Provisioning describes the water, food and fuel needs of a vessel
and crew at sea. While Landfall could say at sea indefinitely,
her crew and passage-making are limited by the amount of supplies
we can carry. "Provisions" are the water,
food and fuel that we
need to carry with us. To purchase provisions with the currency
required in other countries, we need to perform currency
conversions, to figure out what an item costs in US dollars.
After reading the information, try your hand at the exercises!
Our first concern is always to have an adequate supply of fresh
water. Landfall's freshwater tank holds 50 gallons. There is
a fitting on the deck that allows us to fill the tank with a hose
from a spigot on the dock. When we are away from the dock, the
only sources of freshwater are the water we leave the dock with,
the rainwater that falls onto the boat, and the water that we
make from seawater. While sailing in the middle of the ocean,
you might think that water is the last of our concerns, but because
salt water is not drinkable, this can be a real problem.
To fill our water tank when we are at sea, there are two fittings
on the deck that allow us to funnel rainwater into the tank. In
the tropical rainy season we can depend on catching rainwater
fairly regularly. In the dry season (about 4-5 months each year),
rainwater is simply not available. Some countries that we will
visit do not have clean drinking water, and some islands we will
visit do not have any water sources at all. So where can we get
our fresh water? To solve the important issue of having adequate
supplies of fresh water, we have installed a "watermaker".
The watermaker is a machine that takes in salt water from the
ocean, removes the salt, and leaves us with pure, fresh water
that is then pumped into our water tank. The salt and impurities
are removed by means of a process called "reverse osmosis". In
the reverse osmosis process, salt water is mechanically forced
through a special membrane, or filter, which is porous enough
to allow pure fresh water to pass through (although very slowly),
but the salt and dirt molecules are too large to pass through.
The salt and impurities are trapped on the membrane and must be
periodically cleaned off. Because of the hot weather in the tropics,
each member of the crew must drink two to four gallons of fresh
water each day or we will become dehydrated and get sick. Additionally,
we need fresh water for cooking, bathing and rinsing dishes. With
a watermaker, we can go farther and stay away from land longer
in the dry season without constantly worrying about our water
supply, and we also don't have to worry about the purity of the
water that goes into our tank.
As we travel, we often may be weeks away from a grocery store.
Landfall's refrigerator is very small, and the freezer is tiny.
So, most of the food we carry onboard must have a long shelf life
and need no refrigeration. Dried and canned foods make up the
bulk of our "ship's stores," or onboard food supply. Rice and
dried beans are tasty and will last a very long time without spoiling.
On the down side, these staples require lots of water to clean
and prepare. Also, they take a relatively long time to cook, and
so use a lot of the propane which fuels our stove and oven.
We have also learned some tricks to keep fresh foods longer without
spoiling. By rotating unrefrigerated eggs once a day, for instance,
they will keep much longer. We also keep long-life milk that requires
no refrigeration until opened. Other staples like canned cheese
and canned butter, as well as whole canned chickens, help make
tasty meals without needing to be refrigerated.
Sometimes the seas are simply too rough to cook a regular meal.
In rough seas, the pans will fly off of the stovetop!This could
be very dangerous. So we also carry prepackaged meals that can
be purchased at camping stores and military surplus outlets. While
these prepackaged meals might not look as inviting as a home cooked
dinner, after a couple of days without being able to cook, they
really hit the spot.
Fresh fruits and vegetables are replenished whenever we can find
them. Fortunately, these items are usually available in most places
we plan to visit. Often, however, the native fruits and vegetables
are foreign to us, and we have to ask for preparation and cooking
instructions as we buy them. While this can be confusing at times,
it does give us the opportunity to try new local specialties.
Lastly, we do take advantage of the bounty of the ocean. Where
the water is clean, fishing and diving for lobster and shellfish
provide us with tasty meals.
While it might seem that fuel would be a minor concern on a sailboat,
we actually need to carry four different types of fuel on board:
- diesel for the boat's engine
- propane for the stove
- gasoline for the dinghy boat's outboard engine
- lamp oil (purified kerosene) for the lamps
Landfall has two separate diesel fuel tanks, each holding 75
gallons. These tanks are located one on each side of the boat,
to stay balanced. While we would always prefer to sail rather
than use the engine, when we find ourselves in tight quarters,
like a marina, the boat is much easier to handle under power rather
than sail. Also, it is very hard to back the boat up without use
of the engine. Also, there are times when there is no wind, or
we would like to go directly into the direction of the wind. Lastly,
sometimes we need to run the engine to charge the batteries.
Our stove and oven use propane, or liquefied petroleum gas (LPG).
Propane burns cleanly, is relatively inexpensive, and is readily
available almost anywhere in the world. The drawback to propane
is that it is heavier than air, so the tank must be stored in
a place that will allow it to drain outside the boat in case of
The dinghy's outboard engine is a 9.9 horsepower gasoline engine.
While we can row the dinghy or even attach a special sail rig
to propel it, there is nothing like an outboard engine when you
just need speed. Gasoline is highly flammable and very volatile,
so we must take special care in how we store and transport the
Lastly, we have two alcohol lamps that we use when we don't want
to turn on an electric light. Not only are these lamps a good
backup in the event of an electrical failure, but they are just
plain old pretty to use. Their soft glow provides a very nice
light for a quiet dinner at a remote anchorage, or to tell sea
Each country we visit has its own form of currency. While traveling
in these places, we need to convert US dollars into the local
currency before we can go shopping for provisions, eat in a restaurant
or ride in a taxi. In the Caribbean, where we are starting out,
many places will readily accept US currency, but others will not.
When we are shopping, prices for the items we want to purchase
are marked in the local currency. We need to understand the conversion
rate so that we can relate the "US dollar" cost of items. For
instance, in the British Virgin Islands, the currency is the British
pound. So, if we were to buy a loaf of bread marked at 3 pounds,
unless we understood how much that was in terms of dollars, we
wouldn't know whether we thought that was a fair price or not.
However, if we know that the exchange rate is $1.80 per pound,
we can calculate that 3 pounds is equal to $5.40. At that price,
we would probably not buy bread at that store!
To convert pounds to dollars, we simply multiply the number of
pounds times the exchange rate. If we want to reverse the equation,
we divide 1 by the exchange rate. Therefore, one dollar would
be worth .5556 pounds. However, to add to our confusion, the exchange
rates do not stay the same from day to day. But we can find the
current exchange rate for any currency at the following web site
When we do not have Internet access, we can find out the exchange
rate at a local bank.