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2011 - Bahamas
Paradise Next Door
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Paradise Next Door
Bahamas Cruise
2011
A Deck Full of Food
~ A Deck Full of Food ~
Provisioning for the Bahamas
Provisioning Scents, Cents & Sensibility
How many provisions should be purchased for two people making a passage for an indefinite period? So many contingencies to consider and countless challenges to confront! There's storage (where can we stow 38 cases of Bud?); shelf life (does Bud go bad after 3 months of subtropical heat?); refrigeration restrictions (don't bury my Chillable Red under all your Bud!); unpredictable, undeniable cravings (what do you mean you want a Corona?). And let's not overlook the toiletries, paper goods, and various other sundries that needed to be stockpiled.

The Bahamas' fairly bleak resources were well documented by the cruising set. What little was available was likely imported and predictably expensive. Furthermore, we planned to travel to far flung, uninhabited islands where self-sufficiency was mandatory, so adequate provisions were requisite for decreasing our expenses and extending our enjoyment. Although we estimated our cruising kitty would last around three months, I stocked up for four so we wouldn't be returning on fumes. I evaluated our cruising cuisine, distributed every doable dish among the 732 servings we'd eat, sprinkled in some snacks, calculated the quantity of ingredients required, poured on the adult beverages and concluded that [1] – a ridiculous amount of shopping was in store, [2] – a ludicrous level of liquor would be loaded on board and [3] – the recipe for success would require prodigious amounts of planning.

Storing Food Where Ever There's Room
~ Storing Food Where Ever There's Room ~

I figured the sensible thing to do would be to procure our supplies in stages. First, we would purchase the bulk of the provisioning, the non-perishables, before our dock lease was up. The idea of transferring massive quantities of groceries by dinghy was not one I wanted to entertain. Next we would purchase the proteins, vacuum pack them into proper portions, and freeze them. Last, we would obtain the freshest eggs, and the greenest fruits and vegetables just moments before casting off.

Shopping in Homestead
The high cost of island side offerings prompted us to take a trip off the rock and visit a mega-mart on the mainland for the first shopping extravaganza. Living on a key that's barely big enough to swing a cat got us accustom to slow, small-town life, so when we walked into this monolithic money machine with mountains of merchandise, we were like Bambi standing broadside to a speeding Buick. The swift swarm of shoppers, the acreage of aisles, the raucous racket of ringing registers, the sharp synthetic smells, the irritatingly intense illumination; all our island soothed senses were immediately stressed.

Clutching my shopping list like a lifeline, we each grabbed a jumbo sized cart and dove into the flood. Piles of supplies began to grow and before long our baskets were brimming over. We paid a small ransom, boxed up the bootie, and opted to muster up for more shopping mayhem after a midday meal. But at the entrance of the second sensory assault, Don's cooperative conduct drained. "You have 1 hour – and I'm done"he warned. I knew I shouldn't have gotten the beer in the first round!

Perfectly Packed Provisions
~ Perfectly Packed Provisions ~

I raced through the remainder of my shopping list, aware the Subaru's back seat was already packed like a Palm Sunday pew, so within a short time I was ready to wave the white receipt. We followed the setting sun on our 1 ½ hour long drive home. Unloading, unpacking, stowing, and tracking – that in and of itself was another day-long feat.

Preparing Perishables
The second provisioning project was procuring proteins. Purchasing 30 pounds of meat made a decent dent dollar-wise, but thankfully we now had the capacity to store the frozen fare. I'd previously bartered some website work for a remodeled ice box, and was now the proud owner of a new, custom built Frigoboat freezer that was thrice the size of my old, shoebox sized evaporator. After hours of butchering, bagging, sucking, and sealing, I stuffed my fabulous wedge-shaped cooler like a meat pie. Barely able to engage the lock, I could not have added so much as a single sausage link more.

Fortunately, Florida has multiple growing seasons so the final phase, fetching fresh fruits and veggies was fulfilled at the Big Pine Key Farmer's Market, where plenty of produce was ripe for the picking. I also opted to gather up several dozen eggs at this point in the provisioning. It is a common fallacy that fresh eggs require refrigeration. Forced by a complete deficiency in fragile-food fridge space on board, Don and I laid plans to crack this notion long ago. After several daring experiments sans dietary distress, our eggs became Freon free forever more – or at least for the 7-10 days they sat unconsumed.

The First Mate with Attitude
~ The First Mate with Attitude ~

But what is the eggs-tended shelf life at tropical room-temperature? I'd read that regularly rotating the little orbs would extend their edibility – so I bravely bought 90. I figured daily crate flipping would easily fit into my otherwise sparse cruising schedule of to-dos, and odorous omelets would be the obvious indication that the dairy had turned deadly.

An Overwhelming Sense
Accumulating and caching this colossal quantity of consumables necessary to keep two cruising adults comfortable was daunting, laborious, and a bit disconcerting. All of my environmental awareness regarding reducing resources was brought to bear, and comparing our stockpile of stuff to Neptune's meager needs; 4 bags of kibble, 4 boxes of litter, and a tiny bottle of stress relief, made it clear who truly had the smaller carbon paw-print.

With provisioning concluded, our water line rose as our lockers were loaded like a Latter-day Saints. But the feeling of self sufficiency was undeniably nourishing and there was nothing but weather and water between us and the Bahamian borders.