Here at BBQGuys, we're a little crazy about grilling. Sometimes we'll search high and low for great barbecue opportunities… such as open water! That’s right, friends: you, too, can exercise willful defiance against Mother Nature, grilling over rivers, lakes, and even the high seas. The most inhospitable places for open flames on Earth are a mere hurdle for barbecue ingenuity. Next, we’ll launch our very own ISS (International Searing Station) and sizzle steaks in the cold vacuum of space!
For ultimate surf 'n turf bragging rights, you'll need a boat grill that's the best of both worlds: sturdy enough to handle thudding waves while lightweight enough to maneuver onto and away from your vessel. If it looks great, too, then all the better! Let us be your knowledgeable navigators in the wild waters of boat grills. If you’re ready to personally rewrite the local fish census with a hot pair of tongs, follow our expert advice below.
‘Boat Grills’ VS ‘Grills on a Boat’
Let’s say you already have a portable cooking chamber to bring aboard. Before you dust off that tailgating grill and fetch the ratchet straps, we need to clarify a few key points. There’s a gulf between your favorite portable camping companion and a grill tailormade for the high seas experience, and it’s wider than you’d think. Let’s set some expectations and identify some key differences before we head from harbor.
- Specifically engineered for boat use
- Cuts down on blinding glare
- Warrantied over the water
When we say “boat grill,” we mean a grill literally designed to be used on the open water. These grills boast three standout features: superior rust resistance, special anti-glare components, and appropriate warranties. Meeting our standards for a “boat grill” means reasonable warranty coverage over the waves — whether or not the vessel is in motion (although boat speed will be a factor). On the other hand, find us a grill manufacturer who will honor a warranty if you ever bring that turf to the surf.
Grills on a Boat
- Managing safety is highly difficult
- Inferior corrosion resistance
- Usually breaks warranty
The other option is to take your chances with a portable grill. We don’t recommend this for a number of reasons. For starters? Basic safety. Mounts probably won’t exist, and improvising one courts disaster. Meanwhile, grills designed for camping and tailgating can’t withstand the repeated jostling thuds of a boat at higher speeds. Saltwater overwhelms rust protection that expects freshwater rain at worst, and stainless steel grills might be blinding on the sea. Finally, most grill manuals will specifically consider boat grilling an instant “you’re on your own” button.
Boat Grill Fuel Types
Now that you grasp why you’d want a boat grill (and the barest safety guidelines we can provide without holding you hostage in a training seminar), why not discuss what kind of boat grill you’ll want? Though most of these grills work their magic thanks to our old friend in barbecue, propane gas, the market does offer a few other options. Some, we find safer than others. Let’s talk about them.
Gas Boat Grills
- Propane can be easy to come by
- More controllable flame
- Note: gas still explodes
Propane gas boat grills are the bread and butter of the boat grilling market. It’s not undeserved — they’re already a BBQ staple, propane gas is easy to stock and refill, and to our knowledge nobody sells the general public a flexible, accordion-style natural gas line. For the intrepid boat grillers prepared to plunder the seas for all the bountiful meat they offer (and grilling steaks in the last place cows would look), gas boat grills make a sound investment.
Infrared Boat Grills
- No live flames used in grilling
- Easiest safety measures of all
- Note: still requires propane
We love infrared grilling in general. Bring that concept aboard, and we’re ready to set sail when you are! Taking live fire out of the equation solves our two biggest concerns: safety, and keeping wind from the flame. You’ll get all the benefits offered by infrared grills, such as flare-up protection, energy efficiency, and faster preheats. Note that you’ll still need propane gas to power the grill, so you’ll still have to stay atop your tank management. But we can certainly live with that compromise.
Honorable Mention: Charcoal Boat Grills
- Hot coals can be dangerous over open water
- Better keep the charcoal dehydrated
- Note: watch out for debris-filing winds
We’re addressing charcoal boat grills, but we can’t recommend them. Unfortunately, there are just too many possibilities for chaos in charcoal boat grilling. For starters, charcoal grilling is notorious for ash production — guess what open water loves? Stiff winds. Cutting off burning propane is a simple knob turn, whereas halting those crackling coals means gradually choking the air (assuming an airtight seal). Charcoal itself must stay dry at all times. You may see the issue with boating conditions there.
