Provisioning for a South Pacific Crossing

This post is written with the first-time cruiser or passage-maker in mind, and it is written from the perspective of provisioning for a South Pacific crossing departing from Mexico. Some of the specific food items and locations mentioned will therefore not be relevant to provisioning for other passages; while some of the general information on provisioning will be. The post was written in two parts. The first part was written in Mexico and during the initial months after leaving Mexico and summarizes our provisioning strategy; the second part, written after our arrival in New Zealand, is a reflection on how well that strategy worked. Unfortunately, I am posting it too late for the tips about what to stock up on in the United States to be of much use to this year’s “Puddle Jumpers;” however, hopefully the rest of it will still be of use.      

April-July, 2012

If you open any one of our dish cabinets, food cabinets or other storage cubbies right now, bags of coffee beans are likely to fall out. Before leaving La Paz, we purchased 10 kilos of coffee beans in half-kilo bags. We then bagged these in zip locks, three bags of beans to a zip lock, and are using them as stuffing material. We don’t yet have a good dish storage plan (wooden racks or frames to immobilize the dishes in); and so on our first trips up and down the west coast of the United States, we stuffed whatever we had at hand---bags of rice, bubble wrap, foam, socks---in the dish cabinets to quiet the rattle of the dishes and prevent breakage. We don’t have fancy china, but we do have breakable Corelle ware (it takes a lot to break this stuff, but we have done it!), glasses, and ceramic mugs. Some boats limit their dishes to plastic for this reason, but to me, a glass of cold water always tastes better out of a glass container. Ideally everything should serve at least two purposes on a boat, and since coffee is one of our provisions, it is now doubling as stuffing material. It looks less tacky than foam and bubble wrap; plus, you get the wonderful aroma of coffee beans when you open a cabinet.

Getting Started

Provisioning for a passage is a daunting task. After leaving Mexico, our next major provisioning stop will be Papeete, Tahiti in approximately four months. Imagine trying to plan meals for four months in advance and then procure everything you need (in a foreign country) and have it on board before leaving the dock. There will be no quick trips to the grocery store for a forgotten ingredient or for an exotic ingredient just to spice things up. What you leave the dock with is what you get to eat for the next four to five months. You hope to be able to supplement your stores with some fresh fish caught offshore, but you can’t count on that and have to bring enough food to cover the scenario in which you don’t catch any.  

Of course, in reality, it’s not that dramatic. We should be able to restock on some items in the Galápagos, but we don’t know exactly what is available there, and prices are likely to be high. There will also be opportunities to resupply some foods in French Polynesia before we get to Tahiti. The region is rife with fruit (bananas, mangoes, limes, pamplemousse---and of course—coconuts) and although everything is privately owned, the people are reported to be generous if you ask permission to take some fruit. Frozen chicken is available, and some basic food items such as rice, flour, and milk are subsidized by the French government. Baguettes and French cheeses are presumably also available. However, the base of your meals still comes from what you brought with you.

Before heading offshore, you must also consider other categories of consumables such as toiletries, paper goods, cleaning supplies, house wares---such as batteries, lighters or matches, vacuum cleaner bags (dust-buster variety), trash bags---and basic office supplies. We tried to stock enough toiletries and biodegradable cleaners (dish soap, laundry soap, etc.) to last until New Zealand, because we aren’t sure what will be available in the South Pacific. We brought just enough toilet paper for the passage, because we know that is available, and it takes up a lot of storage space on board.  

