By Barb Hansen
Cooking is a lot like cruising, I’ve decided, and that’s a very good thing.
Between Thanksgiving and New Years I spent most of my non-office hours in the kitchen preparing yummy things for guests. Or, I was reading recipes of good things to make in the kitchen. Or, I was at the grocery getting the ingredients to make all those yummy things.
I have one rule about cooking – keep it simple. If a recipe contains ingredients I can’t pronounce or spices I’ve never heard of that dish will most likely not make it to my dinner table. The best recipe is one in my mother’s handwriting, a holiday treat that she would make at this time of the year for her young daughters and sometimes she’d let us help her.
The next best recipes for me come from the tried-and-true cookbooks, the ones with dog-eared pages or pages stiffened by an accidental smattering of egg whites.
Even when I was in the kitchen my mind wandered back to the office. Booking and planning cruises for our charter customers is what I do for a living as proprietor of Southwest Florida Yachts. And as I chopped and diced, mixed and poured, baked and broiled, it occurred to me the best recipes are like the best cruises.
When planning a cruise, instead of paging through cookbooks, I page through logs and charts, often with cryptic, handwritten notes that remind me of cruises past.
Keeping it simple is my tried-and-true recipe for a good cruise, too. One of the most important ingredients is a practical float plan, one that doesn’t take you too far for the time and energies of the passengers.
Consider the mix of individuals on board. Do they all have the same tastes in food and activities? In conversation topics? Jokes? Do they like to go to bed at about the same time and get up at the same time? Measure carefully here.
You don’t have to plan each and every stop along the way, but you should have a good idea where you want to go and how long it will take to get there. If you plan to dock or dine at marinas along the way, consider that you may need to make reservations in advance.
Even if the forecast is for perfect weather, plan for a dash of bad weather. You may or may not experience rain or rough seas, but if you are prepared for a possible weather delay or a change of course it will make for a more pleasant cruising experience. That’s where those books and games on board can come in handy. Be sure to stock extra provisions in case you don’t make that dockside dinner reservation.
For me, one of life’s satisfactions is cooking with my old dependables, pots and pans, knives and serving spoons that have been in my kitchen, like, forever. They are not the most expensive but they are good quality and have proved their worth ten times over.
Similarly, a good cruise doesn’t require a megayacht or the fanciest vessel. It just needs a boat that has been well-maintained and a few spare parts, just in case.
Like a good recipe, a good cruise should be topped off with something sweet to underscore the memory of a special cruising experience with the special people in your life. The very best sweeteners are unplanned like the joy of seeing dolphin surf your wake or a flaming meteorite brightening up the night sky.
Keep a cruising diary. Like your old recipes in familiar handwriting, it will be something you can savor for years to come.