Pacific Passage Provisioning: One Boat’s Experience

P1030753Time for a NUMBERS post.

I’ve been meaning to write about this for more than a year. I kept track of our produce while we were on passage from Mexico (Cabo San Lucas) to the Marquesas in 2011. We used the provisioning charts in Care and Feeding to estimate how much fresh food to buy.

P1030759We purchased these items about 2 days before our passage in La Paz. After purchasing we worked our way down to Cabo San Lucas and left from there for the Marquesas. Our passage took 26 days. If not otherwise stated, we lost 5-10% of what we bought to spoilage. All items with an * were kept in green bags and items with ^ were kept in fridge. I stopped keeping track at 40 days so some items we still had at that point (e.g., potatoes and onions) are marked “more than 40 days”.

P1030757What we bought, spoilage, and how long it lasted:
  • 50 oranges – ate last orange at day 26.
  • 25 apples*^ – ate last 3 on day 40 in a fruit salad, crisp.
  • 6 lemons – at day 58 were dried but still squeezable.
  • 12 limes – lasted 31 days and were still good.
  • 5 cantaloupes – we made the mistake of washing these and lost 50% in the first few days and consumed the rest.
  • P10307601/2 of a large watermelon^ – finished on day 3 with no spoilage.
  • a lot of potatoes (50+) – more than 40 days.
  • 50 carrots*^ – more than 40 days.
  • 12 sweet potatoes – finished around 30 days, could have purchased more.
  • 50 onions – more than 40 days.
  • 9 leeks*^ – finished on day 28 with no spoilage.
  • 50 tomatoes* – unsure because I seem to have forgotten to mark it. More than 2 weeks, probably close to 3 weeks.
  • 10 cucumbers*^ – ate last on day 17 with no spoilage.
  • 14 avocados* – half stored in a green bag. All items in green bag went bad. Others were consumed on day 11.
  • 6 bell peppers*^ – finished on day 28 with no spoilage.
  • 3 heads of green lettuce*^ – finished on day 13 with minimal spoilage.
  • 3 heads of green cabbage – finished on day 27 with the last cabbage half lost.
  • 2 bunches of radishes^* – finished on day 4.
  • small bag of mushrooms^ – finished on day 3 with only 1 or 2 lost.
  • 60 eggs – finished at 35 days with no spoilage except 2 cracked while loading on boat.
  • 2 baguettes – finished on day 3 with no spoilage.
  • 6 loaves of BIMBO bread
P1030762We loaded the bottom of the fridge with long life cheeses and long life meats. We also bought one gallon of milk (finished day 8), 5 packets of deli meat (lost 2 to broken package and spoilage), 2 packs of hot dogs and chicken thighs.

Sud Bar


In the South Pacific, on tropical atoll called Fakarava, in the Dangerous Archipelago (the Tuamotus), there is this bar…


A hanging bar, built by the crew of a few cruising boats, from the wreckage washed ashore during 5m swell, completely from found and salvaged materials - the bar is named Sud Bar and depending on your language of choice might evoke thoughts of bubbles (English) or the compass direction 180 true (French).

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Come on in, have some fun, carve your name in the hanging bar. The house specialty is fresh green coconut water with rum. The bartender (perhaps you?) opens the nut, the recipient drinks a few ounces, and the bartender tops up the nut with rum.

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If you visit, take some time and some tools and leave the bar more over-the-top than you found it. Repair the damage, use only natural or found materials, and invite the entire anchorage for a Sud Bar Style evening.

Location: One of the motus in the West anchorage of the South Pass of Fakarava Atoll.

Maupiti and Solar Tides


Did you know that some places are relatively unaffected by lunar tides but seriously affected by solar tides?

I (Livia) wrote an article that appeared in a recent issue of Ocean Navigator on the application of solar tide knowledge to navigating passes in the places like Maupiti, French Polynesia. You can read the article online here.

