Tuesday 2 April 2013

Book Reviewsday Tuesday: "Cooking Aboard a Small Boat" - A Kinda Cookbook

     "Living one word to the next, one line at a time"
                                        -Kenny Chesney

      I decided it was time to fill one of the potholes in that nautical information superhighway dirt road that is the Dock Six Chronicles.

    We've got Gear and Tool Reviews (to be updated shortly), Recipes (to be updated shortly),  Coming Events (yeah, that too needs updating....sigh,)  What has been missing until now is a section of Book Reviews.  

    Today, we solve that problem, kicking off the first...

    Book Reviewsday Tuesday!


     The plan is to have a new review for you every other Tue..sday.

      Some weeks it will be a how-to manual,  some weeks maybe a first-hand passage or cruise account,  other weeks fiction, sometimes hot off the presses, sometimes an old favourite, sometimes it might not even be boat-related, just a good read I figured I'd pass along.

    Your input and help is always welcome- have you read a book you have liked and wish to share, or a book you didn't enjoy and wish to warn others away from?   Drop me a line.

    One of the things that is great about most boat-related how-to books is that the book title usually tells you exactly what the book is about.  No messing about, no having to leaf through the bloody thing in the bookstore to figure out what it's about like some of that fancier stuff.  Nope-  most marine how-to authors tell you what it's about right on the cover.

    Following the norm, Paul "Capt'n Pauley" Esterle gets right to it:


   Some of you might be familiar with Capt'n Pauley, thanks to his regular contributions to Small Craft Advisor

   He's our kinda guy.

   Like some of  us, Capt'n Pauley sails a small boat-  Ternabout, a Matilda 20, one of the great Canadian "trailer sailer" pocket cruisers to come out of the golden age of small boats, the late 60s/early 70s. 

   Also, like some of us, he has invested an amount of time and money equipping and outfitting that is out of all  proportion to the value of his boat.

   He understands living large on a small boat.

  That Capt'n Pauley knows whereof he speaks was evident from the moment I picked up this book.  The binding told me, "This guy gets it."

  See, "Cooking Aboard..." is spiral bound. 

   Spiral binding allows the reader to open the book to the desired page and lay it flat, leaving both hands free to accomplish what you are trying to accomplish by reading the book conveniently lying open in front of you. You can also fold the book back on itself, so that it takes up half the space when opened, a small but important thing when working with limited galley space. 

     "Cooking Aboard..." is much more "small boat friendly" than typical cookbooks like "The Joy of Cooking", for example.  That doorstop would damn near fill Whiskeyjack's galley, and refuses to stay open to any of it's hundreds of pages unassisted.

It's a little thing, but anything that makes my life easier earns bonus points.

  As the post title says, this is a kinda cookbook.
  And a kinda DIY manual. 
  And a kinda, well...
 "Cooking Aboard..." is what I call a "Start from stupid" book.  The author assumes that you know nothing, and aims to teach you everything.  

    Occasionally, "Start from stupid" is a bad idea, usually when the author dumbs the book down below the general knowledge level of his/her intended audience, then adopts a narrative style that provides no simple means for the reader to access the information they need now.

  Capt'n Pauley avoids this trap by breaking "Cooking Aboard..." into a logical sequence of stand alone chapters and sub-chapters.

  For the unconscious incompetent ,  "Cooking Aboard..." starts from scratch, discussing  galley necessities, tools, gear, provisioning and storage, then expands on that foundation by offering advice on galley and cockpit projects to improve the cooking, and eating, aboard experience.
  For more experienced galley slaves, it is easy to jump to the sections that have more value, whether it is storage advice, spice tips,  recipes or how to build a propane canister locker.

   The book is well illustrated, with photos and line drawings illustrating the text of the project under discussion...

  .... with a glaring exception-  the recipes that fill the last 70 pages of the 182 page book.

    While the first 6 chapters are liberally illustrated, Chapter 7 has a only a handful of photos which do little to highlight the recipes to which they are attached.  For example, the Chicken Caesar Salad Wraps:

    The recipe sounds tasty, but the accompanying image looks like very shiny hand-rolled homegrown of dubious legality.

     Many of the recipes are sourced from other sources-books,  message boards, forums and other sailors' blogs, which might explain, maybe, the lack of art. But, that in turn, presents another concern-  if the author hasn't tried the recipes offered, the author can't attest to the accuracy of proportions, ingredients, or taste.  As the first 6 chapters are all based on first-hand experience, I am gonna give the good Capt'n the benefit of the doubt here.  

   *edit: I contacted Capt'n Pauley with a link to this review.  He kindly replied
    "Just to be clear, all the recipes were tested, tried and true on Ternabout. I originally had many more pictures of food in the book. However, the cost of a Lulu book is dependent on the binding and number of pages. I knew I wanted the spiral binding even though it is the most expensive binding type. I also wanted as many pictures as I could get in and keep the price of the finished book attractive. Rather than remove pictures of some of the more important features, I removed food type pictures until I got to the price point I was comfortable with."

Thanks, Capt'n for the clarification.  


   As any good hands-on how-to manual will, "Cooking Aboard..." has a Notes section at the end of the book, which is a handy idea.

   There's the odd typo and grammatical error, not uncommon in self-published works, but overall it is a readable, well-presented manual.  I expect that my copy will be dog-eared and rum -stained in short order this season, and will be well-thumbed in many seasons to come.  

    Want a copy of your own?

    Fire off a not-unreasonable $17.95 via paypal for the hard copy or only $8.99 for the e-reader version to

  You can find the rest of Capt'n Pauley's works on Amazon:

    He writes so me good stuff- there maybe more Capt'n Pauley reviews on future Tuesdays.


"Talk the Dock!"



  1. his web page has the following "Finally, an extensive selection of tested-on-board recipes is provided", so you don't have to give him the benefit of the doubt.

  2. Great idea!

    Recommend: Glass Castle
    Just finished "Casual Vacancy" by J.K.Rowling (tedious read)