We took the same approach to stocking food. It should be stated from the beginning that we are not vegetarians; but we also do not eat red meat in excess. We eat a variety of fish, meat, and poultry, along with some vegetarian meals. We tried to stock enough protein for several meat meals and lunches per week to last us until New Zealand. I started by creating a basic menu of meals that, if rotated through every week, would get us to New Zealand. Once you have a menu, many of the ingredients are interchangeable---and you don’t have to stick to it---but a menu helps to insure that you bring enough food with you. I calculated the approximate number of weeks we would be at sea and multiplied that number by how much meat we would need for several meat meals a week. We then set out to purchase that amount of meat in formats that would allow our diet some variety:  canned salmon, canned tuna, canned chicken, shredded pork, shredded turkey, and shredded chicken (the latter three are available in Mexico in pouches that don’t require refrigeration), and home-canned (jarred) meats such as ground beef and stew meat. For lunches, we included canned tuna and long-lived meats such as dry salami; and for breakfasts, we included long-lived meats such as pre-cooked bacon, Canadian bacon, and chorizo

I made the same calculation for staples such as bread. I estimated that we’d go through one loaf of bread per week (for two people), multiplied by the number of weeks we’d be at sea, and determined the total number of loaves needed. This calculation assumed that we would be purchasing store-bought bread while in port. I then took my basic bread recipe and multiplied the ingredient amounts by the estimated number of loaves to determine how much flour, baking soda, etc. to purchase.

One of the mental obstacles I repeatedly find myself having to get over while provisioning is the thought, “Do I really need to buy that much?” It is difficult and sobering to come face to face with our consumerism, but yes, in most cases, you will really use the quantity you have calculated.

In general, I am not a spreadsheet or inventory person; however, at the skipper’s insistence, I created a consumables inventory based on my menu and sources from other boats and blogs. I used outside sources to get a ballpark estimate of the amount of things like toiletries and cleaning supplies we would need. Because of differences in diet and taste preferences, it is difficult to base quantities of food on inventories used by other boats. The inventory we made will be useful to ourselves when we get to New Zealand at the end of our first cruising season, to tally up our remaining stores and compare them to what we actually used. This information will better inform our provisioning for future voyages.

Canned and Dry Goods

Most crews attack the job of provisioning in stages, starting with the canned and dry goods and working up to the final fresh provisioning (meat, eggs, cheese, and produce to last through their first week or two offshore) just before heading offshore. We were no different. We purchased some canned goods at Costco in San Diego before we headed south, particularly those items such as canned chicken, which we heard were hard to find in Mexico. However, you can find almost everything in Mexico you can find in the States (and then some!), so it is not necessary to do the bulk of your provisioning in advance.  

We continued stocking up on our dry goods in La Paz, making several very large runs to the grocery stores there. We purchased items at the Chedraui, Ley, Mega, the grocery section of the Farmacorama, and Aramburo. I guess if you were really efficient, you could buy everything at once, but we found it took several trips because we couldn’t find everything we needed in one location. We also visited multiple stores in order to find items with a longer shelf life. (You do need to check the expiration dates on canned foods purchased in Mexico, because many of them seem to be at the end of their life spans. Make sure to purchase foods that will not expire during the time you are cruising and to organize your food storage so that you use goods with the earliest expiration dates first.) We even visited the Walmart (shudder!) for some hard-to-find items. Making multiple trips also helped to stow things away on the boat a little at a time, rather than trying to find a home for everything at once.

My absolute favorite place to shop in La Paz was the Mercado Nicolas Bravo on North Bravo; and if I was departing (“jumping”) from La Paz, I would purchase almost all of my fresh items there. This public market had the freshest fish, meat, and poultry in La Paz---and the cheapest prices. The selection of produce was limited; however, in terms of freshness, it kept  longer than anything you’d buy in the supermarket. All of the long-lived items for going offshore---carrots, onions, potatoes, cabbage, chayote, jicama, cucumbers---as well as avocados, tomatoes, cilantro, nopales, greens, mangos and other fruit are available there.

I also found the Aramburo (at the location closest to Marina Palmira---there are two) to be essential for stocking many hard-to-find items. They had coconut milk (for curries), while only coconut crème was available elsewhere. They had whole-wheat flour for bread, which I couldn’t find anywhere else. They even had Challenge butter, no doubt imported from the States. (Good butter is not common in Mexico, and even what is labeled “butter” is usually margarine.) There was a limited supply of Kirkland canned chicken at the Farmacorama.

