Just Say Yes to Cooking on a Boat in the Bahamas

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Lizzie Lau

I spent years as a cook on boats and yachts in The Bahamas and Central America.

Of Course I Can … Wait. What?

I have a history of exaggerating my abilities on job applications. In 1991, I walked into an interview with an event production company in Vancouver, and when asked if I was familiar with Microsoft Word I told them that I had Word on my computer at home. I didn’t volunteer the information that we had bought the computer the day before, loaded Word on that night and I hadn’t actually tried the program. I got the job, and within six months was upgrading all the software on their computers, and producing fantastic bound proposals for their events.

Moving To The Bahamas

When my boyfriend and I got the call inviting us to crew on a liveaboard dive boat in the Bahamas in 1992, my first reaction was obviously YES. Then I paused and asked what my job description would be since I had never worked on a boat before, and I just completed my open water certification.

When the owner told me he wanted me to be the cook, I literally laughed out loud. My repertoire at the time consisted of bean and cheese burritos, microwave popcorn, and soup. But it was a job, on a boat, in the Bahamas. How could I say no? Obviously I didn’t, nor did I express any apprehension about learning on the go. I thought of it as an apprenticeship because surely someone on the boat would have to know more than me, right?

We packed up and flew to Miami to meet the boat at a marina in South Beach. A crew member who had been filling in as the cook had prepared a 7 day menu, and had already purchased all the provisions for the weeklong trip that was starting the following day. Unfortunately, she was taking the week off.

An Unconventional Apprenticeship

So I threw caution to the wind, climbed on board and the next day started cooking breakfast, lunch, appetizers, dinner, and dessert for 22 people with no safety net. The owner was on board as Captain, and it turned out that he was a terrific cook, and he answered my questions without making be feel like an idiot. After all, I had quit eating meat when I was 12 and had never prepared any of the things on the menu, and had not one clue what to do with a 23lb roast. I got good at it, and after spending 4 years on the dive boat, I started passing myself off as a Chef and got a job on a 105′ motor yacht where I spent nearly 11 years!

Here are a few of my favorite photos from the Bahamas.

The M/Y Aries, my home for nearly 11 years in Cozumel, Isla Mujeres, Roatan, and Florida.

I spent years as a cook on boats and yachts in The Bahamas and Central America.

14 thoughts on “Just Say Yes to Cooking on a Boat in the Bahamas”

  1. That is funny I just read this … I’m Julie and Dieters Grandson. I’m flying to the Bahamas to stay on Aries in 3 weeks!

  2. Thank you! They say "write what you know" and my life has been stranger than fiction. LOL

  3. I felt exactly the same way about motherhood! My motto is, "I'll jump off that bridge when I get to it." That's a skydiver's variation on the standard.

  4. I met people from all walks of life, and from all over the world. A lot of people did it for the money, or for a chance to travel. Some loved it, others couldn't wait to get back to the real world.

  5. It really was a blast. Not without mishaps. I was doing pasta one night, had the salad ready, the sauce, and fresh baked bread, everything was ready to go and when I went to cook the pasta I had forgotten to turn on the burner. It takes about 45 minutes for that much water to come to a boil…

  6. i always love your posts! Life lessons and crazy adventures–they're like a Jimmy Buffet album. You never disappoint. 🙂
    Shana from Technotini

  7. You are awesome!! You did it even though you had no idea how to when you first started.. Great story.

  8. Good job! I wish I was braver like that! The funny thing is that you are the second person I have known to do this. I used to work at a dress shop and when it closed, my boss got a job on a yacht for six months as a chef. She did cook but was not a chef. She, like you, succeeded beautifully!

  9. How funny! And very impressive to somebody like me who is terrible at cooking. Pretty sure I would have been thrown overboard. Sounds like a fun time in your life!

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