At some point every summer I find myself aboard a boat… sailing for an extended period of time, whether it’s exploring a new route for The Yacht Week, or lazily tanning, sightseeing, and hopping from island to island. Sailing is by far one of my favorite ways to explore new places.
- You get to jump straight into the ocean every morning… Who needs coffee?
- There is nothing quite like jamming to your favorite tunes laying in the sun watching islands float by
- Feeling spontaneous? Just pull the boat into a nearby cove and go for a quick snorkel/cliff jumping sesh
- BBQing off the back of the boat with the salty wind in your hair just can’t be beat
However, that last item on my list lead me to a big challenge I’ve faced after living on a boat for a week or longer the past few summers. On a boat, you typically don’t have the luxuries or amenities readily available, that are necessary for maintaining that healthy bikini-body regime.
What ingredients do you really buy in a tiny market at a marina that will serve a big purpose in a bite-size kitchen below deck? As a first-timer, I stood in the middle of the bustling aisles of the local store with my shopping cart, mouth agape, with no clue where to even start.
Through the years, I have learned what works and what doesn’t when sailing or living on a boat for an extended period of time. So below are the tips of things to buy, based on availability, price, and tolerance to sea life. It’s all about the ease of making a meal that’s healthy and tastes great, to keep you happily fed while maintaining your pristine waistline.
First off the biggest and most common mistake I’ve seen, is travelers going hog wild in the canned food section. Hoarding cans of tuna, beans, and tomato sauce like an apocalyptic lunatic. And while yes, it’s great to have these items on hand for the occasional tuna sandwich, you are creating much more trash onboard as you go, it’s healthier and greener to just go with the fresh ingredients.
-Lettuce: obviously great for salads but also a fabulous alternative to bread for quick and easy lettuce wraps
-Tomatoes: they’re inexpensive, keep well, and are an easy addition to any meal. Think salads, sauces, and salsas
-Carrots: amazing for munching and dipping into local delicacies such as hummus or tzatziki
-Mango/Peaches: by itself is stellar, in yogurt, as a salsa or dip for fish, with honey and dark chocolate as dessert, or sliced into your morning champagne… who doesn’t love a good Bellini?
-Apples: Helps keep digestion regular, as it can be a little funky on a boat: FIBER, FIBER, FIBER. Also great as a healthy snack with peanut butter, an addition to a cheese plate, or topping on a fresh salad
-Bananas: huge source of much needed potassium that is essential when swimming and being in the sun all day. (Also, ladies sneaky tip… when paired with coconut milk, and honey this delicious smelling concoction doubles as a natural deep conditioner. Perfect for your hair after it becomes fried from the sea and the sun.)
-Grapes: easy in the morning or as a snack but also awesome when used as iced cubes when frozen… sneaky trick when everyone thinks the ice is gone.
Eggs: amazing source of protein, and even easier to keep fresh then American eggs as they are kept at room temp in most European ports, which is great if you have to go a day without power while also saving on fridge space. Obviously a great breakfast option, but can also be hard boiled and tossed into a salad or a grab-and-go filler between meals
Cheese: pick up a little local cheese just to try, then grab some essentials to help pump up a salad (ie. feta for a greek, mozzarella for caprese etc), or a spread for an antipasti on a lazy afternoon.
Meat: cured is always easiest, prosciutto, salami etc. As well as deli meats such as turkey and ham. The smoked/cured meat is great over eggs in the morning, or served on a charcuterie plate, and the quick protein boost you get from wrapping up turkey, cheese and lettuce for example is a no-brainer. You can also do chicken, or burgers but I typically stay away from serious raw meat as I never trust fridges that can turn on and off. It’s also great to try and get local fish daily from wherever you are docked and grill it off the back of the boat.
Spices/Herbs/Condiments: these are essential and save your life in the long run. Sea salt and pepper, as silly of a reminder as this is in the heat of the moment it isn't always the first thing that comes to mind when grocery shopping. I always try and get basil and dill for salads and eggs, as well as red chili powder and some form of hot sauce… cause I’m an addict for spicy! Really good to get mustard to add moisture and flavor to meats & cheeses as well as sandwiches. Balsamic is great, and olive oil is a must. I also always pick up a little chocolate as I get a sweet craving after every meal. It’s great as is and is also wonderful melted over fruit.
Yogurt: This is a big deal-breaker for me… It’s (if you buy the right kind) full of protein, has probiotics, which helps for stomachs at sea, easily mixes with honey and fruit for a sexy morning parfait, or can be just as easily pair with savory ingredients like mint, garlic, and chive for a enjoyable dip or topping.
Topic of Water-
It’s hard to admit but this part of the traveling world has yet to go green… People, myself included, have to load up with hundreds of plastic water bottles to insure there’s enough water to survive long sails and hot summer nights. However, if you know you will be docked at a marina where you will have access to water, I highly recommend bringing (beforehand) both personal water bottles with filters, as well as large water filters. This eliminates the use of plastic, cuts down on waste, and really saves on space used in the boat for storing all those extra bottles.
Take it from a local-
I started this small thing at marinas that had great restaurants, I’d ask them for a large batch of their local specialty: in Turkey I asked for their fresh baked pita bread, and a large container of tzatziki, in Greece it was their hummus, and in Italy their homemade spaghetti sauce. Buying these things straight from a restaurant means that there is little to no prep involved, the ingredients are fresher than those packaged in a factory for sale at a market, and typically everything is authentically better tasting. Not to mention the amount of space you’re saving by having all the ingredients already blended together.
As I mentioned before I always seek to try local products wherever I go such as: wines, cheeses, nuts, spices, meats, herbs, sauces, and produce. This helps me really get a flavor for the culture and the cuisine.
I’ve learned these tips and tricks of the trade during my times sailing through the ports of: Croatia, Italy, Greece, Turkey, as well as the British Virgin Islands. These essential things on my list are just simple suggestions and guidelines that I follow personally while on board and of course are open to be tweaked and played with depending on your diet and preferences.
Photos by various Yacht Week Photographers (as watermarked)