For their first cruising adventure together, Julie and George hitched a ride aboard a boat crossing the South Pacific; they boarded in Vanuatu and sailed with the vessel to Gladstone, Australia. They have since cruised in destinations as far flung as the Whitsundays and the U.S. Virgin Islands. In summer, Julie and George race boats out of North Flathead Yacht Club and cruise the 200 square miles of Flathead Lake. In the shoulder seasons, they spend weeks cruising in the San Juan and Gulf Islands.

George has been sailing for more than 40 years and in recent years has become a certified ASA instructor; he currently teaches through Flathead Lake Sailing School and San Juan Sailing. When he’s on land, he works as a carpenter

Boats: Blue Mule,Venture 25, and Eight Bells,Santa Cruz 33
George’s parents bought the Blue Mulenew in 1978, and he’s been sailing it ever since. Her home berth is on Flathead Lake in Somers, Montana, but she’s made regular trips to the Pacific Coast to cruise in the San Juan and Gulf Islands. Our most recent coastal trips have been aboard friends’ boat, Eight Bells,berthed in Port Townsend, Washington.

Potato Bowl with Black Bean Sauté

Potato bowls take the best aspects of stuffed baked potatoes and make them an easy cruising meal. A hot water bath minimizes propane usage and lets you take a short paddle or shore walk while the potatoes “cook.” They’re also endlessly variable; the recipe gives some of my favorite ingredients, but you can substitute whatever is at hand or needs to be used up in the galley. You can also prep for two meals at one time by boiling twice the number of potatoes and using half the next day for a breakfast egg skillet or a lunchtime potato salad.



2–3 large potatoes, unpeeled, cut in 1-inch cubes

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 onion, diced

1/2 bell pepper, diced

4–6 mushrooms, diced or sliced

1/2 15-ounce can black beans, drained

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1/4 cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated

1/4 cup prepared salsa

1/4 cup sour cream

2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped

Add the potatoes to a large saucepan and fill it with water, covering the potatoes by at least 1/2 inch. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat, skimming off any foam that forms just before it comes to a boil. Once the water is boiling, remove the covered pot from the heat, wrap it in towels, and set it in a stable place. Let the potatoes sit for 1 hour, and then check for doneness and drain; if they are not tender, replace the lid on the pot and let the potatoes sit until the water cools to lukewarm before draining.

Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté for about 5 minutes, until soft. Add the pepper, continue cooking another 2–3 minutes, and then add the mushrooms; sauté another 1–2 minutes, until they start to soften. Stir in the beans and spices, and then add the potato cubes; cook, stirring, for about 5 minutes, until warmed through. Divide into bowls. Top each serving with a handful of cheese, a couple of spoonfuls of salsa, a dollop of sour cream, and a sprinkle of cilantro.
Serves 2.

Notes:Potato bowls easily showcase the best of what’s fresh and in season. The fresh produce in these photos was purchased from local growers at the fabulous Ganges farmer’s market on Salt Spring Island in Canada’s Southern Gulf Islands.

Any potatoes can be used in this recipe, but the type of potato and size of your cubes may change the water bath time. For potato varieties that tend to cook quickly, like fingerlings, or smaller cubes, start checking the potatoes after about 40 minutes.

Alterations keep this recipe in regular rotation on long voyages. Any color of pepper and onion can be used, and many other vegetables can be swapped in. Vegans can skip the dairy, foragers can pile on wild mushrooms, and meat lovers can add chorizo or bacon.

We make our own Grilled Tomato Chipotle Salsa while on land and always pack some for our cruising trips, but any prepared salsa can be substituted. Or make a quick fresh salsa using 2 cloves minced garlic, 1/2 minced jalapeño, 1 diced medium tomato, and splash of lime juice.

Julie Laing

Bio: Julie Laing met George Michels aboard a sailboat, and they have been boarding vessels together ever since. After they met, Julie learned to sail by racing boats on Flathead Lake in Montana. When she’s not sailing, she freelances as an editor and writer. She also writes a food blog, Twice as Tasty, and teaches cooking workshops.

They share some of their sailing adventures on their Ditch the Dog blog.