Beyond Gruel is author and sailor, Bob Witty’s first book. He describes his love of cooking and sailing and how he could not eat bad food while out on the water. The book centers around the idea of less is more, understanding that the less that is required to achieve the more you want, communicated through sailing and food.
“I grew up in South Florida and sailed an 11 foot Snark sailboat on a lake in the back of my home. I had wanted to take sailing lessons for years; unfortunately, family, work, and other priorities always got in the way.” Witty laments his lack of sailing education, much like so many stories we have heard from others who have always wanted to sail but have still not taken a course.
Bob Witty decided he would change that. He would take sailing lessons and fulfill a lifelong goal. While living in Monterey, CA, from 2017-2019, the author made the time to take the entire series of classes ASA 101 through ASA 104. He is interested in the sailboat itself as much as the sailing. The point of sailing a boat, for the author, is to spend as much time on the boat as possible. While taking ASA 103 he found that the boat would come into port for lunch. He understood the need for that from an instructor’s point of view, but for a sailor, he would much rather have spent the time out on the water.
“In ASA 103, we did have lunch on the boat one day, when we did our anchoring lessons. Everyone had a prepared, bagged lunch, which to me seems like a waste when you have a perfectly good galley to try out.” Witty explains, “The captain instructors all told me that few sailors knew how to cook and that galleys were rarely used, and that if I could, I would easily get work as a crew member for voyages from the west coast to Hawaii.”
It was a mixture of curiosity about cooking in a sailboat galley and an observed need that spurred on Bob Witty’s creative juices. “When we prepared for ASA 104 provisioning, the discussion began as having packaged food on the boat and eating breakfast and dinner at a restaurant while in port. I wanted no part of that. I wanted to seize the opportunity to cook in the galley, while in motion and while in port. I wanted to try baking bread using the famous airborne yeast of the west coast. I knew I could fulfill another lifelong dream of writing a book with all of these experiences.”
Beyond Gruel: Adventures in the Galley and Clear Sailing to Simplicity and Happiness is about how to identify the less that will help you achieve the more you want out of life, told through the medium of sailing and cooking in the galley of a sailboat.
Bob Witty on Writing Beyond Gruel:
We live in an age full of distractions, to the point that people now study mindfulness. I believe you make the most out of every experience. If I am taking sailing courses I want to learn everything I can about the boat and how to sail it. I want to learn as much as I can in the short time I have to spend on the boat. I turned my cell phone off during the journey, and when I found myself sitting on deck, close hauled, with little happening, it was an opportunity to check out the galley, the electronics, the plumbing systems, living and sleeping areas, and to make the absolute most out of the experience. And since I knew I was going to write a cookbook, I wanted to see what ideas would be practical – what would, and wouldn’t work.
Order a copy in the ASA store: https://store.asa.com/asa-texts-and-reference-1.html