Grilling on the boat

At least for Americans, having a grill on board is almost a requirement. This may be related to our nationwide obsession with barbecues and cookouts. In any case, whatever the reason, boat grills are almost ubiquitous on cruising boats that also sport the stars and stripes.

Our boat is no exception. We’ve had a grill on board almost since we bought her, though the grill of choice has changed over the years.

We started with a charcoal grill. Grill snobs in our early 20s, we scoffed at the idea of a gas grill. The aroma of charcoal getting ready to cook our food whetted our appetites as much as the actual food.

Note grill on port side.

Note grill on port side.

And then we were faced with the realities of a charcoal grill on board. There’s storing the fuel. Charcoal needs to stay dry to effectively light, and we don’t really have a good place down below to keep a bag or two of charcoal. There’s the reality of what you do with all those hot coals. The excess garbage that’s generated. Finally, there’s the fact that charcoal lights better when you’re using a chimney. A chimney that’s made of steel. Rustable steel. Rustable steel that requires its own storage space.

So we went to propane.

Our first propane grill was a fabulous Force10 model, a kettle grill that has since been discontinued. We figured out the required mount (Calypso’s lack of lifelines or any kind of pulpit makes mounting a grill just another challenge in our world). That thing lit in any wind, stayed lit in any wind, and finally was sacrificed to Neptune in the wind that caused an accidental gybe off the coast of North Carolina one unforgettable (and hopefully never to be repeated) night. The gybe caused the mainsheet to wrap around the grill and rip it from the mount, sending it slipping into the waves. I wish I could tell you the sacrifice made Neptune calm down, but that’s not the case. It’s also a story for another time.

Old Force 10 kettle grill. Note the sweet mount!

Old Force 10 kettle grill. Note the sweet mount!

We no longer leave the grill mounted. It lives in the lazarette, is pulled out when we want to grill, and once it’s cool it’s slipped back into the bag and into its spot in that cavern. Convenient? No. But peace of mind is worth a little hassle.

Our current version is the much-adored Magma kettle propane grill. It’s used frequently, travels with Jeremy and Julian when they head to Flight Fest in Ohio each year, and has generally been a solid performer. Do I lust after a different grill? Yes. I’d love a rectangular one, with room to feel crowds. I keep having to remind myself that it will just be the 2 of us when we head off again. This one is paid for. It fits on the boat, and down below. I don’t honestly think a rectangular one would fit either place. The grills generally use the little propane cylinders, but we’ve got this adapter  to hook the grill up to a regular propane tank. No disposable containers for us!

Other grill tools I love?

Long handled tongs

Long handled spatula

Spray bottle for any flare ups

Grill basket for veggies (this last one I will have to cut the handles off to make it fit on the grill)

I’ll get a fish basket like this one for use on beach bonfires for sure!

In general, I detest “grill tools”. They’re ridiculously oversized, don’t do a great job dealing with the food, and are heavy – plus they’re impossible to get into a sink to clean. Give me good, solid, regular galley tools that have a little bit longer reach.

I love grilling. Put some veggies or meat into a flavorful marinade, toss them on the grill, and you’ve got a spectacularly delicious dinner with no mess or fuss or heat down below.

What are some of your favorite grilling tools?

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