The rhythm of cruising life is slow and steady, just like the boat that carries us. Food seems to be the driving force in our daily and weekly routines. Making meals, doing dishes, and grocery shopping constitutes a substantial portion of our lives. While you may run to the store on your way home from work, it is sometimes a two-day process to get to shore, get to a bus, shop, remove the cardboard and labels, re-label with marker, bathe produce in bleach water, and stow all the food.
Despite Craig’s slender figure, he consumes a lot of food. There have been endless jokes about hollow legs and tape worms over the years, and every time he stops eating and says, “I’m full,” everyone else in the room is surprised. Whenever I’m wandering the aisles while buying groceries and I stare at something on the shelf wondering if we need it or not, I realize that it’s a silly question and just throw it in the cart. Craig will likely eat it sooner rather than later.
I don’t know if you know this about Craig, but his care and feeding schedule is a tough one to maintain. Without several large meals and several additional “snacks” throughout the day, Craig becomes sullen and irritable. People joke about being hangry, and I’m here to say that it’s a real condition with which I am all too familiar. Potentially the most problematic part of Craig’s affliction is that he believes he needs a three-course meal every two hours of the day. (No exaggeration – as I’m writing this post he is making a gourmet lunch; tacos with sautéed onion, poblano, zucchini, soy crumbles, and about 3 different seasonings… topped with fresh avocado, cheese, sour cream and salsa… with a side of fresh fruit. I was gonna wing it with some chips and salsa.) So, by the time we finish breakfast and get ready to leave the boat for the day, it’s close to lunch time. And we face a decision. Do we stay on the boat, make lunch, and risk not going ashore? Or do we pack a couple pounds of snacks, go ashore, and risk Mr. Crabby McPoutyface making an appearance. Never an easy choice.
And that’s why I buy more food than we may need. My goal is to avoid Mr. Crabby McPoutyface at all costs. I buy a ton of food, cram it into the various storage lockers on the boat, and promptly forget about it. How many cans of diced tomatoes do we have? Do we have any spare pasta sauce? I want to make a recipe; do we have all the ingredients? WHO KNOWS?! Most of these lockers are organized in some fashion, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy, or comfortable, to find exactly what you’re looking for. And it doesn’t mean that what you do (or don’t) find is the real amount on board. And so, we broke down and did an inventory of every food item on the boat.
It was chaos, it was stressful, it remains a pain in the neck to keep updated, and it is all worth it (even though I thought I escaped Excel spreadsheets when I quit my job). Not only do we know how much of each ingredient is on board, we also know where it is stored. This is particularly helpful now that we are staring down the last couple months of the cruising season. Soon we will aim north, take the boat out of the water, and fly back to the US in search of jobs to help pay for all these groceries (and margaritas).
Taking the boat out of the water and leaving her to fend for herself for several months, AKA decommissioning her, is no small chore. All sorts of weird things, even by our standards, must happen to keep the boat safe and happy. A few items on the checklist: saran wrap the toilets (so all the water doesn’t evaporate and mess with the plumbing system), wrap the winches in aluminum foil (to protect them from aliens), remove and wash sails and running rigging (to avoid unnecessary UV damage), disconnect sensitive electronic equipment and place in oven (to protect them from any lightning strikes), remove any perishable food items (because we don’t want to house pests while we’re away).
Right now, my grocery habits are struggling. It feels like when you go on vacation for a week and you don’t want to leave food to spoil in the fridge. Except instead of the fridge, it’s everything. From the seasonings to the stockpile of boxwine, it’s a race to finish it all before we retreat to cooler climes. I think it will be interesting to see the kinds of meals we eat as we get closer and closer to Decommission Day. Any guesses or recommendations?