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TOPIC: Food & Storage for Atlantic Crossing

Food & Storage for Atlantic Crossing 8 months 3 weeks ago #3183

  • fgrennie
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This thread started on the OCC Facebook Page by Tom Fisher

Thoughts now turning to preparations for first Atlanic crossing from Canaries via Cape Verde to Antigua or nearby with departure mid November. Thinking specifically about food and even more specifically how to have access to fresh food on the crossing which I'm estimating will be around 3-4 weeks (heavy displacement 10M sloop so no speed records in the offing). So interested to hear of successes or failures with growing beans etc and baking bread. Any tips greatly appreciated.

Anne Hulbert A few things I remember from our crossing. We had no freezer so we had fresh food for a week then tinned and dried. Packets of dry filled tortellini are a good standby to have for rough days. You can buy part-baked bread from Carrefour which is long life. Soda bread is quicker and easier to make than traditional. Suggest weigh out dry ingredients and zip lock bag them in advance if you make bread. It gets hotter as you head east from the Verde's - we found we wanted salads rather than hot food (there are cold cuts of meat in Carrefour with a long date) with potato or pasta or rice salad. Eggs keep well if you turn them each day.

Ju Randall I can't remember who said it, but I can remember what she said - "check your vegetables daily; you'll be glad of something to do". Same for eggs, I guess!

Julie Skentelbery We had great success immersing cheese in olive oil to keep air out - also brushing loaf of bread with vinegar then wrapping in tight cling film to keep mould at bay. Bizarrely doesn't taste vinegary

Sarah Smith Stock up on olive oil as it gets expensive the further away from Europe you get.

Jenny Crickmore-Thompson The egg-turning works - Claus Jaeckel travelled with some 10 doz eggs in this way, never lost one. But the turning is essential - kept in the coolest place possible (cockpit locker or bilges).

Helen McCubbin Until I came north into the cooler weather, I made sour dough bread every couple of days. I just used a recipe that I found on the internet. I was never successful with sprouts on the boat, though I use a sprouter constantly at home. There is so much good frozen and canned fruit and veg now it is not like when we sailed in the 70s.

Fiona Lewis-née Bolt Some fruits and vegetables last longer than others, upstairs at the market in Las palma, canaries, there is a green grocer who advertises as a preferred ARC supplier, he is very knowledgeable on which varieties last at sea on a boat, we still had cabbages, apples and christophe from him more than 4-5 weeks after departing the canaries. Sadly the vegetables we bought in the Cape Verde didn't last well. We grew sprouting beans very well, we just used a jar and some draining fabric, others we know had sophisticated sprouting systems, our favourite for flavour and speed were lentils. We also took a lot of cured sausages and meats. If it's properly cured and therefore doesn't need refrigeration it lasts a long time in zip locks in the bilges. We made bread underway, wish I'd thought to pre measure the dry ingredients in advance, but beware of how much gas you need to cook bread. We also used a pressure cooker for nearly all meals; saves gas, has a secure lid, and let's you stock up on beans for protein after your fresh meat has run out. Thinking again about it, his fruit and vegetables lasted much longer than that, we were in the Cape Verdes for 4 weeks, our crossing to Barbados was 16 Days (34ft Sadler), and we had plenty of fresh left.
We found sprouting beans uses very little water for two people, less than an egg cup per day.
To save fresh water (we only had one 40 gallon tank some jerry jugs and no water maker), we bathed in salt water, used salt water to do the dishes in, and had a sprayer in the galley and heads to wash hands with.
Moira Clark Bentzel Tom - We made the crossing the crossing from Mindelo to English Harbor in 16 days in our 36 ft. boat. You should do most of your heavy provisioning in Las Palmas and then get your fresh veggies in the Cape Verdes, although they were not of the quality you got in the Canaries. Try to get them in a variety of state of ripeness I made a pressure cooker bread that was easy, but stores carried sealed small baguette sized bread that you baked that I found very handy. Eggs were kept in a plastic egg carrier that I rotated every other day. You will have to be careful of the size of the eggs to make sure they don't crack when the case is closed. Had no issues on our crossing. If you leave from Mindelo, be aware that you will first be in an acceleration zone and then about 15-20 miles out a shadow zone with no winds.

Dierdre Atkinson Wogaman We have a quart size jar with mesh over the top secured with a rubber band. Seeds go in the jar and they need to be rinsed everyday. Only problem I think is that there is a lot of water use with making sprouts. Re use the water

Bob Carlisle If you're not into breadmaking, we found long lasting (3-4 months?) packets of tortilla-bread in the Canaries and loaded fifty packs aboard. Cheese in oil works as does butter under salt water and jarred/canned meat. As noted earlier, if you're going via the CVs then you'll need to get fresh stuff there and the choice/quality is far from the best.

