Preparing Food for Long Passage

It is no secret that we enjoy good food. And we see no reason why we should change our eating habits on a long passage. If anything, food preparation and consumption is one of the things we look forward to at sea, and something which helps to pass the time in an enjoyable fashion.

We learned long ago that good refrigeration is the key to this process. With adequate fridge and freezer capacity, we can carry enough fresh and frozen to last for the longest passages. Given the size of Wind Horse‘s fridge (12 cubic feet/340 liters), there is ample capacity for what may turn out to be four weeks or more away from the market. And the freezers, with 13 cubic feet (368L) combined, have the volume to keep us going for six months or more.

We’ve been checking out the three “super” markets in Pago Pago and the local garden market. The latter has just a few tropical fruits. But between the three supermarkets we can find almost everything we want. The one item lacking is unwashed lettuce (if you can get lettuce unwashed, it will last much longer).


Everything which comes aboard in the tropics goes through the same process. Fresh food is washed to get rid of roaches that may be hiding.


It is amazing what may float to the surface in a bucket of fresh water!


Canned goods and jars with paper labels have the labels removed – not because we worry about them coming off in the bilge, but because cockroaches like to lay their eggs between the label and the jar!

We also remove paper packaging for the same reason. Cardboard boxes in particular never even come aboard. They stay in the dinghy, or better yet, on the dock. In fact, we often strip packaging before we even leave the supermarket.


The fresh food is stacked on the fridge box top as it comes aboard. It will then be put into the fridge in special bags or containers which help maintain freshness. You can see the lettuce above, wrapped in newspaper. The paper helps to absorb moisture. It will be changed periodically over the coming weeks.


Some produce goes into wire bins, which will be stored in the basement or in one of the aft cabins. Once we are underway, these areas will remain cool with the air conditioning running.



In many parts of the world you have to make do with local produce. However, Pago Pago has several flights a week from Hawaii, and a variety of temperate climate fruits and vegetables make their way down. We have found the best selection on the morning after a flight arrives.


Over the last few days the galley has been busy preparing meals for the freezer. These are in small Ziploc bags, in portions that will cover the two of us for one meal, with a little left over for snacking on watch. As this is a long passage, sixteen days at sea, which may be done in a single hop, we’re preparing a lot of food. Above is only a small portion.

The current menu includes Thai curry, chicken mole, turkey chili, chicken soup, pumpkin soup, rice, pasta, beans and sausage, roast chicken, apple cake, banana cake, lots of cookies, and homemade pizza dough. Nobody said we were going to lose weight on this passage!

We also dive into our “basement” storage to check inventory on a few critical things. No surprises, except to the upside on inventory. We’ll have lots of supplies left over from New Zealand when we arrive. A “shopping list” for specific items we’ll be using is put together. And then we go around the basement pulling the list from various bins.


These get stored in a single, easily accessed bin under the galley sole, and in some of the galley drawers and lockers.

The last thing we do is to change the propane bottle. We’ve been on the same 20-pound (8kg) bottle now for 10 weeks. There appears to be enough left for the passage, but rather than having to change bottles mid-ocean, we’ll do this now when it is much easier.

Any bets on how much weight we’ll gain between Pago Pago and California?

Posted by Steve Dashew  (August 15, 2005)

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