Monday, March 28, 2011

Provisioning II: Off to Shop

When I last wrote, I introduced the Ship’s Provisioning Log, a 17-page excel spread sheet that records every last ounce of food on this vessel, as well as general household and school supplies, cleaning supplies, medical supplies, toiletries, passage-making activities like art projects, and items we’re stowing to trade in the islands.  I highlighted all the items I needed to buy more of. Once this document was complete, it was time to go shopping.

IMG_0406We rented a car for a couple of days to help us with the running around.  We started at Costco, because here in Puerto Vallarta it is not accessible by bus.  I had also scoped it out before we left for California last month, so I knew what I needed there.  Four carts later (including one flatbed), we left.  We filled the entire trunk and back seat of our mid-sized car.  Note that I am holding my Ship's Provisioning Log in the first photo.

Next stop was Walmart, and another two full shopping carts there.  Then Mega (one of the main grocery chain stores), a new produce market (just to see what they have – it’s not yet time for produce shopping) and countless other stops.  For example, we used the opportunity to run around with the car for boat parts, fishing rod repairs, and other boat supplies, like all the motor oil you see in the photo.
And let’s not forget picking up our kosher meat and Passover order at the airport – 5 boxes worth.  Thankfully, no matzah – if you recall my blog from last year, it’s not surprising that I still have matzah leftover from 2010.  As a Passover aside: We’ll be on our passage in the middle of the Pacific Ocean for our two seders – which will certainly provide for an interesting blog post then.  I’ve also been able to do my Passover cleaning while I’ve been inventorying – I washed out every last storage area with bleach cleaner before putting things back. We don’t want no chametz (leaven) nor do we want any mold.

When placing things into IMG_0418my shopping cart, I had to consider a few details.  First, as I mentioned in my last blog, how much should I be buying given that we need to be left with as little as possible at the end of the journey?  I tried to calculate how often we eat a certain item, and then went from there.  A few examples:  Tomato Sauce – I use it in a lot of things like bolognese sauce, stuffed peppers, pasta meals, sweet and sour meatballs, and so on.  I calculated I should have about 20 jars for the 6-7 months until we get to Australia.  By the time I loaded them into my cart, however, I decided on only 15 jars.  Why?  Because I’ve been told that everyone over-provisions.  So I’m trying to account for that with most things: I’ll slightly underestimate, and I’m sure we’ll still have enough.  Another item:  Mac & Cheese.  NEVER would I have this in my house at home as I try really hard to make sure I understand every ingredient on a food label.  But here, when Michael and I are out and the kids have friends over and want to make lunch, it’s an easy one.  So I calculated 26 boxes, but bought only 20.   Another item:  powdered milk.  Sounds gross, I know, but when you need only 2 tablespoons of milk for that mac&cheese, I’m not about to open a fresh tetrapak of milk only to have the entire liter spoil on me (we drink very little milk).  We still have 6 tetrapaks (i.e. unrefrigerated) of milk, just in case.   Also on this same vein is that liquid items are pure weight, so if we can go with a dry solution, that’s optimum.  We have very little in the way of beverages on board – we’ll drink mostly water or water flavored with C-light – thanks to our water maker.

The next consideration is the weight of all this food.  When we first brought all our provisions aboard, our starboard hull was much lower in the water than our port side.  We’ve since been able to even it out.  But it’s not only making sure that the food is evenly distributed on both sides, and that the stern (back) of the boat is heavier than the bow (front).  It’s the total weight as well.  I’m not sure our boat will move with all this food aboard.  The water line is likely 2 inches higher, meaning the boat is sitting much lower in the water.  An interesting math activity for when we get bored on our crossing would be to add up all the weight of the food on my Ship’s Provisioning Log.  I hope you know I’m kidding.


Harrison posing with some of the school supplies we hope to bring to some of the schools we visit.

Finally, there’s the packaging to consider.  You’d think that plastic would be preferred over glass on a boat.  Yes, glass can break, but on the other hand, it’s easier to dispose of when at sea.  Any glass gets filled with water so that it will sink and then thrown overboard.  Think about all that beautiful colored sand on the beaches you find!  We also have to get rid of all cardboard packaging as one defense against cockroaches, which love the glue and to lay eggs in corrugated cardboard.  Without the cardboard to create a skeleton-like armor around fragile food like crackers and cereals, we’ll be eating a lot of crumbs by the end of this trip.

As another aside, I’ve touched on what we do with trash at sea.  All paper gets torn into little pieces and gets thrown overboard.  All cans get filled with water and sunk to disintegrate at the bottom of the sea.  I’ve already mentioned glass. And of course all food stuff becomes fish food.  That leaves all plastic for our garbage.  We’ll stow a green garbage bag in the engine compartment for when we make landfall.  Hopefully, we’ll have very little.

Next blog:  Where and how to stow it all.

- Barb in La Cruz


  1. Got through with all the grocery/supply shopping - what a relief! So now, what other activity will you have to replace this important outing? (besides sailing, schooling, cooking, and cleaning) ... any recreation (besides these) in store or will only sleep do the trick?

  2. Hey guys...

    Reading along. Very exciting.

    Couple of questions.

    1) Are you taking extra fuel? If so how much? If not, why? How many days can you motor for before you run out?

    2) Why would you throw glass and tin cans into the ocean?

    3) There is no mention of extra crew. How are you going to handle your watches?

    4) Are there other boats traveling with you?

    Let me know...would love to hear details.