Other hard-to-find items in Mexico (along with the widely publicized canned chicken,) include:  chili (available almost nowhere and highly price where available); some spices (dried basil was difficult to find and we never did find thyme or garam masala); basmati rice; canned Asian vegetables such as bamboo shoots and water chestnuts; whole dry salami for storage in the bilge (sliced salami in plastic packaging was common); waxed cheeses (available but hard to find); vanilla yogurt (does not exist in Mexico:  This was not a provisioning item but is part of our weekly diet when in port); tampons (not ubiquitous in grocery stores and pharmacies like in the states, and when available, they come in smaller ten-packs; if you use pads, there’s no problem with availability); and contact lens cleaning solution (available but hard to find.) If you use any of these items, stock up on them before leaving the States.

Food Preservation Techniques

Almost all the cruisers I know experimented with some food preservation techniques because most boats have limited freezer and refrigeration space. (We have a small refrigerator and no freezer, but some boats that do long passages don’t even have a refrigerator.)  The three food preservation techniques we experimented with were:  home canning, salting, and preserving cheese in vinegar soaked cheesecloth. Other cruisers used pickling or preserving fresh meat in oil, in an airless environment.

The pressure cooker we had wasn’t large enough to even accommodate pint jars, so we gave it away and purchased a larger pressure cooker. I would have preferred to get the 10-quart pressure cooker, which you can use to can four quart jars or two tiers of pint jars (eight pints total) at a time, but there is simply no place to store something that big onboard. We ended up with a 6-quart pressure cooker that can process four pint jars at a time. We downloaded the US Department of Agriculture’s Home Canning Guide and used their guidelines for the pressure and time period at which to process each type of food. For this voyage, we used the pressure cooker to extend our meat supply. I canned ground beef and cubed filet mignon. (Filet mignon is cheap in Mexico, and I don’t think it’s exactly the same cut of beef. It’s much tougher than the filet we buy in the states, although very tender after being pressure cooked.) 

Finished canned meats are not a pretty color, but if done properly, are safe to eat
I also brought some empty canning jars along with me in hopes of canning some tuna underway. We haven’t caught the trophy fish that would allow sufficient quantity for me to do that yet, however. Most of the fish we’ve caught have been sized for one or two meals for two people, and we have eaten them fresh.

I wish I had gotten started with the idea of home canning sooner, because it would have been wonderful to process some fresh berries for pancakes or desserts, or to can some varieties of vegetables that aren’t typically found on the canned foods aisle. I plan to can more produce before our next cruising season.  

We used salting to preserve butter. Our refrigerator is very small, and we could not store all the butter for the voyage in the refrigerator. A fellow cruiser told us about a technique she’d used to store butter the previous summer:  Her butter was still good in February. We purchased seven pounds of butter, softened it, and smashed it into canning jars using a spoon. The idea behind packing the butter into the jars tightly is to get all the air cavities out. Then, we put about a half an inch of salt in the head space at the top of each jar and sealed it tightly with a lid. We stored these jars in the bilge until ready for use. Before using a jar of butter, we remove the salt (and any discolored butter) from the top with a spoon, and once opened, the jar is refrigerated. 

Butter after being stored in the bilge for over three months

Remove the layer of salt and darker (discolored) butter before use
We preserved cheeses by wrapping them in vinegar-soaked cheesecloth. Waxed and smoked cheeses work best for this (because they are already somewhat preserved by the wax or smoking process); hard cheeses are the next best choice; softer cheeses should be used up first. We didn’t have any cheesecloth handy, so we used scraps from a cotton bed sheet that we had   modified to fit our V-berth. We soaked these in vinegar and wrung them out until just damp (you don’t want the cloth dripping wet) and wrapped the cheeses in the vinegar-soaked cloth. I washed my hands before handling the cheese and wore a pair of vinyl gloves while working with the cloth and wrapping the cheeses. After wrapping a cheese in a cheesecloth, we wrapped one or two layers of saran wrap around it and stored it in a zip lock bag in the bilge.  

