The Art of Provisioning your Boat

West Coast
December 2020

YOU WOULDN'T KNOW IT by looking at me, but I am a recovering boat show junkie.

Years before we departed on a long family journey, I attended every cruising seminar on topics ranging from The Care and Feeding of the Sailing Crew to The Secrets of Making the Perfect Fish Jerky. I thought I knew everything about the art of provisioning. After all, I'd spent hours listening to experts on the subject.

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April with fresh biscuits - Art of Provisioning - Marinalife

April with fresh biscuits[/caption]

While my husband Bruce lingered at booths displaying the latest electronic gizmos, I sat on a metal folding chair absorbing culinary details that seemed oddly reminiscent of life in the prairie days. Everything that wasn't smoked, freeze-dried or vacuum-packed was brined, painted with a layer of grease or wrapped in aluminum foil. Why couldn't I feed my family like I did at home a jar of Prego spilled over pasta and a bag of Chips Ahoy cookies?

When we cast off from San Francisco with our five- and seven-year old daughters aboard our 33-foot sailboat, Chewbacca, I was keen to embrace the new experiences that cruising to foreign lands would bring. Going hungry wasn't in the plan.

All I had to offer for a celebratory meal that marked the completion of our first three-weeks offshore as a family was a solitary can of black olives, a half-used squeeze bottle of mustard and a measly tin of corned beef. My crew looked crestfallen at the scant offerings, and I confessed, This is it; the cupboards are bare.

I had failed my first provisioning test as quartermaster.

The rebuff was short lived. Welcome to Mexico. The air was warm, and the water was a translucent turquoise, signaling our new cruising life was about to begin. First, we had to get pesos, then restock our empty lockers.

I prayed our debit card worked so I could put food on the table. I crossed my fingers. Inserting our only ATM card into a strange machine in a foreign country, I turned to Bruce, You know, we are totally screwed if this doesn't work. I reluctantly let the plastic card be sucked from my sweaty fingers and into the machine. I waited … and seconds later heard a whirling sound. OK, this is good. The welcome screen stuttered then blinked alive. RETIRO, CUENTA DE CHEQUES, CUENTA DE AHORROS, EL SALDO. Damn, everything is in Spanish. I held my breath hopefullyselecting the correct buttons. Silence. The machine was thinking. Then more churning sounds and the machine spat out a mountain of colorful pesos. I exhaled. We're rich! Well, $60 rich.

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Marketplace in Antigua, Guatemala - Art of Provisioning - Marinalife

Marketplace in Antigua, Guatemala by April Winship[/caption]

Time to go shopping. I was blindsided by the volume of supplies required to sustain a family of four for months at remote anchorages. How many rolls of T.P. could a family go through? A miscalculation would be catastrophic.

I had also never lugged around more than one shopping cart at a time at the grocery store, so the thought of ferrying a caravan of several carts with two kids in tow sounded like a nightmare. My solution was to break the provisioning trips up into several forays buying the long-lasting items first and saving the perishables for just before departure.

I had a rule; If the item wasn't on the list, it didn't go into the cart, but whenever I caught Bruce winking at the girls, I knew he was sneaking in a few extra Cadbury bars. I looked the other way, because these decadent squares of dark chocolate were rewards for surviving those few OMG! cruising moments.

Unlike my first provisioning effort, I now knew to stash little luxuries aboard. I squirreled away cans of mixed nuts, Greek olives, applesauce, dried fruit, popcorn and peanut butter. These delights cost a bit more, but they boosted morale when the cupboards thinned out.

For cruisers on a budget, provisioning to eat like a local is key. I became open to purchasing foreign labelled canned goods and counterfeit Oreo cookies, but for the cheapest and freshest produce and baked goods, a trip to a vibrant outdoor mercado was our favorite option.

As a landlubber, I had only mastered the microwave, but as a cruiser I taught myself to bake. What started out as a way of stretching our rations, fast became a beloved ritual. I stocked up on enough yeast, white flour, whole-wheat flour, oatmeal, and cornmeal to bake something special every day.

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Kendall with her catch - Art of Provisioning - Marinalife

Kendall with her catch by April Winship[/caption]

Sometimes we became so spellbound by a place, we lingered until the bitter end. This was the case at Isla Isabel. Known as the Galápagos of Mexico, this secluded volcanic island had everything a cruiser could dream of … except a store.

Whether restoring the Great Pyramid or reconstructing an ancient Mayan ruin, archeologists often have a pile of unidentified objects, leftovers called a GOK (God Only Knows) pile. I had my own GOK pile too; a stash of canned goods whose labels had been lost along the way, leaving the contents a total mystery.

