Feeding the body part 1 – where to cook and what with?

When talking about the Sage 17, or the other Jerry Montgomery designs I’ve owned an sailed, a common question is ‘where and how do you cook?’

Choosing a stove:

  • Never consider using a white gas fueled stove!  The fuel is much to dangerous to use on a boat.
  • Propane stoves are an option that I recommend if you choose a model where the burner doesn’t sit on top of the fuel canister.  The ‘burner on top’ design is unstable on a boat.  Forespar made a very nice gimbaled stove called the Mini-Galley … sadly the unit has been discontinued.  If you don’t mind drilling holes to mount one, and can find one, the Mini-Galley is the only ‘burner on top’ stove I recommend.
  • There are alcohol stoves.  I don’t recommend the pressurized models as they are prone to flame ups (watched my Mom burn hair off her hands many times on boats that had these stoves).  The low cost, or build your own ‘made out of a beer can’ styles. are not safe on a boat as they are not stable (like mentioned above when discussing propane stoves).  Origo makes a non-pressurized alcohol stove that is very good with a few limitations: the stove is expensive, large, and the alcohol fuel is expensive.  When considering alcohol be aware it doesn’t create a lot of heat … meaning heating water for the morning coffee will take a lllloooonnnngggg time.
An Origo one burner stove. Image Source: REIMO, www.reimo.com
  • Butane stoves are a good option.  Most of these stoves use a canister that mounts into the stove horizontally and to the side of the side the burner.  This means the stove is very stable as it is only a few inches tall and has a wide base.  The fuel costs are about the same as propane and the stoves are very low cost.  For the past nine years I’ve used a $25 ‘Max Burton’ butane stove.
A Max Burton butane stove. Image Source: Aervoe Industries, Inc.,  aervoe.com/product/max-table-top-burner-82531/

Where to cook:

There are real dangers in cooking on a boat.  The first is the issue of fire.  Be sure you understand how to use the stove by cooking a few meals on the unit at home.  A few test meals also allows you to see stove’s heating properties.

Be sure you use the stove in a location where you significantly limit the chance something will catch fire.  When cooking never leave the stove unattended.  You must have a fire extinguisher easily accessible and near where you are cooking.  If you are cooking in the cabin, do this only as a last resort (more on this later), be sure you have adequate ventilation so you, and others in the cabin, don’t asphyxiate.

My preference, and recommendation, is to cook in the cockpit.  This is safer and provides the chief with cooking space.

Cooking in Sage 17 AIR BORN’s cockpit in the San Juan Islands of Washington State.

‘But Dave, what do you do when the weather is poor?’

My first step is to still cook in the cockpit and I go below.  Small boats are nice in you can reach the stove from the companionway where you stay dry and out of the wind.

If the weather is REALLY bad I do cook in the Sage 17 cabin –

Cooking in Sage 17 AIR BORN’s cabin on one of the seats. NOT RECOMMENDED.

Again, I will only cook in the cabin when the outdoor conditions make it impossible to use the stove.  Be aware that using a stove in the cabin you are in a very small space with limited egress if something in the cabin caught fire. As I wrote above, you must have a fire extinguisher easily accessible and near where you are cooking.  Keep adequate ventilation by having the forward hatch and companionway open so you, and others in the cabin, don’t asphyxiate and can quickly get out if there is a fire.

Stove fuel storage:

Obviously stove fuels are flammable and explosive.  All the stove fuels above, except alcohol, are heavier than air.  When storing fuel canisters never, again that word, place them in a location where leaking fuel can collect in the boat.  This means not in a cockpit locker or in the cabin.  If the a canister leaks the gas will settle in the bilge and a spark will case a HUGE EXPLOSION.  Take no chances and store the fuel in the cockpit where there is lots of air flow (I store the butane canisters at the aft end of the cockpit floor where I also keep the outboard engine gas can).  Another safe option is to put the canisters in a container with vents on the bottom that is hung over the side of the hull so any leaking gas goes overboard.

Above a PVC pipe is used to store fuel canisters. There are multiple holes in the bottom cap to make a vent so any leaking gas can escape. Attach to the boat, away from the board, so leaking gas goes overboard. Image source: Gatita – Sailing in San Francisco, www.gatita.sikdar.us

In the next post on this topic I discuss how I organize my galley.

– Dave

P.S.  A few hours after I this blog was posted Small Craft Advisor posted the following on their Facebook feed –

Read details about this solution on where to put the stove –


A nicely done project.

NOTE: I originally posted this May 2015 on Sage Marine’s BLOG. In a short time the BLOG will be closed – stupidly. I am reposting this information so it is not lost.

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