Cooking While Underway

It is often touted that a gimbal stove is an absolute must onboard a cruising yacht. The gimbal allows the entire stove to swing with the heeled vessel, keeping the contents on the cooktop level. This means that you can cook while sailing with a rail in the water.

The alternative to a gimbal stove is a fixed unit, that simply leans over with the yacht as you sail. These are touted as "only useful in port" when the yacht is anchored and sitting vertically.

The truth is, fixed stoves have been around and used on sailing vessels for far longer than gimbal stoves have. There is no denying the convenience of a gimbaled unit, but this doesn't mean that a fixed stove is inoperable while sailing.

While working on a tall ship, I had an interesting conversation with the ships cook. The tall ship has a very large fixed stove, and no pot holders! She said that cooking on the fixed stove was simple, all you need to do is use a very tall pot and never fill it more than half. As the ship heels over, the food will lean over in the pot, but the contents will not spill over. The lack of pot holders was also alarming, but apparently the friction of the pot on the iron grate was enough to keep the pots in place. Since they don't slide, they don't bother with pot holders.

I took this information back to our own boat and applied it to great lengths. Our stove is fixed, and we use it frequently while under sail. We simply only cook while sailing on port tack, as this would put the stove on the leeward rail. If the contents of the stove were to spill out, they would spill away from any crew standing by it, cooking the delicious meal.

If we are heeling excessively, we simply heave to, which reduces heel and makes life inside the cabin much more enjoyable!

Cooking on a fixed stove is nothing out of the ordinary on a sailing yacht, it simply takes a few precautions to make sure that the meal is safely created without any injury to the crew. This will allow you to cruise on a smaller budget as fixed stoves are cheaper to purchase and much easier to install.