Life On Board | Distant Shores Sailing Newsletters

Passage to Azores Part 2 - Arriving

By Paul Shard, copyright 2015. All rights reserved.

Here is a summary of the trip with the pix we put up on Facebook using the IridiumGO unit (see IridiumGO tracker below)… This is the second part of the trip…

Click Here for Part 1

May 25 - Wind is up to 7 knots wow! Will these calms ever end ?? Sailing at 4knots close hauled again. Smooth seas grey skies. All well on board
May 26 - Squalls come through with wind up to 20 then back to 10-15 closehauled. Sailing well with 971 miles to Flores
May 26 - Sailing North! It's noticeably colder now and we're wearing fleece for the first time in years! Sailing close-hauled wind is 15 knots - I start nightwatch. Good night everyone!
May 27 - Closehauled! Lucky we are good at closehauled! Wind is ESE at 10 knots so we are hard on the wind still not pointing the Azores. Today will be a tweaking day trying to maximize the miles made good with this wind. I am nervous to check the forecast since I think we may have more calms!!
May 28 - Sheryl takes over the watch at 0300. Sailing closehauled at 4.5 knots 2 other sailboats around on AIS I'm off to bed
May 28 - Dolphins! Over 100 of the exuberant Common Atlantic Dolphin come by at breakfast. 10-15 play at the now! Lovely!!
Staying in touch!! We're testing the IridiumGo unit on this passage and it has been brilliant! We use sat email (no attachments) upload photos, tweet directly. Dawn in our office posts the photos to FBook! Cool #‎IridiumGO!
Heading north through Azores high means perfect calm seas for a proper dinner!
May 28 - Dinner together at the table!
Thanks to friends Dave and Janice on catamaran "Livin Life" who gave us some mahi mahi they had caught!!
May 29 - Moon set in the Azores high. Wind 2 knot motorsailing north perfect nightwatch. We sailors are all so lucky to see our beautiful planet!
May 31 - My wonderful first mate makes another great dinner at sea. We're sailing in light winds so it's nice and level for cooking otherwise I usually reef or feather the main to stand the boat up to make cooking easier
Downwind rig with genoa sheet run aft. It's a bit rolly downwind so we have the keel down to steady us. Nights are cooler now that we are so far north. Fleece and perhaps a hat
Sunrise on the Atlantic. Have picked up a NW wind Force 4 & are sailing wing & wing into the sun. Flores, Azores, 470nm to the east...
Enjoying the sunshine on my 1100-1400 watch. Breeze up. Sailing wing & wing at 6.5kts. #‎Flores, #‎Azores, 440nm to go. Sailing in company with S/V Indiana, a 39' catamaran that we caught up to last night. They left Puerto Rico on May 11. Track our position at
Atlantic crossings aren't all like this wow a proper sit down Sunday meal with roast duck (tinned) veg and mashed potatoes! The Azores high has given us such settled conditions
Evening watch as the full moon comes up. We are sliding downwind at 5-6 knots wing and wing with just 250 miles to Flores! Good night all!
Pouring rain still brings no more wind! True wind 1-2 knots!! So we motor a bit more. Just 172 miles to go. Can almost taste that dinner ashore.
June 2 - Practicing my Portuguese. 130 miles to go to #‎Flores, #‎Azores! #‎transatDS #‎passagemaking
Auto steering (as usual) we take a break at the bow while filming dolphins! We got some great shots!! Naturally this will be in Season 10 of Distant Shores come sail with us on video as well!!
0603 ps selfie
105 miles from Flores in the Azores! All going well, this will be our last night at sea on this passage. And it's a gorgeous night! Big moon rising as we sail under main & genoa in light west winds. Just spoke to the Dutch sailboat "White Witch in Blue" who I saw on AIS was 9 miles ahead of us. They were anchored beside us in St. Maarten in early May, then sailed to Bermuda with several other Dutch yachts before making the crossing. They left Bermuda 15 days ago. We'll all meet for a drink in Lajes, Flores, tomorrow! #‎transatDS #‎passagemaking #‎sailingadventure
0603 moonrise
38 miles to go!!! 8am and we are on the chart with Flores. Sailing 7 knots but can't see the island yet... Who will "get" the "land ho"? #‎transatDS #‎raymarine #‎navionics
0603 paul and plotter
June 3 - Calamari anyone?? At least 2 came onboard last night. Glad I didn't get hit by that!! 20 miles to go!
0603 squid

