Guest Post: Tips for Provisioning your Boat


When you go shopping for you and your crew for your next boat holiday it’s best to have a game plan. Luckily, Heather Francis of the popular blog Yacht Kate shares some great tips for provisioning your boat.

Getting more out of your provisions.

No matter what, the ship’s company must be fed! A lot of energy on board is dedicated to buy, schlepping, storing and thinking about provisions. Here are a few tips and tricks that will make the business of provisioning easier so everyone can share a healthy, stress-free, delicious meal together.

tips for provisioning your boat

  1. A good place to start when provisioning is in the pantry. Non-perishables like canned goods, dry-stores and general pantry items have a long shelf life so can be bought well in advance of departing port. As I stow and sort I can see what more I need to buy or if I have forgotten anything. And labelling tops of cans and bottles with permanent marker often makes identifying items in horizontal storage compartments much easier.

tips for provisioning your boat

  1. Buying in bulk is a great way to save cash and cut down on packaging. It’s hard to resist a bargain, but you’ll be throwing money away buying food no one wants to eat. Before splashing out on a 64oz can of garbanzo beans or a year worth of powdered mashed potatoes it is a good idea to try them first.

tips for provisioning your boat

  1. You can’t go wrong stocking up on staples like; flour, rice, sugar, oats, cornmeal, couscous, millet, quinoa, powdered milk, raisins, dried fruit, pasta, dried beans and lentils. It is worth investing in some good, air-tight containers to store these items in, not only will having your dry stores organized make it easier see and use what you have, but proper storage will prevent spoilage and bugs.

tips for provisioning your boat

  1. When provisioning you want things that are versatile, but that doesn’t mean they have to be boring. Buying a few speciality items is an easy way to spice up your mealtime. A simple can of beans can not only make an appearance at dinner but be turned into a delicious dip for cocktail hour with the right ingredients. Smoked mussels and tins of octopus or squid are perfect for lunch time picnics on the beach. And a bottle of chillies, a special jar of chutney or a can of olives can do a lot to brighten up a boring dish and boost morale.

tips for provisioning your boat

  1. Fresh fruit and vegetables and eggs are the last things to stock up on before leaving port. No matter how large the vessel, refrigeration on a boat is always limited. Going the extra mile, sometimes literally, will ensure that the precious produce you buy will last as long as possible. An easy way to avoid spoilage, and get the most bang for your buck, is to buy from a local market or roadside stall. Sourcing as much produce as you can from local markets means you’re getting the freshest possible fruit and vegetables, picked when they are ripe and not previously refrigerated. Not only will things taste great but it means you can store as much as possible outside of the fridge.

tips for provisioning your boat

  1. If you plan on doing more than coastal cruising you’ll probably find yourself with too much of one ingredient or not enough of another. To get as much out of what you have on hand you have to be creative. For instance you can substitute green pawpaw (papaya) for zucchini in a recipe, it will soak up any flavour you cook them with. Or sliced in half and seeded it can be stuffed as you would a capsicum. 


About the author – Heather Francis is a Contributing Editor for Blue Water Sailing Magazine. Originally from Nova Scotia, Canada she has been living and working on boats around the world for the past decade. In 2008 she and her Aussie partner Steve bought Kate, a Newport 41’, and have been sailing her full-time since. To follow their adventures log on to

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