Something I’ve been struggling with for many years now is my relationship with food. In my history, I’ve used food to help me feel better when I feel sad, to celebrate something special, to mark social occasions, and as something to do when I’m bored. I’m working hard towards seeing food as a needed for sustenance and medicine and choosing foods that are good for my body.
As a behavior analyst, I recognize that satiation and deprivation effect motivation to eat certain foods. That explains why the restrictive diets of my past often worked in the short term but had a “bounce back” effect when I craved all the foods I’d been denying myself. The best luck Robert and I have had is when we rigorously used the weight watchers approach which didn’t limit any foods but had us counting points to have more balance in our daily eating habits.
Before coming to the Bahamas, I spent a great deal of time talking to friends and reading about provisioning. The advice I heard most frequently was to bring as much as we could of the things we loved. I also talked to people who had been quarantined in the Bahamas when covid-19 hit in March of 2020. Many had to “stay put” and were unable to leave their boats to shop. Given all this information, we provisioned as if we might be completely isolated on a deserted island for at least 3 months. That’s not a small feat on a 35 ft sailboat!
We got an Engel freezer and I precooked pork roasts, bacon, hamburger meat, onion/cheese burgers and separated the meat into serving sizes. We added some good steaks and sausages separated into serving sizes also. In the weeks before we left Oriental, I made lots of casseroles and separated the leftovers into 2 portion sizes and froze them flat. These were added to the Engle also and it was stocked to the brim! We repeated this process once in Florida before heading to the Bahamas. In the future, I’d do it again in Georgetown before heading North but on this trip, we decided to use the freezer for ice instead since we had so much canned/dried food left.
The longer term, in case we get stuck on a deserted island, type food consisted mainly of canned meats, vegetables, fruits and sauces, dried sausages and jerky, trail mix, oats, popcorm , dried fruit, nuts, dried beans, rice, pastas, sauces, food packets and powered milk, eggs, butter and cheese. Robert even found canned bacon that he just HAD to try! We allow ourselves 1 bacon meal per week and limit the serving size to 4 pieces.
We put some spice racks in the “pantry” cupboard and filled with flavorful spices to add some variety. At one of our Costco stops, we figured a 10 lb bag of pancake mix was a good idea! I have no idea why, since we never eat pancakes at home, but it’s been fun trying to figure out different things we can make with it! I even used it for a pizza crust one day when we were really jonesing for a pizza. Let’s just say it was “edible” but won’t be going on our weekly rotation!
On the way down the intracoastal, we had no difficulty accessing groceries through Instacart or borrowing/renting cars to make grocery runs. We took turns having meals on our buddy boat, Sea Escape and later, Shore Nuff. It was nice to get a break from cooking! Meals served aboard Solveig always were served in a bowl since we eat in the cockpit and only have a small table but we did learn it was possible to serve a meal for 8 in our cockpit!
As much as possible, I enjoy cooking in a single pot. One of Robert’s upfit projects was replacing our old CNG stove with a brand new propane Dickenson Mediterranean stove/oven. It has 3 burners on top and the oven cooks beautifully! The solar oven is a great way of cooking foods while we’re off playing. I’ve used it for making curries, stews and re-heating those frozen casseroles. Another favorite cooking tool is the thermal cooker. It’s great for reducing propane use for foods like rice or beans that need a long cooking time and for keeping foods warm for on shore pot lucks or bringing a side to another boat. You basically, boil the contents for 10 minutes in the metal pot, put the lid on and then seal it in the thermos to complete the cooking time. We have a stove top pressure cooker which also reduces cooking time a great deal. We planned pretty well with the cooking supplies. The only things I wish I had brought and didn’t are a large bowl with a lid.
While underway, meals are generally served in a basket and consist of things that can be eaten with one hand. A cold can of soup, a wrap, sandwich, fruits, sausage or jerky are favorites. The stove is gimbaled but I rarely cook underway. Perhaps that will change as we start taking longer passages.
When we arrived in the Bahamas, we were happy to see that many places, both restaurants and grocery stores, were up and running! While traveling in the Bahamas, the general plan has been to eat on our boat, another boat or the beach while at anchor and to enjoy restaurants when we go to marinas.
The food at each of the marina’s has been fabulous! Highlights for me were the onion balsamic pizza at Palm Cay Marina, the Curried Seafood at the Grand Isle Resort, and the Pan Seared Sea Bass at the Highbourne Cay Marina. Once we tapped into the canned and dry foods, a big salad really hit the spot when eating out!
There’ve been a few exceptions to this such as in Georgetown where we stayed anchor the entire time but enjoyed the barbeque at Chat N Chill and visited the restaurants on Grand Exuma Island either by walking, dingy rides or car rentals. Favorites included the Fried Lobster at Santanas and the lobster grilled cheese at Chappy’s. The food and drinks at the Cape Santa Maria Beach Resort were all terrific! Lorraine’s, at the Black Point settlement, has the best conch burger around, and we loved our cracked lobster! She also makes a delicious Guava Duff.
Grocery shopping in the Bahamas is actually quite an experience! Many of the stores do not provide bag of any type so it’s important to bring your own. Some of the bigger and more populated islands, such as New Providence, have large grocery stores with a large selection. The prices are quite a bit higher for some things but about the same as the US for others. Most food needs to be brought in by boat or plane which adds a cost. Solomon’s on New Providence, was a great place to provision right before heading to the Exumas. The fact that Palm Cay Marina has a loaner can is an added benefit! Georgetown also has a fairly decent sized store with a good selection.
The smaller inhabited islands in the Berries and Exumas often have small stores with a limited selection, especially of fresh fruit or vegetables. They go fast so it’s important to time your provisioning trips with the schedule of the mailboat arrival. Things that are relatively easy to buy include cabbage, onions, potatoes, eggs, cheese and a variety of canned and boxed foods. It’s important to only buy what we can carry on our backs so we can climb ladders and transport food in the dinghy. Junk food is extremely expensive which has helped curb our appetite. I even passed up a bag of Cheetos after seeing the $8.00 price tag!
One of the best things about traveling through the out islands is finding the master bakers who make fresh bread! The best by far has been Ms. Delores’s fresh baked coconut bread! She also makes a white bread, wheat bread and cinnamon raisin that I hear are equally delicious. Another great find was Mom’s Bakery on Little Exuma Island. She had a little shop filled with fresh baked breads, cakes, popovers and if you bought a rum cake, she had a cauldron of hot rum sauce nearby for you to pour over it. Delicious! Ronnie's Bakery near Freeport was another source of delicious baked goods. Robert especially enjoyed the coconut tort!
The only thing we really wished we brought more of is creamer for our coffee. Powdered milk and sweetened condensed milk will do in a pinch.
Robert is convinced we brought way too much food. We’ll see! We’ve been lucky that covid-19 has stayed at bay and there have been no shutdowns while we’re here. My strategy is to cook and eat as much of the provisions as we can while on the hook which increases Robert’s motivation to eat at restaurants whenever we can. Either way, we certainly won’t starve!
Our next level of learning is how to incorporate healthy eating into a cruising lifestyle where the variety of fresh fruits and vegetables is limited. The canned foods have high salt content, and the dried and canned fruits are high in sugar. Social gatherings still center around meals or snacks. Limiting serving sizes has been helpful but we’re still on the road of learning better ways…