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Provisioning for a long sailing trip...any suggestions please?

Hi, I'm a new member. I'll be flying to Hawaii from downunder shortly to provision a boat for a long sail. First leg from Hawaii to Samoa - about 20 days - no grocery stops along the way!

Wonder if you can assist; I will not be sailing this time, so there will be just 3 guys - non cookers - on a long, sometime rough sail. They don't really want to cook, but want to eat well. I'll be shopping at Costco as a main spot; others too.
- Organic meat
- One guy prefers vegetarian, but will eat meat (organic)
- Super small freezer
- Foods that can be heated on stove top
- Foods that keep well
- good size refrige
- gotta be easy
- easy breads

I'll be getting alot of tin food, and I'll prepare some foods and vacuum seal to prolong life of meats / veges.

Any suggestions for this trip in regards to what you've found at Costco or Sams Club that may be helpful? Hawaii has no TJ...:( Thanks so much !

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  1. asian markets are cheap and have variety. just discovered vietnamese jerkey, served on rice noodle salad or green papaya salad. not like american jerky. dried coconut milk is good for thai food. steripak tofu is handy. chinese sausage is not refrigerated in store, you might ask about that, at home I keep in freezer. virginia country hams are often available, no refrigeration required (though maybe not so in tropics). condensed milk, for thai tea or viet coffee, is cheap. for veg, cabbage carrots potatoes onions citrus apples bananas keep. otherwise dried. costco has trail mixes, nuts, dried fruit. and spam is staple around there though it might give vegetarian nightmares. will kim chee keep unrefrigerated? being away from corner grocer for weeks at a time requires careful planning. don't forget spices, condiments, oil, sugar, treats. peanut butter, no vegemite wanted. also kitchen supplies, matches, thermos, peeler, can opener... how about sprouting seeds for some green food. costco has dried mashed potatoes and hash browns, easy and ok. crackers, chips. bottled juices. cheese keeps for awhile. costco used to have bacon bits 2# or so? dehydrated refried beans are available some places, easy and good. eggs keep awhile, how hot does it get? dried salami. organic meat looks like a problem.

    1. I suggest you check out some forums for backpacking and canoeing websites if you haven't done so already. You'll find lots of ideas for healthy transportable food.

      I recommend:


      1 Reply
      1. re: lyndak

        Thanks to you both.

        Great suggestions. Divadmas: yes, the hard veges - cabbage, carrots, potatoes etc will be carried as is. Good on passage. Others will be dried. Vietnamese jerky - sounds interesting - and good!

        Lyndak: I've looked on both the sites and got a few good ideas from myccr.com site.

        Thanks again :)

        1. food is never the issue on a modest (20 day?) sail trip. rather, it's stocking enough beer and wine.

          14 Replies
          1. re: steve h.

            Enbell: Thanks for the cool sites.

            Steve h.: spoken like a true yachtsman.

            1. re: kiwigal

              What's the galley like? Will you be generating electricity to drive the freezer and the coolerator? What's the square footage of the cold box? How's the insulation? How's the stove fueled? Is there an oven? Talk to me about the pot/pan situation. Washing dishes on a voyage is always a hoot. What's your plan? Soda, coffee or tea: a serious question. Any grilling on the stern? And so on.

              Ocean voyages, as you know from experience, are 24/7. It doesn't sound like you'll be standing a watch but these guys are crazy if they don't press you into service.

              Give us some more details so we can give you some better information. Life's too short for crummy food. Especially at 7 knots.

              Beer and wine should be your top priority but eating well is just one degree of proficiency away from eating poorly.


              1. re: steve h.

                Ok, that's two references to beer and wine as a priority. I say copious amounts of water is number one. I've only been say, seventy five miles offshore, but I know to prepare for the worst. A three week sail can and does turn into months at sea, with death a real possibility. It happens all the time. I was on a casual four hour fishing trip on Galveston Bay that almost turned into disaster. I'll elaborate if you want.

