild and woolly passages, I totally agree about having meals pre-pared, even if that’s cooked in harbor and strapped down in the pressure cooker. There were trips when that rice was the only thing we ate, or anyone could eat! for three days!

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      Ginny Jones says:

      Every word in the comments is all too true (rice? yummy, when you are really hungry, and some handfuls of fruit I hope for the sake of the plumbing both maritime and human). I was writing on a tight deadline since I was leaving for the trans Canadian train across Canada and down to Port Townsend (Martha’s Vineyard west) where I am now. Yes, yes, yes, to the pressure cooker and don’t forget a square (!!!) cast iron fry pan for cooking. I didn’t get into all that, or the wooden spoons and a whisk plus a few sharp knives and a nice flexible spatula, or the gallon of JOY soap — so useful for everything. Lots got left out because i was in a hurry and only writing a short blog.

      So I’ll be back in touch soon, and the cook book is available for $20 plus $3 postage first class from me directly. Am I allowed to list my mailing address?

      Have met some wonderful folks out here in just a day. MY son has been working on the schooner MARTHA for Robert and Holly D’Arcy, I met Chris Graves, Pete Langley, Ted Pike (WB person) and Sarah — a woman who is a physician’s assistant who also served as mate on various boats such as TOLE MOUR and WESTWARD.

      Ginny