Fresh Meat, Produce, and Dairy

Since we were traveling to Isla Espirtu Santos after leaving La Paz, and then making another stop in Puerto Vallarta to finish up work on the boat before going offshore, we only purchased what fresh items we needed for the trip to the islands and passage to PV before leaving La Paz. (We have a small refrigerator but no freezer on Silhouette.) We left our final fresh provisioning for the passage to the Galápagos for the Puerto Vallarta area, where we would check out of Mexico.

Unfortunately, we ended up provisioning in Puerto Vallarta during Holy Week, when many stores and businesses are closed. We had heard that the farmers’ market in La Cruz, where we had planned on buying our fresh produce, was closed on the day we had set aside for our fresh provisioning. We ended up going on a wild goose chase to Old Puerto Vallarta, where we discovered that the “Mercado Municipal,” or Municipal Market, was a flea market and not a produce market. The Mercado Municipal in old PV catered to tourists, selling embroidered blouses and handicrafts. After receiving directions from the locals and crossing two hanging bridges suspended over a creek, we were able to find a grocery store at which to purchase non-refrigerated eggs for the passage. Carefully carrying the eggs back across the bridges---planks missing and bouncing with the footsteps of other pedestrians---was a mini-adventure in itself! We gave up on trying to purchase our meat and produce at a public market (always the best quality in Mexico, in my opinion) and bought it at the Mega and the Chedraui.  

We purchased four to five meals’ worth of fresh beef, chicken, and pork---as well as some shorter-lived packaged lunch meats and cheeses---to use up during our first week or two at sea. We purchased as much produce as we thought would reasonably keep.   

Onboard Storage

Everyone will have their own storage system for provisions based on their vessel plan. Basically, the rule of thumb on a boat is:  Store things where they fit.  Silhouette has over forty storage lockers, cubbies, and compartments (including lazarettes, etc.) Some of these spaces are not intended for storage, but we use them for that purpose anyway. For example, we discovered a hollow space under the stove which has nothing but wires running through it. We can access it by sliding out a metal plate that forms a storage shelf underneath our stove. We double-bagged bulk supplies we would not need for a long time such as extra coffee, rice, and flour, and stored them in this hollow space under the stove.

I am able to utilize half of the storage space under and behind our settees for food and cooking pot storage; the other half is devoted to spare engine, plumbing, and electrical parts and supplies. My basic organizational scheme is as follows:  I ended up with a storage cubby devoted to canned meats, chili, soups, sauces, and condiments like mayonnaise and salad dressing; a second cubby for canned fruits, vegetables, and bulk spices; a third cubby for dry goods (flour, pasta, rice, quinoa, couscous, dried legumes, instant mashed potatoes, powdered milk) and beverages such as cans of V-8 juice and cartons of UHT milk; and a fourth cubby for cereal, oatmeal, dried fruit, prepared meals like packaged soups and pasta mixes, and snacks like crackers, nuts, popcorn, and cookies. 

Primary food storage:  filled cubbies
When preparing dry goods for storage aboard, we followed the conventional wisdom of removing all cardboard packaging and repacking things in ziplock bags. This creates more space onboard and leaves waste at the dock. 

In the pantry created by a set of drawers that Patrick built in one of the hanging lockers in the aft cabin, we keep opened packages of dry goods that are currently in use, as well as baking supplies that we constantly access to make bread. On the shelves in the other hanging locker, we keep overflow canned and jarred goods, and we also use these shelves as sort of a “day locker.” If I have to move all the cushions from the settee to get into one of the food storage lockers for an ingredient, I try to think several days ahead and pull out other items I’ll need at the same time. These can be stored in the day locker where they are more accessible. 

In the bilge, we store things that should stay cool, such as cheeses and butter, which we don’t have room to store in bulk in our small refrigerator. The bilge isn’t that cool in the tropics, but it’s cooler than the other storage cubbies. Anything stored in the bilge should be stored in a plastic tub or double-bagged for waterproofing.  

