A to Z South Atlantic Cooking
We sailed 3400NM from Walvis Bay, Namibia to Salvador, Brazil which took a total of 26 days. We picked a different country each day to cook a traditional meal from, based on the letter it began with. We started with 'A', and ate our way through the entire alphabet and across the South Atlantic Ocean in order to finish with 'Z'.
This voyage was sailed in three sectors. We were able to provision, rest and explore at the intermediate remote islands of Saint Helena and Ascension Island on the way.
Walvis Bay, Namibia to Saint Helena - 9 Days/1200NM (Algeria-India)
Saint Helena to Ascension Island - 6 Days/700NM (Japan-Oman)
Ascension Island to Salvador, Brazil - 11 Days1500NM (Peru-Zambia)
During the A to Z passage, of the selected countries, I have previously dined (and often times wined) in all but 5 of the 26 countries I've never took a bite or been in Algeria, Lebanon, Western Sahara, Yemen or Zambia, but I've feasted in one of their bordering countries and understand the regional vibes. I also messaged somebody with a solid internet connection via the iridium to check out specific dishes online.
Of the 26 countries, ‘X’ gave us a little trouble since there are no 'X' countries, so we chose LuXembourg. There are only two countries in the whole world that contain 'X', and Mexico was picked for 'M'!
During a long offshore sailing passage, days often blend together unless something significant happens...Unfortunately it is usually equipment breaking or a monster squall that you remember. However, lately we have been remembering each day in a positive way by creating memorable theme meals. Since we left the Seychelles, nearly every passage involved some sort of cooking theme including a continental challenge, meat challenge, carb challenge, favorite country cuisine challenge and every country we visited crossing the Indian Ocean challenge. You can read more about these on our predict wind map by zooming out from our current location and clicking on the past white dots on the passage track.
During our cooking challenges, we were forced for the duration of the passage to use only ingredients we had on board and generally cooked from scratch. The more constraints you have, the more creative you are required to become. All over the world delicious meals are produced every day in modest kitchens or even on the street. Often times all you need is a source of heat and a pan along with the correct ingredients for a wonderful meal. I'm not saying I can fry a Phad Thai as tasty as what's served on the Soi's of Thailand or whip up hummus as smooth as at a Qatari Souk, but the equipment we have on Skylark is enough to make an attempt. Being at sea is not an excuse to eat bland meals. On our voyage across the Atlantic Ocean, we used many fresh ingredients and imagination to design meals that were inspired by the national flavors of each country.
Below is the complete list of our A to Z Atlantic crossing meals, along with some A to Z tips and tricks for cooking offshore. There are no recipes here, only a list of the meals we enjoyed in alphabetical order while at sea. At the bottom are the ingredients and equipment we used for this challenge.
#1 Walvis Bay, Namibia to Jamestown, Saint Helena - 9 days/1200NM
Couscous with sautéed vegetables
Fluffy couscous topped with tomatoes and peppers.
Always use fresh ingredients first. After a few days, perform a galley triage and use up items before they spoil. Find a way to integrate them into your meals before its too late.
Garlic picanha with chili polenta.
Fresh South African rump steak marinated in garlic and pan fried to medium rare perfection, served with a spicy side of polenta! Bom!
Buy vacuum sealed meat for the fridge/freezer. All of the traditional cellophane wrapped meets were freezer burned quickly. Contact your local butcher and ask for vacuum sealed portions of your favorite cuts.
Szechuan pork stir fry with white rice
Pork belly fried with Szechuan pepper, yellow pepper, onion, garlic, chili, and soy sauce. served on a bed of steamed white rice…a passage favorite
Consider making rice for two or more meals whenever you make rice. You can use the rice as a side dish for the following meal or even turn it into a fried rice for a main dish.
Garlic butter crayfish tails and island style mango salad
Pan-fried crayfish tails in garlic butter on top of an exotic salad of fresh mango, avocado, red onion, tomato, habanero chili, garlic and olive oil.
During times of water shortages, such as a malfunctioning generator, use a biodegradable paper plate that can be discarded rather than have to wash many dishes.
Ethiopian style beef tibs with flat bread.
Succulent ribeye marinated in paprika, coriander, cinnamon, tikka seasoning, and then fried in butter with red onion, chili, garlic, ginger, and tomato. Served with flat bread.
Enjoy the simple pleasure of cooking. Embrace selecting the ingredients, chopping, sautéing, blending, kneading or whatever it takes to create your vision for the meal.
Sweet and Savory crepes
One crepe with Camembert and a second with Nutella. - Très délicieuse!
Forget about trying to keep everything strictly traditional. At sea you don’t always have every ingredient and it’s possible to substitute items. Our crepes included substitutions for nearly half the ingredients and they were wonderful still. Luckily no French on board to rate the crepes!
