Thursday, 6 August 2015

We've loaded enough food to feed a small navy

August 6 - 2015
In addition to a lot of work preparing the boat itself, getting ready for our four month shakedown cruise has involved a lot of planning regarding provisions. We will be heading north along the Queensland coast sailing amongst the islands of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. Although fresh food will be available at our many stops along the coast, we have provisioned the boat as if we are heading offshore into the Pacific. The plan is to try to live off what’s on board as much as possible as a test for when we do cast off for extended cruising away from our home shores. We’re sure we’ll discover we missed things in our preparations and hopefully that will help us when we’re doing it all for real. Prices here in the city are also much cheaper than we’ll find when underway so stocking up now will save us money and stretch our cruising budget.

Here’s how we approach turning Our Dreamtime into a giant pantry.

We’ve been acquiring non-perishable provisions for quite a while and finding good storage places for them in every nook and cranny aboard. No real problem there.

Next job was taking care of our protein needs. Hunting for well priced bargains, we built up a good mix of meats including good quality beef, steak, lamb, chicken, pork and duck which was supplemented with seafood including frozen marinara mix, calamari, mussels and some nice salmon fillets. To save money we often purchased bulk quantities which were separated into portions for two, and vacuum packed using our cryovac machine before being deep frozen.

The bags are reusable by snipping the heat sealed part off with scissors when opening them. The bag can then be washed out thoroughly and heat sealed again when refilled. It will be slightly smaller each time but the only waste is the tiny bit of bag snipped off.

Our cryovac machine is an essential part of our provisioning.
As our departure date approached, the provisioning continued on ‘Our Dreamtime’ with a visit to the local farmers’ markets to buy fresh root vegetables. Karen then washed, peeled and chopped a selection of these and once more they received the cryovac treatment in meal size amounts and frozen.

When the freezer finally reached capacity, we emptied it all out and then separated it all into bags making up a week of main meals for two. For example, a bag may contain 2 vac packs of steak, two of chicken along with one of salmon, duck and a marinara mix to make a pasta meal.

The contents of our deep freezer spread across our salon for sorting before being repacked ready for us to eat our way through 56 meals to get to the bottom.
When all the frozen vac packs were sorted in this manner we reloaded the freezer in such a way that we can eat our way down from the top enjoying a good variety of meals week after week. All in all 56 main meals for two, sliced cold meats etc for 34 lunches for two, an assortment of vegetables, fruit and herbs all in cryovac bags plus even some puff pastry has filled our deep freezer to the max.

Vacuum sealing extends the life of all sorts of things such as sliced lemon ready for our G&Ts somewhere up the coast.
Immediately before departure, we purchased another two weeks supply of different meat main courses which were again vacuum sealed in twin portions. These went into the coldest area at the bottom of the refrigerator and will be used up before we move onto the frozen supplies.

For vegetables that weren't going into the freezer Karen still uses the techniques of long term storage that her mum taught her as a child living aboard their charter boat. Potatoes and sweet potatoes are separated into brown paper bags in meal portions and are kept in well ventilated, cool dark storage.  Onions are stored separately away from potatoes in hessian.  Carrots and beets are wrapped in paper towel and refrigerated. Whole pumpkins last a long time, make sure the stork is still attached.

Soft green salad / vegetables such as lettuce broccoli, beans get dried and wrapped very tight in paper towel and stored in vegetable bags in the refrigerator. We check for moisture and change the paper towel when required. Celery is cut and wrapped in aluminium foil.

Everything is labelled to make things easy to find when under way.
Most fruit we try to buy on the green side so it will ripen along the way. We only ever buy enough ripe fruit to last us a week or so. Berries are washed in one part vinegar to ten parts water then dried well. Some we cryovac and freeze to be used for baking and cooking. The rest we keep in small containers with holes in the lid in the top of the fridge as they don't need to be really cold. Apples, oranges are kept out of the fridge spread around in a number of fruit bowls and a string hanging basket. We rotate fruit often to help ripen evenly and to avoid pressure bruising in one place. Bananas we buy very green leaving them on the main trunk. As they ripen and are taken off the main stem we wrap the stems in glad wrap they last much longer. Tomatoes are also purchased green and not refrigerated so they last much longer.

We are cheese lovers so we carry a large range. There’s nothing better with a nice drink for sundowners. We try to buy cheeses in wax coating and the good old cheddar we put in Olive oil in containers in the fridge. Brie Camembert and blues have very long use by dates but we can’t help ourselves and tend to eat them way before they get a chance to spoil. Cream cheese and cottage cheese containers are stored upside down in the fridge.

Deli meats such as Salami, Chorizo we cryovac and or hang.

Along with a large range of dried herbs spices and blends, we have a fresh herb garden on board. It gets secured in the forward head when under way but spends the rest of the time out on deck or in our cockpit for sun and watering.

Nothing beats fresh herbs from our little on board planter box
Of course we plan to supplement our supplies with lots of these.
Needless to say, we have also provisioned Our Dreamtime with what we hope is an adequate supply of the absolute essential commodity in all three varieties, red, white and sparkling.

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  1. Awesome! Great tips. Thanks heaps and happy sailing

    1. Thanks! Hope all's good across the Tasman. Cheers!

  2. Read and understood. Great advice. Now all we need to do is decide a departure date :)


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