Now that we’ve sunk the waterline by several inches with all the canned goods, food, soft drinks, beer and wine, we need to find places to stow it all. Luckily Winterlude has lots of storage and hiding most of it will be no problem. The four cases of Coke always present a challenge, but David manages to find a place since he’s the one consuming the Coke. The bilge is not an option since we stowed soft drinks there while in the Bay Islands and had to solve the mystery of the empty cans – the can was so thin that they easily rubbed pinholes and all the sticky gooey soda pop drained into the bilge, leaving a sticky mess, and an empty can. Imagine our surprise to grab a can of tonic for our gin & tonic and the can being empty without ever being opened! We know better now! US cans are typically thicker but we’re not taking chances.
But there are two steps before I stow everything. First, I need to repackage almost everything. Think get rid of all the packaging you can for a couple of reasons. First, cardboard may harbor cockroach or other uninvited critters’ eggs. Second trash is a huge problem for cruisers. The tiny islands we visit don’t have any way to dispose of our trash – they barely can dispose of their own trash. I remember one time in the San Blas Islands of Panama. The Kuna were very industrious about wanting us to pay $1 a bag to take our trash. That seemed reasonable and we gladly paid their fee. Imagine our dismay when we stumbled upon their “garbage dump” — in the water on the mainland next to their island. So getting rid of as much packaging as possible is much easier on the environment.
Now that everything is in it’s freezer baggies – things that come in interior packaging such as cereal get placed inside a freezer baggie to retain freshness. Now I need to be careful because cereal in a baggie is easily crushed and we’re not fans of eating crunched cereal. All the fresh or frozen meat has been repackaged into individual 1 person serving freezer baggies. I spend some time figuring out the most space efficient storage and re-packaging. If there’s any question about what it is, I’ll write on the baggie with a sharpie marker. Don’t underestimate the amount of time it takes to do this project – it’s always MUCH longer than I anticipate! By the time I cut up and repackage all the refrigerated veggies – cauliflower, broccoli, carrot sticks, cleaned radishes, etc (keep in mind, less trash if I clean veggies before I leave the dock), and repackage all the meat and repackage everything, I’ve usually used well over two hours and still don’t have stuff stowed!
When we actually stow the provisions, there are two categories – long term storage – or “the store” and short term storage – stuff I might need in the next week. The stuff I might need in the next week is placed in the storage areas easiest to access. The long term stuff is packed wherever I can fit it, although most goes behind the two settees on either side of the boat. Then once a week or so, I transfer the next week’s stuff to the short term storage area as we use up what’s in there. This way I don’t feel like I’m always rummaging through the mess of cans stacked to the gills of the storage compartment behind the starboard settee.
Unfortunately for us, to use this space to the best advantage there is no alternative to just stacking the cans like this. It makes it very difficult if I’m searching for a particular can, but we try to keep like items bunched together – diced tomatoes, all the kinds of beans, all the kinds of veggies etc. I won’t pretend that this is my ideal solution because it’s not. But we don’t have enough room to deal with it differently. All boats have compromises and this is one of ours. But small price to pay for heading to the Keys and Bahamas for three months!
The other settee has a hybrid of long term and short term storage. Because it’s behind the port settee (NOT in back of the U shaped salon table), it’s much easier to reach. We use it to store all our rice, pasta, flour, sugar, staples that go in freezer baggies and then in these large plastic containers – each labeled on the top with blue tape so I know what’s in it. In addition, there are lots of snacky stuff piled in and around the plastic containers.
Unfortunately, we’ll also have stuff stored everywhere … the top shelf in my clothes closet has bags of cereal, more snacks, boxes of milk, paper towel and cookies, the quarterberth has a large net hammock above filled with potatoes, onions (separated, of course), the hanging basket is filled to the max with sweet potatoes. The quarterberth itself has folding plastic boxes full of provisions I just can’t find any other place to fit. As the cruise progresses, obviously we become more civilized as the food disappears!
Stuffed to the gills and ready to go! If you have better solutions, please leave a comment and share – There is no “right” way to stow provisions, it all depends on your boat and your stuff. The important part is that as soon as David gets the water overboard problem solved, we’re READY TO GO!!! (oh, and it has to quit blowing 20-30!).