Greek chicken salad with garlic bread
Traditional Greek salad of tomato, cucumber, green pepper, feta, Kalamata olives, and oregano topped with grilled garlic oregano chicken. Tzatziki and garlic bread on the side (We later learned a fresh pita recipe)
Go offshore with lots of garlic, you won’t regret it. Many international dishes include garlic and it is something that lasts for a while. You can have a jar of puréed garlic to simplify cooking or as a backup when you are offshore for a while and cannot procure garlic at the local islands.
A traditional beef stew made with ribeye cubes, onion, garlic, tomatoes, potatoes and paprika.
Hopefully you can find fresh produce at each port. The variety might be limited but any fresh items will help inspire a meal. Thankfully when we left Namibia we were well stocked up with a variety of items. In Saint Helena they had a good selection of produce but it was not consistent and depending on when you visit the stock varies.
Butter chicken curry - succulent yogurt marinated chicken in a spicy tomato gravy. Served with rice and a Gennaker ripping in the background.
It is always helful to have plain greek yogurt in the fridge! It has use for sauces and curries or a greek tzatzki!
Arrival in Jamestown, Saint Helena
#2 Jamestown, Saint Helena to Ascension Island - 6 days/700NM
Yellowfin tuna sashimi (the best tuna ever from Saint Helena) with soy and wasabi
Lettuce and tomato salad with a sesame soy dressing
Just because you didn’t catch the fish doesn’t mean you can’t have fish on board in your fridge or freezer! In many island nations such as Saint Helena, they do a lot of fishing and sell the most delicious tuna at the local market for great prices. They will even vacuum seal it for you! In Saint Helena they sold yellowfin tuna for 5.50GBP/kg that rivaled a lot of the tuna we have consumed in Japan. What we saved in tuna consumption we spent on the world most expensive internet.
Korea (south) 🇰🇷
Theme dinner: Korean style pork in lettuce wraps
Fried pork belly marinated in soy, chili, sesame and served in large lettuce wraps.
Keep lots of extra bottles of soy, wasabi, fish sauce and olive oil in your boats storage before spending months away from civilization. Some of the islands don't sell these items consistently, and are they are essential to cooking most meals. They did not sell any wasabi on Saint Helena, which was nearly a crisis for us after discovering the delicious tuna. Luckily our fellow sailor Marcus gave us some wasabi! In Ascension they did not have any cooking oil in the shop (it's not even like we were picky looking for some fancy type of super virgin olive oil, it really was that they did not sell any type of oil in their one and only shop. Their butter sold out too!)
Chicken doner kebabs.
Sautéed chicken thigh in a traditional doner kebab seasoning, topped with chopped onion, tomatoes and lettuce and a spicy yogurt dressing.
Learn to make your own dough. We make fresh pita, and the dough works for pizza also. This is perfect to keep in the freezer in portioned out balls to thaw when needed. Making the dough makes a bit of a mess and requires a lot of water to clean, so we made big batches to cut down on the mess.
Mexican Chicken burrito bowl
Chicken thigh marinated in fajita seasoning, over a bed of rice with black beans, avocado, peppers, onion, tomato, and chili. Prepared by our resident Mexican cuisine expert chef Chris.
Make every meal special. You never know when it will be your last, and it helps boost moral after a long day at sea. When your scenery is the same for days, your dinner plate can be different!
New Zealand 🇳🇿
Lamb chops and crispy roasted rosemary potatoes. Inspired by our visit to Pedro’s House of Lamb in Queenstown, New Zealand.
Now that you are enjoying the meal, try and set up the table if the conditions are suitable. Often times on monohulls it is difficult to dine at the table during rough conditions so try and take advantage of pleasant conditions. It only takes a few minutes and the meal feels more special than eating off of your lap lazy style.
Arabic mezze platter
A mezze platter of fresh Pita, hummus, baba ghanouj, and lamb bites
Only throw non-organics in the trash can. Set aside a paper bag or container for all food waste, and throw overboard. You do not want a stinky trash that needs to be changed out every couple of days. Consider rinsing out cans and meat bags as well to avoid foul smells.
Arrival in Ascension Island
#3 Ascension Island to Salvador, Brazil 11 Days/1500NM
Wahoo Ceviche- Fresh wahoo caught and brought to us by new friends from Ascension, marinated in lemon juice, tossed with onions, parsley, chili’s and Ascension grown tomatoes. Served with crispy melba toast.
Pack herbs in ziplock bags with a paper towel to absorb moisture. Parsley will even last weeks! Moisture in the fridge spoils food super quickly and when you are weeks away from a store it can be devastating for future passage meals.
Blackened lime beef kebabs, spicy hummus, tabouli.
Marinated South African Ribeye in lemon and blackened lime spice.
Served with fresh hummus (toasted sesame seeds, chickpeas, lemon juice, basil and chili)
Quickly prepare meals when in rough seas to avoid seasickness and injury. It can be hazardous cooking evening standing in the galley at times, so think about what you will make beforehand to minimize time down below.
South African rib-eye with stroganoff sauce, mushrooms, green pepper, and onion. Served with pasta and garnished with parsley and cherry tomatoes.
Read some recipes for inspiration before hitting the high seas. You will be able to prioritize certain ingredients for meals you have in mind. We cheated a bit on the stroganoff, and used a packet from Knorr that Chris spotted in a Saint Helena store.
