Cooking at Sea Horror Stories

In the previous threads I started, several people posted their bad experiences in the galley. I included one of my own stories about a cook nicknamed “Maggot” who thawed meat in his bunk. I thought instead of crowding out the threads I started intending to help people I would just start one dedicated to all those lousy galley people who made life interesting and the meals they made

I have 2 stories about pumpkin pie. I was sailing as AB and we had a woman who was generally a good cook despite her loss of her sense of smell. I came off deck for a snack and the other AB was sitting there eating pumpkin pie with an enormous amount of whipped cream. I cut a piece and took a bite. It tasted funny so I added some whipped cream. Took another bite. Added some more whipped cream. It still didn’t taste right. The other AB was staring at me and I said, “What the hell is the matter with this pie?” To which he replied, “There’s no sugar in it”.
The other time was an older guy cooking for us with no real cooking experience. He made pumpkin pie. Not being a huge fan of pumpkin pie, I had skipped dessert, but everyone who had a piece told him it tasted like tacos. He got angry and showed us the spices which included what he called cinnamon but what it read on the jar was “cumin”.


During a stay at the Canary Island the second mate who was on deck spotted a couple of Chinese crew members with rather large carton boxes which they carried on board the ship. Something in their behavior made him suspicious. He.told the first officer that he thought they were bringing contraband of some sort on board. The chief notified the captain and both, it was a tanker, went aft to investigate.

As it turned out the contraband consisted of five young dogs, still alive and obviously destined, one by one, to disappear into the pots in the kitchen in the coming days or weeks. The dogs were landed ashore via the ship’s agent. The culprits were punished with the withdrawal of an amount of their wages, something a Chinaman is not amused with.


One time we had a cook that was pretty capable, but had fallen in love with the dvd player. Instead of making meals, he’d watch movies all day and then throw some crap together in the last 20 minutes. One day we came off deck to cold sandwiches and chips. I advised him later that when the crew was outside all day working, it’s nice to come into a big pot of soup or stew, and not just some sandwiches. At the next port he wrote on the menu board, “Soup and Stew”. That’s all he made- canned soup and beef stew. No biscuits. No sandwiches. After that the chief engineer called him “Old Soup and Stew”.

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There was an instance some time ago down in Corpus Christi, Texas. Seems that the cooks from a Korean ship that docked there were regularly (I think) adopting dogs from the pound. These animals would then end up on the menu. . . .I understand that now this practice has been stopped for obvious reasons.

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Spoiled milk in the galley; so the chief steward would take half spoiled milk/half fresh milk, and mix it to “hide” the spoiled smell/taste. This doesn’t work.
Night rations were a silver tray of cold cuts that were never replaced, only replenished, so it was a silver tray of mostly rancid meat and dried out cheese, wilty lettuce and mushy tomatoes. An AB threw the whole thing over the side one night.
So P&J right? The old standby? The only peanut butter left out after hours were those little 1/2 tablespoon sized packets, same as the jelly. And the bread was frozen, wonder types. Thawed out at room temp hi humidity so the bags looked like the bread was trying to lose weight in a sauna suit. It tasted like every frozen thing in the freezer as well, cook didn’t know the joy of baking soda.
Meal time wasn’t much better; cooked everything at breakfast in rancid leftover bacon grease to save butter- even pancakes and French toast. I wasn’t eating pork or beef so it made my life interesting.
No salad bar. Veggies were generally canned or frozen and over boiled.
Hairy chicken wings were lunch time standard-undercooked with bristles sticking out from inadequate plucking.
The fish? The ship had come brand new out of Korea on a Marshalls Island registry, reflagged USA within a week. So all the fish was diarrhea inducing mystery fish, and the chief cook had thought “its cheap, I can fill a freezer and not buy fish for a year!” Which he did. Everyone ate the fish once. Then they didnt ever again.
I lived on white rice, veggies, yogurt cups(scavenger hunt, which aren’t bad or turned bad from being left out too long) and the occasional edible chicken bit. I no shit lost 25 lbs in 67 days.
Oh, not food related but definitely stewards dept related; they bought Korean “laundry detergent” which actually was general purpose granular detergent, which induced rashes and irritation. I washed my clothes with shampoo when I found this out. No dryer sheets so sheets were rough as hell and if you turned off your cabin lights and moved your sheet around it looked like a Midwest sky during a summer thunder storm. Uncomfortable as hell too.
This was all on one ship, a ro-ro. The cruise only saw one port allowing crew off visit it made stocking up on anything impossible. I knew something was amiss when I saw like 10 cases of add water/microwave type meals in the chief mates office when I joined in NJ.
When I did get off the ship for a few hours in Agadir I ate like three loaves of bread, hit three French cafes and ate sandwiches, salads, and pastries at each one… I brought three boxes of pastries back to the boat too and they lasted about 20 minutes. I think a few ABs just raided them most weren’t event aware I brought stuff back from town.

