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Cooking Aboard Sailboat

Cooking Aboard Sailboat
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“It was our love for the ocean that brought us together in the first place,” says Helen Gallo Bryan. She met her husband, Dave Bryan, manager of the Boston Sailing Center, more than a decade ago when she first signed up for sailing lessons. “We quickly figured out we had a passion for wine and food, too,” says Dave. “So being on the boat for a day or a week, with or without the boys, we eat and drink well.”


Helen understands multitasking. The couple has two young sons (Daniel, 6, and Oliver, 3), and she is an executive with Winebow, an importer of Italian estate wines. She admits it takes a little forethought to pull off a fresh and delicious meal while under sail, but she says once you learn a few tricks, you can apply them to any meal — at home or with the spinnaker flying.

“People think we’re nuts,” says Dave, “when we talk about a great meal we had and that it was while we were on a sailing vacation with the kids. We take the kids everywhere, and if we’re out cruising, they come along — we don’t get enough time with them as it is, and the ocean is a great place for them to be. What better way to spend time as a family and for them to understand, love, and respect the water?”

Helen and Dave chose a menu that includes healthy ingredients that can be made in advance and then quickly assembled, easily grilled (or placed in the boat’s tiny oven in case the weather turns), and kept in a cooler for a few days — important when you can’t run to the store for missing ingredients. “Normally in the summer, I’d use fresh tomatoes, but oven-dried are more forgiving in case we hit waves or we can’t use them before they go south,” explains Helen.

Planning ahead is the key. “Almost all the provisions we take along are ingredients that mix and match well. We put olive oil and garlic in everything. Olive oil doesn’t need to be refrigerated and is a better health choice than butter,” says Helen.

“If you’re going to be out for a few days, think of your meals as a three-day picnic and plan accordingly.” And there’s no reason to skip dessert. “I got the idea from slice-and-bake cookies and experimented. I make a batch, form them into logs, and freeze them. They also help keep the cooler temperature down, and they’re delicious — by land or sea.”

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