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What should I bring sailing?

I've been invited on a daylong sail and I want to bring some goodies for the host. I've already picked up some salami; what else do I bring that's temperature-insensitive, assemble-able on the rolling seas, and enjoyable during hours of sunlight?

I'll be leaving super-early in the morning, so unless it's on the way (Mamadou's is in the wrong direction, sadly), let's assume I'm doing my shopping in the days beforehand.

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  1. fruit...nuts...crudites...cheese (in a cooler)

    Pre-make sandwiches so they can just be unwrapped

    It's a day sail -- just pack some stuff in a cooler and enoy your day.

    1. Cheese and good bread, with a little sweet jar of something to spread on it.

      We went on a boat cruise with some friends in the Charleston harbor a while back, and took some homemade caramel corn with nuts, drizzled with white chocolate. The guys loved it!

      4 Replies
      1. re: kitchengardengal

        As a boat owner for years, chocolate is the last thing I wanted on my boat. I made that mistake once, the first year that I was a boat owner, I made brownies and brought them on it for friends I had invited out. The chocolate only took seconds to melt when being held and it got on everything. I would think carmel would be the same problem. I had 2 small refrigerators on my last boat, so things were kept cold until taken out to be eaten. Find out if the boat you are going out on has a fridge. If your going out for a whole day, it probably has a fridge on it. The hot sun works quickly. If no fridge, bring a small cooler, cheese, crackers, wine, sandwiches, chips, nuts, slices of watermelon...all good ideas. Also, to be a "good" guest, if you're going out in salt water, insist on helping them wash the boat and take the trash when you come back in. I'm sure they'll appreciate it.

        1. re: catsmeow

          It is surprisingly cooler on the water. Plus the sun reflects. Bring sunglasses and long sleeves, at least. Ginger,like in ginger snaps or ginger beer is good if you get queasy. Go to the drug store if you are worried.

          1. re: catsmeow

            and nothing greasy, especially on a sailboat. It can be downright dangerous to need to handle the tiller or the winches (that has an 'i' in it, lads, not an 'e') to avert a problem, only to have your hands slip off because of grease.

            1. re: catsmeow

              As I said, the caramel corn was *drizzled* with white chocolate, so not such a mess as your melting chocolate brownies.
              We went when it was pretty cool out, so the caramel and white chocolate stayed nice and crunchy. This time of year though, you're right, they could get messy.

          2. We have been boat owners in the past so I agree with catsmeow. Also consider some carrot sticks with a dip (muhammara, pesto, spicy peanut sauce, etc.) or those mini, bite sized quiches. They travel well. (Make sure some are meat free for the vegetarians in the group.) A bunch of green grapes can be very welcome. Try to keep packaging to a minimum. Have fun!

            1. I have a couple of sized soft sided coolers that are invaluable. When heading to New Deal for sushi grade fish, I bring along a few icepacks to their additional ice - same with Whole Foods when the fish looks good. I also use it for expected leftovers in the warmer months when not returning home right away. You really should invest in a cheap soft sided small cooler. Then you could do anything with a few chilled items. My smallest would hold a 6 pack or two ice packs and two takeout thai items to go while working.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Bellachefa

                wow lot's of dark captain stories here. I suggested a small soft sided cooler - the one I spoke of is a 9x9x9 cube. Unless you're on a full day sail in a tiny sailboat storing that should not be a problem. So why suggest that storage is a problem on a 32' boat? I didn't suggest the OP show up with a cooler that would chill a keg of beer.

                And I agree with what was mentioned down below. Responsible drinking goes with boating. The Captain and first mate however are the designated drivers.

