Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Provisioning for the Transpac


Provisioning a sailboat with a full crew for just a weekend is quite a task. But when the race takes the team away from port for three weeks, the task gets exponentially more difficult.

Unless I have a particular dish in mind I shop like I believe most people do—a kind of haphazard without a clear list in hand. I may think of things I need to get during the day, but I rarely write them down. Shopping therefore becomes an aisle to aisle adventure–where I hope the sight of a product triggers my brain into remembering that I wanted to purchase that item. But let’s face it, that strategy rarely works well. However, since most of us are never that far from a grocery store, having to make a random shopping trip to pick up something you forgot is not such a big deal. But when there are  no stores within 500 miles and your name isn’t Larry Ellison—with a fully stocked megayacht shadowing your race boat—creating meal plans, menus and the associated shopping list is one critical task.

It All Starts with a Plan

The starting point is the meal plan—breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. Usually the point person for provisioning submits a menu to the crew and asks for input and any suggestions for the meals. In the case of Team Sleeper, Sheri Hunt has taken on the role for meal planning and provisioning of the boat. The menu itself is a balancing act, one of making good tasting meals that do not require too much preparation or too many ingredients while still providing needed energy to the crew. Also thrown into the equation is the possibility of rough weather where a meal needs to be served with almost no preparation. The menu is created after taking into consideration all of these factors, and then the Costo shopping trip to end all Costco shopping trips can begin.


As recently as 15 years ago nearly all potable water for long duration race and cruising trips needed to be acquired in port and stored on the boat. And with 7 people on board—requiring anywhere from 6-10 liters of water a day just for drinking—the size of the tanks and the weight of the water could seriously slow a boat down. At 2 pounds a liter that would be over 3000 pounds of extra weight! Thankfully the last decade or so has seen remarkable progress in the design of on-board watermakers. Using seawater under heavy pressure these devices can take in seawater and generate potable water. Early designs were costly, used quite a bit of power and were far from reliable. But today’s offering are cheaper and more thrifty on power—but still a bit on the unreliable side (you can ask the crew about that!). Even with the watermaker on board Sleeper will start off with full water tanks, but that amount will be about ½ of what would have been required not long ago.

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