Cordon bleu- a Swiss classic of breaded chicken stuffed with ham and cheese. Served with pancetta potatoes and a grilled tomato. Garnished with lemon and parsley.
Set up the galley before cooking in rough seas. Make sure you have sticky mats set out, a clean sink, and a good attitude. All it takes is for one item to go flying to damage wood or cause injury or make you throw a temper tantrum.
Thai chicken green curry with white rice
A Thai chicken green curry, with cabbage, onion, green pepper and chili’s. Always spicy on Skylark!
Think about meals that you enjoyed while traveling, and try and replicate certain flavors. We are often making Thai food on Skylark since we spent so much time there and have fond memories, but when we dig a little deeper to the other trips we did that we enjoyed such as Peru, it sparks our creativity and we make something like ceviche or empanadas that are incredible and we don’t make often.
United States 🇺🇸
Big Sea Bacon Cheeseburger - grilled with love, a juicy burger topped within ChrisP bacon, cheddar, tomato and onion on a toasted bun. A side of remaining chip crumbs.
Use bacon fat to fry the burgers. It saves on oil and adds a delicious flavor. We ran out of cooking oil so stumbled upon this useful trick. Be careful cooking bacon at sea, especially when making burgers called ‘Big Sea’ since Chris had greasy hands with little traction when big waves rocked Skylark around.
Vietnamese spicy beef bowl
Ground beef, chili, lime, onion, fish sauce and soy sauce pan fried to become super crispy and served on a bed of rice. Garnished with tomato and parsley
Variety in tastes, textures and colors can add a lot to a simple boat meal. Add some chopped tomato and parsley and it instantly becomes more nutritious and flavorful. In Vietnam they are often adding herbs onto dishes like Pho and its absolutely delicious.
Western Sahara 🇪🇭
Saharan Chicken stew and cous cous
Cubed chicken breast in a fragrant stew with peppers, onion, tomato and chili’s on a bed of cous cous
We are only two people on board, so we often end up with leftovers. If we cook too much, we save some for the following lunch or find a way to integrate it into another meal. Fried rice is a favorite. You can turn anything into a fried rice the following day.
X LuXembourg 🇱🇺
Gromperekichelcher Cordon Bleu
Two traditional Luxembourg potato pancakes (eggs, shallots, garlic, potato, flour, salt, pepper) stuffed with bacon and cheese.
eXpect that every meal with be delicious when it’s prepared with quality ingredients and prepared with love! By the time we arrived at 'X', we had prepared so many satisfying meals that we believed in ourselves to keep going. Y and Z were going to be a real challenge with remaining ingredients, but we pressed on.
Seared masala tomato tuna with rice
You sometimes have to go very simple. We understand that they have tuna in Yemen, and sometimes make stews with masala and tomato. Chris’s mother helped send us a recipe for a fish stew. We had only part of the ingredients so decided to simplify it to keep some of the flavors and enjoy the last of our Saint Helena tuna. The result was within our theme and delicious…with the Saint Helena tuna when prepared onboard Skylark we were never disappointed!
Zambia 🇿🇲 - The last day
Bbq chicken, rice, sautéed greens
Grilled chicken in a barbecue sauce, with rice and sautéed cabbage.
Zap any urge to procrastinate cleaning up. We try to clean up as we cook, and put things away immediately. When you start delaying cleaning the galley, it becomes messy really quickly and more difficult to maneuver for subsequent meals and less pleasant. When you arrive at your destination you want to have a clean galley and be ready to explore! In our case it was 'B' for Brazil.
🎶Now I’ve ate my ABC’s, next time won’t you dine with me!🎶
Arrival in Salvador, Brazil
Equipment for A to Z Crossing
1 sharp knife
1 cutting board
1 wooden spoon
1 cheese grater
1 can opener
1 Small 700watt blender
Provisioning for the A to Z crossing
Many of these fresh items will last for over a month when stored properly!
Veggies: onions, potatoes, garlic, red cabbage, green cabbage, chilis, tomato, parsley, yellow pepper, green pepper, eggplant, frozen chopped bell pepper
Meat/dairy: Portioned out meat of choice for freezer (Chicken thigh, chicken breast, bacon, beef ribeye, beef picanha, lamb, crayfish, wahoo, tuna, ground beef) cheese (cheddar, mozzarella, feta), greek yogurt, eggs
Fruit: Lemon/lime, mango
Grains: flour, packets of yeast, cous cous, pasta, rice, bread crumbs, polenta, sesame seeds
Sauces: Olive oil, soy sauce, wasabi, fish sauce, bbq sauce, variety of local hot sauces (The hotter the better)
Spices & Pastes: Salt, pepper, cinnamon, rosemary, oregano, paprika, cumin, blackened lime, Green curry paste, doner kebab seasoning, rogan josh powder, stroganoff powder,
Canned items: chickpeas, mushrooms, tomato, coconut milk, black beans, black and kalamata olives