I think it's time to go, Bruce declared when our breakfast consisted of a three-can GOK meal pulled from my dwindling stash. I hefted the last prize that I guessed had the size and weight of a can of fruit cocktail. As the can opener pierced the tin, and I pulled up the lid, I grinned, Peaches. Hey, I was pretty close … could have been refried beans.

But life for the quartermaster isn't without additional challenges.

Weevils! Who would have thought such a tiny critter could cause a panic? When I found them in my rice, I checked the pasta and flour inventory. Sure enough, those were infested too. While unheard of in the United States, this is a common occurrence in developing countries.

When no stores were nearby to replace our staples, the choices were simple; either go hungry or find a way to roll with it. Like a miner panning for gold, I sifted and picked the wiggly weevils from the flour and pasta by hand. Luckily, I developed a much easier technique for removing the vermin from my rice. Instead of sorting through the bag, I soaked the grains in a pot of water allowing the little guys to swim to the surface and then simply spooned them out.

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San Blas, Panama - Marinalife

Sometimes market day comes to you. San Blas, Panama, by April Winship[/caption]

No matter how careful I was, some inevitably ended up in the cooked meal. After a while I accepted the idea that they were just added protein, although our youngest daughter was led to believe I always seasoned our steamed rice with a little oregano.

As the years rolled by, we discovered other adventurous ways of provisioning beside spearing fish and digging for clams. To the girls' great amusement, trading food was as acceptable as book swapping between cruising boats.

It worked something like this: Cruising Boat A was planning to store their boat for several months at the marina. Did anyone need 15 pounds of flour and 10 pounds of sugar? Or in another scenario, Cruising Boat B bought a case of chili and decided they didn't like it. Would anyone want to trade for something? When I bought a lifetime supply of poppy seeds, I bagged up half and traded it for a jar of jumbo martini olives.

Hmm, now what do I have to trade for a bottle of gin?

The Winships' book, Set Sail and Live Your Dreams, (Seaworthy Publications, 2019) about their family's 10-year adventure cruising aboard a 33-foot catamaran Chewbacca is available in both paperback and e-book on Amazon.

Quartermaster Helpers

Being a cruiser without a car used to be a nightmare. Not anymore. Merging technology and restrictions placed on us during the pandemic has given rise to a powerful online shopping and delivery phenomena. Boaters no longer have to wear out a pair of shoes to stock the lockers or find a meal.

Online shopping and delivery services offer an easy, convenient and safe way to bring everything from groceries to prescription refills right to the marina for provisioning. Large grocery store chains and retail outlets such as Target, CVS, BevMo!, PetSmart and Publix are just a click away on a smartphone or laptop. Note: Due to limited dock access or security gates at marinas, boaters typically decide on a meeting place with delivery drivers.

To master the art of provisioning, check out some of the companies offering contactless online shopping, meal kits, prepared foods and delivery services:

Instacartinstacart.comChoose from a list of local stores for groceries delivered in less than an hour.

Door the table on your boat and order meals from your favorite restaurants.

Uber Eatsubereats.comBring chef-prepared dishes from the restaurant to your boat.

Freshlyfreshly.comTake three minutes to heat up already cooked meals in your galley.

Blue Apronblueapron.comReceive all the fresh ingredients and easy recipes to prepare a feast.

Hello Freshhellofresh.comCook dishes quickly and easily with fixings from meal kits.

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Battle of the Crustaceans: Lobsters vs. Crabs

Best Region for the Season

lobster - this or that - marinalife
Courtesy of Justine G


New England and Canada are known as major lobster hubs along the Atlantic, and Maine is one of the most famous regions in the world for these mouth-watering delicacies. For the freshest catch, Maine's top lobster-loving towns include Rockland, Bar Harbor, Belfast, Georgetown, Harpswell, Kennebunk and Ogunquit.


More than 6,000 species of crabs across the world vary in everything from appearance to taste. For example, Maryland crab fans meticulously pick the meat from under the crab's shell, while in Florida, they split open the legs and claws for a tasty treat. To experience the best Maryland blue crabs, visit cities such as Baltimore and Annapolis, as well as Kent Island on the Chesapeake Bay's Eastern Shore and Solomons Island in southern Maryland.


crab - this or that - marinalife
Blue Crab | Courtesy of Pakhnyushchy


Although they are mostly ocean creatures, lobsters do frequently appear on land and sea. They are omnivores and sometimes eat their own when confined or stressed. You can find them throughout the world's oceans in freshwater and brackish environments. Some of the most delicious species are caught in the Gulf of Maine and along coastal Nova Scotia.


