SOS breakfast from an old Coastie

Jan 19, 2015 by Capt. John Wampler

Back in the 1970s, I served in the U.S. Coast Guard aboard the Columbia River Lightship. Basically, we here a 158-foot floating lighthouse anchored 8 miles off the mouth of the Columbia River. Transportation of the rotating crew (typically six weeks on, three weeks off) entailed riding the self-righting 44-foot motor lifeboats from the Coast Guard’s international lifeboat school at Cape Disappointment. These lifeboat crews took great joy in giving the lightship crews an “exhilarating” ride across the Columbia River Bar.

Once onboard the lightship, we were greeted in the galley by breakfast, which we normally lost on the ride out to the lightship. In the United States, creamed beef on toast was commonly served to soldiers and sailors in the Armed Forces. In American military slang it is commonly referred to by the dysphemism “S*** On a Shingle” (SOS) made from ground beef or “Crap on a Raft” if made with dried, salted chip beef.

It is the former that I present here in as it is more flavorful.


1 1/2 pounds ground beef

1/2 medium onion, diced

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 Tbsp butter

1 Tbsp flour

1 1/2 cups milk

8 slices toast

Salt and pepper


Sauté beef, onions and garlic in skillet. Once thoroughly cooked, drain meat in a colander.

In the same skillet over medium heat, make a roux by melting butter and then add flour, mixing until smooth. Continue stirring until the roux starts to turn slightly brown.

Return meat to skillet and add milk. Increase heat to medium-high and bring to a boil, stirring constantly to keep from scorching sauce in bottom of pan. Sauce will thicken as it cooks. Salt and pepper to taste.

Serve on toast and garnish with dried basil or paprika.

Capt. John Wampler has worked on yachts big and small for more than 25 years. He’s created a repertoire of quick, tasty meals for crew to prepare for themselves to give the chef a break. Contact him through Comments on this column are welcome at


Related Articles

Inmarsat, ITC Global team up to expand services

Inmarsat, ITC Global team up to expand services

Inmarsat and ITC Global have announced a five-year strategic partnership that will enable the organizations to combine their services to offer broadband connectivity and connectivity solutions to …

1960 Hatteras rescued and refurbished

Thanks to a recent full refurbishing as well as being rescued from a derelict lifestyle in a Panamanian creek back in 1984, the very first Hatteras yacht is back

Rosemary-Roasted, Butternut-Stuffed Turkey Meatballs

Rosemary-Roasted, Butternut-Stuffed Turkey Meatballs

Rosemary-Roasted, Butternut-Stuffed Turkey Meatballs ’Tis the season to be busy, if you are a yacht chef. Boat shows, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years all mean lots of mouths to

Nautical Structures adds managers

Nautical Structures adds managers

Nautical Structures, a Florida-based manufacturer of boarding and tender handling systems, has filled two executive positions. Industry veterans Ron Beilman has been named director of global service, …

ACREW hosts seminars for crew at Monaco show

ACREW hosts seminars for crew at Monaco show

For its fourth year, ACREW will welcome crew and business guests to La Rascasse during the Monaco Yacht Show, which opens tomorrow. The theme for the ACREW & IMM

Muir adds US rep for yachts

Australia-based Muir, manufacturer of winches and windlasses, has hired Kim Mayer as USA Factory Representative. She will work closely with distributors, shipyards, vessels and customers, providing …