First view of land!! 13 miles from the south end of Flores ETA 1500 UTC

Arrived June 3 at 3pm local time - almost exactly 17 days…

We have arrived! We're in the Azores after 17 full days at sea! Distant Shores II is safely tied up in the new marina in Lajes and we have had a good walk to get our land legs back! We'll sleep well tonight and start exploring the island tomorrow. Thanks everyone for all your kind comments and for sharing in our adventures. More to come!

Passage to Azores Part 1 - Week 1

By Sheryl Shard, copyright 2015. All rights reserved.
Here is a summary of the trip with the pix we put up on Facebook using the IridiumGO unit… This is the first part of the trip… Click Here for Part 2

May 17 - Departure
We leave St Martin with the 1030 bridge out of the lagoon. This whole area for hundreds of miles has seen higher than average amounts of Sargasso Weed in the last few months and we try to divert around these house sized floating islands of the orange weed. When it gets caught in our rudders/keel and prop keg we are slowed quite a bit. We reverse and try to clear it every few hours but it is impossible to dodge in the dark. Nice sailing for the first day.
Passage Sun-Thurs - 2
Caribbean breezes take us north. Wind is not too strong and seas not very large so getting our “sea legs” seems easier than it would have if winds were stronger.
Passage Sun-Thurs - 5
We are testing an Iridium Go unit to get email, upload photos and tweets, as well as to access Predictwind and get routing advice and Gribs.
Passage Sun-Thurs - 8
Every morning we have a few flying fish onboard. Sometimes 5-6. They only come on board at night when they can’t see and make the mistake of hitting us in the dark. The first night a large one lands in the cockpit flapping wildly around until I manage to grab his slippery muscular body and toss him overboard.
Passage Sun-Thurs -flyingfish
May 21 - we put in our 4 spare jugs of diesel.
#‎autoprop testing. We are motoring in a "zero wind puddle" and want to extend our range as much as possible. The autoprop adjusts it's pitch so hopefully we will make more miles at low revs than a conventional prop. We have been making 5.6 at just 1600rpm in a flat calm.
May 21 - Wind is just 2-3 knots seagulls around all day. Mainly shearwaters plus tiny British Petrels and flying fish. Good night
Passage Sun-Thurs - 3
May 22 - Sea legs and a calm night mean we can have an amazing dinner! Sheryl makes an excellent flank steak with baked potato and green beans. We even get a small glass of red wine Bon a petit wherever you are!
Passage Sun-Thurs - 7
#‎Sunrise on the Atlantic. Another day of calm weather on Day 6 of our #‎offshorepassage to #‎FloresAzores from the #‎Caribbean
Sailing in the rain. There is a little more wind in the rain shower passing now so we can sail.
We are now one third of the way to the Azores so might expect 10 more days at sea. Fair winds everyone

Sheryl makes dinner as we get ready for nightwatch. Sailing fast closehauled we have reefed the main to slow up a little for the night so we are going 8.2 instead of 9 knots. I slow us to 7 to stand the boat up while making dinner. More comfortable for my wonderful galley chef!
May 23 - Close reaching 7knots main and Genoa. Sher is making bacon and egg sandwiches for breakfast plus cappuccino. All well onboard
May 23 - Morning stroll today's crop of flying fish plus there was also a squid who squirted ink all over deck and dinghy but managed to escape (we hope)
May 24 - Wind is 3 knots on the nose so we motor on a gorgeous sapphire sea. Just saw our first Portuguese man-o-war jellyfish. 1300 miles to go.
Omg- 3kt wind again! ESE breeze motor sailing main and jib weather a bit cooler as we are out of the tropics now nearly half way to Flores
What is this?? Steel tank floating looks like part of a ship. It hasn't been floating long judging by minimal growth in it and good condition. Will try to post more shots of other angles. What is this?? Steel tank floating looks like part of a ship. It hasn't been floating long judging by minimal growth in it and good condition.
May 24 - That she blows!! In the middle of 3-4 sperm whales. Easy to see in calm conditions. Smaller juvenile swims towards us to take a look. He is perhaps 30-35 feet long (full grown are over 50)
Wind is up to 6-8 knots so we are sailing main and jib 32deg apparent at 4.6 knots. Unfortunately the wind is directly from Azores pretty evening. We had another visit from a pod of sperm whales…
Continued Here

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Sailing BVI to St. Martin 2015

By Sheryl Shard, copyright 2015. All rights reserved.

