Cruising with Osprey

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08 July 2011

How we did it - Provisioning and Meals

13 October 2008
In this post I will try to set down some of our experiences with provisioning and meals during our last year of cruising. Good food and drink is very important to the crew of Osprey and we were quite determined not to compromise on that front. I did a fair amount of research before setting off, trying to figure out what supplies we would need to stock up on and how much we would need. I do have two excellent cruising cookbooks: Cruising Cuisine by Kay Pastorius and The Cruising Chef Cookbook by Michael Greenwald. Besides some useful recipes, both books were very helpful with advice on how to store fruits and veg aboard, what foods not to store together, as well as some hints on how to make things last for a long time. E.g. one fantastic hint for fresh ginger (which I use a lot of): peel the ginger and cut into 1/4 inch slices. Store, covered with sherry, in an air tight container . No need to refrigerate and works like a charm. A sip of the sherry is a nice cook's bonus too! In addition to the cruising cookbooks I bought my favorite books and recipes from our land-based life, so we were able to continue enjoying many of our favorite dishes.

So, what about provisioning? Conventional wisdom states that you will not alter your eating habits and preferences when you start cruising and I will loudly echo that sentiment. "Unusual" things that I bought , thinking we might need to eat it, rather than it being something we normally ate - ended up being wasted on our last trip. This was mainly canned goods like canned chicken, ham, carrots peas and potatoes. I bought a few cans of each of these, thinking they may come in useful in desperate times! Thankfully, we were always able to get fresh or frozen meat and fresh vegetables, even in the Abacos and the prices there were not too bad over there. However, my understanding is that these items are more difficult to get regularly in the more remote islands of the Bahamas. I have come to realise that everyone needs to eat, so food is always available wherever there are people. One of the great experiences on our trip was adapting and eating the local foods rather than resorting to eating "stuff" out of a can. Plus I felt it was a good thing for us to support the local economy by buying food in the local markets. In summary, I would say that our food stores on Osprey are pretty much the same as they were on land.

How much food to bring? This is a difficult question and for us depended on how we were traveling, i.e. fast or slow! As we got more experienced, if we knew we wanted to travel greater distances over a period of time, I would plan our meals for several days and we would stock up so we wouldn't need to go ashore looking for groceries at the end of a long day. If we were only doing short hops we wouldn't load up too much in advance as part of the fun for us was visiting the local supermarket and food stores. If we had mechanized transport available we would always take the opportunity to stock up on bulky or heavy items such as canned goods, paper towels etc. which are hard to carry in any quantity if you are walking or on a bike. We made a concerted effort to take enough paper goods, household cleaners, soaps, shampoo and toothpaste with us to the Bahamas because these items are quite expensive over there. I got a rough idea of how much to get during our cruising down the coast and I'm pleased to report our supplies lasted us well.

Things that worked in the galley:

My Kuhn Rikon, Duotherm Pressure Cooker - I learned to use this before leaving and it was an absolute godsend when the weather was cooler. It is a great way to make hearty, satisfying stews in a very short time. However, we never used it once we got to a warmer climate - the steam it kicks out is too much in hot weather. (The photo shows the trusty cooker getting ready to cook up some lamb shanks - falling off the bone tender in about 20 minutes!)

Our Engel 12V fridge/freezer - we left Rhode Island without refrigeration and managed just fine down the ICW keeping the ice box filled with ice and stocking up with fresh food every three days or so. We bought the Engel in Marathon and never looked back. We used it as a freezer and kept it filled with meat, this would keep us going for about 10 days (it is the smallest model). It is a reliable appliance which has a small current draw and our solar panels were more than adequate to keep up. In our last year of cruising we never once ran the engine to charge the batteries, unlike many of our neighbors who were running either their engine or a generator to keep their fridges cold.

Things we were not so thrilled about:

Our CNG cooking fuel. My advice is "do not leave home with this". At this time, CNG is very difficult to find outside of the Northeast and we found it to be outrageously expensive. There are one or two places that will exchange tanks in the Chesapeake and one place in Jacksonville, FL that will fill tanks. We made the switch to propane once we reached Marathon, but would have saved a lot of money if we had done this before leaving, mainly by avoiding the cost of refilling our CNG tanks en-route.

Our Solaire infra-red grill. I bought this grill (at great expense) after reading great reviews about how good it was for boating, the main thing being that it didn't blow out in the wind. It is made out of marine grade stainless (hence the expense) and certainly withstood the elements just fine, but - it blew out ALL THE TIME - very painful. We ended up having to take the grill off the stern rail and putting it down in the cockpit to cook. That was fine if it was just the two of us but not so good if we had guests aboard. One good thing though is that it is very portable as it has a sturdy carry-case. We took it ashore to grill on the beach several times in the Bahamas.

Evertfresh "Green" bags. Maybe I did something wrong, but these storage bags are supposed to prolong the life of fruits and vegetables stored outside the refrigerator. In my hands they did not seem to make a big difference and I stopped using them - money wasted for me.

To any prospective cruisers out there - I hope this helps.

Vessel Name: Osprey
Vessel Make/Model: Shannon38 #33
Hailing Port: East Greenwich, RI
Crew: Tom & Vicky Worosz
About: We have cruised to the Bahamas and back twice ad are now back on land for a while. This Summer (2012) we have outfitted ourseleves with motorcycles and are heading off for a month long "land cruise'

Who: Tom & Vicky Worosz
Port: East Greenwich, RI