Ed. note: Scott and Mary Flanders landed in Brazil on October 19, 2006. The following article on the factors that motivated the Flanderses to undertake their adventure was written by Scott en route to Brazil from the Canary Islands.
Provisioning for a trip is obviously crucial. While it’s true the Nordhavns pack more storage space than most boats, you’d be amazed at how easy it is to cram every last nook. But it’s important to remember that provisioning is not just about getting a lot of stuff. Indeed, there is a method to it. The crew of Egret believes we have it down to a science.
Paper goods. There are three paper goods items that are not readily available in Europe, much less so in third world countries and the South Pacific. Waxed paper, good quality paper towels and Theford marine toilet paper. Egret left the States with a single roll of waxed paper. What we use it for is unique to boats. To keep an item from sliding on a counter or any flat surface in a seaway, we apply a thin bead of silicone seal to the bottom of whatever, (small round dish holding the salt, pepper, oil & vinegar for example) let it stand on waxed paper for two days to cure then peel away the paper. That item WILL NOT slide. We have looked from Turkey to Gibraltar for waxed paper with no success… Egret left Ft. Lauderdale on the Nordhavn Atlantic Rally with 10 cases of Viva paper towels wrapped in plastic on the flybridge. We have used them as if they would never run out but now we are down to 5 rolls. (Those have been confiscated for the engine room)… Theford marine toilet paper is simply the best. Egret's Raritan Atlantes fresh water flush heads will accept any toilet paper including household toilet paper however non-marine paper requires a lot more water to flush and holding tanks filled with regular household paper would be a disaster. Fortunately we provisioned very heavily before leaving Ft. Lauderdale and have a couple more years supply. So you get the picture and the message. You simply cannot take too many paper towels and load youselves with Theford toilet paper.
Maximize space. Our only experience in heavy provisioning comes from winters in the Bahamas, the Atlantic crossing and our Med experience. Other than a few favorite items most everything is available in Europe and very good quality except for two meat items, good beef and good bacon. We were liveaboards for six months before retiring. Like everyone we were used to gigantic freezers and fridges. When you move on a boat (mid-size) things change. We did two things that helped immeasurably. One is we bought the little blue battery-operated refrigerator fans from West Marine that decrease our cycle time by quite a bit. (A computer fan permanently installed would be better but this half of the Egret crew is electrically challenged.) The second is Mary bought rectangular plastic bins with slots that exactly match the Sub Zero's interior dimensions. Stacking vacuum packed frozen chicken breasts is like stacking marbles. She is able to get an amazing amount of meat stored in our small freezer and goodies in the fridge. Vacuum packing is a must for lengthy storage. We use a Professional II by Foodsaver but any quality unit should do. (Buy LOTS of the 8" width rolls of vacuum plastic.) Pre-made graham cracker pie crusts are a thing of memory as well as all prepared frozen food. Obviously Egret's freezer is packed solid with vacuum packed meat.
While cruising we rarely eat anything that isn't fresh. While on passage those items run out relatively quickly so we are limited to cans, jars and boxes. Where we can we remove the sealed contents from the boxes for the extra space. Egret has plastic bins in her under settee storage as well as the Nordhavn provided wooden bulkheads to contain cans and jars from shifting in head seas. Right now every space is packed to the very top. In addition the dry goods like the 15 kilos of Thai jasmine rice, kilos of oatmeal for the cold weather in Chile, dried beans, dried fruit, flour, etc. are all vacuum packed and under Egret's master berth and scattered elsewhere. Stored in the guest stateroom in very large plastic bins sitting on top of the spare berth is another mountain of food, well OK, gallons of great Greek wine, coffee, paper goods, milk, etc. It is not boat show pretty but is reality. The Egret crew does not leave port with 150 lbs of rice, 150 lbs of dried beans, a few cans of tuna, a tray of sprouts and a pressure cooker like some early sailboaters were forced to do.
Fresh fruit and vegetables. Egret is loaded with potatoes, onions, garlic, apples, oranges, pears, tomatoes (bought in three stages of ripeness from hard green to ripe) cukes, romaine, lemons, 5 dozen eggs, etc. Every day at lunch we have a big salad, usually with tuna, ham or octopus (we bought pre-cooked and frozen in Gib) cheese and dried fruit. Our opinion is we would rather throw away spoiled fresh items than run out early. When our bread runs out Mary bakes fresh.
There are two great books written by sailboaters we recommend you buy. Both give great tips about storing fresh food and a myriad of other details as well. The Voyager's Handbook by Beth Leonard (my favorite contemporary cruising author) and Why Didn't I Think of That? by John and Susan Roberts. Both are available from Bluewater Books in Ft. Lauderdale.