Provisioning For Remote Voyaging, Part I


A big part of preparing for an extensive northern trip such as the one we undertook this summer is provisioning. In this case, I had to provision for six months. Yikes!

A number of people have asked me how I go about doing this, so here goes.

Before I get into that, though, I have a confession to make: John and I love food. We love food so much that we spend a large portion of our income and time sourcing good ingredients: we try and buy local, humanely treated, grass fed animal products; we try and avoid additives (especially anything we can’t pronounce!); and we try and buy fruit and vegetables that have been grown without pesticides or herbicides.

Though we limit our use of commercially prepared meals to Amy’s soups (see next post), we do end up using a lot of canned produce (vegetables, fruit, legumes) and for these we tend to go organic because they are of much better quality than regular canned produce.

Note also that we have a large fridge and freezer that we fill to capacity and lots of locker space for food storage, which makes this level of provisioning possible.

Now, back to how I figure out what and how much to buy for long voyages:

What We Use

First of all, years ago, I set up a spreadsheet (which I update regularly) on which I listed everything we use, and I mean everything: every condiment…each type of herb…every kind of toiletry, stationary, cleaning product, etc. This took a while since what we eat changes by seasons, locations, and the whim of the moment!

How Much We Use

Then I kept track of how much of each item we used in a month. This also changed based on where we were and what we felt like at the time. So again it was important to look at this over a long period of time.

Once I had figured out about how much we used of each item in a month, then I could just multiply that by the number of months I was provisioning for.

Having some idea of what is available in the places we visit really helps out, too; for example, in the Abacos we could buy very good local chicken but other meats were not of the best quality; the opposite is true in West Greenland.

In the second part of this series I will share a few things I’ve figured out over the years (sometimes very slowly!).

How do you determine what and how much to take on a long voyage? Please leave a comment.

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Phyllis has sailed over 40,000 offshore miles with John on their McCurdy & Rhodes 56, Morgan's Cloud, most of it in the high latitudes, and has crossed the Atlantic three times. As a woman who came to sailing as an adult, she brings a fresh perspective to cruising, which has helped her communicate what they do in an approachable way, first in yachting magazines and, for the last 18 years, as co-editor/publisher of AAC.

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