Ruminations on Provisioning

While waiting for our engine’s fresh water-pump we’ve been busy exploring Lefkas. Noah and my favourites these days tend to be monasteries – mostly peaceful sanctuaries in the craziness of life. I’m not a fan of organised religion, but I am a spiritual soul. At the heart level, I trust that all truthful prophets teach the same: Love and unity. There’s not much else to it. Most peops in the monasteries seem to get it, or else I can’t explain the blissfulness which surrounds me upon entering their space.

Lefkas Monastery_21 Lefkas Monastery_22 Lefkas Monastery_23 Lefkas Monastery_24Lefkas Monastery_27 Lefkas Monastery_25 Lefkas Monastery_26

I’d like to say we’ve also been getting the boat ship shaped for our crossing to Sicily where we are very much hoping to catch up with some friends from Paris later this week. But for every screw we tighten and every cable we rewire, there’s a dozen more questions and projects to investigate and attend to. At times it feels like attempting five PHDs at a time. Then I throw myself into my writing which is always a pleasant distraction and great way to channel this massive flow of creativity which has been shaking me in the lead up to this autumn equinox new moon (WowZa massive energies around! Be careful what you wish for these days or it might well come true!).

One of these writing fits ended in a provisioning article for the good old mag back home. If you are a live-aboard sailor also, I’d love to hear your thoughts with regards to the following provisioning lists. Do they reflect your consumption patterns and habits? If yes, say so. If not, comment on how it’s different. Please. Thanks. It’s nice to not always have a one way writing road going!

Average freshwater usages per person per day for a long-term cruise (in litres) based on our experience, interviews with other long- and longer-term cruisers and research

Drinking Cooking Shower Dishes Laundry Boat washing
3 1 1 0.5 0.5 Usually only when fresh water is freely available

Every crew is different. The table below is a guide that provides an estimate of typical products and their quantities used per person per day. A 30-day cruise is assumed with little or no opportunity to restock. Canned and prepared products like tinned vegetables and fruit would be introduced when there is no more fresh ones available.

Category Product Quantity pp/day Approximate quantities for a couple on a 30 day cruise
Fruit & Veg As much as you’d consume at home within about a week, more for the longer lasting produce like cabbage, potatoes, onions, garlic, oranges, lemons and apples. The famous banana tree of the stern is not such a good idea as they will all ripen within the same day or two.
Dairy UHT Milk 200 ml 12 litres
Yoghurt 30 g 2 kg
Cheese 16 g 4 x 250g pack
Butter (tinned butter) 16 g 1 kg
Bread Fresh loaves for the first few days. If stopping on the way, some places have a local bakery with fresh bread available. If not, below are other options for either making your own, or using long-shelf substitutes.
Rye Pumpernickel or commercially packaged bread 1/5 pack 12 packs
Flour 130 g 16 x 500 g (approx. 16 loaves)
Yeast 1/10th package 8 packages of active dry yeast
Enough water, olive oil, sugar and salt (although bread lasts longer without salt)
Vacuum packed part-baked bread, croissants and brioche 1 or less 6 multi item packs
Wraps for rolls, quesadillas, pizzas etc. 1.5 rolls 10 packs with 10 rolls each
Staples Cereals 1/5 pack 12 packs, oats and a few varieties
Pasta 80 g 5 kg pasta
Rice 80 g 5 kg
Couscous 40 g 2.5 kg
Prepared meals Soups 1/10 can 6 cans
Baked beans 1/4 can 15 cans
Spaghetti 1/8 can 8 cans
Canned Various vegetables, including corn, asparagus, bamboo shoots, peas etc. 1/4 can 15 cans – more if there is no opportunity on the way to restock
Various fruits (also for baking and deserts) ¼ can 15 cans – less if you can stock up on fresh fruit regularly
Tomatoes ¼ can 10 cans
Dried Chickpeas 50 g 3 kg
Lentils 50 g 3 kg
Other dried legumes 25g 1.5 kg
Mung- and other beans for sprouting 16 g 1 kg
Meat & Fish Fresh and vacuum packed as much as you usually eat within a week, more if you have a freezer on your boat.
Smoked Salmon A treat within the first few days, unless you smoke your own from fresh fish caught on board.
Canned tuna