Typically found in saltwater or brackish water, thousands of different crab species live in all of the world's oceans. Like lobsters, some are land-crawlers. Many solely live in the water and others inhabit the edges along rocks and sandy shores. The best crustacean havens for crabbing include Maryland, Virginia and Delaware. Florida stone crabs are found in southern waters in shallow, rocky locations including knee-deep seagrass beds and reefs.

Traditional Recipes


The sweet taste of lobster pairs well with your taste buds in any variation. Cook it in a gamut of dishes from steaming, grilling or boiling, to chopped-up in a warm soup or cold salad. Some of the most famous classics include a New England lobster boil, baked lobster tail, lobster mac and cheese, creamy bisque and much more.


Pick-and-eat crab feasts are a beloved pastime across the mid-Atlantic region. Catch, steam, season, crack open and scarf down! Use a mallet to break the claws open and get the good thick meat. Two varieties of crab soup creamy or tomato-based are popular along the East Coast, as well as dishes such as crab dip, crab Rangoon, crab pretzels and best of all the world-famous Maryland crab cakes.

Fun Facts

lobster - this or that - marinalife
Lobster Dish | Courtesy of BDMcIntosh


Lobsters actually have two stomachs and can detach a limb and grow it back during their molting cycle. Today, lobsters are among the pricier seafood selections and are considered a delicacy, but that wasn't always the case. In early 19th century New England, lobsters were so abundant that their shells were used as fertilizer and their meat was fed to pigs as scraps.


Crabs are typically an aggressive crustacean and often fight with other crabs and aquatic creatures. They can walk in any direction and mostly scurry sideways. Unlike lobsters that can live to age 100, Atlantic crabs only survive for three to four years. Dungeness Crabs from Alaska can live up to 13 years, and the Japanese spider crab has the longest lifespan of all its fellow crustaceans, often reaching 80 to 100 years old.

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Cruising the Great Loop Taught Us How to Cook

nyc skyline - food - marinalife
Kate and her husband Tim

Before embarking on the Great Loop, my husband Tim and I lived in New York City, which helped prepare us somewhat for life on the water. We took our clothes to a laundromat, hand washed our dishes, and understood the challenges of living in a small space. But given it's one of the culinary capitals of the world, living in Manhattan didn't teach us how to cook. Since living on our boat, a 31-foot 1996 Camano Troll named Sweet Day, we had to change our relationship with the kitchen, which means we actually had to use it. Here's what we learned.

Be Creative with What We Have

While cruising the Great Loop, we imagined tiki bars and restaurants dotting the shorelines everywhere we stopped. This is definitely true in some parts. But more times than expected, we found ourselves nowhere near a place to grab a meal, much less a grocery store.This means we've learned how to build meals with what we have onboard. We also realized that as long as we have flour and a little butter, homemade tortillas can easily transform a couple sides into tasty tacos and easily impress neighbors at the next docktail party.

Rarely Waste Food

In the daily hustle of our lives in the city, we ended up wasting a lot more food than we'd like to admit. The opposite has been true while cruising. We typically buy enough fresh food for three to four meals, because that's all we can fit in our fridge. A home-cooked dinner is easily stretched to lunch the next day. And since we travel with our fridge, leftovers never get left behind.

No Need for Fancy Kitchen Gadgets

We have a small propane oven and a three-burner stove. We can use these with barely any electricity, making cooking underway and at anchor seamless. When we're plugged into a marina or if we run our generator, we can also use our microwave (when it's not being used as a food pantry).Some cruisers have Instapots and other gadgets, but our boat isn't set up to handle that amount of electricity. Plus, we don't have the space. So, we've had to learn (with a lot of practice) how to cook juicy chicken or tender salmon without the benefits of modern cooking technology.

Access Our Kitchen 24/7

One of the biggest (and underrated) benefits of cruising is that your stuff travels with you, including your kitchen. This means we can make a marinade while cruising and cook the chicken at anchor that night. Or knead a loaf of bread underway to make sure it's ready to bake the next day. Plus, you never have to worry about forgetting olive oil or spices when on a trip. Spending time and experimenting in the kitchen helps break up those long cruising days too, all while rewarding us with a tasty meal once we reach our destination.

Know the Steps Ahead of Time to Plan a Meal

One quirk of our galley is we can only run the oven or the stove, as our propane system can't support running both at the same time. As a result, it requires knowing the recipe and its steps in advance to ensure we have the right equipment and ability to cook the meal. If the meal is good enough to be part of the rotation, the steps become easier to remember the next time we cook it.

