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



crew of llyr on the horizon line sailing blog cruise pacific crossing

Meet the Crew Sailing the Pacific

Posted on Posted in Family and Friends, Ocean Tales

Llyr under sail - on the horizon line with rob and briThe Steele-McCutchin family is awesome.  Rob and I feel fortunate to have found such good people to spend a few months with, and such capable people to sail with across the largest ocean on the planet.  They bought Llyr 4 years ago because they were ready for new expeditions.  None of them had much previous sailing experience, but they took loads of offshore courses before sailing south from Maine to Panama last summer, spending 4 months cruising in the Caribbean along the way.  You might notice their red hue in the photos below, which gives away their Scottish-Irish roots (and indicates it was early in the trip!).

Their grand plan is to set Llyr up permanently in Vanuatu (Melanesia) as a research vessel dedicated to documenting the impacts of climate change on coral reefs.  During the storm season in the southern hemisphere (October to March), they’ll return to their family-owned maple syrup farm in western Massachusetts to collect the sweet nectar of New England maples.  Here’s a snapshot of Llyr’s crew:

llyr sailing pacific on the horizon line cruising blog

Meet Brooks.  He’s the skipper, the mechanic, and the weather expert.  Brooks is good-humored in his role at the helm of Llyr and his role as the oldest aboard.  He also handles stressful situations calmly (thank god), and loves to converse about theories related to everything from education to climate change to how to change to oil mast most efficiently.  As a clinical psychologist during his first career and a farmer during his second, Brooks enjoys figuring out how and why things work like they do.  You can find him in the engine room, or trouble-shooting random problems from bow to stern.

llyr sailing pacific on the horizon line cruising blog

Meet Janis.  She’s the head caretaker of this big brood aboard Llyr, keeping our daily operations running smoothly.  A fluent French speaker from Montreal, Janis is a trained anthropologist, and likes to stretch, eat dark green foods, and sew.  If you have an idea, she’ll likely be able to make it a reality.  You can find her cooking up tasty sauces or creating a wind-scoop from old flags.

llyr sailing pacific on the horizon line cruising blog

Meet Connor.  He’s 18 going on 28, a brand-new high school graduate with an EMT (emergency medical training) license, a great sense of humor and a clear head.  Connor is the first mate, and is intimately familiar with Llyr’s many electronic and navigation systems.  He’s going to spend the fall and winter in Australia this year, and planning to head to college as a pre-med major after that.  Meanwhile, you can find Connor helping his dad with troubleshooting, surfing Facebook (at the marina only), or teasing his younger brothers (gently).

llyr sailing pacific on the horizon line cruising blog

Meet Rowan.  At  15, he’s doing a much better job of leaving his social circle than I would have at that age.  Rowan is a detail guy, and sees the little things the big-picture thinkers might miss.  He loves to dive, and reads incessantly…he actually burned out his Kindle in the first week.  You can find Rowan cramming in calculus (gotta make sure he’s caught up after his few months out of the classroom!), listening to music, or scarfing down sodas or milk.

crew of llyr on the horizon line sailing blog cruise pacific crossing

Meet Gavin.  He’s the life of the party, and the youngest crew member at 10 years old.  Gavin loves to draw and write and fish and kayak and swim and jump and chat and play games.  He provides comic relief for the rest of the crew, and much-needed energy when others might be tired of chores.  You can find Gavin eating PB&J sandwiches, sleeping in the cockpit, or trying to climb the mast when his parents aren’t looking.

13 interviews video - on the horizon line blog

13 Interviews – A Pennsylvania Perspective on Sailing Away

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Family and Friends, Sailing

Today is the first day of our adventure. As we enter a new country, it seems fitting to reflect a bit on where we’re going, as well as reflect on what others think about our upcoming sailing voyage.

When we went back to visit Philadelphia in February, Bri and I interviewed 13 members of my family to ask them a few key questions about our trip. Check out their insights and advice below.

