Tuesday, 16 October 2007

Stocking up the boat.

It is over six months since we left Panama, the last place that we seriously reprovisioned the boat.
As the stores are now getting low I am starting to think about the very serious task of reorganizing and shopping .

It doesn't seem that Guatemala is a particularly good spot for this kind of shopping, unless we spent big sums of money and go to the City, over 6 hours on the bus. I am not too keen on that idea. So I have been looking carefully each week when we go in to town at what is available in the stores.

It shouldn't be too bad to fill up on basics such as flour,pasta,rice etc but the quality of packaging leaves quite a lot to be desired and I am keen to avoid the weevil infestation that we experienced after filling up in Colombia.As soon as we get back on board with a consignment of dry goods, all the extraneous packaging is thrown out and small units put in to individual plastic bags or containers. At least that way it is possible to contain any infestations.
Life on a boat is a lot of the time about making sure you prevent things from happening in the future.........that was all a bit of a shock to me when we first started cruising!

I have always been a bit of a self-sufficiency freak. As soon as I had my first home in went the vegetable patch, the chicken house. Out came the preserving pan. Its a trait that has remained with me and has proved to be very useful in my latest incarnation! When we are fully laden we can remain totally self-sufficient for up to nine months. that means we carry sufficient fuel(with judicious use), food, water and propane. On the face of it that may seem like overkill but on a number of occasions we have been able to stay in fabulous remote parts of the world for as long as we have wanted confident in the resources that we carry on board.

We do not have a freezer so fishing provides our fresh protein source when we are away from civilization. we have built up an extensive selection of lures and absolutely swear by the book-
'The Cruisers handbook of Fishing' by Scott and Wendy Bannerott.
When we first started to fish we had no luck whatsoever! Read this book and BAM! a fish on the line almost every time. It contains a blow by blow account of absolutely every detail that you need to follow in order to catch that fish, and it works!

I have learnt to cook more and more vegetarian meals using beans,pulses, nuts etc. These products store well and , with a little ingenuity, make surprisingly delicious meals( I say this as a confirmed carnivore!). We carry large quantities of Basmati rice, this can be impossible to find in many areas so whenever I see it, I buy it!

That's another thing I learned the hard way. If you see something in the store buy it there and then and lots of it! For sure it won't be there when you go back again.

The boat has a large, well ventilated, shady storage area for fruit and vegetables. Potatoes and onions keep extremely well. Along with garlic,squashes and tomatoes these form the long term fresh veggies that we carry.Other fruit and veg is stored in 'green bags'. these are a godsend to cruisers which treble the shelf life of more delicate products. You can buy them in the UK through Lakeland Limited and I believe they are available throughout the USA.

I have toyed with the idea of a vacuum packer but we really don't produce enough electricity on the boat to make this viable.

Most of our power is produced by the KISS 'windmill' that graces the aft of the boat.We are delighted with this piece of kit. The vast majority of the time it produces sufficient power to supply all our needs on board. For the first time here in the NW Caribbean we have found the lack of wind an issue. If we were going to stay here longer I think we would probably invest in a solar panel or two to cope with any shortfall.We won't though as we will move on, eventually, and we are not keen on the extra windage that they provide on a boat of our size.

We carry 125 gallons of fresh water in three tanks, three to avoid cross contamination . These can all be accessed by either a pressurized water system or by a foot pump in case of power problems!In addition we carry a further 20 gallons in cans on deck and have a small 12v watermaker that can produce 1.4 gallons an hour using the power from the wind generator. Thats enough to keep us comfortably off and allow regular showers and the odd bit of laundry.
We catch rainwater off the decks and in a true tropical downpour can fill the two main tanks in under 20 minutes!
We also have a saltwater foot pump at the galley for dish washing etc.

The diesel tank holds 320 litres and we carry another 80 litres in cans on deck. By using the engine 30 mins per day to cool the refrigerator( and create hot water as a by product) that allows us approx 200 days of independence. Of course its not so long if we have to motor anywhere but we try to sail most of the time! ITS CHEAPER TOO.

There is enough propane for 12 months regular use. We have a propane stove and propane BBQ and use one or other most days. I bake once or twice a week when out at anchor or at sea.

There's a massive first aid kit on board, with drugs for every event! My sister, a General Practitioner in the UK, started us off with a good selection and an 'idiots crib sheet' of symptoms and treatments. we keep it well stocked and up to date whenever we can. Most of it is untouched but its a warm feeling to know that we carry the right treatment for a variety of problems.

Books, DVD's,Charts, Pilot Guides, Instruction manuals all take up the shelf space that always seems to be in short supply. Clothes for hot weather and cold. A mountain of spare parts. It's no wonder we have had to raise the water line on the boat by 4" since we have been cruising!

Lynne Pardey's book 'The Care and Feeding of Sailing Crew', which I believe has recently been updated, has some good hints and tips although I would give the 'party spam fritters' a miss!

So I keep busy making lists, preparing for our next voyage, whenever that may be!!

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