boat provisions food sailing crossing pacific on the horizon line travel blog

Provisioning Your Boat: How To Feed 7 for 40 days

Posted on 2 CommentsPosted in Food and Drink, Sailing

boat provisions food sailing crossing pacific on the horizon line travel blog

Feeding 7 people for 40 days requires roughly 1.5 feet of grocery receipts per person.  It also pencils out to about $6 per person per day.  Pretty cheap, right?  Especially if you totally ignore the thousands of dollars spent on other parts of sailing a boat across the largest ocean on earth.  The conundrum begins when you try and figure out what, exactly, to feed that many mouths for that many days.

I took on boat provisioning as my contribution to the pre-Canal-crossing preparations, while Rob worked on projects ranging from oil changes, to radio setup to repair jobs.  This meant making sure we had quantities right, making lists, and checking with the family members on what foods worked for them or didn’t.  It also meant careful monitoring of the teenage boys’ ability to consume vast amounts of snacks and dinner portions (and by teenage boys, I include my husband).

boat provisions food sailing crossing pacific on the horizon line travel blog



First off, we needed a lot of rice.  We brought 40 pounds of rice along, which will form the basis of Asian-fusion and Mexican-style style dinners roughly 4 nights a week.  Other staples include tortillas (35 bags), beans (25 cans), flour for bread (10 lbs), eggs (30 dozen), and peanut butter (14 pounds).  Most cruisers find that they eat more snacks than big meals, based on watch rotations, bouts of queasiness, or general heat-induced apathy toward food.  We stocked up on easy edibles, including packets of oatmeal and mashed potatoes, popcorn, tuna cans, fruit rollups, nuts, olives, hummus, and some candy.

As for perishables — well, you don’t get them for long.  Our refrigerated space is the size of one shelf in a normal fridge (and remember: 7 people for 40 days).  Creativity is key for spicing up those rice and beans.  This spice comes from seasoning packets and sauces and chutneys.  And, for the first week or so, from all the fresh veggies and fruit we picked up in Panama City.  Once the mushy stuff is gone (bananas, mangos, tomatoes, papaya, peppers), we’ll still have hardy produce for a bit (potatoes, coconuts, carrots, plantains, onions, apples, limes).  After that, we start dumping in some of the 40+ cans of fruit and veggies I bought in Colon.

boat provisions food sailing crossing pacific on the horizon line travel blog

Some of the cool tricks I learned about provisioning:

– Boxed milk is irradiated and doesn’t need to be refrigerated until after you open it.  We have 35 cartons onboard.

– Eggs stay good if you turn them every 3 days so the yolks don’t stick to the shell and get exposed to bacteria in the air.

– Pressure cookers are awesome for cooking all kinds of food, including fresh bread.

– It’s remarkable how much you can cram in a small space.

– Weevils can infest flour even when it’s double-bagged and in a sealed container.

– You can live on very little for a long time, but you can also make spectacular meals with much less than you think.

boat provisions food sailing crossing pacific on the horizon line travel blog



sailing to sunrise on the horizon line

We’re Halfway There on This Gyrating Merry-Go-Round

Posted on 6 CommentsPosted in Ocean Tales, Reflections on Life, Sailing

A gyrating merry-go-round,
we teeter-totter across the sea.
60,000 pounds of steel turned tiny rubber duckie at the whim of wandering waves.

The American flag whips in tatters, the stripes stripped into ragged ribbons.
Persevering. Presiding. Present.
Like the rest of us.

Each day a repeat of the next or the last
until the uneven rhythm of teeter-tottering echoes through
every cell, meal, word, step, dream.

Until — after 1,000 miles — you want to scream:
At the flogging sails snapping against your sunbaked nerves.
At your sleeping-again seasick husband leaving you to jellyfish stings in seawater dish suds.

Until — after 2,000 miles — you want to sing:
To the dolphins dancing in moonlight and the single orca that surfaces alongside.
To the power of passing squalls that bequeath gin-clear drops to drink.

Noise become your constant companion:
The goblin-growl of the groaning auto-pilot, the rattle of loose pots, the whistle of rigging.
The slide of hanging clothes, the swoosh of waves over your head as you sleep.

Back and forth, forth and back. Back. Forward.
My bones rocking, gnawing, rubbing, riding, swiveling.
My brains swishing and sloshing on the gyrating merry-go-round.

We chant to the sails: keep full.
We dance for the wind: don’t leave.
We plead to the waves: stay out.