We have a handy storage compartment built into our salon table. It came with cardboard dividers already in place, suggesting its purpose. This compartment is our wine cellar. We also store some of the Mason jars containing canned meat here because they are kept more immobilized than they would be in a food storage cubby.

I had wanted to store my fresh produce in hanging nets; however, the gear nets in the V-berth are already full of clothing, and we have no other location in which to hang more nets. Instead, we store fresh produce in two locations. We have a dark storage cupboard next to the galley sink that can be accessed through a lidded countertop. Here, I store potatoes, garlic, cabbage---and initially---carrots. Even though they are root vegetables, I’ve found that carrots don’t keep well onboard unless refrigerated, so I now store all my carrots in the refrigerator. We had heard that onions and potatoes should not be stored together because one influences the ripening/spoilage of the other. We store onions in a mesh bag on the V-berth. We also store other produce that does not need to be refrigerated---or does not need to be refrigerated immediately---such as apples, chayote, jicama, cucumbers, green tomatoes, green avocadoes, and limes---in either mesh bags or totes on the V-berth. Delicate produce such as greens, string beans, zucchini, peppers, cauliflower, broccoli, or ripe avocadoes and tomatoes are stored in the refrigerator immediately. I also store radishes in the refrigerator, although these might survive outside the refrigerator with the greens removed.    

We store fresh (unrefrigerated) eggs in the V-berth. We purchase the eggs in flats of three dozen. The egg flats fit perfectly into a milk crate, so we stack them in a milk crate. I pad a corner of the V-berth with a pillow wrapped in a plastic bag to protect it and put the milk crate full of eggs against the pillow.

If, after this description, you’re wondering how we sleep amongst all the food stored in the V-berth, the answer is:  we don’t. At sea we use the salon settee, which is set up with a lee cloth, for the pilot berth. Since only one of us is sleeping at a time while underway, and since the ride in the V-berth can be uncomfortable, it is not a hardship to use the V-berth as a food storage area while on passage.  

Reflecting on Our Provisioning Strategy-February 2013

We arrived in New Zealand---at the end of our first cruising season---on November 21, 2012. We are currently waiting out the cyclone season here.

Rumors About Arrival In New Zealand

First of all, prior to our arrival in New Zealand, we had heard many rumors about what was going to be confiscated by Agriculture when we arrived here. Along with fresh meat, produce, and honey, we had heard that anything with “the potential to sprout,” such as dried legumes, grains, popcorn, and even some spices (peppercorns, vanilla beans, etc.,) would be confiscated by Agriculture upon our arrival. We had also heard that items containing dairy products, such as mayonnaise and salad dressings, would be confiscated. We set out to use up as many of these products as we had on board prior to our arrival in New Zealand. In reality, the actual Agricultural inspection was not as bad as the rumors suggested. We had no fresh meat or eggs left when we arrived. Canned meats and seafood are fine as long as they:  1) are not home canned; and 2) have their original labeling on them. If you are the type of cruiser who removes all the paper labels from your canned foods and labels them with a permanent marker, be aware that these tins are subject to being confiscated. That said, the Agricultural personnel who boarded our vessel did not specifically inspect all of our canned food. What little produce we had remaining and our honey was confiscated. However, we were allowed to keep lunch meats and cheeses that had been produced in New Zealand, as well as all of the other dry goods that we had been warned might be taken.  

Just About the Right Amount Left Over

We arrived in New Zealand with a moderate amount of canned and dry goods left. We had supplemented many of these items in Tahiti, but we were still carrying some of our original canned seafood and chicken, dried grains, and legumes, and over half of our canned vegetables and fruits from Mexico. (We had consumed all of our home-canned and pouch meats.) This means that we did a good job of provisioning, because we arrived with extra food:  Food we would have used in an emergency. Our remaining canned goods still have good dates and will form the first wave of provisioning for our next major passage. We are using up the dry goods while traveling in New Zealand and will restock them before cruising again.  