                1. re: James Cristinian

                  That's why boats have water tanks. Water bottles take up too much space in my opinion. Best to draw from the tanks and make it tasty by brewing tea. If you're out for a few days, freezing water bottles and placing them in the coolerator is never a bad idea. Plenty of storage space on board? Knock yourself out and buy fancy bottled water. BTW, reverse osmosis devices are pretty common on sea-going vessels these days so I wouldn't sweat the water stuff.

                  1. re: steve h.

                    Fair enough, having never been on a sail boat, I did not know this. My only experience on boats is to fish, and there was no sail. I would think some kind of emergency water stash would be in order. I think a good buzz at sea is great, just be sure there is a designated sailor. Not to be negative, we had an experienced sailor from Texas A & M Galveston Marine lose his life in relatively close waters. Be careful out there. I was wading in from fishing and hit some mud, both my calves cramped up at the same time, and I went face forward. It was a good thing I was in a foot of water, and not the five feet I wade in as well, or I wouldn't be here now. I now carry a life vest, and drink lots of gatorade before I go. BUY GATORADE, or some other fluid enhancher. Have some fun.

                    1. re: James Cristinian

                      Sailors understand that the sea and Mother Nature are finicky: hours of boredom, moments of sheer terror. We're all serious when it comes to our responsibilities. We are all proud of our skills but understand that MN always has the last word.

                      Take some sailing lessons and go charter a boat in the EC. It's all good. Provisioning/cooking on board for a lengthy sail is a left brain/right brain thing. It's fun but not easy. Gatorade? Whatever.

                      1. re: steve h.

                        Lin and Larry Pardey have been at this game a long time. I like reading their books and blogs.

                        Here's a link to some of their thoughts.


                        1. re: steve h.

                          Sailing experience is not my concern; I've done it professionally and use to run charter boats. It's what's available in US that I am after.

                          Gatorade is a good idea. Anything with sugar when the weather is rough and not much can be made in the galley. Been there before.

                      2. re: steve h.

                        Yes, water maker on board. A must have these days! Plus water filter on board to filter water coming through taps.

                        I might add that water through watermaker - although lacking completely in all minerals - is some of the best still water I've tasted.

                      3. re: James Cristinian

                        James Cristinian:

                        1. A three hour tour... A three hour tour ;)

                        2. Sailors like to drink. I don't really know why. It's just the deal. All of the older guys I sailed with with I was a kid came off the docks and hit the bar and now I tend to do the same for better or for worse.

                        3. Having a few drinks/joking about having a few drinks doesn't mean that someone's going to neglect to bring enough drinking water/plan for enough drinking water, food or other necessary supplies on a journey... I mean anyone who is undertaking a 20 day sail necessarily has more than a healthy respect for the sea. After all, it's killed more people than all other natural disasters in the history of the world combined with all of the wars, diseases, famines etc... since the dawn of time.

                        4. Kiwigal: I suggest copious amounts of rum :)

                      4. re: steve h.

                        Hi ,

                        Yes, I've done a number of ocean voyages with over 60,000 blue water miles. Crewed as chef and mate professionally on luxury yachts around the world for a number of years been sailing long distance around the world over 20 yrs.

                        My husband, a professional captain (and not a chef) is bringing our newly bought yacht back to NZ (new to us) - without me there to cook. Hence, three guys who don't want to cook.

                        Seriously, booze is not on the menu. Save that for onshore. 5000 miles is alot to ; best done sober.

                        This is not a luxury yacht; it is a regular sailing yacht of 40' . Two small (and I do mean small) freezer units - frigaboat . I'm just having a bit of brain burp since I've not done this type of provisioning in a long time (I know, spoilt) and I'm won't be on passage to improvise myself. Plus, it's been over a decade since I"ve provisioned in the U.S. and trying to get ideas on what's available.

                        Agree - live is too short for crummy food (and bad wine, too!)

                        Thanks for your help.

