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Tips for Onboard Entertaining

Entertaining is likely one of the key reasons you bought a boat. But onboard parties bring with them plenty of challenges. You have much less room than you do at home, you’re working in a small kitchen with smaller appliances (if there are any appliances at all), and you’re doing everything on the relatively unstable footing of a boat on the water. Plus, it’s a boat! Everyone onboard – including the host – should be having a great time, not working away in the galley. Here’s a few tips to make your onboard entertaining experience a success that everyone will enjoy.
Make a detailed list of everything you’ll need. Then treat that list as if your party’s life depends on it, because it does. Once you leave shore, there’s no running back to grab what you forgot. So make sure you have everything you need, and plenty of it.
Create a strict guest list. At home it might be the more the merrier, and you might not think twice if a friend wants to bring a plus one. But on a boat there’s only so much space and so many places to sit. You also have capacity laws to think about, and you need to be sure you have enough life jackets. Think about how much comfortable seating you have on your boat, and then stick to that.
Consider the parking at your marina. If there’s not enough parking for all your friends, you may need to meet someplace close by and carpool in.
Prepare for the weather. It might look beautiful outside at the start of your party, but what if a surprise shower passes through? Or the wind kicks up? Is your boat able to shelter guests from the elements? If not, make sure people are prepared with windbreakers or raingear. Also, consider the sun. Is there available shade for guests? And make sure to have plenty of sunscreen on that list we talked about.
Is the party for a holiday or are you having a theme? If your event is for a holiday, make sure to decorate appropriately. For July 4, have plenty of sparklers, flags and red, white and blue decorations to go along with the burgers and beer. If there’s no holiday to celebrate, picking a theme – like a pirate party or karaoke – can be a fun excuse to have a party. Go all out with decorations and accessories.
Don’t go crazy with your meals. When entertaining onboard, your boat and the ocean atmosphere will take center stage. Meals should complement that, but not overwhelm. Also, with tight space and smaller equipment, cooking in your galley is much more challenging than your home kitchen, so limit your onboard prep work. Cook your main meal ahead of time at home, preferably that morning. You can also forego plated meals in favor of family-style casual, where guests help themselves (easing the work for the host). Potluck is a good way to go, and guests are always happy to oblige. Keep things simple with light appetizers and easy-to-prepare desserts. And with side dishes, think of what can be cooked and prepared ahead of time, or what can be easily assembled onboard.
Check out these boating recipes on Pinterest to get ideas for great make-ahead dishes.