Efficacy of Food Preservation Techniques: 

Pressure Cooking- We had good success with the majority of the canned meats I prepared. The meats were good in gravies or stews with potatoes, onions, carrots, or green beans thrown in. I did end up having to throw an entire batch (four pint jars) of home-canned meat overboard. I opened the lid of a can of cubed beef to discover a black substance on the inside of the lid. The jar had passed all the other tests for spoilage:  The meat inside hadn’t changed color from when it was first processed; the jar lid was still concave; and it still had a vacuum seal. However, the possibility that the substance might be mold---and that botulism might be present in the jars---led me to discard their contents. Three out of four jars from that batch had the same black substance on the inside of their lids. Something clearly went wrong with the processing of that batch.

Salting Butter- We had great success with this technique. The unrefrigerated butter does not spoil or get rancid, and we have been able to store large quantities of butter for long periods of time.

Cheesecloth- We had excellent results using this technique. The cheeses have all kept well, even the softer ones (e.g., Gouda, Gruyere) that we processed because we couldn’t find enough waxed or hard cheeses. We also processed some Marsdam, smoked provolone, and waxed Edam cheeses. Parmesano Reggiano would be a natural cheese to preserve using this method. The only mold we’ve found has been on the cheesecloth itself (but not the cheese wrapped inside), which suggests that the next time we use this preservation method we should boil the cheesecloth (perhaps directly in the vinegar?) before processing. 

Fresh Fish

We did catch several large fish to supplement our diet while on passage. For one reason or another, we tended to catch dorado; whereas, a succulent tuna would have gone a long way to add variety to the menu. We also caught a great barracuda, which we discarded due to the fact that we weren’t sure whether or not they were good eating. (We later learned that if you catch them in the open ocean, where they are not subject to cigueterra or fish poisoning, they are good to eat.)

What We Found Along the Way

Fresh meat:  We found frozen shrimp, chicken, and a variety of what we called "mystery meat" throughout French Polynesia. The meat is poor quality; the frozen shrimp is good for stir-fries and sauce-based meals; and the chicken is usually pretty good, although it can sometimes be fatty. In many ports, fresh tuna was for sale off the dock or from coolers in the back of someone's truck:  When it was, it was inexpensive and delicious! A variety of frozen sausages were available in many places. (When you shop, check all the top-loading freezers in a store, because you never know what you will find!) There is a variety of lunch meat available in French Polynesia, but it becomes mostly sliced salami as you move west.

In Tahiti, there is a bigger variety of everything available. In Neiafu (Tonga), there is a restaurant with an adjoining deli/butcher store that has very good (but also expensive) cuts of meat, lamb, pork, and chicken. 

Fresh Produce:  was generally available (see below for more detail.)

Fresh Dairy Eggs are available everywhere. Fresh milk is not common, but UHT milk is widely available. Cheese is available pretty much everywhere if you look for it, although there is not always a wide selection. 

Baguettes:  are delicious as rumored in French Polynesia, but many are pre-ordered in advance by the locals, and you will have to time your shopping trip accordingly in order to pick up some loaves.

Toiletries:  If you are not too picky about brands, basic toiletries such as soap, shampoo, and toothpaste can be found everywhere. Since we stocked up in the U.S., I didn't do a price comparison. Biodegradable soaps and cleaning products are not widely available until you get to New Zealand.  

What We Would Have Stocked Less Of

The one area in which I would say we definitely over-provisioned was the area of canned fruits and vegetables. Since we prefer fresh to canned fruits and vegetables, we ate fresh vegetables and fruits whenever possible, and there were fruits and vegetables everywhere we visited. No, we did not find the variety and selection that we are used to in the United States, but we found enough to keep fresh produce aboard when we were in port and to last us through the shorter passages that are more typical once you arrive in the Marquesas.  Often, you will not find the best produce in the markets in French Polynesia (these are usually supplied by the supply ship), but at weekly produce markets or sold out of the backs of trucks or vans. Talk to locals and other cruisers to find out where you can buy vegetables.