Learn What Meals We Can Make Quickly

Just like land life, there are days when we may feel excited about prepping and cooking a more time-intensive meal, and others when we're hungry, it's 7:00 p.m. and we just need to get something in our stomach. In New York, that meant heading downstairs for a slice of pizza.

lunch aboard - food - marinalife
Courtesy of Kate Raulin Carney

That doesn't work while cruising. Learning what meals take time (especially in Sweet Day's kitchen) and what meals can be thrown together quickly (hello mac and cheese and tuna fish) is extremely helpful. When we're stocking up on food, we make sure we have enough of those go-to meal items for those inevitable times when we just need something fast.To help you stock your galley, here are some of our favorite items:

  • High-quality all-purpose knife: Our Zwilling Santoku knife cuts pretty much everything we've cooked in the last year.
  • Dutch oven: This is perfect for baking fresh bread, making soups, rice and other meals. We store it in the oven while not in use.
  • Stainless steel French press: We didn't want to have to rely on electricity to make coffee, so our go-to is a sturdy French press. Plus, it's fun to get beans from local coffee shops.
  • New York Times cooking subscription: This app allows us to easily search tons of recipes and discover new dishes with ingredients we have on board.
  • Pre-cut parchment paper: I learned this from my dad. It keeps food from sticking to the pan and makes cleaning easy a big plus on a tiny boat, where you may need to clean the pan quickly to put another item in the oven.


Here's our go-to recipe for an easy batch of tortillas. Some of our favorite ingredients for stuffing inside are pantry staples black beans and rice or roasted sweet potatoes with a charred scallion crema (Greek yogurt, mayo and scallions charred on a hot skillet).


  • 2 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/4 cup room temperature butter (Can also replace with shortening, lard or vegetable oil)
  • 7/8 to 1 cup of hot water


  1. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.
  2. Add the butter (if you're using vegetable oil, add it in step 3). Use your fingers to work the fat into the flour until it disappears.
  3. Pour in the lesser amount of hot water (plus the oil, if you're using it), and stir briskly with a fork or whisk to bring the dough together into a shaggy mass. Stir in additional water as needed to bring the dough together.
  4. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter and knead briefly, just until the dough forms a ball. If the dough is very sticky, gradually add abit more flour.
  5. Divide the dough into 8 pieces. Round the pieces into balls, flatten slightly and allow them to rest, covered, for about 30 minutes.If you wish, coat each ball lightly in oil before covering to ensure the dough doesn't dry out.
  6. While the dough rests, preheat an ungreased cast iron griddle or skillet over medium high heat, about 400°F.
  7. Working with one piece of dough at a time, roll into a round about 8 inches in diameter. Keep the remaining dough covered while you work. Fry the tortilla in the ungreased pan for about 30 seconds on each side. Wrap the tortilla in a clean cloth when it comes off the griddle to keep it pliable. Repeat with the remaining dough balls.
  8. If you have leftovers, allow them to cool completely, then wrap tightly in plastic and store in the refrigerator. Reheat in an ungreased skillet or for a few seconds in the microwave.

Recipe is from King Arthur Baking Company, To follow Kate and Tim Carney's cruising adventures aboard Sweet Day, go to or @lifeonsweetday on Instagram.

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Dock and Dine on Long Island Sound

Lobster pot restaurant - dock and dine - marinalife
Lobster Pot Restaurant | Needpix

WHERE TO EAT WHEN YOU'RE CRUISING into unfamiliar harbors often feels like an insurmountable problem, especially along the Northeastern Seaboard. While looking around Long Island Sound to create a guide to its gastronomic offerings, we realized that this region hosted so many great dining options that it merited a two-part series.In this issue of Marinalife, we present a delicious sampling of the Connecticut Shore's waterfront establishments that feature fresh seafood and local cuisine. Stay tuned for our summer edition when we tour the culinary treasures along the Long Island New York Shore.

West to East on the Connecticut Shore


La Piccola Casa Ristorante

Dock at Nichols Yacht Yard and treat your crew to great Northern Italian cuisine in an historic house on the waterfront with terrific harbor views. (


The Crab Shell

For waterfront dining at Harbor Landing Marina, savor excellent seafood and local favorites. Also check out the outdoor bar with a crab shack and live music. (


Sunset Grille

On the dock and right near the fuel dock at Norwalk Cove Marina, guests can enjoy gourmet seafood offered at a lively seasonal, outdoor venue. ( Dozens of restaurants are accessible from Norwalk Cove Marina or Rex Marine Center (via the Cove/Rex shuttle) or from the Norwalk Town Dock.)


