Pot Restraints

There we were, our first night out of the marina with our new-to-us boat.  I’d planned a special dinner, including a rice salad.  Little did I know that we’d picked one of the rolly-est anchorages we’d be in any time over the next six years.  But I did quickly learn the value of pot restraints!

Actually, when I had initially explored what the previous owners had left in the galley, I’d come across these funny little metal arms with screws on one end.  It had finally dawned on me that they fit on the stove to hold pans in place.  On previous charters, I’d used the stove gimbal, but never pot restraints.

That first night at anchor on Que Tal, as I put the pan of rice on the burner and watched it slide across to the other burner, it hit me that I’d better dig those pot restraints out . . . quickly!  From then on, I never took them off until the day we “prettied up” the boat in preparation for selling her.

Using boat pot holders to keep pans in place on moving boats.

In the photo, you can see the pot restraint holding the tea kettle in place. I haven’t yet put one around the pot with the clams — but I’m about to!

Virtually any stove designed for use in a boat comes (originally) with pot restraints, also known as pot holders, pan holders or pot/pan clamps.  These are the first half of the equation for keeping your cooking on the stove and not on the floor or worse – spilling hot food on the cook (the other half — the stove gimbals — I talk about in a separate article).

Pot restraints are generally metal bars that screw into each side of the stove and “hug” a pan on a burner.  You loosen the knob a little to swing the bars into the correct position, then tighten the knob back down so that the pot doesn’t slide with the motion of the boat.  Other brands have different mechanisms, but these are the most common.  These aren’t just for use underway – they’re also great in rolly anchorages or those with lots of passing traffic.  And I’ve even needed them in marinas a few times when there was a good norther blowing and we were heeled right at the dock!

Unless you spend almost all your time at a very sheltered marina, I highly recommend leaving your pot restraints in place and using them all the time if you have a monohull – if you always use them, you won’t forget when conditions are marginal.  And you never know when a fishing boat or JetSki is going to go roaring past you, even in a glassy calm anchorage.

Even though we now live on a catamaran, I still use my pot restraints periodically, both underway and in rolly anchorages.

I generally refrain from saying that you “need” a particular item, but these are an exception.  They are truly a safety item.  Without them, every pan on the stove is a potential major burn on the cook if it slides while hot.  Boiling water or hot oil can be spilled right down the front of anyone in the galley.

Unfortunately, pot restraints can be hard to find and expensive ($40 or more) if the ones that originally came with the stove have been lost.   However, the cost is slight compared to the pain and healing time — not to mention the doctor bills literally being more expensive — of spilling a pot of boiling pasta or chili down your legs.

The best place for finding them is boater swap meets, boating consignment shops and places that pull parts from wrecked and abandoned boats. Depending on the brand, you may also find new ones by Googling “[brand] pot holder” or “boat pot holder” – just “pot holder” or “pot restraint” gets too many of the wrong thing.  You could also check with the manufacturer of your stove.

NOTE:  The restraints that came with my stove were always fine for the cruising we did.  However, I’ve heard reports of pans flying out of the typical types of restraints when a boat hard on the wind “fell off a wave” – not so much a rolling action, but a sudden drop and stop – or when the back of the stove, swinging on its gimbals, hit the side of the boat hard.  If you expect to encounter such conditions (and think you’d be trying to cook in them), you may want to engineer more sturdy pot restraints specific to your boat.

Additionally, if conditions are rough, it pays to use deep pans that are filled less than half full so that food can’t slosh out.  At such times, I use my pressure cooker without putting the pressure weights on, simply because I can lock the lid and have even more protection against spills and burns.  Even if the pan falls to the floor, the hot food inside doesn’t spill — although you still have a hot pan rolling around that you need to corral!

If you’ve never been in a rolly anchorage or on a passage where it’s blowing over 10, you may never have seen a need for pot restraints.  But just like having non-skid on all your plates and putting drinks in drink holders, pot restraints are a necessity when cruising.

I'd like to know about...

Explore more

Want weekly tidbits of cruising information? Sign up for The Boat Galley's free weekly newsletter. You'll get the newest articles and podcasts as well as a few relevant older articles that you may have missed.