We did end up using some canned fruits and vegetables on our longer, three-week passages (Mexico to the Galápagos and the Galápagos to the Marquesas) because---with the exception of some very long-lived items like cabbage and chayote---we ran out of fresh produce after ten days to two weeks. However, we still brought much more canned produce than we actually needed.  

The canned vegetables I used most were green beans and mushrooms, although I still arrived in New Zealand with extra canned green beans. I used some canned corn but not as much as I stocked. I did not use a single can of carrots. What was I thinking? There are plenty of fresh carrots to be had. Canned peas and canned mixed vegetables were also something I used sparingly and ended up with surplus of. 

Canned butter starts becoming available in French Polynesia, so we could have jarred less than 7 lbs of butter for our voyage. We were still using our home-canned butter long after canned butter became available.

What We Would Have Stocked More Of

I would have used more canned green chiles if I had them. (I stocked 6 small cans.) I would have liked to have some canned Asian vegetables available for stir fries and curries, but since I did not stock up on these before leaving the United States---and could not find them readily available in Mexico---I was out of luck. Okra is great with shellfish (think Jambalaya!), and frozen shrimp are available throughout most of French Polynesia, but I only had one can of okra aboard. I would have stocked more Thai curry paste from the Thai Kitchen before leaving the States.

Mexican pouch meats. The pouch meats available in Mexico that do not require refrigeration are great for cruisers, especially if you don’t have time for home-canning. They are great in tacos or as a basis for other main dishes. My favorite was the chicken in chili verde sauce. Heated up over rice, it made a warming and delicious underway meal. 

Everyone says you should stock up on alcohol in Mexico, and they are correct. Both beer and wine are very expensive in French Polynesia, and the inexpensive Bordeaux are not as tasty (to me, at least) as the inexpensive Mexican or Chilean red wines. (The expensive Bordeaux are, well…expensive.) Hinano, the beer found across French Polynesia, is the equivalent of Budweiser in quality but is more expensive. Stock up on beer and wine in Mexico or Panama!

Chocolate. I didn’t know before I sailed that I was living with a chocoholic. Previously, my partner’s preferences had always run along the lines of fruit-based desserts such as pies, cobblers, and crumbles. At sea, he became a chocoholic, and we couldn’t keep enough brownie mixes (great snacks for night watches), chocolate cookies,  and dark chocolate bars aboard. Next time, I will purchase more of those Ghiradelli Triple Chocolate Brownie Mixes from Costco before leaving the U.S.   

About Right

UHT milk is widely available in French Polynesia and takes up a lot of room on board, so only stock what you need to get that far (we did.)  

Our 10 kg of coffee beans from Mexico lasted all the way until Tonga, which was just about right, because Tonga was the first place we could purchase bulk coffee beans again (“Kingdom Koffee,” available at Café Tropicana.) The coffee in French Polynesia was pre-ground, weak, and only available in small quantities.

Fresh green beans were not available in most places, so I would often add canned green beans to a stew, stir-fry, or curry in which all of the other vegetables were fresh. I also used canned green beans (as well as kidney and garbanzo beans) for three-bean salads in hot weather. Pickled beets were also nice to have on hand for this purpose.

Once you leave the United States, you really don’t see fresh mushrooms again until New Zealand. We may have found some mushrooms the Galápagos and may have found some overpriced, poor specimens in Tahiti, but that was it. So if you like mushrooms, bring a lot of canned (or dried) ones with you. I used all 24 cans of canned mushrooms that I stocked in Mexico prior to arriving in Tahiti, where I restocked.
While highly biased and subject to personal tastes, hopefully the information presented here will assist you in your own attempts at provisioning for your South Pacific crossing. Good luck!

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for taking the time to write this. It is very helpful. Best wishes Sonia from Denmark