Food

The Art of Provisioning your Boat

A Full-Bellied Crew Ensures Happy Cruising

WEST COAST
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By
April
Winship

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.

April with fresh biscuits - Art of Provisioning - Marinalife
April with fresh biscuits

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 hopefully selecting 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.

Marketplace in Antigua, Guatemala - Art of Provisioning - Marinalife
Marketplace in Antigua, Guatemala by April Winship

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.

Kendall with her catch - Art of Provisioning - Marinalife
Kendall with her catch by April Winship

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.

San Blas, Panama - Marinalife
San Blas, Panama, by April Winship

Sometimes market day comes to you.

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:

Instacart Choose from a list of local stores for groceries delivered in less than an hour.

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

Uber Eats Bring chef-prepared dishes from the restaurant to your boat.

Freshly Take three minutes to heat up already cooked meals in your galley.

Blue Apron Receive all the fresh ingredients and easy recipes to prepare a feast.

Hello Fresh Cook dishes quickly and easily with fixings from meal kits.

Related Articles
Chesapeake Seafood Houses
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Meet newcomers to the Bay’s waterfront dock-and-dine scene

If the pandemic hampered your travels and you haven’t cruised into the Chesapeake Bay for a while, then welcome back to its sunny shores. While you were away, the oyster and striped bass populations blossomed, and blue crabs grew plump in the shallow marshlands. 

During the past few years, quite a few new restaurants have opened and tapped into the cornucopia of fine local seafood.  Some innovative chefs grace plates with creative flavors and ingredients, while others take a traditional path with family recipes handed down for generations by watermen’s wives. Many concoct ways to consume invasive species, such as the blue catfish and northern snakehead, but eateries that nail up a sign declaring “Steamed Maryland Crabs!” attract the most attention.

To help you rediscover the bounty of the Bay, Marinalife has handpicked 10 terrific crab shacks and seafood houses for you to explore.

Maryland

Bowleys on the Bay Bar & Restaurant
Middle River, MD

For a tropical getaway without long-distance travel, Bowleys on the Bay has created a resort destination groove on Frog Mortar Creek in Baltimore County. Push your toes into the sand on 300 feet of beach surrounded by palm trees while sipping a rummy cocktail and listening to a steel drum band. You can watch boats glide into Long Beach Marina or see planes take flight at Martin State Airport as you nibble on fresh local seafood, hearty sandwiches, and meat dishes.

Where to Dock:  Long Beach Marina

The Choptank
Baltimore, MD

In the heart of the historic Fells Point district, The Choptank has risen from the foundation of the 200-year-old Broadway Market. Its menu reads like a culinary voyage around the Chesapeake Bay with steamed crabs, just-shucked oysters, steamed mussels, crab soup and fried chicken. On the spacious outdoor deck, sample 20 draft beers while live bands play tunes, and the stars twinkle above the urban skyline.

Where to Dock:  The Sagamore Pendry Hotel & Dock

Watershed

Baltimore, MD

It’s hard to say what Baltimore loves more — seafood or sports. But if you’d like to indulge in both, head over to Watershed in the Federal Hill neighborhood, which is in easy walking distance from Orioles Park and the Ravens’ M&T Bank Stadium. A menu laced with classic dishes harvested from the Chesapeake waters entices you to pick a dozen steamed crabs or slurp fresh local oysters while watching games on big-screen TVs. Located in the newly remodeled Cross Street Market, you can belly up to the long wooden bar on the main floor and wash down a platter of Old Bay wings with a cold Natty Boh. Or step up to the roof deck to watch the bustle below on South Charles Street with an orange crush in hand. A casual vibe and live music create an upbeat place to hang out with friends.

Where to Dock: Inner Harbor Marina

Latitude 38 Waterfront Dining
Annapolis, MD

Where the Severn River flows into the Chesapeake Bay, you can order local seafood with a view of boats cruising into Ego Alley, the showplace for vessels visiting Maryland’s state capital. With the new Upper Deck Bar and plenty of event space, this waterfront eatery accommodates groups of all sizes. Take your pick of regional favorites from crab cakes and peel-and-eat shrimp to herb-crusted rockfish and oysters Rockefeller. Chicken, beef and bourbon meat loaf ensure carnivores won’t go hungry.