Frances Rennie Lots of other tips and recipes in the OCC cook book 'From the Galley Of...' available on Amazon

Roger Kynaston We found the Pardeys On care and feeding of crew or some such very useful. It is available in kindle edition as well. While stocking up in the Canaries the fresh vegetable market in San Sebastian de La Gomera is one of the best though we also found a good one in Tazacorte. The market in Mindelo is also great. They do the most amazing carrots that literally last for ever!

David Bains My wife makes bread using self raising flour packs in an Omnia oven. Available at Force4 chandlery.

Susie Potter Definitely recommend the vacuum packed part baked baguettes - we took loads - fresh warm bread and of cooking. We did make flour tortillas though and 'scone base' pizzas with no yeast needed


Susan Dallas Carrots, cabbage and onions will keep very well in a cool dark dry cupboard or bilge. Try and buy the hardest ones you can as they will keep best. I baked my own bread on passage too. CV markets sell great goats cheese and fresh eggs. We also cooked a lots of pulses and lentils since meat (fresh or tinned) was scarve in the Caper Verdes when we crossed 8 years ago.


Sarah Smith We don't have a freezer but did have a fridge, so as Anne Hulbert said, it was fresh meat for the first week but dried and tinned after that. We provisioned for things like cheese and cured meats (vacuum packed) in The Canaries before Xmas, and these kept with no problem until our Atlantic crossing the following March from Gambia to Tobago (26-day crossing). I would second recommendations for carrots, cabbage and onions made into coleslaw (so plenty of mayo, which doesn't need to be kept in the fridge if used within a month) and can be made in the cockpit if the crossing is lumpy. Carrot sticks for crunching on during night watches. Onions, lots of onions and lots of eggs (fry, scramble, poach, hard boil, omelette, pancakes, baking a cake for the half-way celebration...). Baking real bread became an enjoyable hobby/challenge for the person on the early watch. Recycle stale bread into garlic bread. We bought about 20 loaves of Gambian bread (a bit like French bread but with weevils in) which we ate fresh for the first couple of days and then dried out (in a net in the saloon) and used this to make 'refreshed' bread (dampened and then crisped again in the oven), toast and garlic bread. Tinned butter (for the homemade bread). We made our own dried pancake mix before going (basically milk powder and flour measured out into a jar to be measured out and a have a fresh egg and water added to create a quick pancake mixture). Potato powder (not for normal consumption but OK for an ocean crossing) to make into savoury potato and onion pancakes (or fishcakes with tinned fish or fresh if you catch). I have good recipes for dhal and black bean rice recipes if you eat pulses. Tinned chick peas for hummus (to eat with your carrot sticks and garlic bread). We didn't sprout seeds as we found this used a lot of fresh water. If you carry a large tub of good plain yogurt you can use this to make successive batches of yogurt from good milk powder (whole milk, something like Nido). We also made our own biltong in The Canaries and this kept with no problem until we got to the Caribbean 3 months later. Make a couple of dried fruit heavy cakes and they will keep for a month. A couple of packet cake mixes... Pumpkin/squash keeps really well and can be roasted with garlic, onion and curry powder as a vegetable then turned into soup (to eat with your homemade bread).

Trevor Martin Bread can be purchased in ready mix flour form all you need is a big plastic bowl/bin with lid. Also pre packed half baked bread easy to store and use (10 mins in oven) saves on gas/fuel. For veg, keep in brown paper, dont know how it works but veg stays fresher longer stored in dry place. We use hanging slings/hammocks. Re eggs you can buy egg trays which take 12 eggs spaced and vented so you can turn whole tray not just one at a time. Vaseline coated eggs I’m told also last weeks.

Gill Nobbs Paul Hollywood's bread cookbook was a wonderful help to us....all things bready and easy. Proper comfort food. We vacuum packed flour in individual portions to stop any weevils spreading. Small sachets of dried yeast keep very well. We kept carrots for ages providing they were individually wrapped in foil. Jars of grated celeriac and carrots were great for coleslaw when the cabbage ran out. These are easily available in France and Spain. We found very little produce of any quality that would keep in the Cape Verdes, though there were tins and dried goods In the Frigate supermarkets. Hope this helps. enjoy.

Linda Lane Thornton There are also those green bag thingies that one can buy at Lakeland - they keep stuff fresh for longer without a fridge (no fridge on Coromandel). Additionally we asked the greengrocers to get us stuff that hadn't been refrigerated, and the cabbage lasted for two months.

Anne Hulbert We only found out about green bags when we were out in the Caribbean (where fruit and veg don't keep for more than a day or two). They are even better if kept in fridge. Buy in England, I never saw them in the Caribbean.

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