Greetings from the half-French half-Dutch island of St. Martin/St. Maarten in the Caribbean!

Sunset St Maarten 800
Sunset anchored in Simpson Bay Lagoon, St. Maarten

After almost two idyllic months cruising in the British Virgin Islands (BVI) we are now anchored in Simpson Bay Lagoon on the Dutch side of St. Maarten.

Departing the British Virgin Islands
Wednesday March 24 we raised anchor at 0600 and slid off the shallow bank we were anchored on at the mouth of the inner harbour at Road Town, Tortola, in the BVI planning to make an 18-hour non-stop upwind passage to Simpson Bay in St. Maarten. After showering and getting ready to depart, we determined we were too low on water for comfort. We had enough to be fine for the day but decided it would be safer and more convenient to top up our water before sailing offshore across the Anegada Passage. You never know what can happen. So instead of leaving for St. Maarten from Road Town we decided to sail up the Sir Francis Drake Channel to North Sound, Virgin Gorda, where it would be easy to stop at Leverick Bay Marina to fill up on water. The timing was good. It would be open by the time we got there.

Wednesday was a beautiful day with winds E 10-15 and a forecast that the winds would go to the NE in the afternoon, meaning we could sail versus motorsail to St. Maarten for at least half the day. Sailing from North Sound out the Necker Channel would give us an even better angle on the wind improving our chances of sailing upwind so was another good reason for changing our plans to go up there.

We motor-sailed up Sir Francis Drake Channel to make good time for the marina opening and marvelled at how few boats were out at that time of the morning. Not a bad morning commute :-)

Morning commute_Distant Shores II_Paul Shard_800
Leaving the inner harbour at Road Town, Tortola, in the British Virgin Islands

Luckily there was space at the dock when we arrived at Leverick Bay Marina - just a charter catamaran and a mega-yacht with a guy polishing the helicopter on deck - with space for us at the back. Water is 15 cents US per U.S. gallon and we totally filled our water tank for $22.00 US. Even with lots of showering and cooking and washing up we can go for about 2 weeks without a fill. Since we have good water capacity on our Southerly 49, Distant Shores II, we chose not to go with a watermaker on this boat since it's easy to get water where we've been cruising with the boat in Europe and the Caribbean. But at some point we may choose to add one. We had a Schenker watermaker on our previous boat, a Southerly 42.

We quickly filled and set off happy that we hadn't been delayed too much. Life in the galley at sea was going to be much better now that I didn't have to watch the water levels too closely and we could have a good long hot shower when we made landfall later that night.

Crossing the Anegada Passage
I won't go into too much detail about crossing the Anegada Passage since we have made the trip several times and have written about it in previous newsletters about St. Martin plus documented it in Distant Shores episodes in season 6 and season 9. However, I will say that on this trip the air was so clear that we were 40 nm away from the British Virgin Islands before Virgin Gorda disappeared below the horizon and we picked up St. Martin when we were 32 nm away! The whole voyage from Road Town was just over 100 nm.

Silver Cloud II_800
We saw lots of boats including the tallship cruise ship, Sea Cloud II, on the Anegada Passage en route to St. Martin

Arriving in St. Maarten
On this trip the winds never did go to northeast as predicted but picked up to 15-20 knots from the east which was pretty much "right on the nose". Distant Shores II is a long narrow boat with a 10 ft. 3 in. draft with the keel down (2 ft. 10 in. with the keel up for shallow draft) so slices through the waves and goes great to windward so despite this and the time we added for our water stop we were anchor-down at the Simpson Bay anchorage in St. Maarten at 10:30 PM, an hour and a half earlier than we predicted. Woo hoo!