Where to Dock:  Annapolis Town Dock

Marker Five
Tilghman, MD

Every visit to the Bay’s Eastern Shore holds the promise of exceptional seafood along unforgettable waterfronts. From Marker Five’s outdoor patio, you can watch watermen chug along Knapp’s Narrows and marvel as the Tilghman Island Drawbridge rises to let boats pass through. Eagles soar overhead while you peruse the menu of classic Chesapeake fare.  It’s almost impossible to resist starters such as Maryland crab soup or smoked corn and crab fritters, and your first bite of pulled pork, buttermilk fried chicken biscuit or pan-fried monkfish will delight your tastebuds.

Where to Dock:  Knapp’s Narrows Marina & Inn

Virginia

Portside Grill on Urbanna Creek
Urbanna, VA

Located in the heart of Virginia’s oyster-growing region, this family-owned and pet-friendly restaurant specializes in taking local seafood from the water to the table. At Urbanna’s only waterfront eatery, you can tie up along the bulkhead and kick back on the patio for casual dining with a spectacular view.  Crab tots and fresh oysters will whet your appetite for a Southern style meal of crab cakes, shrimp and grits, and chicken stuffed with Smithfield ham and goat cheese.

Where to Dock:  Regatta Point Yachting Center

Deltaville Tap & Raw Bar
Deltaville, VA

In a charming cove along Jackson Creek where the Piankatank River flows into the Bay, you’ll find a seafood eatery with an energetic vibe, live music and a nice sampling of craft brews and cocktails. The expansive view from the back deck matches the extensive list of dishes on the menu.  Highlights include hush puppies packed with crab and corn, Jonah crab claws, shucked oysters, and Lowcountry boils with crawfish, shrimp and other local catch. Try to leave room for dessert favorites: deluxe peanut butter pie or raspberry cheesecake.

Where to Dock:  Deltaville Yachting Center

The Surry Seafood Company
Surry, VA

A leisurely cruise up the James River to Gray’s Creek will deliver you to a seafood-centric destination where you can dock, dine and decompress.  Surry’s chefs present delicacies from the local waters such as golden fried oysters, bacon-wrapped salmon and flounder stuffed with crab imperial. If the serene view of the grassy marshlands makes you want to linger longer, spacious hotel suites are available above the restaurant. Boater bonuses: 45 new floating docks, fuel, ship store and bathhouse.

Where to Dock:  The Marina at Smithfield Station

Longboards at East Beach

Norfolk, VA

The green bamboo shoots on the menu’s border give a clue that this restaurant is blessed with a touch of tiki.  While seafood standards remain popular — she-crab soup, cod fish and chips, and Old Bay wings — Longboards also takes you on a culinary journey to Polynesia to taste Hawaiian-inspired dishes such as Singapore shrimp with veggies and Waikiki wings. Enjoy the restaurant’s upbeat atmosphere and stellar sunsets at the marina.

Where to Dock:  Morningstar Marinas at Little Creek

Stripers Waterside
Norfolk, VA

The bustle of Norfolk’s recently renovated Waterside District is attracting newcomers from along the Atlantic seaboard. Among the new eateries is Stripers, a seafood haven from the Outer Banks that features 30 beers on tap and a panoramic view of the Elizabeth River. Take a seat on the patio and savor dishes made from scratch, from clams and cod to mussels and shrimp.  After a hearty meal, explore the area’s attractions and nightlife.

Where to Dock: Ocean Yacht Marina or Tidewater Yacht Marina

Read More
Cappy’s Crabs & the Chesapeake Feast
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My grandfather Cappy’s love of the water started with visits to his cousins’ house on the Potomac River. He was 14 when he built his first boat from a mail-order kit. Some of his fondest early memories on the water were the fishing charters his uncle would take him on and the bucket of fried chicken he’d bring along. Later in life, this motivated him to buy property on the western shore of the Chesapeake Bay where I spent my summers as a child.  

Life on the Bay with a gaggle of cousins (18 of us) was a highlight of my childhood. We had free reign over the cul-de-sac populated by beach houses owned by my grandparents and their six adult children. When I was young, I would wake up with the sun and race to the window to assess the water conditions. The soft waves of early morning and glass surface made the best conditions for crabbing. 

