Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Plotting a Course for Dinner

May 1, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

course for dinner

Hey, skipper. Do you find your spouse or significant other is sometimes less passionate about boating than you are?

In the early days of our marriage, after I had built a sailboat, Meg’s enthusiasm for cruising diminished like an outgoing tide. It wasn’t that she was inept — my first mate is a pretty savvy sailor. It’s just that she sails by her stomach, so that on a weekend (or even longer) cruise the places we want to go are not necessarily the same. She’s plotting a meal ticket and, if possible, a night ashore.

My spouse maintains a mental filing cabinet of friends within a radius of 100 miles from our home port. All my paper charts plot the mileage between a harbor and the nearest friendly house. These include the homes of close, distant, past, future, casual, and family friends, business acquaintances, college roommates, bridge partners, beach and garden club members, and even ex-boyfriends.

Meg especially appreciates one couple who are about a three-hour sail away. They reliably ring the dinner bell the moment we round the headlands and drop anchor in their little cove. The meal is terrific and so is their bathtub.

Multiethnic group of friends celebrating with wine at dinningWith an additional hour of cruising, we arrive at the residence of another welcoming couple. He’s a fanatic dinghy sailor, but she’s a confirmed landlubber happy to plan an amazing dinner that can take all day to put on the table. Of course, Meg volunteers to help our host, whose culinary skills are a reliable weekend insurance policy for Meg’s shore-side comforts. Unbeknownst to me, my wife had consulted the tide charts to coordinate dessert with low tide, making it impossible to row out to our vessel. Ever dine for six hours?

Meg rings up a longtime single guy who lives east of our home port. We’re always welcome, even on short notice, but his refrigerator, stocked only with martini olives, ice cubes, and gin, is a gourmet’s horror. He does order us all Chinese takeout!

I’m thinking we don’t know anyone on a certain island, but it turns out Meg knows Aldo, a renowned water-borne Italian baker who is up at sunrise, making boat-to-boat breakfast deliveries. You have to be aboard a boat to be served, which suits Meg just fine.

Sometimes we have to work hard for our dinner. I entered a race among catamarans mainly for the after party. As far as I’m concerned, the cat boat race was a disaster, as we came in dead last. However, the food was yummy!

Though it sounds like Meg has worked all the angles, the promise of a good feed and comfortable bed did fail us once. We invited longtime friends who lived a couple of miles away from our boating destination for cocktails on the bridge and then dinner at a popular restaurant. Cocktails lasted longer than we thought, and when we were ready to move up river to the restaurant in the next village, we found the gate to the marina was not only closed but also locked for the night. How had we missed the warning on the gate? A frantic call to the marina office yielded a recorded message but no emergency telephone number, so our unhappy friends wouldn’t be able to drive out until the next morning.

Despite Meg’s track record of successful dock and dines, dinner that night was spaghetti, Spam, and warm beer. The gals slept in the two bunks below, while the guys tossed and turned in a wet, cramped cockpit.

Is there a message here? Life is short, so if one-half of your boating team equates boating with eating, go with the flow.

By William C. Windslow

The author is the Division 5 – Staff Officer Public Affairs, First District Southern Region, for the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, the all-volunteer, non-military arm of the Coast Guard, teaching boating safety education and conducting search and rescue operations. Visit to join the Auxiliary or for class information.


is Division 5 – Staff Officer Public Affairs, First District Southern Region, U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, and a freelance writer for marine publications. His work has appeared in Sailing, Wooden Boat, and Good Old Boat; he is also the author of Cat Boat Tales.

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