The anchorage at Simpson Bay is large and we've come in there in the dark several times before so it was no problem arriving especially with the moonlight. We anchored at the back of the fleet in 4 metres with a sand bottom, so good holding, and despite it being a little rolly, as it often is here, we slept soundly. The only disturbance we had was at around midnight when a very drunk but happy couple returned to their boat in their dinghy and mistook our boat for theirs so were loudly puzzled why the stern ladder was raised. They burst into gales of laughter when then realized they were trying to board the wrong boat and sped off :-)

The next morning we saw another boat had anchored behind us in the night but the captain must have been very tired and not set his anchor carefully or not put out enough scope. We watched him drag across the harbour and almost out to sea! We couldn't raise him on the radio and we had our dinghy on deck so couldn't chase him but just as we were about to lower it and go after him we saw someone on deck and the situation was remedied.

Simpson Bay Bridge_St (copy)
Coming through the Simpson Bay Bridge, St. Maarten

At 0930 on Thursday morning we caught the Incoming Bridge Opening at the Simpson Bay Bridge (bridge opening times here) and went into the smooth protected waters of Simpson Bay Lagoon where we anchored in our favourite spot in a very shallow but convenient-to-everything spot near the bridge. However we barely had the anchor down when a family in a Bavaria went aground beside us not realizing our Southerly 49 is shallow-draft. This happens all the time so today Paul wrote a new Tech Blog, Warning Shallow Water, that is essentially a field guide to Southerly Yachts. Our boat looks very similar to a new deep-draft Jeanneau so people see our boat and assume there is lots of water around us. We’re getting very good at helping people get their boats off shoals…

After helping the Bavaria get free of the ground, we took the dinghy to the customs dock which is right in by the bridge and cleared in to St. Maarten as well as paid bridge and anchoring fees. Info on clearing in at St. Maarten.

We'll be here for a couple of weeks before heading down-island doing the maintenance and repairs we weren't able to complete when we were here at Christmas before flying home to conduct boat show seminars. On the to-do list is to build a new cockpit hatch, service the freezer and generator, install a new winch base on the mast winch since the support is corroding, make some new oar holders for our Avon dinghy to store them better and pick up our new Sailrite Ultrafeed LSZ-1 Plus sewing machine and get to work on some long overdue canvas projects. Can't wait!

What spring maintenance projects are you working on? We welcome your comments below…

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Provisioning - Starting a Provisioning Notebook to Track Your Use of Supplies

By Sheryl Shard, copyright 2015. All rights reserved.

The delights of shopping in foreign markets.
The colourful market in the Portuguese island of Madeira.

Several months before our first major cruise in 1989, Paul and I started tracking our food and supply usage at home. This was the first step in designing a custom provisions list based on our individual needs and preferences.

We used a small three-ring binder with alphabetical index tabs which now contains complete and thorough lists of all our regular supplies. We entered items alphabetically in our binder every time we went grocery shopping and as we used things around the house and boat.

Over time, we developed a custom inventory of food items, cleaning and maintenance products, household goods and first aid supplies. We made notes beside each entry on how quickly we used things up, in what seasons we tended to eat more of certain foods and the changes in consumption rates of various products when guests stayed for a while.

This book is still our bible for provisioning. We consult it every time we go shopping to remind us of things we need. It is the foundation for our cruising inventory and provides reliable guidelines for how long we can cruise in isolation based on the supplies we have on board at the time.

Of course, when living aboard the boat, your regular eating habits and supply usage change somewhat due to factors such as the availability of certain products, your increased appetites due to physical activity and the galley equipment aboard your boat. However, we have found that our favourite foods at home are still the foundation of our provisions list for the boat.

As we travel, we discover new foods when we explore local markets and sample exotic cuisine in the ports we visit. In Spain, we developed a fondness for custard apples; in the Azores, two local women showed us how to prepare a delicious octopus stew; and in Brazil, a village boy introduced us to a refreshing bottled drink made from the fruit of the cashew tree. We make notes in our binder of any new “finds” and take them into consideration for future provisioning. I'm sure there is an app for this somewhere but my good old fashioned binder notebook that fits easily in my purse or backpack has served me well for years.

In France and the French islands of the Caribbean we discovered sauces in very small jars - handy when cooking for two.