We’re halfway there: can’t you tell?
The blue water looks bluer, the white clouds whiter.
Halfway is directly below my Montana home.

Over and up, down and around.
We circle a straight course.
I circle my own midline.

It’s all the same: a movie set of false sunsets and frothy whitecaps.
There is no middle, there is no end.
Or perhaps the middle is it’s own end.

I stare at starry skies, searching for my personal revelation.
I listen to waving seas waiting to hear the meaning of life.
I taste the salt on my shoulder, in my hair, hoping it will move me to meditate.

But revelations refuse to alight on our swinging mast.
Meaning can’t break through the noise and movement.
There’s no room for mediation amidst daily survival.

You have to stay still to receive the benefit.
You have to stay still to hear the ending.
We are never still.

Only a salty slingshot slippery sliding
rolling pitching creaking rocking flogging singing laughing
forever blue merry-go-round teeter-tottering across the endless sea.

on the horizon line - bluewater sailing mermaids, pacific crossing

On Noticing Mermaids

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Reflections on Life, Sailing, The M.U.P. Files

full moon brianna randall on the horizon line blogSome people never take notice of the Earth; some have to have it pointed out to them. But most, I think, are simply uncurious. You take notice. The whole point in going on this adventure is to take notice. You will experience so many amazing things. But you don’t have to share them to enjoy them.

A few words on your Pacific crossing: There will be many times when only one of you will notice a truly remarkable thing that the other did not or could not see and your description to the other about it will do an injustice to the unique sight you’ve witnessed.  Each of you can revel in the joy alone, taking notice and appreciating the Earth without the need to share it to make it seem more real.  You two had this hammered home after the Great Baja Electronics Theft—you don’t need to record and share everything to give it reality.

on the horizon line - bluewater sailing mermaids, pacific crossingBut, notice. You will not see the same swell twice. Spindrift will not shimmer in that light in that way again. The foaming crest of a sea will be one-of-a-kind in its beauty. And you will be the only person on Earth to see it. That particular sound of wind in the rigging with the beat of the thrumming steel hull and the singing laughter in the galley will create a melody both unique and mind-blowing. And only you will hear it. The dimpled reflection of a sunset on the calm ocean (from your vantage point lying on the bowsprit), or the moon’s white path on a gently rolling seascape at 3am will be a masterpiece. One of you will be standing at the mainmast looking aft as the boat tops a large swell and for three seconds, before she drops into the trough, you’ll be the only witness in the Universe to an amazingly orderly sea- train stretching to the horizon, each top highlighted in gold.

By taking notice you do it justice and that act justifies you and your entire trip. You don’t always have to share the joy to give it meaning beyond itself.

(This will not be true about your bluewater dreams which must be shared immediately, discussed in detail, and analyzed in depth.  And if you see a mermaid, shout about it!)

Though the oceanscape you’ll travel is immense, you’re only seeing a tiny sliver of the Earth’s surface. You are in a minute bubble. Llyr’s freeboard at the main looks to be about five feet, add about a foot for the cabin roof, so if you’re standing at the mainmast your eye will be about 12 feet above sea level. Therefore, your horizon line is about 4.2 miles. Your entire world is only about eight and one half miles around—with an unfathomable deep below and an infinite universe above—all traveling west at maybe eight knots. You are not going anywhere else. But that little world will be intense. That is what makes bluewater sailing so invigorating. Intellectually, you know you’re an exceedingly tiny speck on the surface of an enormous planet, but nothing brings that home like sitting on a (steel) cork in the ocean.

With seven people in fifty feet, you have to be tolerant because the little quirks of one person may drive you nuts. But don’t forget, your quirks are making others crazy, too. Things that would never concern you on land can bring great happiness on the deep. No night sky is as bright as a clear, moonless night at sea. By Day 25, pancakes mixed with hard raisins and dorado, topped with hard chunks of apricot jam will be a culinary breakthrough that you’ll think will be the basis of an amazingly successful restaurant chain.

When on watch alone or when working in some weather, please keep your PDF/harness clipped to a hard point. And Rob, make sure Bri gets more than her share of food. We love you! Be safe. Fair winds.

NOTE FROM BRI AND ROB: Happy Birthday, Dad!  We miss you and love you, and are celebrating with you in spirit today.  We’ll give the ocean gods some love to send you blessings for a wonderful year.

crossing the equator sailing cruising pacific on the horizon line blog

The Dividing Line at the Equator

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Ocean Tales, Sailing

Crossing the equator is a big deal, especially in the nautical world. The event inspires all sorts of ancient rituals, traditions based in superstition, and bizarre offerings to King Neptune. In other words, it’s like all other events surrounding sailing.