Honorable Mention: Electric Boat Grills
- Requires AC power access
- Rarer and more expensive
- Note: flirts with danger
Electric boat grills make you work for them. The first barrier of entry is they require reliable access to AC power, which often means a generator. Generally speaking, they’re also much more expensive; after all, manufacturers have a difficult time building reliable electric boat grills. But there are a few electric boat grills on the market, so we have to mention them. But we tend to scrutinize this category even harder than regular boat grills. Safe to say, we’re not fans of adding external, hands-on electricity to any vessel that lives in rivers, lakes, and oceans.
Boat Grill Mounting Styles
How do you plan on affixing that grill to the vessel? Luckily, boat grill manufacturers solved this one from the get-go with boat grill mounts. Forget browsing your workshop for improvised fasteners and ratchet straps — simply select the best mount to fit your needs, then carry on daydreaming about your next surf and turf. And hey, if you’re going with Magma boat grills, we have a Magma boat grill mounts comparison guide ready to cut through the confusion in no time flat!
Rod Holder Grill Mounts
Rod holder mounts ask: who wants to drill new holes in their boat? They capitalize on the standard rod holder slots already on your vessel — you lose a place to leave a cast line, but you gain everything a grill can give you. Chances are, your holder will already provide great structural integrity. If not? Reinforcement is easy.
Rail Grill Mounts
Fitting standard round rails, these mounts are another great way to make use of the architecture already available on your vessel. Here’s the widest range of versatility you’re likely to find in any boat grill mounting that doesn’t involve punching holes, and we can easily get behind that. It anchors strongly into place until you want that grill back.
Deck Grill Mounts
Let’s say you like your railings, your rod holders, and your floor just how they are right now: free of boat grills. Lucky for you, you have another option! Deck boat grill mounts bolt your boat grill to your gunwale. They’re designed to keep railings clean, rod holders open, and your grill about as far from walking spaces as physically possible.
On Shore Grill Mounts
On shore grill mounts are a bonus convenience that give you somewhere to stick your boat grill once you dismount it and bring it back ashore. Suitable for a boat? Absolutely not. It has “on shore” in the name! But if you’d like to grill back on solid land after a successful sailing, keep one of these simple tripods around.
Boat Grill Safety Tips
We can’t think of a faster way to skyrocket blood pressure in our legal department than to advise you on the purchase of boat grills (devices specifically engineered to bring actual fire onto actual boats) without touching on boat safety. Being proactive about your grilling is a major step towards minimizing accidents, whether you’re on land or on the water. If you learn nothing else from this guide, here are the four major takeaways we want you to understand.
Read the Grill Manual
While we make this a point for every grill we sell, it goes double here: before it even touches your vessel, know those operational instructions.
Grill in Open Air
Ventilation and ample breathing room are necessities to any outdoor grill. Never, ever grill in an enclosed area on your boat under any circumstances.
Check Those Grill Mounts
Before shipping out, scrutinize the mount holding your boat grill in place. Is that connection secure? A loose or sliding grill can mean maritime trouble.
Chaperone the Grill
No amount of preparation can foresee every possible accident. Always keep eyes near the grill while in operation for valuable peace of mind.
Other Things to Consider Before Buying a Boat Grill
Marine Grill Covers
Just because the boat grill can withstand the wind and the waves doesn’t mean you shouldn’t invest in appropriate protection. A marine grill cover not only secures your grill lid during the ride to and from the dock, but it offers that last line of defense against the worst Mother Nature has to offer. All boat grill manufacturers provide fitted grills specific to their product lines; for just a little more, you’ll get tenfold back in peace of mind.
Marine Grill Accessories
Buying a boat grill is all well and good — until you realize you have nothing seaworthy with which to flip those burgers! Not just any cookware will do for grilling over the open water. Our recommendation is to invest in aluminum grilling accessories, as aluminum is one of the most durable metals for harsh maritime environments. And if you’re buying a Magma boat grill? It gets even easier. You can turn to their wide selection of Magma boat grill accessories and Magma marine cookware to fill out your options.
BBQ Probe Thermometers
We’ve beaten this drum for a while, and we’ll continue to do so. Every single method for checking meat doneness you’ve heard that doesn’t involve a calibrated thermometer is a food safety myth. As opposed to grilling shoreside, whatever resources you have on your vessel are all you’ve got to work with — so it’s that much more imperative that you carry an appropriate BBQ grilling thermometer on hand (better yet, several). It’s the only way to ensure the catch of the day doesn’t enforce the “sick” in “seasick.”
And that’s everything! We hope you’ve learned a thing or two about the exciting world of defying the planet’s largest source of heat deterrent. If you have any questions about these products — or anything else we offer — don’t hesitate to start up a live chat or call our fantastic, knowledgeable sales center at 1-844-243-3376!