Sometimes, we have to make substitutions or learn to live without products we enjoy at home when they are not available in the areas we are cruising. It was quite a shock to discover that peanut butter is only a staple in North America and difficult to find (or outrageously expensive) in most other countries. Now there is a big note in our provisioning binder to stock up on peanut butter when we’re going foreign!

We also take note of any changes we make in our regular routine while cruising. For example, we're real meat and potatoes people on shore but in many places around the world good meat is hard to find, expensive, or difficult to store. So when we are cruising, we are happier eating more stir-fries, stews and vegetarian meals (which are better for us anyway.)

Like many first-time cruisers, we initially made the mistake of loading the boat with canned goods we would never eat at home because books we had read said they stored well on a boat. If you don't eat canned corned beef or baked beans now, don't put them on the boat. Serving a crew food they hate will make them mutinous. On the other hand, nothing cheers up a wet miserable crew on a rainy night like a delicious meal of their favourite food or a surprise pack of a snack they love.

Building a list of food items and supplies you use regularly and annotating it with notes on how frequently you restock them, takes only a little time and starts you on the road to custom provisioning.

Go with What You Know
There are probably many things on your grocery list that you know how often to buy. For example, we know, without a doubt, that we go through 4 litres of milk every week whether living afloat or ashore. Start with the information that you know, and build from there. Any items you are uncertain about, make a point to observe and record your consumption rate in your provisioning notebook.

Of course, if you are planning a short-term cruise or cruising in an area where shopping is easy, you won’t need such in-depth records to plan your meals. But the longer and further you travel, the more helpful this kind of detailed information becomes.

When Paul and I were building our first boat, Two-Step, and our Atlantic cruise was a far-off dream, designing our stores list became an uplifting project after busy day's work. We'd quickly forget the stresses at the office as we added items to our provisioning binder and discussed the supplies we'd need for an ocean passage or a winter in the tropics.

Fuel your imagination as you create a master list of foods and supplies important to you!

Creating Your Own Provisioning Binder, Notebook or Spreadsheet
A good way to begin a custom provisions list for your cruise is to set up a binder, notebook or spreadsheet to record the supplies you use regularly. (There may even be an app for this that I haven't discovered yet. If you've found one you use, please let me know.)

Whenever you shop for food, household items or marine supplies, add the items to your book so you will have a master list of the common supplies you depend on.

The next step is to record the rate at which you consume them. This way, you will know how long things will last during your voyage and how often you will need to replace them.

A laundry marker and masking tape are useful tools to help you record the consumption rate of each item on your master list. Whenever you open a new tube of toothpaste, write that day's date on it with the laundry marker. When it's all used up, record the number of weeks it took to finish it.

Repeat the process a few times to get an average. For items that you can't or don't want to write on, such as paper towels, write the date on a piece of masking tape and stick it inside a nearby cupboard door.

Every couple of weeks, go through a cupboard in your kitchen, storage room, or the lockers in your boat to remind yourself of items that you don't buy regularly but like to have on hand. Certain spices, soup mixes, and cleaning products fit into this category for us. Add them to your lists and estimate how often you'll have to replace them if you are planning a long-term cruise.

These records are invaluable when provisioning for your cruise since they reflect your personal needs and preferences.

Check out more articles on Provisioning here.
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Keeping Romance Alive while Cruising

Paul Shard Sheryl Shard Distant Shores2

Thirty years ago this week Paul and I did a bareboat charter in the British Virgin Islands with some school friends and decided we were going to get married and fulfill our dream of building a boat and going cruising.

After launching our first boat, Two-Step in 1988, the Classic 37 we built together.

And we are back in the British Virgin Islands this week celebrating this decision! We're here on board our third boat, our Southerly 49 sailboat, Distant Shores II, having sailed 100,000 nautical miles and completed 5 transatlantic crossings over the years that we've spent visiting and documenting our experiences for television in countries in the Caribbean, Mediterranean, Northern Europe and Scandinavia as well as South and North America. So much to celebrate!

"But how can you two spend so much time in a small space and still get along?!" we are often asked.

The secret? Romance!

