Make a List and Check it Twice  –  Planning and discipline can be tough to practice in the Islands, where “no worries” and “mañana” are the mindset for many sailors. But similar to creating a float plan or performing preventative maintenance on a boat, doing a little preparation before provisioning will lead to easier and better meals afloat. If there’s a multi-day regatta, a boat delivery or a group of friends headed out for a few days of cruising, I’m typically responsible for food. The crew tends to eat very well when I’m aboard, not because we dine on six-course meals of steak and lobster but mainly because everything is so well organized and stress free. (It could also be due to the homemade cookies that magically appear from their hiding places in the galley. More about sweet treats in a future issue of Yacht Guide).

A busy friend of mine was responsible for provisioning for eight people for a week of sailing, including a few nights in Anegada, where there are limited opportunities to top up stores. He went to the supermarket and randomly tossed items into his cart until it was full. When I joined the group for dinner ashore near the end of their trip, some of the crew were famished. One woman mentioned that she was having a fantastic week on the water – but lightheartedly admitted she didn’t want to eat stale baguettes with olive oil again for breakfast. There was little food remaining on the boat; however, there was no shortage of rum or wine.


Although running low on food or buying the wrong selection of groceries will not ruin a voyage (unless, perhaps, you’re crossing an ocean), eating a great meal while relaxing on the deck of a boat is certainly one of the pleasures of cruising. The key to easier provisioning is to make up a menu that’s as detailed as possible. Write down a day-by-day, meal-by-meal menu, taking into account factors including availability of ingredients, refrigeration aboard the boat, food preferences of the crew and conditions under which meals will be prepared and eaten. Consider making quick sandwiches prior to a long day of sailing or plan a leisurely dinner on a “lay day.” A menu doesn’t have to indicate elaborate meals–listing “toast, jam and juice” for breakfast will suffice. But if you want gourmet fare, then by all means plan for it, both in terms of provisions needed and prep time aboard the boat. Also indicate on your menu any meals that you plan to eat ashore. “Painkillers and lunch at The Soggy Dollar Bar” should be on any BVI charterer’s menu.

A little discipline in terms of menu planning will make the creation of your shopping list much easier and assure interesting and well-rounded meals aboard your boat. We’ve all witnessed the chaos that occurs when eight people rush into a BVI supermarket with no list and try to buy supplies for a week on the water. So designate a point person for provisioning. Ideally you’ll have someone aboard who likes cooking, or at least doesn’t mind it. Have that person create a menu and then send one or two people to the supermarket–with a shopping list. Alternatively, you can have different people take responsibility for planning different meals.

For hassle-free provisioning, most charter companies can coordinate provisioning for you, and local supermarkets take orders online and even deliver food to your boat. Typical options include full provisions for those who like cooking on board or partial provisions—such as breakfast and lunch only—so you can enjoy some meals ashore at local restaurants.

Whatever your plan for provisioning, just make sure there’s plenty of rum aboard for “mañana.”