                        1. re: kiwigal

                          I'd have you stand a watch so I could grab some sleep. In return, I'd help with the dishes. :-)

                          40 feet can be tight quarters for four sailors. Tough conditions always make for interesting trips. Best of luck. Please give us chapter/verse after the fact. Include the excruciating details since those count the most.


                        2. re: steve h.

                          Steve h... you are wise... Mr Steve...as for voyage food on long cruises, meat is not recommended at all, unless there is adequate facilities for it, just as you stated in your comment.... Grains such as rice,oats, quinoa, barley, rice, dried corn and dried pre-sprouted beans are the best that I find for long sails;. because they don't take very much energy to prepare and they go well with all other foods and are versatile... I also recommend that fruit be first spritzed with a mist of vinegar before bringing aboard. This will detract fruit flies which are a common problem in tropical sailing areas and as the vinegar dries the vinegar taste will go away...also, this will aid in killing the mold spores that can ruin food stores. apples, green plantain, key limes keep for a fair amount of time. Eat the ripest produce first (obviously) and there's nothing at all wrong with canned foods. on another note the best seafood is the seafood that you catch yourself! both cooked or not (as long as you know how to prepare sushi correctly) all salt water ocean fish (with only a few exceptions) can be eaten raw, but there are some tastier than others.

                    2. I've never attempted to do anything like this but would like to recco a book to take on the trip... one of the youngest women ever to sail around the world solo. It's SUCH a fascinating story and she had a lot to say about what she was able to eat and keeping her cat alive at the same time.


                      2 Replies
                      1. re: pasuga

                        Hi Pasuga - I recall reading this story years and years ago. It is a great story. Tania Aebi still sails today. She's divorced from her husband (Oliver that she met on her travels) and has two sons. And last I read, Tarzoon is old and still going strong.

                        1. re: pasuga

                          Someone is attempting to break this record. http://www.jessicawatson.com.au/

                          Interesting reading on her blog (and maybe a few food ideas for the OP).

                        2. You need to strike a compromise with your vegetarian... It's too hard to plan/stock for/cook vegetarian/non-vegetarian meals on even such a short sail. Everyone really needs to eat the same thing.

                          1. Interesting! I've been following Jessica Watson's blog about her journey circumnavigating the globe. If you haven't read up on it, I would suggest you do so as she talks a lot about food and how they planned her meals, "food bags", etc. She had a bunch of fresh fruit and veggies to begin with, but once she finished them off she missed them terribly. I would suggest plenty of dried fruits. Check out her blog here:


                            Safe Travels!!!

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: lynnlato

                              Hi lynnlato,

                              Trying to keep fresh veggies and fruit has always been challenging. When they are gone, they're gone. They are particularly challenging to keep in hot weather. But there will be lots on board. I like the dried fruit idea and I hear there's great stuff on offer at Costco in this regard.

                              By the way, I have been keeping up with Jessica Watson's travels. A brave young girl! Thanks for your post.

                            2. Since you mentioned Costco... two items I really like that might work well...
                              The big bags of of Pannetinni toasts and the big jar of Bruschetta topping. Both keep a long time (the topping must be refrigerated). Some of that, along with some salumi-type meat and some cheese and you have a quick no-cook meal. Maybe also big bags of pita or bagel chips and tubs of hummus? I guess it depends on the size of your fridge.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: onrushpam

                                Hi - fridge space is pretty big - small freezer, but plenty of fridge space. Thanks for these ideas. I'll look for them at Costco when I get there. :)

                              2. Hard cheeses like sharp cheddar and parm-reg are great for snacks but also can be grated into a cheese sauce to drizzle over sauteed veg. One of my favorites -- and I think it would be simple enough with limited equp & space -- is asparagus (sauteed or grilled with a little oil plus s&p); sauteed onions & mushrooms finished with a splash of wine; plate it and drizzle sparingly with cheese sauce (butter, flour, milk, grated cheese, s&p, touch of nutmeg if you have it). I just made it for lunch in fact and it completely hit the spot.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: Niblet

                                  Sounds delicious! Thanks niblit

                                2. Does anyone know if Costco (or other shop) sells 1 litre sized UHT (long life) liquid milk (as apposed to powdered)? Very popular and easy to find here in NZ and Europe. But not sure about Stateside? Thanks.

