Eating Aboard – Cooking on a Sailboat

cooking on a sailboat

Cooking on a sailboat has its difficulties

Cooking on a sailboat can be a challenge no matter where you’re sailing. You really have to set up some ground rules and plan things out just as you do when planning a trip with your significant other. Whether traveling as a couple, family, or with friends as we did, it’s good to get on the same page as to what level of food and what kinds of food you want to eat while aboard. On the one hand, food is kind of a way just to fuel yourself while enjoying the cruise, but on the other hand great meals can really enhance the experience. So you have to balance how much time you want to spend planning, cooking, and cleaning vs. relaxing and enjoying. I think we found a happy balance during our trip.

Keep in mind too when bare boat chartering, you need to buy EVERYTHING, from salt and pepper, to cooking oil, all condiments, and cleaning supplies. Our boat had nothing but the items to cook and eat with, but at least we knew that going in. During our week on board our Lagoon 380 catamaran sailing the Dalmatian Coast, hopping from one Croatian island to the next, we lived like Euros purchasing fresh food almost daily. This was a big plus when refrigeration is limited. Our fridge was about the size of a “dorm” fridge common in the US, so we could keep some items cold and just rotate drinks in to cool down as necessary.

On the Menu


  • oats
  • yogurt
  • fruit
  • jams and borovina
  • Nutella
  • butter
  • baguette


  • tomato and mozzarella salad with prosciutto and baguette
  • green salad with ham and cheese baguette
  • farm stand cheeses and spreads with baguette
  • dinner left-overs


  • fresh caught fish from the local market with salad and fresh vegetables
  • pasta with tomato sauce
  • garlic bread (baguette, butter and garlic powder baked in the oven)
  • (We also ate out on land several times which was really good)


  • wafer cookies
  • chocolate
  • chips – different countries have different kinds which are fun to try

Top 8 Tips for Cooking on a Sailboat

  1. On vacation people tend to eat more, so buy more! Don’t you know you can’t gain weight on vacation? It’s true! It’s the vacation effect and is a universal principal no matter where you are in the world.
  2. Plan meals around the equipment on your boat. Don’t plan BBQs if your boat doesn’t come equipped with a BBQ, find out what your boat comes stocked with before you select your foods. See our menu above for ideas.
  3. Don’t over complicate meals. This isn’t your wide open kitchen at home. If you keep it simple you’ll have an easier time preparing the feast.
  4. Space is limited so shop accordingly. Make sure all your refrigerated items will fit in the refrigerator! Non-refrigerated items are definitely easier to keep but there is still limited space in the galley.
  5. Plan for alcohol. Some people say the effects of alcohol are magnified while sailing. Also remember to get boxes, cans and plastic where possible to avoid the possibility of broken glass on board.
  6. Water – plan to have enough water on deck for all. The suggested amount is 1/2 gallon or 2 liters per person per day. There were hot days where we drank more so be prepared.
  7. Snacks – while sailing is relaxing, your legs are constantly working keeping you steady, you swim a lot, and you tend to eat meals later. Plan for a mid morning and mid-afternoon snack to keep all from getting too “hangry” before meal time.
  8. Only one person fits in the galley so take turns cooking. You can always get people to prep at the table but 1 sailor in the galley at a time helps keep the peace.