All the cousins would meet at our grandparent’s house to grab chicken necks from the freezer and nets from the closet before rushing down to the dock. There weren’t enough nets to go around, but that hardly stopped us from crowding the dock in the cool dawn air in various states of dress, between pajamas and bathing suits. Each crab we caught was celebrated, sexed, sized and placed in our crab pot in the shallows under the dock until lunch. 

When my grandma Molly got out the crab pot and tongs, it was show time. My grandmother with a pair of tongs and feisty crustaceans are more evenly matched than you might expect. A few crabs near the top of the big pot always manage to hurl themselves over the edge, only to land in the boiling mac ‘n cheese water pot nearby. 

We would dress the picnic table in the front yard with newspaper, mallets and dishes of vinegar and Old Bay. Seated at an exclusive table away from the adults, we smashed, picked and dipped to our heart’s content.

“Pass the vinegar!” “Is there a mallet I can use?” “Can you help me get the meat out?” “May I have another crab, please?” 

This relaxed and fun-loving atmosphere inspired my grandparents to start their own crab shack in nearby Deale, MD. Eponymously named for my grandfather, Cappy’s Crabs sits over Rockhold Creek near Harbour Cove Marina. Every weekend in the summer, you can find Grandma in the kitchen and Poppy behind the bar, with kids and grandkids helping in the kitchen or waiting tables. The restaurant has an expansive deck with five slips, some large enough for a 40-foot vessel. 

Like most of Cappy’s float-up guests, the seafood on the menu comes from the Chesapeake. The menu changes according to the seafood seasons and pricing, but also to the whim of my grandmother and each diner. Catering to generations of dietary restrictions and picky eaters has made her a versatile and creative chef. Guests can always expect seafood and fried chicken in an array of forms from cakes and sandwiches to the star ingredient in one of the multiple salads available. 

Side dishes feature macaroni and cheese and an array of veggies such as beet salad or broccoli salad. More traditional summer treats such as corn and coleslaw make a heralded appearance on the menu. Family favorites such as French fries and cornbread round out any meal. 

Some say it’s best to have wings with your crabs, picnic style at one of the outdoor tables covered in paper. Watching marina traffic and listening to the waves underneath you is the perfect way to break up a day on the water. Order an orange crush from the bar, and your Maryland summer crab feast is complete!  

Cappy’s Coleslaw

A fresh, lighter take on the traditional creamy coleslaw recipe.

Ingredients

½ medium cabbage

3 scallions

2 carrots 

¾ cup of peanuts

Juice of 1 lime

1 Tbsp rice vinegar 

1 Tbsp fish sauce

1 Tbsp canola oil

Salt & pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Grate carrots
  • Chop cabbage and scallions into thin slices
  • Add ingredients to a large bowl; dress and toss well

Makes about 6 servings.

Read More
What's Brewing in Baltimore?
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Remnants of a “Vote Against Prohibition” sign still linger in faded letters on a brick wall in Baltimore — a true representation of the city’s historical love for a brew. 

From the clipper ships that brought beer from Germany during the Revolutionary War to the birthplace of the beloved Natty Boh, Baltimore is not only rich in maritime and war traditions — it’s also known as a beer city. 

Baltimore boasts a nice selection of well-known bars and swanky restaurants, but you may not realize how many experimental breweries and eclectic taprooms are located just down the street. 

From serving ice-cold pints on a hot summer day to offering taproom tastings and outdoor events, these local breweries present unique, homemade craft beers in an entertaining atmosphere. The following locations explore antique structures, historic warehouses and a barn-turned-brewhouse in Baltimore City and County.

BALTIMORE CITY

Diamondback Brewing Company

1215 E. Fort Avenue

Locust Point

A garage-style window opens above high-top seating in this south Baltimore brewery — a perfect summertime hangout.  The experimental production brewery serves unfiltered lagers, hop forward ales and pizza in a lively urban atmosphere. Try the Maple Thief oatmeal stout, the Green Machine IPA or the American Locust Point Lager alongside a signature seasonal scratch-made house pizza such as the Howard, made with pulled duck confit, smoked provolone, onion, parsley and “Pee-Paw’s Secret BBQ Sauce.”