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: kiwigal

                                    I have generally seen only one brand in the states (Parmalat). Don't know about finding it at Costco, but you may be able to find it in a regular supermarket.

                                    1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                      I'll look for it. Thank you Caitlin. :)

                                  2. With no disrespect to chowhound, this is not the site for info regarding stocking a boat for a voyage, though steve h has good practical advise. No off shore sailor I know drinks alcohol underway, (harbour is another story). I have sailed for over 30 years and the kind of sources for this info is found in the kind of books mentioned (eg Lin and Larry Pardey, the older ones eg the Hiscocks etc. Lots of info of a tried and true nature. We are not talking cuisine in most cases (this doesn't sound like a fancy yacht with a (chef) "cookie". I could go on and on but as I said this is not the best source for food stocking for such a voyage.

                                    4 Replies
                                    1. re: feelinpeckish

                                      costco in hawaii used to have POG, passion orange guava juice. excellent fruit best pineapple and lychee. portugeese sausage and eggs should be readily available.

                                      1. re: divadmas

                                        Hmmmm ....how I miss portugese sausage! It's also a nice replacement if you haven't any chorizo...I've used it in the past sliced and sauteed with bell peppers and onions in olive oil over pasta. Thanks for the reminder! I'll keep my eyes peeled for it.

                                        1. re: kiwigal

                                          OMG... I need some of that NOW!!! with pasta... mmmm

                                        2. re: divadmas

                                          Pineapple and lychee?? That's a new one. Sounds yummy!

                                      2. I'm fond of smoked herring. Trader Joe's has some in a green tin, they are reasonable and very good!

                                        Cabbage keeps pretty well, even for a while without the fridge. You can also pickle cabbage easily, and some other veggies too. And cabbage is very versatile to cook with. Salads or hot in many ways.

                                        Eggs of course! And they can be kept out of the fridge for weeks too!

                                        3 Replies
                                        1. re: scuzzo

                                          Hi Scuzzo, I wish there was a TJ in Hawaii. I loved it when I visited a friend - although it was quite some time ago.

                                          You're right about cabbage and I'll make sure that's on board before the guys leave.

                                          I recall taking a bunch of eggs on one pacific passage nearly 20 years ago now...they do last a heck of a long time, but as we approached the equator where it is blistering hot, I noticed that every other egg I cracked open was rotten - and it would BURST open. Ewwww. I've learned that you can keep eggs unrefrigerated as long as they started out that way (i.e. never been). And stay away from the equator ;-) Thanks for your post.

                                          1. re: kiwigal

                                            Although primarily aimed at campers and backpackers, you might want to check the shelf stable food at this site.
                                            I have sailed quite a bit on the Chesapeake Bay but never a voyage like the one you are planning. Good luck and smooth sailing.


                                        2. Here's an article w/ taste tests for freeze dried meals - w/ such picky and varied eaters I wold be very tempted to just pack the boat up w/ a bunch of these meals. http://www.sailmag.com/MRE/
                                          If you want some recipes that work well for delivery meals, let me know and I'll send you a list.
                                          Also, have you looked into supplementing your freezer space by purchasing a soft sided cooler (www.duffelbags.com) freezing the meals and then packing w/ dry ice - this should last for about five to six days - just pack it so they eat from the top down and don't spend a lot of time digging around. Also, I have read about people who make meals and vacuum pack them, fill a cooler (eskie) w/ water and freeze into a solid block....

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: harryharry

                                            Hi Harryharry, thanks so much for the links. Great ideas - I really like the duffelbags and it's a great site. I really appreciate your suggestions.

                                            I've now got my provisions list completed. Next week, I'm off to provision the yacht.

                                            Thanks again!