The last ship I worked on had a great cook but a terrible chief steward; the cook did dinner, chief steward did bfast. The collaborated on lunch. Dinners were great other than the Chief steward(Aka The Sandwich Artist) tried to set him up by ordering substandard stuff, limiting what he could use, etc. Breakfasts were okay but if you wanted runny eggs you had to order hard, and vice versa. Chief steward also like to cut onions for the day first then use the same knife to cut the morning fruit bar fruit. It meant he only had to cut fruit every other day since most wouldn’t eat the strawberries and such. His pancakes were okay usually but it was a bad lottery too; if you won it you’d get raw batter in the center, with burned on once side. I ate scrambled and oatmeal most every a.m. meal.


In Korea alone there are about 17.000 dog farms. They consume 2,5 - 3 million dogs every years. There are many dog meat restaurants. Worldwide about 30 million dogs are consumed.

The younger generation is now in general against eating dog meat, the old folks however insist on keeping the tradition alive, not the dog…

A Dutch skating medal winner ended his speech in a press conference yesterday with the wish that Koreans would care better for their dogs. The entire press and media jumped on him, pissed off by such foreign brutality, sparking a dog meat controversy at PyeongChang. They even called him a racist… Yes, we Dutch have the habit of being very direct in our communication, so be it.

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Doesn’t Piet de Leeuw in Amsterdam still serve horse meat?

Yes they still do and that already since 1949. Steakhouse Piet de Leeuw admitted in 2013 that they had being serving horse meat to their customers, who were unaware of the fact, during all that time. Quite a scandal. However, It is allowed under Dutch law as well as dog meat. Also in the US dog meat is allowed in the majority of states. To be realistic, I would not be surprised that in some obscure off the road restaurants, here and in the US, dog meat is served.


I ate it once when I was very young on purpose. Gaegogi is the Korean name for it

Laughed my a$$ off reading this. Thanks for the story

My point was that Jan can skate but may not be your best candidate for the Dutch diplomatic corps.

Correct, he was not trained for that. As an animal lover It came from the heart.

Federal government.

Veggies dumped right out of cans and heated up on the line. Too much salt on everything. Leftovers recycled often. Everything fried. Expired milk and yogurt. Snacks non-existent in spite of a union contract that calls for same. Stuff like that. Lots of us stock up on things we like before a trip.

There are exceptions. We do have some good cooks and they are very undervalued.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m totally on his side. I have several 4 legged family members, but…

Is dog all that bad? I owned horses for 30 years until my last one died. I ended up eating horse meat and it wasn’t all that bad. France.

Asking for a friend, etc

Federal government… reminds me of a story when I was in Yakima one year for the army they brought hot chow out to the field for us. Everyone got excited but me. First thing I wondered was how long that meat had been sitting in mermite containers. They popped the lid off and it was all well done and…I don’t know it just was NOT prime rib.

No it’s fine. It’s kind of a guy thing to do, or it seems it was. Helps your virility or whatever. But I drank Cobra blood in Thailand too.

No one has posted any horror stories for a week so I thought I would try to revive this thread. Back when the crew smoked inside the boat we had a cook who out smoked everyone. Even the smokers were disgusted. She had this odd habit of smoking and not flicking her ash. I remember watching peeking around the corner to see if the ash was going to fall in the soup she was making. Just as the ash would get a good curl, she’d flick it. Never did catch ash going into anything.
Another time she was making steaks at 0930. I thought it was a bit early and asked if those steaks were for lunch. She said, “No…for dinner”.

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I saw this travel show where they were trying food at an outdoor Vietnamese place and it was a little old lady running a work under a set of stairs. She had a cigarette that was half ash just wokking away.

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Many years ago we had a chief cook that over the course of his time aboard didn’t look so good. In the end he said he had to get off because his friend wasn’t well. The captain told me later he had AIDS. He knew because of the meds the guy was taking. Given the many misconceptions of the disease the crew likely would have been up in arms if they knew.