[framed_video column=”full-width”]13 Interviews – A Pennsylvania Perspective on Sailing Away [/framed_video]


handmade cards from kids - on the horizon line sailing blog

A Snapshot of Our Last Days in Missoula

Posted on 1 CommentPosted in Family and Friends, Traveling

handmade cards from kids - on the horizon line sailing blog

Going away cards from our buddies, Jiah and Solan Grillo.











on the horizon line sailing blog - travel prep

My last bike ride through Greenough Park along Rattlesnake Creek.  It’s been a helluva lovely commute these past ten years!









on the horizon line sailing blog

The new neighborhood grocery store on our kitchen floor, post cupboard clean-out.










on the horizon line sailing blog

And the cupboards for the last few days … we practiced living on a boat by using one spoon, one bowl and one cup each.









on the horizon line sailing blog - travel prep

Remember how everything has to fit in a 12′ x 12′ area in the back of our garage? Here’s about half that space.  You can tell we like boots.









on the horizon line sailing blog - travel prep

These favorites somehow didn’t make it into the book bin in time.  Maybe because we wanted to read them until the very last minute?









on the horizon line sailing blog - travel prep

My carry-ons tomorrow.  We fly out of Missoula at 7am. (And, no, it’s not a weapon or a fishing tool … it’s my mini guitar in Rob’s homemade case.)









on the horizon line sailing blog - travel prep

The sum total of Rob’s belongings for the next 2 years: 2 sweet dry bags + travel purse + big hat.










on the horizon line sailing blog

In between moving our own junk, we helped friends move a REALLY heavy clawfoot tub up their stairs. They fed us dinner in return.







on the horizon line sailing blog

We had a continuous “free” pile at the bottom of the driveway. Most of our stuff didn’t move very far: here’s our lawn chair just across the street, and I just spotted our shelves next door.










on the horizon line sailing blog

After selling both cars mid-week, we were lucky enough to borrow the Kesslers’ jeep.  Rob had to pump up the leaking tire with a bike pump a couple of times.







on the horizon line sailing blog - kids at dinner

Goodbye dinners have been the highlight of each day, as we took a break from packing and cleaning to share meals with our favorite people.









full moon brianna randall on the horizon line blog

Full Moon Tears

Posted on 2 CommentsPosted in Reflections on Life

full moon brianna randall on the horizon line blogThe tears just keep on rolling.  I could blame it on the full moon or hormones, both of which are certainly affecting my mood.  But I’d be lying if I didn’t give credit to the fact I’m just plain sad to say goodbye to my loved ones.

I cry when I see our doggie bounding up to lick my face.  I cry when my sister leaves to go back to her house.  I cry when Kipper calls to tell me it’ll be hard to say goodbye.  I cry when Margi gives me a hug and refuses to say goodbye.  I cry when I bike across the creek and along the river that I’ve followed every day for a decade.

And I’ll probably keep crying for the next month, as the moon wanes then waxes again until it is just shy of full on the morning we fly away from my home.


saltwater cures with tears, sweat and sea

Saltwater Cures All?

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Family and Friends, Reflections on Life

saltwater cures with tears, sweat and seaWe’re flying home from Philly tonight.  As this dark and quiet plane starts to settle down toward Montana, my thoughts are full of family left behind.  It struck me during this visit how different we seem to the rest of Rob’s family (and maybe to lots of other friends and family, too).  Along with the many exclamations of “wow,” “good luck,” and “really?”, many mentioned that they would never want to do what we’re doing.

Voyages into the unknown aren’t appealing to many people, when you get right down to it.  That part doesn’t surprise or bother me.  What does, though, is the fact that our less-than-normal desire to spend 2 years without a job, an itinerary or a destination incites worried heartache in our loved ones.

This trip made me appreciate the irony of our voyage — setting sail will reduce stress for us, but will increase stress for many of those left behind.  There’s no such thing as a free lunch, my dad always said.  And liberation comes with a price.

rob with a valentine heart

Today, the price was tears.  We hugged goodbye Rob’s mom, step-dad, grandpa, brother, aunts, step-sisters, cousins.  These hugs must last for at least a year, or — in most cases — several years.  Sure, it’s hard to leave people behind.  But it’s a lot harder to be left.  Both take strength and faith.  Being left also demands a sort of zen-like patience, as you must wait at the whim of impulsive explorers for word of safe passages.

