Some of our best cruising friends run charter boats. All of those best cruising friends are better cooks than me, and all seemed to enjoy shopping for and acquiring a variety of serving and dining dishes so they can better present their culinary specialties. They also like shopping for special soaps, coffee mugs, water bottles, cute towels, and good wine. (Okay, I could go with the wine.)
Some of our best cruising friends keep their boat in pristine condition. They scrub the decks every few days, clean the dinghy weekly, keep the ports and windows spotless, sweep the galley four times a day, and wash all dishes immediately. If Good Housekeeping had a Good Seal of Approval for Cruising Sailboats, some of our best cruising friends would win it.
It’s great to have best cruising friends who charter because we get to be menu guinea pigs, and have been invited for tasting dinners featuring Italian, Asian, and Caribbean fare—sometimes all at the same sitting. Each course is always artfully presented on the appropriate dish: Long rectangular dishes for the Asian treats, a square dish for the Caribbean morsels, and a round shallow bowl for the pasta. (Who has room to store all of that?)
All of these great cruising friends are experts at provisioning, and can plan four meals a day for two, four, or six guests (at least one of whom will have a food allergy or intolerance), enjoy the challenge, not forget anything on the list … ever, and find room to store it so that their guests’ experience isn’t ruined by having boxes of vermicelli fall on their heads.
If we were to start offering charters, we wouldn’t be much competition, as we are not like some of our best cruising friends. My husband EW considers himself blessed if I actually prepare two meals a day. On hot, lazy days in Grenada, when I hadn’t trekked to town from Whisper Cove, he cheerfully ate popcorn for supper. My serving dishes consist of one tray that came from my mom’s kitchen and my regular dishes repurpose as small platters. My soup bowls hold crackers and cheese; my cereal bowls hold nuts and olives. What more does one need?
I plan meals at least one or two days in advance. Since that popcorn summer in Grenada, I’ve compiled a list of ten quick, delicious, and nutritious suppers and make sure that I have provisions aboard for at least three of them at any one time. Usually that works, we rarely have popcorn for supper any more, and I can almost always come up with an appetizer to share at an impromptu cockpit party. That’s as good as it gets. I clean weekly … whether needed or not (It’s always needed). My boat won’t win any awards; I like to think that it has that cared for, lived-in look. (That means we need new slipcovers in the main salon.)
Some cruisers who charter operate the business for the boat’s owner; others bought their boat planning to charter in the season and leave the boat on the hard for the winter. Some of our best cruising friends set sail for the Caribbean to cruise and, somewhere along the way, decided that chartering would help fund their lifestyle. As one of the first mates said, “We had so much company, I decided we should get paid for doing the same thing.” Now their friends are welcome in the off season, and they take paying guests during the winter.
Some of our best cruising friends charter, and they all provide excellent meals, great sailing, safe harbors, and an insight into this amazing cruising lifestyle. I applaud them. We share recipes – and yes, I have recipes to offer. I love listening to their stories, but we won’t be competing. I’ve heard that charter guests never want just popcorn for supper—ever.
This year, Barbara and EW sailed east across the Atlantic. To follow their adventures, visit: www.HartsAtSea.com