Eating my way across the Atlantic – Provisioning for a crossing
Now that we’ve made it across the Atlantic and we are Swanning around the Caribbean, I thought I’d add some comments on how we go about getting ready for a long crossing, for anyone interested. I’m not proposing that we are experts in this area at all, this is just what worked for us. We had a few primary priorities to help keep us focused:
- Fresh food and managing that,
- Yumminess – don’t serve things that taste average,
- Nutrition for good health and happy crew,
- Back-up food,
- And beer (it’s a food, right?)
I know there’s a lot of commentary in the cruising circles on how to get and store food, how to manage that food, how to use it all effectively without waste, keep yourself and any crew healthy (hygiene is really important on a yacht), and what to do when the fresh stuff runs out.
I have one word that will make everything easy for you – vegan. A few of you reading this will recall that about 18 months ago, we had a go at being vegan – and we still are (except for my very occasional lapses when I’m sitting in an island beach bar having a cold beer and they are serving fried fresh anchovies!). To be fair, I actually detest the term “vegan” because it’s been tarnished by the radical few. I agree with their cause, I just think some of their actions alienate their audience. So let’s call it eating plants, yes, like an elephant. I choose the elephant as a point of comparison because when people tell me that I’ll die from protein deficiency by being a plant eater, they usually back off pretty quickly when I ask them what elephants eat. So don’t ask why I became a plant eater, it was for my own good reasons relating to my health, the health of animals, and the health of the planet. If you choose to eat meat and dairy? Knock yourself out. But you’re a dying breed. Literally.
Enough of the rhetoric. Being a plant eater has made provisioning for a crossing so very easy. And even for meat eaters, it’s really worth considering (and I promise you won’t die from a lack of protein 😁). Here’s how we do it:
- We have two freezers – these are stacked with frozen vegetables so once the fresh stuff is done, we move to these.
- The pantry is bursting with grains, beans, pasta, rice’s, spices, herbs, tomato sauces, coconut milk and other dried and sauced yumminess. Cook and mix this with the fresh or frozen vege’s and you have easy, really tasty, and nutritional food.
- Potatoes, sweet potatoes and onions are awesome. They last for weeks and can go into pretty much anything. Tomatoes are a staple and will last over two weeks easily if wrapped in newspaper in a cool dark spot.
- We sprout – sounds weird but you will have a constant supply of fresh things to put in salads, stir fries and curries. It’s really easy and very effective.
- Wraps and rye bread – we never run out of a quick easy meal with beans, leftovers, and of course something to throw peanut butter on.
- We have a pressure cooker (great for beans), a rice cooker (don’t leave home without one), a Braun kitchen wizz (the wand is great for soup etc), a toasted sandwich maker (also used for toasting bread – you have no idea how much better than a toaster these things are), and a breadmaker – which to be fair, doesn’t get used that much; and contrary to the instructions, is simply not foolproof! I will probably use it for an anchor one day.
- We stock fresh and local when we leave and we generally have plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables for the first 15 days (there’s plenty of information on the internet on how to store these properly on a yacht – read it). We rotate between fruit-nets, dark storage, stuff wrapped in newspaper in cool places, and the fridge. It’s really important to discard any local (especially market) packaging to minimise the risk of any unwanted little hitchhikers joining your crew (love cockroaches on a yacht). And wash everything well. It will last longer.
Being a plant eater also makes things simple for a few other reasons – your yacht doesn’t smell of fried meat, the kitchen stays way cleaner (as do your fridge’s and freezers), that nasty little extractor fan never gets full of grease, you don’t have to worry about poisoning your crew with rotten food or chicken contamination, and your boat is way more hygienic. Everyone on board loves the food and its bloody healthy.
There’s one last point I’d like to make; smell, and I mean people smell. Less body odour and the heads just don’t smell anywhere near as bad. Trust me on this! In a confined space, this make a big difference to crew happiness.
I was also a little surprised that when we were in Las Palmas loading all our fresh stuff onto Coco, the number of people that walked past and commented on how much they wished they were crossing the Atlantic on our yacht!
There’s only one thing I messed up – we ran out of beer three days before we landed. Bugger.