Paul Shard Sheryl Shard Distant Shores4
September 21, 2014, we celebrated 25 years of international cruising together

I thought that since it is Valentine's Day today, the topic of how to keep romance alive while cruising might be an interesting one. It is a topic that isn't discussed very much since when you start planning a cruise you tend to get deep into studies of safety and survival. As instructors and course designers for the Extended Cruising course (initially the Offshore Cruising course) of the Canadian Power and Sail Squadrons, Canada's largest boating safety and navigation training institution, Paul and I know and respect the importance of building skills to prevent accidents on the water and gaining knowledge to deal with emergencies at sea should they arise.

However, from our observations, the thing that destroys people's dreams of sailing off into the sunset more than improper safety procedures is that, as they get into the execution of their cruising plans, they forget about the Romance with which the dream is usually born - thoughts of sailing off into the sunset with a loved one across turquoise seas with no schedule, of candlelit dinners together in the cockpit anchored in an idyllic bay watching the sun set, feeling warm trade wind breezes on their faces, the excitement of arriving at a new exotic port after a well-executed passage together, walking hand in hand along deserted golden sand beaches…

Paul Shard Sheryl Shard Distant Shores5
A beach to ourselves at Atwood Harbour, Aklins Island, Bahamas

Instead they get mired in lists of equipment, gear and provisions that focus on getting through storms at sea. (Lists that don't include packing sexy lingerie so you can play out your fantasies with the one you love on an adventure of a lifetime!) Freedom is the goal but when they get out there they can't give up scheduling every minute, they stick to plans that don't go with the flow or even suit the weather and just make things miserable for themselves and their crew. Where's the romance in that?

Romance gets you through a lot of bad times and, I have to say, along with all the amazing wonderful enriching experiences there will be challenging times in the cruising lifestyle. You are more affected by weather and cultural differences and language barriers and equipment breakdowns and you don't know where to get things since you're always in new places and you don't have your car to make things easy and something as simple as laundry can take the whole day plus a host of other issues you don't even think about at home.

But a Romantic attitude can minimize troubles and prevent things from coming between you and your mate.

Planning for Romance starts with showing super consideration for another person - remembering to always say thank you for the nice things they do for you, slowing down if they are feeling rushed or insecure (cruising is a whole new lifestyle after all), respecting their fears even if unfounded and finding ways to make them feel comfortable, safe and loved. Never putting them down or making fun of them in public, especially with new people you're meeting as you travel. Making nice gestures such as letting them sleep a little longer when they're off-watch and the weather is crummy. Going out of your way to find foods they like in foreign ports and cooking their favourite meals or taking them out to dinner now and then.

Paul Shard Sheryl Shard Distant Shores6
Dinner out and dancing to the steel band at Deadman's Beach Bar, British Virgin Islands

Not asking them to work at the chart table or down in the galley when the boat is pitching uncomfortably. Turning back to port even if "everyone else is going" when your mate isn't happy with the conditions. Giving them "alone time" when they need it which is more often when you're living in a small space such as a boat. Tolerating their friends who are necessary to their happiness. Creating a budget that allows them to call home often to stay in touch with family and friends if that's important to them.

Romance seems to go hand and hand with a sense of adventure and making things fun and exciting. Paul and I have a lot of fun together! And we are constantly finding ways to have a good time together and looking at situations to make them fun. When one of us gets upset about something we try to defuse the situation with humour. Life is too short to hold a grudge or stew in anger. And when you're cruising there are so many exciting beautiful things to share together each and every day that you don't want to waste a minute being angry with one another. Keeping that in perspective really makes a difference.

So if you're planning a cruise or are in the midst of one that you're losing your enthusiasm for, think of ways you can add a sense of romance and adventure. Plan celebrations that show your loved one you appreciate him/her and the new things that cruising is bringing to your lives. Surprise them by fulfilling a few of their fantasies!

How about you? What are your favourite ways to make things Romantic and keep things Fun with your Sweetheart? I urge you to start thinking of things and becoming more Romantic today. It does make life delightful…

Paul Shard Sheryl Shard Distant Shores3

Happy Valentine's Day!