Ministry of Brewing

1900 E. Lombard Street

Upper Fells Point/Highlandtown

The stunning structure of the former St. Michaels Church in East Baltimore has high ceilings lined by archways with golden trim, colorful murals and a gorgeous organ on the second floor balcony overlooking an open space where pews used to sit. Originally opened in 1857, this church that once provided refuge to German Catholics was abandoned in 2011 and is now one of the city’s hottest brewery hangouts. Long beer hall-style tables and high-tops now fill the spacious renovated church. Biblical scriptures are written above where the taproom’s bar serves a selection of rotating beers such as the Old Maude brown ale, The Point pilsner and 9.9 Problems imperial stout.

The Brewer’s Art

1106 N. Charles Street

Mount Vernon

This hip and artsy brewery matches the vibe of the quirky neighborhood and local community. Built as a private residence in the early 1900s, the vintage townhouse remains in the same classical style as it looked centuries ago with a slight transformation into a cozy taproom. Each room provides a different feel from the upscale dining room to the gritty Downbar and the cozy upstairs lounge. While most breweries only offer beer, this location pours everything from house brews to red, white, rosé and sparkling wines, and craft cocktails.

Full Tilt Brewing

5604 York Road

Govans

This neighborhood brewery is all about live music, tasty drinks and providing a fun social atmosphere. Hosting everything from yoga classes to live acts and comedy shows, the brewery offers a full event calendar throughout the year. They often cater parties and sponsor fundraisers such as partnerships with Baltimore Animal Rescue & Care Shelter (BARCS) and Art with a Heart. The taproom is known for two famous brews: Hops the Cat American IPA and Dan’s Jams, a Swedish Fish sour ale. Complement your brew with spicy wings, honey sriracha-glazed Brussels sprouts or a juicy Full Tilt burger.

BALTIMORE COUNTY 

RavenBeer

8901 Yellow Brick Road, Suite B

Rosedale

As Baltimore icon Edgar Allan Poe was known for frequenting local city bars, this brewery pays homage to the writer with its own spin on classic American and German-style beer. Founder Stephen Demczuk began brewing when he was in Europe. Inspired by Poe’s writings, Demczuk named his concoctions after the famous literature. Variations include Annabel Lee White, a Belgian-style white beer with citrus, The Raven Special Lager, The Tell Tale Heart IPA and The Cask, a Bavarian double style IPA.

Heavy Seas Brewery

4615 Hollins Ferry Road

Halethorpe

Maryland breweries wouldn’t exist today if it weren’t for Heavy Seas founder Hugh Sisson. He pioneered the state’s first brewpub and helped pass laws allowing them to operate. This southwest Baltimore County location began as Clipper City Brewing in 1995, then later rebranded as Heavy Seas. Hang out at the bar, grab a burger from Koopers food truck or play cornhole in the game room. On Saturdays, listen for the bell ringing in the taproom for free tours. They also hold charity fundraisers and work with local artists who design the unique beer can graphics. The brewery has big plans this season to redesign the outdoor space with new landscaping and a patio area.

Guinness Open Gate Brewery

5101 Washington Boulevard

Halethorpe

As the first-ever Guinness brewery in the United States, this historic site was home to a distillery before the Dublin-based brewer arrived in 2017. Experience traditional and seasonal flavors made with hops from all over the world, as well as locally sourced ingredients. Most brews are made with Legacy Ale Yeast, used by Guinness for 100 years. Be sure to try the signature Baltimore Blonde, brewed here exclusively. Enjoy the three-acre outdoor beer garden, outdoor kitchen, taproom, restaurant, events such as summer movie nights, 30-minute tastings of four different beers, and free tours.

Farmacy Brewing

3100 Black Rock Road

Reisterstown

Deep within Baltimore County’s horse country, this working farm raises horses and cattle, and grows hay, fruits, vegetables and row crops. This family-run brewery resides at the gorgeous Willowdale Farm, where a 3.5-barrel brewhouse is open for tours. Surrounded by horse pastures, barns and acres of farmland, a nine-stall horse stable was converted into a tasting room. Guests can picnic and enjoy the day strolling through a beautiful orchard.

Read More

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