Book Review: The Care and Feeding of Sailing Crew


Last Updated on September 13, 2023 by Amy

I just finished The Care and Feeding of Sailing Crew, by Lin and Larry Pardey

This book is definitely famous among the sailing crew, and I was itching for a read about the domestic topics of boat life.

Topics I Skipped

Parts of the book were tough and I skipped right through them – they were simply not relevant to us, such as:

Sailing without refrigeration

This is not a terrible concern for us. We have a huge amount of refrigeration space onboard Starry Horizons. Unless the whole boat is out of power, we have plenty of refrigeration. Most of the meals in the book were assuming you had no fresh meat. I do plan on cooking some meals like that but not all.

Building an ice chest

This is a helpful tip for when you lack ample refrigeration space.  See above.

Sail races and preparing food for the crew

David has done a race or two, but short races on significantly smaller craft. We have no plans to race with Starry Horizons.

Gimbal stoves in a galley

One of the best things about catamarans and one of the many reasons we are cat snobs – we don’t have to worry about heeling nearly as much as a monohull. Most catamarans don’t have gimbaled ovens/stoves.

Limited storage space

Lin and Larry spend most of their time talking about Seraffyn – a 24′ monohull. Our space is at least 5x the amount of space they had.

No working restrooms

This is why I could not cruise on a small boat. I don’t even like camping unless there is a public restroom. That does not include a port-o-potty. I am spoiled.

No engines

This part meant if the wind died or if you heaved-to, you were making no progress towards land. We have not one but 2 engines, and David is an able-bodied tinkerer!

Water storage and rationing

We have yet to try to catch rainwater and have a fabulous watermaker on board. Starry Horizons has about 200 gallons of water storage. Lin recommends 1.5 gallons per person per day for island hopping (66.67 days for 2 people) or .5 gallons per person day for offshore use (200 days!). That difference is people island hopping tend to be in and out of the water more and require rinse offs, plus water in marinas tends to be dirtier, so if if you are offshore, saltwater rinsing is an option for cleaning the decks, etc.

Topics I read With Interest

Some parts were extremely relevant.

Provisioning in Foreign ports

This is a huge subject to learn that I still struggle with. Often, I need to speak another language to communicate in markets. While I have French for Cruisers and Spanish for Cruisers, those haven’t helped when with locals that speak Bahasa or Dhivehi.

We also often encounter unusual ingredients. I am often resorting to Google or Pinterest to find recipes for crazy things!

Keeping food with and without refrigeration

This bit boggled my mind. My previous job requires overseeing several commercial kitchens. I know that restaurant food prep is very meticulous – an exercise I did not extend to my own home. Everything I make is kept as leftovers and not thrown away until it looks bad, smells bad, or tastes bad. My goodness, are we spoiled. Lin often leaves food on the stove to keep and simply reheats it for a few days in a row. She has a lot of food on board with no refrigeration that the normal American would throw away after sitting on the counter for too long. Examples would be eggs and cheeses. Also, she discusses dealing with mold on meats and cheeses with a simple vinegar cleaning.

We have transitioned to keeping less food refrigerated. I no longer refrigerate most condiments.

Meal plans

Lin cooks as I do, pick your protein out and then wing it from there. Meal planning will be important out on crossings to make sure we both stay happy.

Bedding and watches

Lin and Larry did a 3 x 3 rotation, but David and I do a soft-six rotation.

They also had to be very picky about not getting their bunks damp. Their smaller space made it more difficult to dry off before hitting the sack. We have the water and space to shower every night before bed.

Social life and entertaining

I love the cruiser lifestyle – making friends in every port and bumping into people we know in remote parts of the world, miles from where we saw them last. She provides tips for potlucks and basic cruiser etiquette.

Cooking equipment

Lin briefly touched on pressure cookers – she said she never uses one! I really enjoy using my pressure cooker onboard. I use it most often to cook vegetables, especially ones that take a long time, such as beets or dried chickpeas.

Baking bread

Lin also talked about baking bread as a highlight of a passage. I can understand why – the smell of baking bread makes us so happy! And having fresh-baked bread right out of the oven with some butter and salt – yum! Talk about morale booster.


Lin and Larry didn’t fish much, or at least that’s the impression I got. Lin was squeamish about handling the fish they did catch.

We haven’t caught nearly as many fish as I would like, though we have caught a few amazing ones!


Overall, I really enjoyed reading The Care and Feeding of Sailing Crew. If you have a sailing themed book you recommend, let me know!

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