Skip to main content

Charter: Provisioning Tips

An empty larder at the end of a charter is a good thing!

An empty larder at the end of a charter is a good thing!

Vacationing and good eats go hand-in-hand, and when you’re on a boat everything just tastes better. Maybe it’s the fresh air or the appetite you work up sailing and SUPing. Whatever the reason, the simplest fare seems to tickle the tastebuds in new ways when you’re on the water. Because food is such a big part of our leisure-time experience, it’s important to plan how you’ll provision your charter boat. Whether you’re a foodie or can survive on SPAM, careful preparation will be time well spent.

Do the Math

Before you even arrive at the dock in a foreign land, you’ll need to decide whether you’ll let someone else do the provisioning work for you, or if you’ll be pressing your crew into service. Most larger charter companies provide full or partial provisioning. You’ll receive a list with options from steak to matches. You’ll then need to decide how many people you’ll be feeding for how many days. Estimating how much each person will eat or drink is tricky since people on holiday snack a lot and consume more alcohol than in daily life.

Start with water. Most charterers don’t drink from the boat’s water tanks, so you’ll need to buy it. It’s best to buy in larger jugs and then refill individual water bottles to reduce plastic waste. Remember, you’ll have to carry all your trash with you, sometimes for the entire charter, so the less packaging, the better.

Jugs should be large, but not so big that they’re hard to manage when decanting into a smaller water bottle. Estimate a gallon per person per day of drinking water. In hot climates, you may need more. Eight people on a weeklong charter in the tropics may go through 55-60 gallons of water. It will look like a haul on the dock, but you should never skimp on your crew’s water needs.

Understand your group. Are they foodies? Are they restaurant hounds? Will they want to cook? And if so, do they know how? If your bunch wants to eat aboard, plan dinners for every night aboard, minus one. It’s almost guaranteed some beach bar somewhere will offer a “cheeseburger in paradise” that will be irresistible, so leave a reserve night to stay flexible. Even if you don’t eat out, it’s fun to do a mishmash of leftovers on the last day to use up what’s left. It gets the creative juices flowing and can make for a fun last-evening affair.

Plan for four “meals” a day—breakfast, lunch, dinner and happy hour. That last one is key, even for the kids, who will love joining the adults with some punch and a snack. Meals don’t have to be elaborate. Pastries or yogurt for breakfast, salads for lunch, cheese and veggies for happy hour and then a nice dinner will work just fine.

Eating well is a big part of a successful charter, so be sure to plan ahead

Eating well is a big part of a successful charter, so be sure to plan ahead

Pros and Cons

Even a vacation means trading off time and money. Letting the charter base do your provisioning is easy, but usually expensive and somewhat limiting in terms of what’s available. Doing your own food run will be cheaper, and you’ll get exactly what you want. But it’s time consuming, and the logistics may be tricky. Most people in vacation mode won’t want to spend a day stuffing bottled water and frozen goods into the trunk of a taxi. It can also be a bit like herding cats if you take your full crew to the market and they all disperse, bringing back whatever items they feel like, resulting in piles of beer and potato chips, but no milk. Mix in foreign languages and unfamiliar brands and the situation only gets that much more complicated.

Partial provisioning by the base works well. Have them bring heavy stuff, like water, and heat-sensitive items like ice. This will allow you to focus on the details and also get through your shopping faster and with fewer helpers.

Make a plan

Meal planning is an art, so assign it to a capable person who understands the process before you arrive. Make a list of all four “meals” and then break them down into individual ingredients, right down to the spices, so nothing is forgotten.

Consider your cruising area. You may eat out every night on a tour of Greece, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find a restaurant in Tonga. Be warned: it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer volume of all that’s needed to feed a crew of eight for seven days. Stick to the plan, though, and don’t start returning items just because “it looks like a lot on the counter.” At the same time, less is more, and if you don’t use it on charter, you’ll just end up tossing it or donating it to the charter staff, so again, plan. The goal is to arrive back at the charter base with an empty larder and full guests.

Food on charter can be fun, but you need to think through the process carefully. In the end, provisioning will demand as much of your attention as where and how to anchor. Once done, though, toast your good decisions over happy hour and dig into that steak. 

Photos by Zuzana Prochazka

July 2021

Related

Rescue

Cruising: Safety Lessons Learned

It’s not often that sailors get a chance to put their rescue and MOB training to the test, rarer still that they do as quickly as newbie California sailor Khosrow “Koz” Khosravani did recently. If and when an emergency situation ever arises, though, it pays to be prepared. This ...read more

01-LEAD-'22.01.10_FALKEN-Maiden_Emma-Bow

At the Helm: Sailplans

The first thing you notice when you look at the sailplan for the Farr 65, Falken, which Mia and I recently added to the fleet here at 59-North, is the sheer number of headsails. Falken was built in 1999 as a racing boat to go around the world, and the crew would have carried the ...read more

01-PR-2-Throwing-it-Back-_©LaurensMorel

Racing Class Reunion

Where does an old VO70 go to retire? Right back to the racing circuit, apparently. This spring saw a remarkable contingent of Volvo Ocean Race one designs back on the water and duking it out on the Caribbean circuit. While it’s no surprise that some of the VO65 teams intending ...read more

05-Sailboats-moored-in-sheltered-waters-off-of-Kärrsön

Charter: Sweden

With 2,000 miles of coastline, 270,000 islands and seemingly countless bays and inlets, Sweden is truly a sailor’s paradise. One of the top sailing destinations here is the archipelago just outside the country’s second largest city Gothenburg (locally known as Göteborg), on the ...read more

fa70b13c-8eec-4c35-b30f-f89e497b469a

Crowdsourcing Age-of-Sail Weather Data

Although big, multi-million-dollar projects like the Large Hadron Collider and the human genome project with their legions of PHD’s tend to grab headlines, there’s still a part of play for the “citizen scientists” of the world. Amateur birders have long contributed to an ...read more

01-LEAD-Ultime-race-Yvan-Zedda,-OC-Sport-Pen-Duick

Ultims to Race Solo Around the World

For years now, maxi-trimarans, both solo-sailed and fully crewed, have been racing the clock on their own around the world in an effort to set ever faster records for the world’s fastest circumnavigation under sail. Back in 2000-01 there was also a no-holds-barred ...read more

P1-01-LEAD-018_CARYNBDAVIS_AMISTAD

Juneteenth on the Water

Discovering Amistad and Mystic Seaport Museum have partnered to organize their third annual Juneteenth festival, featuring concerts, speakers and a reflection on the lasting legacy of racial injustice in America. Declared a National Holiday in 2021, Juneteenth celebrates the end ...read more

Lead-2021-01-17-vue-03-34-av-tb-01

New Multihulls for 2022

Lagoon 51 In keeping with many of the more recently launched models created by French multihull builder Lagoon, the Lagoon 51 is all about comfort, “en plein air,” in particular, as the French might say. Topside, a whopping 80 percent of the boat’s flybridge is given over to ...read more