              2. Former sailboat owner here -- anything that can be eaten with a single hand, made ahead of time, that will neither stain nor is greasy is good boat food.
                Making sandwiches aboard can be difficult, having pre-made (non-spilling) sandwiches is great. Think slices rather than chunks (which can fall on deck). Pita bread is better than some others
                A thermos of soup - hot or cold, depending on weather
                Cookies - NO chocolate (as previously mentioned)
                GRAPES! They're self-contained and Thompson seedless do not stain
                Salsa, guacamole, hummus et al are tough as well -- think leaking
                Salads are tough unless you're anchored -- they require two hands which aren't always available

                You mention salami -- if it need a cutting board and knife, it can be a non-starter during a sail. Pre-cut pieces are OK

                  1. A good cheese, pre-sliced, crackers, white grapes, and wine, with corkscrew.

                    Non breakable plastic cups, unless provided, napkins, paper plates, in an insulated bag or plastic box.

                    One can make it more elaborate, but a day-sailor lunch is best kept simple.

                    1. Wraps with grilled vegetables and hummus, dates with an almond or pecan crammed in the middle, spanish tortilla cut into small enough to eat with fingers size, individual containers (non-breakable) with a grain salad dressed with vinegrette, spiced mixed nuts, wet ones, purell, more napkins than you think, and a high spf sunscreen that you dunk yourself in head to toe ;)

                      1. Don't over think this, bring a few treats, but buy dinner afterwards. I disagree on the chocolate. I guess I have only sailed w/ chocoholic captains.

                        1. Another sailor here. Is the boat a daysailer or a cruiser? If its a daysailer really keep it simple as there are probably no facilities for keeping or prepping food. Pre-made sandwiches are fine. Fruit is good. Need things you can eat with one hand. Cut up veggies and chips are good. Hummus better than salsa as it doesn't drip.

                          If its a bigger boat with a galley, you can do more but you probably don't want to spend too much time below so its best to follow the previous KISS recommendation.

                          Remember to duck when the skipper says "jibe ho."

                          Bring a bottle of wine with a screw top.

                          10 Replies
                          1. re: Bkeats

                            Sixty + years living full time aboard commercial fishing boats/tugs/cruisers/sail boats/as a fishing guide, on and off, here's my two cents:
                            'Dry sandwiches'. Buns with dry salami/hard cheese/lettuce. No 'wet' ingredients. Cold cans of ginger ale. Potato chips. Dry cookies.
                            No 'finger foods' that make the fingers sticky. No booze.

                            1. re: Puffin3

                              I guess you never sailed for enjoyment. No booze. Heck I remember filling the cockpit with enough ice so we could use it like a cooler for the beer.

                              1. re: Bkeats

                                I've sailed thousands of miles.
                                My point is in the name of safety I NEVER serve any booze to anyone on any boat while under way. (That's why it's ILLEGAL!!!!!)
                                I NEVER consume or serve ANY booze to people on my boat/s I do not know very well even after securely anchored/moored. DUH?
                                Sailing does not require booze to be enjoyable BTW.
                                One of the greatest threats to human life is the mixture of boats and water and booze combined with the endemic threat of emergency they have no ability to respond to.
                                Once I came upon a small boat upside down with six stone dead drowned 'weekend warriors'. I had the pleasure of tying them to the side of my fishing boat while I waited for the Coast Guard to arrive. Did I mention two of the victims were under six years old? (I can't tell you whether they were boys or girls. Too bloated you know.) NO? Then I guess I forgot to mention the autopsy showed all four adults were over the legal limit.
                                I love how people who go on the water a couple of times a year armed with a cooler full of booze imagining themselves to be later day Joshua Slocums.

                                1. re: Puffin3

                                  Puffin3, I am so sorry for that senseless loss of life, and that you had to witness this firsthand.

                                  We also have a no booze rule at sea. Not only is it illegal, but it is foolish to mix alcohol and sailing. At one point in our lives we did a lot of lake sailing, and found the sailing culture to be so different from our experience on the Chesapeake. There were always drinkers on the Chesapeake, but nothing like the party culture of the lake people. We kept our sailing to Mon - Thurs, and let the motor boaters and drunks have the lake to themselves on the weekend. In the seven years we spent living on the lake, there was AT LEAST one alcohol-related death on the water each of those years.