Dolphin's Cove

Located at Dolphin's Cove Restaurant & Marina and an easy spot to meet crew coming by Rt. 95 or the Port Jefferson Ferry, this family-oriented eatery offers a wide array of dishes from the sea and land and a kids' menu. (

Captain's Cove Seaport Restaurant, Bar & Marina

Nested in the waterfront on Black Rock Harbor, it serves battered and fried seafood and shellfish, and has a decent kids' menu. Check out lots of attractions in the area. (



Located at Brewer's Stratford Marina, this restaurant presents fine dining in a casual atmosphere. Sample fresh fish and other seafood delights prepared to order. (

The Chowder Spot This food truck at the boat launch ramp in Stratford Harbor dishes up the ultimate in casual grub with a fantastic waterfront view.


(between Stratford and Milford on the Connecticut coast)

clam chowder - new england dock and dine - marinalife
Clam Chowder | Wikimedia Commons

Joey C's Boathouse Cantina & Grill

Raise a fork to an all-around good menu with Mexican specialties, as well as local seafood, vegan and gluten-free options, and a large outdoor deck. (

Riverview Bistro

Enjoy excellent seafood and classic dishes in a graceful venue overlooking the Housatonic River. Find a nice, secluded bar and lovely banquet room. (

Knapp's Landing

Located right on the water with a wonderful menu to match the view. Choose from a variety of seafood dishes ranging from clam chowder to lobster ravioli accompanied by a good raw bar. (


After docking at Milford Landing Marina, a one-block walk takes you to lots of great dining choices including:

Archie Moore's

Serving craft beer in a rustic atmosphere since 1898, the pub's regular patrons come for the casual vibe and nibble on the famous buffalo wings. (

7 Seas

Open for lunch and dinner and specializes in New England-style lobster rolls and fried seafood in a casual setting. (

Stonebridge Restaurant

American fare, fresh seafood and great appetizers. Take your pick of seating in a formal dining room, lively pub or outside on the deck. (

SBC Restaurant & Beer Hall

Enjoy the neighborhood bar groove with handmade cocktails, local craft beer and farm-fresh American dishes at the end of the Wepawaug River. (


Dockside Seafood & Grill

Located at Safe Harbor Marina at Bruce & Johnson's. Casual nautical atmosphere with extensive menu of seafood, pasta, and lots more. (

Stony Creek Brewery

Head all the way up river and dock at the brewery for craft brews with a view, cocktails and hot pizza. (


Experience casual waterfront dining on a large patio on the Branford River with a good grilled seafood menu mixed with SoCal and classic New England cuisine, topped off with craft cocktails. (


Lobster Landing

Located right on the water in Clinton Harbor, it's rumored by Yankee Magazine to have the best lobster roll in New England. (

Rocky's Aqua

Known for its classic New England seafood and steak dishes, plus a nice waterfront view. (


Liv's Shack

Located at the site of the former BOOM restaurant at Pilot's Point Marina and specializes in hot buttered lobster rolls, fish tacos, hamburgers and more. (

Bill's Seafood

A short walk or dinghy ride brings you to Bill's at the Singing Bridge. The seafood shack serves fried fish, lobster rolls and chowder on an outdoor deck. Kids love to throw French fries to the gulls and ducks. (


Fresh Salt

Enjoy fine dining of locally sourced produce, seafood and meats at the Saybrook Point Resort & Marina for breakfast, lunch and dinner. (

Note: Head up the Connecticut River to discover other interesting restaurants such as The Griswold Inn in Essex ( and The Blue Oar in Haddam ( where you can BYOB, tablecloth and candles.


Fred's Shanty

Locals love this classic destination for seafood take out with picnic tables on the water. (

Fisherman and lobsters - ne dock and dine - marinlaife
Fisherman and lobsters | Osvaldo Escobar on Unsplash

On the Waterfront Restaurant & Bar

Relax in casual elegance while dining on Italian-influenced seafood and steaks with stellar views of the Thames River. (

Muddy Waters Cafe

Come here for coffees, baked goods, and breakfast or lunch options. It's home of the famous Love Salad, a generous Italian antipasto-type salad with garlic bread. Closest access by water is at the dinghy dock by the town moorings. (

Note: Visit the eastern end where Long Island Sound meets Fisher's Island Sound. In Fisher's Island Sound, head up the Mystic River to find Abbott's Lobster in the Rough (, Red 36 ( and lots of restaurants in downtown Mystic by the Bascule Bridge. Also explore Stonington's many culinary offerings including Breakwater ( and Dog Watch Café (

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