Do you find The Boat Galley useful? You can support the site when you buy from Amazon by using the links on this site or clicking below. No extra cost for you!

22 Comments
  • Bill Robinson
    Posted at 03 September 2011 Reply

    Love your site,so much very usefull stuff,thank you.Bill.

  • Abhijeet Oundhakar
    Posted at 23 November 2012 Reply

    If conditions are rough, wouldn’t you avoid cooking in the first place?

    • Carolyn Shearlock
      Posted at 23 November 2012 Reply

      Lots of time it’s not too rough to cook, but you don’t want pans moving on the stove which can happen with very little movement.

    • John Andrews
      Posted at 14 February 2016 Reply

      Yes, I’d add the thought that it’s like they say on the airlines: “Please keep your seatbelt fastened at all times, in case of unexpected turbulence”. If a rogue wave pays a visit, sailors would have plenty enough to worry about without hot dinner taking flight, never mind if someone was not clear of the line of fire.

  • Charlotte
    Posted at 16 June 2013 Reply

    Great article. Can you tell me which is the new style Force 10 stove versus the old one? Ours is a three burner gas stove, about 6 years old, non gimbaled. Thanks!

    • Carolyn Shearlock
      Posted at 17 June 2013 Reply

      I’m betting yours is the new style . . . mine was the new style, and it was new in about 1990 (exact date unknown).

  • Sue Norris
    Posted at 19 November 2013 Reply

    I wrote in my journal on our first night cruising that we needed pot holders. 8 years later I am still waiting. Skipper doesn’t do much cooking or we would have had them by now. I just make 1 pot meals if at sea or reheat meals. Pressure cooker and Dreampot (thermos cooker) help.
    Love your website.

  • Gina Smith
    Posted at 25 April 2014 Reply

    You can also order them from defender.com

    • The Boat Galley
      Posted at 25 April 2014 Reply

      Where/how did you find them on Defender? I’ve looked several times and never any!

  • Mary E Dixon
    Posted at 25 April 2014 Reply

    On defender.com go to stove & oven accessories. They have several.

  • Colin Mombourquette
    Posted at 25 April 2014 Reply

    Great information, thank you

  • Cindy Miller
    Posted at 01 August 2015 Reply

    I have a gas GE stove, converted to propane, any idea which brand would work best.

    • Carolyn Shearlock
      Posted at 01 August 2015 Reply

      A GE stove? Like one made for a house? I doubt that you’ll find any pot restraints that will fit. Most likely, you’ll have to have something fabricated to build a “fence” around the stovetop, then hang pot restraints on that . . . and they may need to be altered to fit the larger size of a home stove, too.

  • Julia
    Posted at 04 October 2016 Reply

    I’m curious if you are using pot restraints since you are now on a catamaran?

    • Carolyn Shearlock
      Posted at 04 October 2016 Reply

      Yes, particularly underway. But we’ve gotten some nasty wakes in anchorages and it just makes sense to secure the pots.

  • Jo-Anne Mason
    Posted at 02 March 2017 Reply

    They are very handy, use them without even thinking about it as a matter of course. I did lose one screw need to get one of those.

  • Pamela Douglas Webster
    Posted at 02 March 2017 Reply

    Thanks for the reminder to set mine up before I need them. Generally I’ve been able to change my meal plans based on conditions. Although I did find myself holding a pot while underway when I should have used the pot restraints.

    Of course, the worst time to set them up is when you actually need them. 🙂

  • Lupari Sue
    Posted at 02 March 2017 Reply

    Waited 11 years for pot restraint. Didnt happen until skipper did 3 month passage without this crew member and he was chief cook. Hhhmmmm.

    • Greg Norris
      Posted at 02 March 2017 Reply

      🙂

    • The Boat Galley
      Posted at 03 March 2017 Reply

      That’s how the sink I hated on our previous boat got changed . . . I was sick and he washed the dishes . . .

  • Roma Shaughnessy
    Posted at 02 March 2017 Reply

    Mine are set up on the stove all the time. Simpler and safer to have them already on than having to dig them out when conditions get rough. 🙂

Post A Comment