Thanks to Michelle on SV Cheers who first told me about the topic.

Free the Gecko


Why didn’t the seagull want to fly over the bay?

Because then he would be a bagel.

I’m not exactly sure how that became Carol’s favorite joke. Somehow it did.

During our haul out our boat became infested with geckos. However, once we went back in the water we knew they would slowly starve to death so we worried for them. When Carol was in the dinghy, one of the geckos panicked and jumped from the dinghy into the ocean and earned the name “bagel”.


It follows naturally, of course, that when we later found a nearly albino gecko eagerly sucking down my rum and pineapple juice, we would name him “Plain Bagel”.

Plain Bagel was subsequently caught and released on the motu where he will hopefully find more bugs and fewer sundowners.

Also, TABU is the new(ish) beer also made by Brasserie de Tahiti, the makers of Hinano. Fun tiki with sunglasses motif as seen on this glass.

Life Underwater


P1000437 We’ve been spending time almost every day underwater. Our snorkel kit lives on deck or in the cockpit when we are anchored so we can be ready to join an several boat snorkel expedition, or just to jump off the boat to snorkel nearby coral heads, at any time. Underwater photography has been a fun challenge and we are working with a good underwater camera (Lumix TS4) but not professional kit. I’m finally learning to put the sun at my back underwater, realizing that in any kind of chop my body is moving too much for video, and getting close enough to fish without startling them to take a decent shot.

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Onboard storage: Containment Strategies



If there is one thing we have come to love through cruising, it is containers. Any type of bag, or box, or fabric cube that makes it easy to find things, to move our stuff around when we inevitably need to reach whatever is stored underneath, and to keep things from dropping into the deep dark reaches of the bottom of some of our lockers and lazarettes.

P1000750 Even better than just a container is a watertight container. Not just to prevent water, but even inside the boat in dry areas to prevent salty  humid air from ruining everything from food to electronics and to prevent fabrics from taking on a “boat smell”.

Now imagine that you have a container, that is watertight, and it can be used to store things in a previously unusable space in your boat – a cruiser’s dream, right?

While we were in N America we picked up a stash of Snaptainers and brackets (white or black) at Fisheries Supply in Seattle. You can see the entire collection (and pick up your own set) online here. After more than 5 years of living aboard and 3 years of cruising, we had some pretty specific ideas about where we might be able to use these bad boys and we have just installed the first batch: 3 at the navigation table and 1 in the “coffee cubby”.

It is the little things that can drive you crazy in cruising and so it is the little improvements in life, particularly for things you use on a daily or near daily basis, that we find make a big difference in our fun factor. Less suck means more energy for fun.

With the 4 installed containers, our USB sticks, phone cards, boat stamp, long distance wifi router, boat cards, etc are dry and contained in small organized containers at the navigation table. Every morning when we make our coffee we can lift the manual espresso machine out of its cubby (clearance above) and slide the ground espresso snaptainer out of its bracket. Everything fits perfectly, nothing has to be stored in a pile.

Next stop will be installing the same system in the lids of our lazarettes!

Motu Nights



One of the downsides of the Tuamotus is the lack of actual sand in many atolls. That’s it. That is the only ugly secret we’ve been hiding ;) There are many brilliant white beaches which, for the most part, on closer inspection are bleached out bits of coral rubble and shells. Pretty to look at, nice to walk on, but not volley ball court material. So when we do find the occasional sand beach we take full advantage.



Regardless of the state of the shore, whether sand or coral rubble, when we are near uninhabited motus we spend multiple nights per week watching the sunset from shore and then cooking our dinner in a fire while sipping something tasty.


We have been lucky this season to be having our bonfire time with friends. We’re learning a lot about how to cook in tinfoil packets. Long baking foods are no longer frequently cooked aboard SV Estrellita because of the heat they create in the cabin and so we were happy to discover how easy roasted garlic was in a campfire and have rediscovered bonfire cooked “baked” potatoes.


