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MarkHowe (Unregistered Guest)
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Posted on Tuesday, January 24, 2006 - 11:46 am:   Edit Post Print Post

Thanks Ted; this is pretty much the provisioning class for next week. Ted's article was so complete I decided to publish it here and use it next class. I did some editing but hopefully nothing that changed Ted's original. In any event, the original is on the MST215 site.

(Ted's comments and corrections are in Blue)

The most important tip is to provision with the food you normally eat. Cruising doesn't mean roughing it or having to put up with meals you don't find appetizing.

Expected voyage length
Expected ambient temperatures enroute
Opportunities for reprovisioning enroute
Available refrigerated stowage space
Available non-refrigerated stowage space
Available preparation space
Galley equipment requirements and equipment storage space
Capabilities of the individuals who will be preparing meals

To get started, estimate the number of meals broken down into number of breakfasts, lunches, dinners, snacks, etc. From that you plan menus and grocery requirements.

Make sure you get accurate information from the crew regarding food allergies as well as their preferences for meals and snacks.

Don't forget treats for the folks on watch, such as sweets, midnight snacks, etc. Soup, boullion, coffee/tea .. boiling water is one of the easiest cooking tasks.

Plan for treats such as celebrations of your half way mark, birthdays, anniversaries, etc. Bake a cake on a boat; techniques.

Alter the menues based on expected ambient temperatures. For cooler temperatures, plan for more hot meals such as soups and stews.
For warmer climates, try to minimize the amount of cooking needed so the chef spends as little time as possible in a hot galley.

During the first few days at sea, the crew (chef included) will most likely still be getting their sea legs. Plan for easily prepared, easily digested meals that are low in fat, spices [non-acidic] and caffein. Better yet, prepare meals for the first few days in advance and freeze them. This not only minimizes the time spent below on preparation, but also helps reduce refrigeration loads. [Plan for thaw time and/or wait a few days for frozen lasagne.]

Have a meal plan designed around your refrigeration capacity. Plan meals containing the most perishable items earlier in the trip (within the first week), and meals that feature items with more shelf life later. For longer offshore voyages where one cannot resupply for 3-4 weeks at a time, root vegetables (such as cabbage, carrots and potatoes), dried food (pasta, oatmeal, RICE etc.) and canned goods [rust problem] [see my comment below re: plastic bins] make up a good portion of the fare during the latter part of the voyage, although many citrus fruits can last that long if kept in a dark, well ventilated locker. Fresh fish or other unexpected bounty from the sea or local friends are welcome additions to any meal plan, so plan with flexibility.

The efficiency and capacity of your refrigeration capabilities will play a major part in your menu planning. Boats with large well insulated boxes and large electrical storage and/or generation capabilities will enjoy fresh food longer than a vessel with more limited or less efficient refrigeration.

Refrigerators and ice boxes on vessels generally don't have the organizational tools available in land based refrigerators, i.e. racks, shelves, etc. This means that the contents are generally
stacked on top of one another, and need to be able to withstand the motion of the boat and the weight of the food on top.

Resealable plastic bins are my recommendation to provide protection for less durable foodstuffs. Packaging also needs to be able to withstand the wet environment, particularly in an icebox. Cardboard packaging and paper labels are generally NOT recommended for this very reason. Eggs [don't need refrigeration] can be stored in hard containers available at RV or camping vendors.
Dry Ice refrigeration is more available than it once was and is an option.

In the same vein, sealable plastic bins allow you to group foodstuffs that will be used together in a particular meal, easily identifying and grabbing what is needed without losing valuable BTU's hunting throughout the ice box for separate items, reducing the cooling load on refrigeration system since the door is not opened as long. So instead of keeping a large quantity of an item in its separate container, split it up into quantities in which it will be used, and combine with other food stuffs in one container. Ziploc bags are great for segregating items within a container.
Sealing produce inside plastic causes rot quicker with some items, like lettuce, spinach and squash. Its better to have a few wilted leaves than slime. Plastic produce bags are ventilated with holes.
Vinegar can be sprayed on loaves of bread to delay mold [vinegar is actually one of the most ignored of traditional chemicals and should probably be used in many more ways] also in cheese ziplocks. Cheese is pretty durable on its own, but with vinegar, it is practically indestructable if kept cool.


When thinking of storage, think of your galley as prime real estate. Very important!!
Regularly transfer items from storage in bulk packaging in less accessable areas into smaller, handy containers for use in the galley.
Large bins work well here as well as in the refrigerator and freezer.
This bin concept could use some research. We have had good results with cardboard boxes under companionway ladders and out of the way parts of the galley, but they don't do well when things get wet.
Hence my reference to plastic bins. Also easier to clean and reuse. I was also thinking more in terms of under cabin soles and under and behind seating areas, etc. for bulk storage.-T

Try to eliminate as much packaging as possible prior to loading and/or stowing. Take items out of boxes and use Ziploc bags instead. This cuts down on volume, reduces trash and also reduces insect infestations like cockroaches. When provisioning think ahead regarding the amount of trash the packaging will generate. For example, use large resealable plastic bottles for drinks rather than individual cans and prohibit disposable cups, particularly the popular styrofoam kind.
Powdered drink mixes instead of bottles eliminates trash altogether.

Don't refrigerate items that don't need it. Eggs can be stored at room temperature if coated with vaseline [not necessary except for very long voyages; there's a silica solution called egg keep.].
Butter, jellies, many fruits, etc. do just fine at room temperature for a few days. Highly
pasteurized milk is available in cardboard boxes that don't require refrigeration until opened.

Many on longer voyages bake bread every other day or so. This makes for a great routine in the morning after the breakfast dishes are put away. By lunch time the boat is filled with the tantalizing aroma of fresh baked bread to be enjoyed for the rest of the day.

Don't forget to plan for potable and non-potable water requirements. Figure at least a gallon per day per person for drinking water plus an additional amount for cooking. Add requirements for dish and clothes washing as well as personal hygiene etc.
Everybody always says this but there is always tons of water left over. Somebody needs to revamp this formula. I know it is the thing nowadays for cool people to always have their evian bottle at hand; I am the opposite extreme. How about conducting a test on the cruise of how much drinking water is actually consumed /p/d.
Never bring a case of little water bottles; bring one and refill it as needed from a collapsible [crushable] jug.
Also, remember seawater can be used for rinsing dishes, even washing them, bathing, brushing teeth, washing clothes, etc. That's why Vel and Prell are on your list. Our trips used to be longer and more crowded.


Provisioning stops are part of the planning process.
You should also have extra non-perishable meals making up at least 50% of your voyage until the next provisioning stop as a buffer to allow for bad weather, emergencies, etc.

For those who wish more details in this area, I recommend:

"The Essential Galley Companion" by Amanda Swan-Neal

"The Care and Feeding of Offshore Crew" by Lin Pardey

Another area of concern is cooking fuel; a pressure cooker uses less fuel and saves time. Thermos bottles for hot water and coffee conserve time and fuel and put the real meaning of instant into a hot cup-a-soup. A good thermos will keep hot for 24 hours!! if filled to the top. For some reason an air gap causes it to lose heat.

Yes, pressure cookers are a very important tool. They can be used as an oven if your vessel doesn't have one. Cuts down on cooking time, which is important in hot climates. Also its lid is securely fastened; makes it a key tool when cooking in rough seas.

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