Two of the most enjoyable outdoor activities, especially in the summer, are cooking on a barbecue grill and boating, and there’s nothing better than combining both for a great time with your family and friends. And as long as you follow the guidelines for safely grilling on a boat, you can experience both of these past times without an issue. Follow these boat grill safety tips, and you’ll be in good shape.
Types of Boat Grills – Pros and Cons – Safety Notes
It’s important to understand the different types of boat grills available — gas, charcoal, electric — as each come with their own pros, cons and unique safety guidelines worth noting:
While Hank Hill may disagree, many would argue that charcoal grills are for barbecuing purists. Cooking with charcoal adds a special, classic barbecue flavor to the meat, and charcoal grills are generally inexpensive compared to other grill types. Charcoal grills take longer to light and are more work than gas or electric grills, especially if cooking for long periods of time and requiring extra charcoal.
As to charcoal boat grills, you want to buy one with a mount that attaches to the boat’s handrail or rod holder in order to position the grill over the water. This is so that any hot ashes or embers will fall overboard instead of onto your deck which can cause damage, or worse, start a fire.
Propane / Gas Grills
Gas or propane grills are some of most widely used boat grills nowadays. It’s the go to choice for many boaters because propane is cheap and easy to find. Propane grills start up quickly and easily, offer better temperature control than charcoal, and are easier to clean. Also, propane grills present no dangers from burning embers and don’t produce messy ash like charcoal grills.
While a great choice for grilling on a boat, there are some specific propane grill hazards to be aware of. Gas is heavier than air, therefore, you should not use a gas grill above an open locker or companionway. This is because any leaking gas will fall to the lowest point which — while not common — can result in a dangerous and potentially explosive mix.
Like propane grills, electric grills begin heating instantly, and there are no problems with ash or embers. Electric grills also cook without flames, so you can use them in places where open flames, charcoal or gas are prohibited.
The downside of electric boat grills is that they require a source of A/C power, so an onboard generator is required if not cooking where shore power is available. They are pricier than charcoal or gas grills, and unlike the other grill types, electric grills can’t be detached.
Electric boat grills are generally considered the safer choice because they do not have any flame or gas.
Boat Grill Safety Tips – Tips for Grilling on a Boat Safely
Once you’ve decided on which kind of grill you’ll be using, heed the following boat grill safety tips for an enjoyable onboard cooking experience:
- Read the instruction manual – The manual will show you everything from correct assembly to safe operation tips. You want to fully understand the grill before using it.
- Only use grill when anchored or tied up – Grilling while underway is dangerous to those using the grill and those around it. Not to mention, one large wave and you could lose your meal overboard.
- Make sure the grill is mounted securely – Always use grills that can be mounted on your boat. Portable and camping type grills can easily slide around or tip-over when on the water.
- Grill above decks in an open area – Barbecue grills are meant to be used in open and well-ventilated areas. Never try to grill in an enclosed area on your boat; lethal carbon monoxide can accumulate.
- Keep grill away from flammables – Use the grill in an open area downwind of flammables like biminis and other boat fabrics.
- Keep method of fire control near grilling area – Keep a fire extinguisher, fire bucket, or fire blanket nearby while grilling.
- Never leave a lit grill unattended – When you’re grilling, never leave the lit grill unattended.
- Put out or turn off the grill as soon as you finish cooking – And make sure grill is fully cooled before putting it away / moving.
- Clean your grill regularly – Cleaning your grill removes grease and fat buildup, reducing the chances of fire and flare-ups.
Charcoal Boat Grill Specific Tips
Here are additional safety guidelines when operating a charcoal grill onboard:
- Proper grill positioning – As mentioned, it’s important to position a charcoal boat grill over the water so that ashes or embers do not fall on the boat.
- Only use charcoal lighter fluid – Never use gasoline or any other type of accelerant.
- Do not dump ashes or coals overboard when done cooking – The cover of charcoal boat grills are designed to smother the fire and keep the ashes contained. This allows you to return to shore, where you can safely dispose of them once you’ve ensured coals are completely dead.
Propane / Gas Boat Grill Safety Tips
Here are some safety tips to keep in mind when using a gas grill onboard:
- Inspect gas cylinder – Most propane boat grills use small, disposable gas cylinders. Inspect for signs of corrosion, dents, gouges, or other external damage before use.
- Double check propane connections – Make sure propane connections are screwed in tightly before lighting.
- Carefully store gas cylinders – Gas cylinders must be protected from the elements or other potential damage.
Electric Boat Grill Safety Tips
Using an electric grill minimizes many, if not most, of the safety risks involved with grilling on a boat. Regardless, there are a couple of guidelines you can follow to minimize any risk:
- Add water to the drip tray – Even though an electric grill is technically flame and smoke free, drippings from your food can still heat up, burn and catch fire in the drip tray if left dry. Add at least 1 cup of water to your drip tray. This will prevent any flare ups or smoke arising from food or grease drippings.
- Clean grill after every use – Keep your grill clean by regularly removing grease and fat buildup from grill and drip tray. Be sure to completely empty and clean out your drip tray after every use.
Where to Buy Marine Grills / Boat Grills
If ever in the market for a new marine grill, we carry electric marine grills by Kenyon and charcoal, gas and infrared marine grills by Magma.
Questions, comments on marine grills or safety tips for grilling on your boat? We’re here!
Have a good one!
3300 NW 112th Ave, #4
Doral, FL 33172