Like anyone, I don’t like leaving those we love in tears.  It’s been said that saltwater cures all, whether it’s tears, sweat or the sea.  I bet I’ll need all 3 to get me through the coming changes.   And I imagine our family will need a healthy dose of healing saltwater, too.

kevin, mamie, and willow - our next door neighbors in missoula, montana on the horizon line

Happy Hillside Commune

Posted on 1 CommentPosted in Parenting

Chickens, dogs, and kiddos at the happy hillside commune - on the horizon line with bri and rob

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You might not know it, but Bri and Rob are part of a…dare I say it…commune. That’s right, call them hippies or hipsters, these two belong to the Happy Hillside Commune: A N’Amish Community. What’s N’Amish you ask?

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Well it’s NOT Amish, aka N’Amish. This lucky group consists of any number of neighbors and friends who live or gather on our street in the Rattlesnake neighborhood of Missoula. We share our fence lines, but not our husbands.  We share our wine, chicken eggs, hot tubs, and saunas, but not bank accounts.

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We share our hillside with the deer, our view of the valley, power tools, ideas, and occasionally old clothes we don’t want anymore.  In short, it’s perfect.

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So, to my new neighbors welcome, but ya’ll have some big shoes to fill.

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There is a worn path between our houses snaking through each other’s yards. On sunny summer nights you can find us outside having family style dinners, sipping wine and gabbing. We watch the hills turn brown and glowy. Real family members stop by like Bri’s parents. There’s sure to be game on the grill. Maybe even a deer from the actual hillside or an elk from further up the valley. Friends from out of town might be there, marveling at Missoula’s off the radar coolness.

N'Amish commune dinner party at bri and rob's house in Missoula

We try to convince them that winters are cold. “Don’t tell people about Missoula” we joke. “Really, it’s dark in the winter.”  My husband and I once made a list of the essential things you need to have to make it through a Montana winter. It included: a down coat, someone to snuggle with, a ski pass, good tires on your car, and I would add…neighbors who will bring you Tylenol at 11 pm when you get the flu. I actually sent a text to one of my N’Amish members that said, “check on me in the morning to make sure I made it through the night.” She did, and I did. These are the neighbors I always hoped I’d have.

Rob has a funny way of loitering in his own yard. You know he’s working on some kind of garden projects but doing it on his own timeframe, a timeframe steeped in a molasses-like active slowness. Rob’s tropical cadence will fit right in in the South Pacific.  He often lingers at the fence or pops over into our yard like their free-roaming chickens. Happy to give advice on seedlings, lift something heavy or pass on a story about his time in Madagascar. (As a tall white man in a village where children had never seen anyone but their own, he literally made children pee themselves). Bri consistently poaches our wireless booster to talk on her cell phone.  I have seen her many a time, talking, pacing around our yard trying to stay warm while she chats.

bri, cassidy and mamie after mamie painted our faces at the park near our house - on the horizon line

The blur between our yards and worlds makes me feel loved and part of something. There is a great yogic philosopher who says that what we are missing in this world is intimacy. Not the sexual kind, but the kind that comes from knowing someone well, from removing the boundaries we live within in western society. The kind of close ties and caring that comes with time, experience, mutual compassion and group parties in the hot tub watching shooting stars. Yeah, we have that.

In a few weeks the N’Amish will be losing key members to a trip into the unknown. The Happy Hillside Commune will go virtual. Bri and Rob, as you wander the ocean, more than a little bit of us will be with you.  Your body contains the soil of this hillside. Your muscles developed from protein of the deer that roamed these mountains.  Your dog Abe continually pooped in my yard, and I didn’t mind one bit. Your heart is forged N’Amish. Don’t you forget it.

kevin, mamie, and willow - our next door neighbors in missoula, montana on the horizon line

friends dressed up in costume at our wedding in caras park in missoula

Finding Our Center in Missoula

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Community and Culture, Family and Friends

Missoula Montana downtown over Clark Fork RiverMy boss, Karen, likes to say that Missoula, Montana is the center of the universe.  It’s certainly been the center of our universe this past decade, as we live and breathe the mountains, rivers and people that make this Rocky Mountain town so magical.

