Happy Hour Broughton Style

16th January 2024

Happy Hour appetizer potlucks are a unique daily social event hosted by the handful of marinas in the Broughtons and by their very nature informal. Most are scheduled for 1700 hours daily during the cruising season (mid-June through mid-September). Happy Hour is also held on either side of the peak cruising season depending on the number of visitors any given night.


Everyone is invited to join the fun, which mostly consists of sharing cruising stories. For many boaters, the rewards of cruising are not so much the places they visit as the people they meet along the way. Perhaps that’s why happy hour is an important part of the Broughton cruising lifestyle. They inspire camaraderie and bring strangers together far from home. No one is excluded, of course, but participants are expected to contribute in a meaningful way. Bring an appetizer to share, your own plates and utensils, and your favorite beverage.

When provisioning for the Broughtons be sure to anticipate making plenty of simple gastronomical treats that will amaze your new friends at the dock. Include a few essentials that can be mixed as a special treat.

Being a hit at these social events takes little preparation. You will need a well provisioned commissary, with some must have ingredients. Any boaters have one locker dedicated to happy hour. The key is to keep it simple with something that can be quickly and shared with many people. No one wants to be stuck in the galley preparing the day’s hors d’oeuve. Cream cheese, smoked salmon or baby shrimp, and crackers are good staples to have on board. They make great dips to share.

Dry noodles are a prime candidate for the locker because they can be mixed with a myriad of fresh or canned ingredients to make a hot pasta or cold salad. In that same vein, potato salad is easy to prepare by adding ranch dressing to red potatoes. Simply top it with green beans and shredded carrots, and you will have a quick side dish.

If you have a favorite family recipe, happy hour is your chance to show it off. You’ll usually know when one of your recipes is a hit, because people will comment on it and ask for the recipe.

It’s important to choose dishes that use ingredients stored easily on board, including recipes that use canned and dry ingredients and produce with a long shelf life, such as cabbage, apples, smoked salmon, crackers, cream cheese, and capers to name a few. The last four of which create favorite appetizer dishes. If you’re boating generally includes weekly stops at ports with a grocery store, or if you have a freezer onboard, you’ll have a much wider choice of ingredients to work with.


Versatility is the key if you don’t want to bore your palate. So have recipes flexible enough to allow for substitutions, for those times when you’re able to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables.

When fresh foods get sparse, canned artichokes, olives, clams, or smoked oysters can spice up a dish.

Some popular Happy Hour contributions include nachos made with canned ingredients, a selection of olives and pickles, and crackers with a variety of hard cheeses. With a little planning, every boat can have something tasty to contribute to the table.

Perhaps one of the important tips involves moving your creation, be it a can of heated beans or a loaf of bread. If you have room onboard, bring an insulated casserole holder to keep your offering warm from ship to shore. Always remember to put your boat name on the bottom of any pans or casserole dishes.

Happy Hours in the Broughtons don’t stop when you leave the dock. There are many occasions when you will share an anchorage with others that you “happy houred” with on a previous stop. Often, these impromptu rendezvous turn into an onboard happy hour.