The way to a man's heart…….

So we come to Provisioning or Victualling or stocking up or just plain shopping for fodder……After having spent the last 18 months in the eastern Caribbean and being able to get most things (on the bigger islands) to last us until we get to the next large island, we're now nearing the situation where the ‘next island' is going to have very little in the way of goodies and eventually the next island is going to be some 3000 miles away and still have nothing in the way of goodies. So I started asking around – “what did you do when you did your Atlantic crossing - how much flour, tins of tomatoes etc did you take – what did you do for lunches etc?” Surprisingly most people seem to have stocked up on lots of tins then looked in the cupboard and said ‘OK I'll make such and such'. Well unfortunately I am not such a creative cook and always need a recipe book at my side. So I read copious books about on how to do it - then panicked!

We got as far as Curacao (one of the Dutch Antilles) with big supermarkets with lots of goodies – next stop Colombia and an unknown as far as provisioning is concerned. I started asking cruisers who had already been down the Colombian way and managed to get hold of a list of things which were or were not available in Colombia . We are going to have about 5 weeks heading through the San Blas islands where we need to be self sufficient so needed to get a good stock in. So, after studying the list and then studying what I already had on board (I am reasonably organised with keeping a list of how many tins of tomatoes etc I have) and trying to put together some weekly menus, I caught the ‘shopping' bus from the anchorage in Spanish Waters in Curacao to one of the large supermarkets. The shopping bus is great but you only get an hour so it was a bit like those TV programmes where the winner wins a dash around a supermarket with a trolley! ‘The list' in my sweaty little hand, I dashed off the bus and into the supermarket – well I was like a child in a sweet shop – all these goodies I hadn't seen for so long but hey I had a list and time was running short so just look for the stuff on the list – quite a challenge to find items in a supermarket when you don't know the layout and for products on the list which I hadn't even heard of but hey it was on the list so……….Three (yes 3) days later and 3 supermarket visits I was confident I had almost enough to last us through the next 5 weeks – somewhere in the region of 100 tins of various produce, kilos of rice, flour, sugar, pastas of various types, sauces, milks, cereals, tea, (coffee everyone knows you get in Colombia), treats both sweet and savoury etc etc. And if that's for 5 weeks just think about the quantity of fodder when I have to provision for 8 months to go across the Pacific!

So we have the goodies – the next challenge – where to put it all? I spent a day or so decanting sugar and rice into old (cleaned) tonic water bottles, whisking eggs to freeze, taking everything out of it's cardboard packaging and repacking the packs into ziplock bags and then dividing the whole lot up into sensible quantities to store in different parts of the boat AND making a list! I am now the proud owner of a superb excel spreadsheet which tells me (and the skipper) where everything can be found and how many there are – perfect. All I have to do now is to create some wonderful meals - wonder what I can do with those tins of palm hearts……..


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