Canned meat

Canned chicken

1.5 kg

3.0 kg


Condiments Olive Oil 6 L
Balsamic Vinegar 1 L
Apple Cider Vinegar 1 L (Aboard Happy Dancer we carry more as we also use it as medicine when needed)
Salt & pepper 2 containers each
Cayenne, Oregano, Italian herbs, basil, dill, coriander, cinnamon, turmeric, masala…
Mayonnaise 3 containers
Mustard 1 container
Jams 6 glasses
Honey 8 g 4 x 500g (Aboard Happy Dancer we easily use double as we LOVE ice tea made of mint, honey and lemon juice)
Eggs eggs 0.6 40
Snacks Chocolate, biscuits, crisps, muesli bars, nuts and nut mixes, crackers, olives, crystallized ginger, etc.
Beverages Fruit juices, ice teas, sodas etc. 0.5 30
Coffee and tea 2 cups per day 2 kg ground coffee beans, 50 English Breakfast, 50 herbal tea bags of different varieties
Alcoholic beverages Very individual choice. During passages, Happy Dancer is an alcohol-free boat. For some this makes up a substantial part of their provisioning budget.

When provisioning, don’t forget non-food items which can be hard to find and expensive in more remote locations. The following table gives an idea of things we stock up on when we can, and approximate quantities for a couple on a 30-day cruise with little or no opportunities to re-provision. Bear in mind that most liquids on board will end up in the ocean, so use natural products wherever possible.

Category Product Approximate quantities for a couple on a 30 day cruise
Toiletries Sunscreen SPF 30 or more 4 litres
Organic Shampoo & Conditioner (2in1) 500 ml
Toothpaste 1 tube
Dental Floss 1 pack
Soap (biodegradable if possible) 4
Deodorant 1
Razor blades (disposables as they rust) 10
Toilet Paper 15 rolls
Cleaning Products Biodegradable dishwashing liquid  1 litre
Rust remover 250 ml
Bottled lemon juice for polishing stainless 100 ml
Vinegar (disinfectant, glass cleaner and keeps the heads running) 3 litres
Tea tree oil (disinfectant and mosquito repellent) 10 ml
Citronella oil (mosquito repellent) 10 ml
Bicarb soda (best all-purpose cleaner!) 500 g or more
Disposable rubber gloves 5 pairs
Scrub brushes 6
Sponges 10
Wipes 8
Paper kitchen towel 4 rolls
Mosquito coils 6
Cockroach traps (just in case) 4
Other Zip-lock bags (different sizes) A couple of packs
Batteries (all sizes) We mainly use rechargeable batteries, but still keep a back-up for the whole battery inventory. Good quality alkaline batteries last longer.
Bulbs We keep a back-up of our inventory.
Pot holders for the stove On off


  1. Hi Dini, warning….this is a long answer!

    We are not living aboard yet (and it’s only the two of us, no kids, but a very hungry cat), but do keep a provisioning list for our 6 to 8 weeks summer cruising trips. To come up with the list in the first place, we have taken the approach of putting a menu together for a week and multiplying this by the number of weeks we are away for – generally without re-provisioning source for the duration. We have the inventory organised around breakfasts, lunches, evening meals, nibbles and treats (never enough of them!), drinks, staples & condiments, cleaning products, toiletries, cat stuff for Bengie, etc… We keep tabs of what we estimate will need and what’s in stock for each item, so we know how much and what to buy.

    Like you, we bake on board, make our own yogurt, have a sprouting kit for fresh greens, and buy fresh fruit & vegies if we find some ashore… We are generally anti-social and avoid ports like the plague. So our list does include bottled fruit and lots of tins. We buy and freeze meat and hope to catch fish, and we forage for shells, crabs, crays to supplement the menu.

    The biggest difference in our mutual lists is the amount of freshwater we carry. We replenish fresh water at every opportunity as we do not carry much in the tanks (200l), so we use a rainwater collection device, and intend to get a water maker when we eventually live aboard. We have a salt water tap in the galley and use this to wash the dishes. We carry jerricans for topping up and solar shower bags.

    I can email you our provisioning list if you’d like (just let me know your email). Hope this helps. Chris

      • Yes absolutely – it was great to get an idea of the quantities too. Especially if you are going to be away from shops for a while. We are cruising over Christmas so I will refer back to your list then! Thanks so much. 🙂

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