Cooking on a Boat

This one’s going to mean different things to different people, ranging from beaching a smaller boat to grill on land to full multi-course meals out on the water. Not everything needs a generator or even a grill, although most of ours need at least the latter. It helps to think before you buy, and to have a plan. This is ours.

What do we want to do, and where?

Our general plan was to head to the boat Friday or Saturday nights, either bringing food with us or cooking there in the slip, followed by sleeping aboard in the slip.

The next morning, like for many - coffee is an important consideration along with some kind of breakfast, while after that, assuming good weather, we’d head out to spend the day on the water with at least lunch out on the water, and dinner the next day either on the water or back in the slip.

Grilling in the backyard

isn’t quite the same, as you can’t so easily just run inside the house for that thing you forgot, although some may not even need a grill at all.  I did used to grill a lot in the backyard, as well as spending a lot of time on a friend’s boat, often winding up being the one doing the grilling…so I felt I didn’t need to learn so much about grilling in general (although we’re always learning new tricks, right? :) ), as much as making sure whatever path we went down - worked for us and our specific needs and plans.

The boat as she came has hot and cold water, a small microwave, and a single burner stove in the galley next to the sink. The onboard stove is a Kenyan KISS butane stove. 

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Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

Unfortunately, the stove isn’t a dual-powered one, so no electric use in-slip

SerenityGalley web-med

Of course, replacement stovetops can be found, but it’s worth noting there are a fair number of opinions on actually cooking inside the cabin - the primary pro being convenience, assuming that it’s appropriate for use at the slip or out on the water, or at least where you plan on using it.

The Kenyon KISS butane stoves, as well as alcohol stoves, seem to have a bit of controversy around both of them. Alcohol flames are apparently fairly difficult to see visually, and some accidents have happened. Meanwhile, it seems like some of the Kenyon and possibly others have had issues with the seals to the butane cannister (7.8-8oz) going bad, causing butane leaks, and again - some accidents have happened. Some have used them for ages without issues, and others - have had accidents.

One of the things worth noting is Kenyon apparently has mentioned using a drop or so of oil on the cannister or seal in order to keep it lubricated - haven’t looked into detail yet but it sure sounds like the seal deteriorates over time. You can read some of the discussion in this thread on Club Sea Ray forums.  

Meanwhile, the KISS manual is still availabe at Kenyon. The KISS has been discontinued, although it seems Kenyon will do rebulds at a relatively cheap price (saw $75 quoted), or relative to boat bucks, anyways. Dimensions from the KISS manual are:

  • Length: 14 5/8"

  • Width: 13 1/2"

  • Depth: 5 3/4"

OK - so what do we need?

Coming back to what we planned on cooking (or reheating) aboard, my wife generally cooks at least semi-healthy food, or more healthy than I might anyways, and I wanted to make sure we could at least cover the following:

Dinners in-slip and sometimes on the water

We’d like to eat as reasonably similar to at home, so for us a fair pass at this was along the lines of:

  • Chicken for tacos or fajitas

  • Chicken wings or chicken breasts

  • Pasta - various

  • An occasional burger, sausage, etc.

  • Various skewers and kabobs, usually with chicken

  • Mixed veggies, corn on the cob, ...

  • Potatoes in various forms, from baked to home fries-like or mixed with onions, peppers, etc.

  • Whatever else we come up with resembling something we’d generally or at least occasionally eat at home

Breakfast, in-slip

This one was simple - pretty much coffee with milk or milk and sugar, and sometimes with a bagel or something simple. We usually do coffee in the am, then some kind of brunch-like thing later in the day which is pretty much lunch anyways, so besides coffee, breakfast is pretty simple for us.

Lunch or Brunch, in-slip or on the water

This was typically eggs and potatoes, the former being scrambled for me or sunny side up (ewww!) for my wife, and the potatoes being home-fry-like, basically chunked potatoes.  Sometimes a burger or something similar, but relatively rarely - love ‘em, but don’t want them to become ‘the one food we eat on the boat’ or the wife gets …. well, you know. :)

Most, but not all of these things, can be done in some fashion on a grill, while I was, like others, debating on just how much cooking we’d really be doing in-depth in the cabin due to smells and such in a smaller contained area. I’ve cooked various types of coil packs with potatoes and such, and of course meants, many times on a grill, so was less concerned there…at least once we sorted a grill and where/how to mount it…but some of the other things were starting to pose a bit of an issue and needed some thought.

I broke down the types of cooking we planned on into a few categories

  • Various meats

  • Things requiring boiling water in a pot

    • Mixed vegetables (sometimes ok for microwave in-slip)

    • Pasta and/or sauces

  • Potatoes in various forms

    • Baked - no problem on a grill.  Microwave as meh backup, or chunked in foil packets works well on a grill.

    • Pan-cooked like home fries


    • This one could go into the generic ‘boiling water’ category if it must, but it’s a must-have in the am or the morning just doesn’t start, for my wife in particular who seems to get a headache without having coffee in the morning...

I didn’t quite cover everything in the above groups; for example, corn on the cob, or - eggs.  The former isn’t really much of a thought, as I’d come to the conclusion a grill was a definite, and doing corn in the husk or in foil just isn’t much of an issue.  For eggs, yeah - you could nuke them in a microwave, but it’s not high up on the list, let alone for sunny side up… It was possible we’d be able to dual-purpose something, like a pot, to serve as pan duty for eggs, but a pan of some kind would also let us do e.g. onions and peppers when not doing them in a foil pack, so was still thinking on this one for a bit yet.

I still needed to sort whether or not we’d be cooking inside the cabin much if at all, but at least consider what you really plan to be cooking - if nothing but burgers, dots and sausages - life is simple, get a grill and call it good! For us, I wanted to make things as reasonably comfortable as possible so we’d spend more time aboard.

For now, I knew we’d be looking at grills, possibly another burner of some kind or at least a sane way to heat water for pasta on occasion, and definitely a sane way to make coffee. 

To be continued..