                                  1. re: Puffin3

                                    what did you serve the guests, Captain ? Iced Tea perhaps ?

                                    1. re: genoO

                                      My friends know how to drink responsibly. Maybe that's why none have them have drowned or been responsible for the drowning of others b/c of their drinking to excess.
                                      Just for fun why not check out some Youtubes of what happens on 'party boats'.
                                      Fun eh?
                                      Is that your teen aged daughter on the top deck?

                                      1. re: Puffin3

                                        You can't take back what you already posted. You have a zero tolerance and never serve alcohol on your vessels, be it a commercial vessel or a recreational vessel. You are now blurring your lines of No alcohol ever served. Hey, if I'm fishing in Georgia Banks then a no alcohol policy might be in order. If I'm shuttling tourists from the cape to Nantucket, then they will be offered an adult beverage. But the crew will do their jobs sober.

                                        1. re: Bellachefa

                                          I still remember when Natalie woods drowned.

                                          1. re: divadmas

                                            well then perhaps you could tell her husband Robert Wagner and their friend Christopher Walken what happened.

                                            1. re: Bellachefa

                                              Thirty years ago after a night of heavy drinking she drowned.

                            2. You've gotten some great advice, but I'm a big fan of sandwiches on the sailboat. Easy to easy, no mess, and filling. You can fit a fair number in a little cooler with an ice pack, and they are pretty easy to make. That salami you've picked up would be great with some arugula and cheese, IMHO.

                              Remember - glass is not your friend!

                              1. I remember being out sailing one day and it was windy enough that all of the potato chips instantly blew away. It was funny for sure, but then I started bringing pita chips which seem to weigh more and thus not fly away to feed the fish.

                                Those little soft coolers are nice to have around. My dad used to fill those up with ice and oysters and clams to shuck as we sailed. A squeeze of lemon and you are all set. (Note that we did have a galley and plenty of room. The size of the boat should be considered as you pack up your things.)

                                1. Things I have eaten when sailing (provided by others) -

                                  meats and cheeses, pre-sliced
                                  cut fruit
                                  cut veggies
                                  breads like banana nut, pumpkin, zucchini
                                  finger sandwiches

                                  Maybe this will have some suggestions -


                                  1. As a sailor myself. I'd recommend some tasty things that can't get messy. Hummus & pita bread or sourdough, grapes, small sandwiches, cheese, etc.

                                    1. marlin jerky!

                                      that's what a captain of a fishing boat gave us in hawaii, when there were no fish in the ocean! we paid hundreds of dollars to eat a couple of pieces of his own made marlin jerky!

                                      1. Sounds like you're going to be a great guest and I hope you have fun! We love having guests on our sailboat -- we're always looking for new converts -- and it is very nice of you to think about what you can contribute. After reading the postings, you might have noticed that there is a little bit of a difference in the responses based on whether the poster had been a guest or is the boat owner. As boat owners, our/my suggestion would be that you ask 'what can I bring?'.

                                        Usually if we have guests on our sailboat, we're also providing the food/beverages because we know what we will tolerate. That sounds harsh but safety is our #1 concern. If we are underway, we are not crazy about anyone on deck or in the galley with a knife (even/especially a dull one) cutting, chopping or slicing. So you might want to pre-slice the salami. Think about it this way -- there is a big difference between being out on a sailboat on with gentle 1-3 foot swells and being out on less gentle 5-6 foot swells.

                                        No stains on our sails or lines or decks is our second priority. We're not big on catsup, salsa, chocolate, messy or greasy foods on the boat -- we love them at home or at day's end when we're docked or at anchor but we don't want it slopped on the sails/lines/deck if we're underway. Also, if we have to act suddenly -- come about, tighten up or loosen something, get someone to move from their perch so we can do any of the aforementioned -- then we want folks to be able to do so quickly and without a lot of fuss.