We’ve also lived with the not-so-magical Missoula moments: grey funky winter air settling over those iced-up rivers for days on end; wildfire smoke creeping along mountainsides (and inside lungs) during August; and familiar faces feeling a little too familiar when you’re craving anonymity and diversity.

fall colors downtown missoula with abe on north hillsWe choose to live here for many reasons, but the main one is this: community.  If Missoula is the center of the universe, then community is the center of Missoula.  It’s the reason we make less money, endure long (really long) winters, and smoky summers.  It’s the reason amazing, unexpected things unfold in the valley.  It’s the reason we’re not selling our house when we leave for our adventures.  It’s the reason we will always return.

Last night, I went to a fundraising dinner sponsored by the University of Montana’s Environmental Studies program, fondly referred to as “EVST” by students and alum (the code used for class registration).  Those of you who read my post after an EVST retreat in September know that graduate school profoundly shaped me.  EVST is more than just school, it’s an experience: it provided me with a career, passion, friends, confidence, and even the courage to voyage into the unknown on this journey we’re about to embark upon.

sunset at caras park in downtown missoulaAnd, most importantly, EVST and its people form the center of my Missoula community.

At the dinner, I looked around the room and listened to my friends talking about why they love the program, which is also why many of them love Missoula.  It gives us fire in the belly, connection to place, values-based advocacy, a life support system, sharing circles, starships, drinking partners, visionaries, and ski buddies.

The people in that room just get me.  They get why we’re leaving our beautiful home, good jobs, and comfortable  community.  They get why we want to write this blog, meet new people, bumble through foreign cultures, and take risks without knowing the exact outcomes.  And they congratulate us on making the leap into that unknown.

friends dressed up in costume at our wedding in caras park in missoulaBiking home after dinner, I felt all of the connections in my universe wrapping around me like the silky strands of a spider web.  These strands are deeply and irrevocably interwoven with Missoula, my family who lives here, and my community who will still be here when we get back.  Cheers to that.

Modern Homesteading

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Family and Friends, Hiking

the lineup

Sometimes, all you need to rejuvenate is quality time with close friends.  Rob, Cass and I drove 7 hours from Missoula to the Columbia Gorge to spend a long weekend with friends in Mosier (pronounced Moe-sure for real, or MOE-zee-eh, if you like to add in a fake French accent like we do).  We decided we were due for a “homesteading” weekend, which — in our modern definition — meant chopping wood, wandering in the woods, making cookies, and knitting.  Basically, hanging out around a fireplace with your favorite people.

homesteading hats

Kipp and Christine are leasing a sweet house in the oak-scrub foothills above the Columbia River for 6 months.  Perfect for homesteading.  Our friend Margi came out from Portland, as did a few other Portland buddies.  Collectively, we call ourselves “family,” “the band,” “the wolf pack,” and “awesome.”

the family

We were missing a few of the pack members this weekend, but it was still easy to fall into a rhythm.  The rhythm might change tempo depending on our location (cabin, car, raft, trail, sailboat) or our ultimate mission for the visit (wedding, backpacking, Thanksgiving, wolf-watching, costume party, river trip, relaxing).  But we manage to maintain the same daily mix of making music, eating good food, sharing fancy cocktails, finding birds, playing with doggies, and exploring nature’s nooks and crannies.  And laughing … a LOT.

hiking in mosier

 We didn’t get in the car once during our 3-night stay.  In fact, we didn’t even leave a 2-mile radius of the house.  But we managed to make the minutes stretch and the days count, as we made more memories to add to our collective bundle of shared experience.  Sometimes those experiences are as wild as getting lost in Joshua Tree National Park until the wee hours on a 20-degree night, or portaging 100-yard log jams in heavy rafts in the Bob Marshall Wilderness.

the great room

Other times, they’re as simple as watching a new puppy in front of a wood-fired stove, playing Apples to Apples, recording 3-part harmony in the bathroom, jamming out with a violin, egg-shakers, piano and guitars (with makeshift picks) or making killer tacos.  No matter what, it’s the sharing that makes our pack’s experiences stand out as stellar.

