Wild Rice Pancake

A Cruising Chef’s Menu for Your Ideal Weekend on the Water

What is it about being outside in the fresh air that makes a person famished? I’m always hungry when I’m out on the water, as I am right now, on the hook over a gimbaled stove making more pancakes than we can eat. But that’s ok. A weekend’s vacation on a boat is no time to be dieting anyway. You’ll burn so many calories swimming, paddling…whatever water sport you choose. Just climbing in and out of the dinghy to get your dog to shore uses muscles you likely forgot you had. Now it’s time to satiate your hunger and we’ve got some ideas to help you do that.

Prepare Ahead

Almost any meal can be made in advance and taken along on your cruise. But I find it best to bring something versatile; something that can be made into a number of different meals. One of my favorites is braised beef. It can be spiced any way you like, cooked in a pot on the stove, a pressure cooker, or sealed tight in a Dutch oven. The meat can be put on pasta for an evening meal, in sandwiches for lunches, sliders for appetizers or even dolloped on breakfast tortillas topped with a fried egg. The same can be done with pulled pork, adding a little Liquid Smoke to the braising to give it a Hawaiian spin. And definitely add BBQ sauce for a taste of the South.

Split Pea Soup

Soups and Stews

Any soup or stew can be made ahead or at anchor. Gazpacho is a good cool summer soup best made ahead so the flavors have time to mingle while underway, and you avoid the mess of chopping tomatoes on a heel. One of my favorite soups is tuna and white bean soup. Using fresh tuna and canned beans along with other vegetables, it is seemingly elegant but super easy to throw together. And don’t overlook the very inexpensive split pea soup which can be made from hardy, galley-tested ingredients like dried peas that have a long “locker” life.

Reuben in a Basket


Have crab meat prices surpassed your budget? Try salmon patties instead. Inexpensive and easy, canned salmon can be stowed forever. They are surprisingly delicious, and kids will like them just as much as crabcakes. Hot ham and cheese, Reubens (for meat lovers), apples and brie, mushroom and Swiss (vegetarian) sandwiches are always winners. There’s something about sandwiches coming out of a galley oven that turns your boat into a cozy home.

Crab Arepa with Broken Yolk


With the morning sun drying the dew off the deck and the ospreys crying overhead, there is nothing more peaceful than that first cup of coffee while you make breakfast. For meat, choose breakfast sausages over bacon to avoid an overload of bacon grease with few options for discarding. Did you catch only a few crabs? Not enough for a full meal but two or three are perfect for crab frittatas or crab arepas. Arepas are a Venezuelan “tortilla” made from masarepa which can be found in most Hispanic grocers. It’s filling and can be stored indefinitely. Bake eggs in the pit holes of avocados instead of frying for extra nutrition. And of course, never overlook pancakes. I like Kodiak’s buckwheat mix that needs only water. Then pack and smother them with anything you like: blueberries and wild rice, peaches and cream, apples and almond butter.

Beet Salad


Leave the delicate lettuces and tomatoes at home. For your weekend on the water, bring along vegetables that won’t get bruised knocking around in your icebox or food hammock. Stick with vegetables like cabbage, onions, carrots, cauliflower and beets. There are any number of salads you can create with these ingredients such as maque choux, tabbouleh, cole slaw, and orange, beet and feta salads.

Prosciutto Pizza

Boat Gas Grills

If you have a grill on your pulpit, steaks, burgers and skewers always rule. But try something different. If you have a round grill, put a pizza stone on it. Heat it up to at least 450º, checking with your infrared temperature gauge. The pizza dough can be made from scratch (preferable) or store-bought and can be topped with any of your favorites. With the extra crispy New York style crust, it will make the best pizza you’ve ever had at anchor.

Cockpit Munchies

For chips, Pringles rule! They’re packaged in compact containers that take up a fraction of the space a chip bag does. Other great snacks that don’t blow away are any candied nuts, such as rosemary cashews or peanut butter-stuffed pretzel bites.  

You can find these recipes on Just type key words in the search button (top right panel on your laptop; scroll down to the bottom on your cell phone) and an array of options will pop up. Have a deliciously great weekend! 

Former Creative Director for Chesapeake Bay Magazine Caroline Foster is a designer and writer living in Annapolis on a sailboat with her husband. She is co-creator of the website Galley Pirates, Cooking for Cruising and Living Aboard