The freedom we as cruisers have in this area of the world is amazing. So often we are in uninhabited areas of atolls (or we are if we want to be) and the motu becomes an extension of our home. We set up a play room on the beach, in this case to enjoy with friends. From others’ reports and from reading blogs I know that this kind of remoteness, in an area of such beauty, is something to cherish while it exists and while we are here.

Our swimming pool


How clear is the water? When someone says “the water is so clear” what do they mean? To me, to my pampered-by-French-Polynesia eyes, clear water on a windless day means that you can’t tell where the water and air meet until something creates a ripple. It means that I feel slight irrational anxiety when I jump in the water because it looks like I’m jumping 15 feet down to the seabed rather than 3 feet to the waterline. It looks like this:


As I write this, we are anchored in the Tuamotus in 10 feet of water, over a bed of beautiful white sand. When the winds are light and the sun is out (or the moon is full) the water reflects off the white sand creating a swimming pool/tropical aquarium like atmosphere.


We can see fish, sharks, our anchor and chain, and also the beautiful patterns our anchor chain has made in the sand as the wind shifts our boat. All visible from the deck.

After dodging coral heads and reefs, anchoring among coral heads and buoying our anchor chain in attempts to avoid getting snagged, it is a relief to drop the anchor in pure sand with no coral heads in our swinging room.

After some squall ridden days it was also a relief to have absolutely no wind and clear blue skies to play in.

It probably takes some experience snorkeling or diving, and taking underwater photos to appreciate the clarity of this photo of Carol. To be 20 or so feet from someone and take this picture tells experienced eyes how clear the water was.  Clear, warm and inviting.

Things that go CRUNCH


If you are the type of cruiser that might spend 4 weeks in an uninhabited atoll, then an additional 2 weeks in an inhabited atoll but anchored 35 miles away from the village, you…well, you would be us, and you would be out of fresh food.

Even with a bag of groceries kindly carried to us from the village by SV Cariba, we have entered the dried goods stage of our provisioning. At this point we start desperately craving green things, and things that have a satisfying fresh *crunch*.

This is why we sprout. We have traditionally sprouted salad sprouts in jars but we found that our sprouting seeds did not do so well shut up in the tropical heat in a boat on the hard for 3 months and so we have branched out into lentil sprouts. Lentils are easily available and made a medium thick delicious sprout.


We put an inch or two of lentils in a jar with mesh at the lid and soak them in water overnight. Then we drain the water and go into a routing of rinsing and draining the sprouts twice a day, morning and night. For the rinse we put a small amount of water in the now mostly dry sprouts, swish it around, and then let put the jars upside down in the sink until they have drained thoroughly.

The lentils can be eaten as soon as they the first bit of tail starts sprouting out (as pictured) or you can wait up to a week for long tails. They taste different at different stages, so experiment.


We jokingly refer to the cocktail du jour aboard our vessel as an "Estrellita" -- as in, "Would you like an Estrellita?". The current batches of Estrellitas are a painstakingly researched reconstruction of my favorite drink from my favorite bar in Colorado Springs, Shugas. We have had plenty of volunteers for the taste testing ;) Shugas calls them lavender martinis and although this is close, their recipe, whatever it is, is slightly better.

Estrellitas (Lavender Martinis)

Lavender simple syrup: In a sauce pan, mix 2 cups of water, 1/2 cup of sugar and 1/2 cup of food grade lavender. Bring to a simmer, stirring the sugar until dissolved. Put on lid, turn off heat but leave on burner and let the mixture cool to room temperature (several hours). Strain out lavender.

Mix the lavender simple syrup with 1 cup of freshly squeezed lime juice and 1 cup of decent gin. Chill completely.

Enjoy! If you make a double batch, half of the lavender simple syrup can also be added to one gallon of iced black tea.


Click on the dollar and buy Livia and Carol a cold frosty one:


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