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Tableware and glasses for long term cruising

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What is the issue?
A boat is a world which is not the most hospitable area for breakables. So some consideration is required.

Why address this?
The glasses and cups you drink out of and crockery you eat off make a surprising difference to the amount you will enjoy your food.

How to address this?
During our circumnavigation we used normal domestic tableware and glasses. In three years of sailing, where we endured two cyclones, we only broke one small dish. This was dropped by accident in a sleepy and flat calm anchorage. We were not careless with the tableware but we were far from fastidious. There is no particular reason why normal domestic tableware should not work in a vessel.

You can of course invest in melamine tableware. Although it is not totally unbreakable it will withstand most any fall it has on a vessel giving you that peace of mind. The highest quality melamine has a double pressed coating to making it scratch resistant - you can detect this by taping your finger nails on the surface, the double pressed version gives a clicking sound closer to that of china.

The problem with melamine is you will never quite escape the feeling that you are eating off plastic that somehow never feels right. This is particularly the case when it comes to drinking from it. Glasses are a particular case and these are typically made out of acrylic. You can get a polycarbonate tumbler that is nice and heavy and very close to the experience of glass. Polycarbonate is genuinely unbreakable, but you could get a set of normal glasses for the price of one tumbler.

The one additional advantage melamine and polycarbonate has is it is significantly lighter than a solid domestic tableware set. This could be very important if you have a vessel that needs to shed weight wherever possibly such as a catamaran for instance. Apart from that I would elect to go for normal tableware and certainly glasses every time.

To ensure good service and convenience for domestic tableware, specifically arrange the galley area so the set have tightly tailored slots and seats for it live in. As the boat is tailored to the tableware it makes sense to choose a set or brand where replacements can be bought in the future to replace those accidental breakages that occur. Alternatively buy a second set on the day to be stowed in the attic for the occasional replacement. Try aim for products that do not taper and have wide support bases such as the cup in figure 1 so they have a good footing and are less likely to topple.

With thanks to:
Michael Harpur, Yacht Obsession.

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