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10 Tips for Cooking at Sea

By Sheryl Shard, Copyright 2015. All rights reserved.
Up until now most of my newsletters have focused on our travels with the aim of sharing our experiences to help you plan your own adventures in the many different destinations we have visited during 23 years of international cruising. But one of the most popular boat show seminars we conduct is "Outfitting and Provisioning for Cruising", so I thought for a change that I’d write about something related to this and Life On Board. Today’s topic is Cooking at Sea.
transatlantic crossing crew eat dinner
A calm day on the Atlantic with Paul and friend, Matt Heron. After days of rough weather and strenuous watch-keeping during the 2012 Atlantic Rally for Cruising (ARC) it was nice to have a sit-down meal together in the cockpit . Photo by Sheryl Shard

One of the things Paul and I love about cruising is that we have more time to prepare and enjoy delicious meals than when we’re rushing around during our busy lives ashore. We love to shop in foreign markets, experiment with new foods, and entertain friends aboard our Southerly 49 sailboat, Distant Shores II.
Cured ham at the city market in Valencia, Spain. Photo by Paul Shard.

When on passages, however, food preparation takes on a different meaning and significance. Good nutritious meals are important to maintaining our health and energy at sea, not to mention our sense of well-being when spending weeks in isolation on an ocean crossing. But the physical challenges of passage-making sometimes make meal preparation an energy-depleting exercise. In rough weather it can be downright dangerous.
paul wearing foul weather gear in rain
Paul at the helm after wet crossing of the North Sea from Shetland to Norway. Photo by Sheryl Shard
More injuries at sea are caused by working in the galley than in any other way – burns from hot spills, cuts from knives or rough edges of cans, bruises and worse from lost footing while juggling pots and pans in rough weather. During 23 years of international cruising, Paul and I have developed a set of guidelines that has made cooking at sea easy, safe and pleasurable:
sailboat galley at sea
The galley on our Southerly 49 sailboat, Distant Shores II, set up for sea. Photo by Sheryl Shard.

Top 10 tips for Cooking at Sea

1. Prepare meals ahead of time: Before leaving on a passage, we try to prepare as many meals as possible before we leave the dock. It takes a few days for your body to adjust to around-the-clock watch routines so make everything easy. Like many long-distance sailors, Paul is especially susceptible to seasickness during the first 3 days of a passage so we plan light, easily digestible foods.
2. Store everything you need for meal preparation near the galley: If everything is close at hand, you will do a better job of preparing good meals since it will be less tiring than running here and there digging deep in lockers on a pitching boat. You will also be less likely to fall or injure yourself.
3. Know what you’ve got and where it is: Don’t waste your time and energy digging through lockers unnecessarily. Keep a good inventory list so you know exactly what you’ve got and where it is.
4. Top everything up before you leave the dock: Running out of dish detergent, having to change a toilet paper roll or finding the flour canister empty can bring me to tears if a storm is raging. Topping everything up before you leave the dock reduces effort and irritation.
5. Clean the boat like crazy: Odours can do you in if you’re on the verge of “mal de mar”. Make sure there are no sour sponges, dirty dish towels, gruesome laundry or icebox gremlins waiting to turn your stomach. Do your best to clean up spills so you don’t slip and fall. Check your fresh produce supply regularly so you’re not caught out by a rotting potato or mildewed melon.
6. Add safety features and use them: The safer you feel in the galley, the more pleasant your galley tasks will be. There should be lots of handholds in the galley and a galley strap at the stove so when the going gets rough the chef doesn’t land in the soup. We have pot clamps on our gimballed propane stove to keep things where they should be. We have a stainless steel safety bar in front of the stove (between the cook and “the cooker”) for added protection from burns. At sea I also cover our countertops with non-skid mats to keep bowls and utensils from flying around.
7. Keep it simple: When the weather is rough, it’s really better to stay out of the galley, if possible. Design meals to be quick and easy. We snack a lot on passages, especially in foul weather, often having several small meals rather than three major productions per day. It’s easier on the digestion and easier on the cook.
8. Come up for air: Stick your head out the companionway occasionally if you’re going to be in the galley for a while. It clears your head and makes you feel better.
9. Make clean-up easy: Design your meals so clean-up isn’t a major chore. One-pot dinners served on paper plates makes life easier for everyone when the going gets rough.
10. Make time to sit together and eat: Being only 2 people on a yacht most times while underway can make it tempting to alternate long watches and pass each other like ships in the night. Help your relationship and avoid loneliness by sitting and eating together. Even if it is only for 10 minutes, take the time to catch up and ask each other how you're feeling.
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