We sure hope they come out to visit us in the South Seas.  After all, it’s time to pioneer how to homestead on a sailboat.

kipp and christine wedding


Bittersweet New Year’s Reflections

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Family and Friends, Outdoor Adventures, Reflections on Life

ice on Highland houseIt’s 2013 today.  Christmas came and went, and so did the Winter Solstice.  The days are already getting longer and lighter, pulling Montana toward spring.

But the icicles on our back patio are still growing longer every day.

This juxtaposition of more light alongside more ice complements how I feel as the holidays come to a close.  My excitement grows every day about our upcoming spring-like lifestyle change.  But the sadness of leaving my family grows right alongside it.

The holidays magnified all of these bittersweet feelings associated with leaving.

The Willets and Cassidy on New Years Day
The Willets and Cassidy on New Years Day

Watching my dad don a Santa costume on Christmas Eve, while Rob played with 12 children in Bobby and Joellen’s house made me feel full to the brim.  Spending Christmas day with my parents, Cass and Rob (and Alta, the doggie) was low-key and easy here in Missoula … but extra-poignant, since I was trying to memorize everyone’s faces, comments, emotions.  And spending New Year’s Eve at Hogback Cabin (an old homestead on U.S. Forest Service land along the fabled Rock Creek) with Cass, Rob and a few friends was — as Kelley and Mike said best — the only place I’d want to be.

My favorite adventure buddy, and her sidekick, Alta
My favorite adventure buddy, and her sidekick, Alta

My sister, in particular, will be the hardest to leave.  I just read Cutting For Stone at the cabin, with its story of identical twins who felt like one person: “ShivaMarion.”  Even though we’re not identical, I sometimes feel like “BriCass” —  a meld that will be painfully hard to separate into two individuals.

As one of my friends recently told me, “There’s nothing like an impending departure to give everything you’re leaving a rosy glow.”  So true.  Right now, the winter days don’t seem as grey or cold, small arguments seem endearing, and I forget daily frustrations in favor of sweet reminisces.

We leave exactly 12 weeks from today.  That means only 10 more weeks of work.  And only a precious few weekends — hell, days, even! — to spend with my favorite people and in my favorite places before we sail off.

I felt a bit overwhelmed by that realization, and decided to strap on my cross-country skis to clear my head.  I always think better when I’m moving.

Me skiing from Hogback Cabin
Me skiing from Hogback Cabin

As I clicked into my skis across the street from our house and started gliding toward Rattlesnake Creek, I  reviewed images of the year that passed.  Weekends at cabins, vacation with Cass on Kauai, learning to backcountry snowboard in Canada, dancing on stage in bodypaint to my own choreography, sailing, backpacking, biking.  Countless dinners with friends and family.  Laughing.  Crying.  Laughing until I cried.  Getting married, and being a part of many of our best friends’ weddings, too.

A year to remember.  And be thankful for.  Knock on wood (lots of it).

But my thoughts quickly shifted to the year to come.  My brain slapped me upside the head, and said, “Why are you leaving these people and these places?”

Me and Rob climbing above Rock Creek
Me and Rob climbing above Rock Creek

My heart slapped back, saying, “To grow, and learn, and change.  To make more memories to share around campfires, dinner tables, and parties when we get back.  To let my family grow and change, too.”

The icicles aren’t going anywhere soon, that’s for sure.  And I’ll be writing more about the sadness of leaving.  Yet I also know one thing for certain from my years growing up in season-less Southern California: the ice makes the spring so very much sweeter.




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