                                        We prefer to serve things that can be eaten with one hand (wraps or thick sandwiches in wax paper) versus anything that requires a plate or fork or spoon that can blow around. Grapes or apples are good. Cookies are good. Anything that can be eaten out of its own container with no implements and minimal trash. Oddly enough, soup is okay as long as it is ultra-smooth. We serve it in cups (no spoons) so that it can be drunk.

                                        As far as storage is concerned, heed the advice of the other responders regarding a cooler. Our galley is normal-sized and we have a small frige (fridge???) but we usually have just enough space for what we've planned and it can be aggravating to have to move everything about to accommodate unplanned additions.

                                        Finally, after reading my own posting, I've realized that it all sounds a little prissy and anal retentive, and maybe you or other readers will think that it is just us. Sigh, perhaps. But we've been sailing for over 30 years and, from what we've seen over time, as sailors go we're definitely more on the normal side than the extreme. And, just as you want to bring something that will please your hosts, they, I'm sure, would want your offering to be something that won't cause them a lot of anxiety or damage the boat. So ... ask your hosts! They may give you suggestions or they may not. But at least you will have asked.

                                        I hope you have a great day on the water!

                                        3 Replies
                                        1. re: Sunny15

                                          your advice makes sense and explains why certain foods are better then others. Far better then Captain Bligh above who no one should sail with expecting enjoyment.

                                          1. re: genoO

                                            If you feel you need booze on a boat to enjoy yourself go for it.

                                          2. re: Sunny15

                                            "ask the owner what can I bring"... best advice and what we always do. The owner will be appreciative of your inquiry.

                                            Every boat owner has their own methods, likes and dislikes for guests and crew - as seen by the replies here.

                                            If the owner/captain tells us to bring "nothing", then we'll still bring a favorite bottle(s) of wine for the owner/captain to enjoy later, sometimes a gift certificate to their favorite local restaurant or we take them out after sailing, if we're staying local.

                                            Lastly, no matter the weather, don't forget to bring your own ray of sunshine. It's the best way to get invited back!

                                            Enjoy your day.

                                          3. You have received excellent advice from the sailors on here. As the First Mate aboard our 32' Cape Dory, I would reiterate that hand food in individual packets is the best idea. Nuts, fruit, pre cut veggies. In fact, the salami should be pre cut.

                                            Did you offer to bring food? Ask your hosts if there is room for your cooler before bringing it. Space is at a premium. If they don't know you are bringing something, it could be awkward.

                                            Sailors often say sailing is the most expensive way in the world to travel third-class, and its true! Simple, simple is best. (Take them somewhere for drinks or dinner in port!)

                                            One thing I do sometimes is make a ziploc bag of treats for each guest. A sandwich, cut into small triangles, with a cream cheese, pimento cheese, or peanut butter filling so nothing falls out. A handful of nuts, grapes, a couple of cookies. Then, each guest can nibble as they choose, and as time and space allow.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: VosFan

                                              WOW! I helped build a 32' wooden dory and six 23' wooden dories in the middle seventies with some friends.
                                              Yellow cedar bottoms/red cedar lap strake planking/square boat nails/hemp rope/egyptian cotton sails.
                                              I made the lofting floor/did the lofting/built the strong-back/cut the frames/cut the 'rabbits'(feathers) for the bottom planks. Cut out the knees and stem pieces. Now I can't remember what my friends did. LOL
                                              Dories are great boats!

                                            2. we used to sail on 39-42 footers out to the Channel Islands with married couple husband worked with.

                                              although anything I brought wasn't typical, it was plentiful. sandwiches, many chips, a few dips, couple bottles of chilled champagne, marinated vegs, fruit to slice when wanted, variety of frozen chocolate bars, batch of cookies, blondies or a pie, water, soda, lemonade.