Llyr crossed reached 0 degrees latitude on May 1st around 2:00pm. About an hour before we passed into the southern hemisphere, we also raised the Ecudorian flag up the boat’s maypole on this May Day, which I thought was a fun event in itself. All the ceremony inspired me to do two things: write a poem and make a strawberry cheescake.  Rob was inspired to sleep on the stern (something he does a lot of at sea).


I threw a copy of my poem into the ocean, and we all devoured the no-bake cheesecake within seconds of crossing the equator. Although tradition is usually to spill some sort of liquor overboard in an offering to King Neptune, we opted for maple syrup harvested the McCutchen family farm instead. I swear I heard him burp in appreciation (or maybe that was Rob, after he ate the second piece of cheesecake).

crossing the equator sailing cruising pacific on the horizon line blog

Here’s my ode to the salty king, and my ditty to that elusive equatorial line.

The Dividing Line

Bulging, round, full to the seams;
The halfway mark. The dividing line.
She cuts across the swollen belly of the world
cinching through salty seas, lush forests, barren deserts, running rivers.

She expands just enough to harness
the energy, the life, the breath.
And no more.

Beyond this line lies space. Time. Infinity.
Moons and stars and galaxies.
Beneath this line lies one half and above it the other.

They are not identical twins, but rather separate globes
that contain different swirls and whorls and echos of patterns.
There is no physical boundary; no gate, nor wall, no fence nor skin.

Just an invisible line
bulging, round, full to the seams.
The halfway mark. The dividing line.

The swollen belly of the world
that perpetually births two halves
that make a perfect whole.



sailing at sea at sunset in schooner

My New Surreal World – On Night Watch

Posted on Posted in Ocean Tales, Sailing

Standing watch alone tonight, my new world looks surreal. The moon isn’t up yet, and dark cloudy skies blanket the dark roily ocean. All I can see is the splash of white foam over the bowsprit, lit greenish-pink by our navigation lights as we pitch and roll up, over, down, sideways. Two white birds circle our bow, flirting with the foam.

These birds give me peace in the dark seas at 1:00am. They’re masked boobies (yes, that’s the techincal name) 400 miles from the nearest land. The pair show no signs of tiring as they ride the wind wave our bow creates. What the hell are they doing here? What the hell am I doing here? Who’s idea was this, anyway? Oh, wait…it was mine. I stifle a yawn, trying to take a cue from the tireless birds keeping me company.

My watch partner, Rob, is passed out in the forward berth, calming his seasick. The rest of the crew is below, asleep or trying to be. The creak of the sails hard against the wind and the moon rising through rain clouds makes me feel like I’m in a movie. Is this really my reality? It sure is. We’re one week into a 4-5 week ocean corssing. And this week is the toughest part — not just mentally and physically as crew members adjust to the demands of the sea, but sailing-wise, too.

From Panama to the Galapagos, we had to traverse the dreaded ITCZ (inter-tropical convergence zone), an unstable lightening and storm-prone area where northern and southern hemisphere weather patterns collide at the equator. And the wind and waves aren’t really in our favor, which means motor-sailing, rolly-queasy seas, and nights like this one with salty waves breaking over the bow as we point our nose hard against the wind. It’s not the kick-back-with-a-cocktail tradewind sailing many people associate with crossing the Pacific.

We hope to hit those easier tradewinds tomorrow, the magical and fabled winds that smooth the ride and push us 3,330 more miles across the Pacific. But the wind is a fickle mistress, no matter how much we beg, praise, cajole, threaten. She’s got her own agenda, and ours doesn’t factor in. Luckily my agenda is pretty loose: get to some cool islands sometime soon.

So far? It’s been interesting. No seasickness for me, though Rob’s been feeling not-so-hot about half the time. Not as scary as I’d thought, either: I love the waves, the ocean, the rain, the clouds. And not as sedentary as I was worried about it, since my muscles are constantly firing to adjust to the perpetual motion and keep me from falling off the boat.

But the voyage is also a little more frustrating than I’d thought, in terms of having to make constant decisions on course, sail trim, or whether to use the motor. Luckily, all of our week-long backpacks and river trips in the wilderness taught Rob and me how to live with little water, cook creatively with odd provisions, live communally with others 24/7, and deal with fluctuating emotions in demanding circumstances. The key phrase in that last sentence is “week-long,” though.

The next couple of weeks at sea will be where the rubber meets the road. Where we settle into routines, responsibilities, the roll of the boat. Where the fresh produce runs out and we start on the canned peas. Where the novelty of surreal night watches wears thin. Where the birds stop visiting our bow as we lose all scent of land. Where the salt crystals start to layer in epic proportions, crusting our clothes, pillows, eyes, senses.

I sure can’t wait to see how this story unfolds.

NOTE: We’re currently stopped in the Galapagos for a brief provisioning stop.  It took 8 days to sail from Panama to San Cristobal Island here, and we expect it will take 25-35 days to reach the Marquesas when we leave here tomorrow.

on the horizon line - sailing and traveling blog in mexico

Setting Sail Today

Posted on 1 CommentPosted in Ocean Tales, Reflections on Life

on the horizon line - sailing and traveling blog in mexico

We’re leaving shore today.  No more docks, stores, or easy access to electricity and freshwater.  No more walks or laundry or internet for at least a month.  People asked me all the time before we left home if I was scared.  I wasn’t then.  Today, I’m definitely nervous.  But, personally, I think it’d be pretty weird if I didn’t have any butterflies in my tummy.

The skipper asked if I could envision the vast blue space we’re about to enter.  I answered that I’ve been picturing it for decades, along with the emotions and attitude that vast space will invoke within me.  But these visions still don’t allow me to wrap my mind around not seeing land for 30-40 days.  Around not leaving Llyr’s 800 square feet, or the company of the 6 people I’m with.

Sometimes I try and picture all of us moving around our living room and kitchen in Missoula, which is about the same size.  It makes me laugh, and it makes me itchy.  But it also isn’t accurate, as I can’t overlay that image with the true scene at sea.  I can’t predict how the wind and salt and night watches and waves and seasickness and awe and fear and excitement and irritability will factor into sharing that vast blue space and that tiny boat space.

It’ll be an adventure, that much I know for sure.

sailing panama canal crossing - shelter bay marina - on the horizon line blog

Brooks and Janis call our trip “the expedition.”  I like that term, and have started calling it such in my head.  Our expedition began with the Panama Canal crossing, with a brief 2-day stop in Panama City where we finished provisioning errands.  Before heading out into the very vast blue, we’ll anchor a night or two in Las Perlas, a lovely set of islands 40 miles off the coast of Panama.  This will let us work the kinks out of the sails, practice emergency and safety measures like hoving-to and launching the sea anchor, and get used to the pitch and roll of a boat at sea.

After that, though, it’ll be a long time without land.  We may see the Galapagos as we sail north of them, but we may not.  Next stop: the Marqesas Islands.  When we touch soil again, we’ll be 4,000 miles west of here, and a whole lot wiser about ocean expeditions.

We’ll be setting a track with our nifty DeLorme InReach every few days.  Follow our voyage on this map.


on the horizon line travel blog panama canal transit in sailboat

Panama Canal (Take Two): Watch Us In Action Tomorrow!

Posted on 1 CommentPosted in Ocean Tales, Sailing

on the horizon line travel blog panama canal transit in sailboat

After 9 days on this dock in Shelter Bay Marina, Llyr is finally ready to head to the Pacific.  Our slated Panama Canal crossing is set for tomorrow, April 20th, at 3:45pm.  Rob and I are the resident experts aboard after our crossing earlier this week, and are primed to avoid the monkey’s fist and keep lines tight during round two.

Want to watch us in the Canal?  You can click here to see us via a live webcam in the 3 different Gatun Locks on Saturday between 3:45pm and 6:00pm.  If you miss that, we’ll be in the Miraflores Lock between 11:00am and 1:00pm on Sunday.  These are the local Panama times, and I believe we are in the same time zone as Chicago (honestly, though, keeping track of time zones has been a low priority for Rob and I this first month of traveling).

Llyr under sail - on the horizon line with rob and bri

Just click the tabs on the website corresponding to those two lock names, and we’ll be in the lime green sailboat with 2 masts.  We might be rafted up with other boats, or all on our own.  Either way, we’ll definitely look small next to the giant cargo ships!  Rob might moon the camera, but no promises.

After we get through the Canal, blog posts will be fewer.  It doesn’t mean we aren’t writing a lot, and thinking about all of you — it just means internet gets spotty, and we have to focus on riding the wind and waves for the next month.

on the horizon line travel blog panama canal transit in sailboat

Rob’s favorite pre-Canal crossing project: welding the kayak to fix the giant rip in its bow. Hopefully we won’t need to fix any new holes after our Canal transit.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...