I guess we should talk about the really important stuff before we get to the panties.
While there were many, many critical provisions we needed to stock on the boat, fuel was one of the first items to come up during our initial crew briefings at Yannick’s house. If your goal is to get the boat across the pond without stopping, there are only two ways that can happen: wind or fuel.
Andanza carries 90 gallons of fuel, which sounds like a lot but considering the distance we needed to cover (4,600 nautical miles), it would not really get us that far. Yannick had calculated an approximate consumption rate of 0.5 gallons an hour per engine, running at about 1,800 RPMs, which he had determined was the optimal, most efficient range for the engines. He also found running both engines at the same time only added 0.5 knots in speed for double the fuel consumption, so he had decided we should only run one engine at a time as needed. (Know there is some debate out there as to whether this puts unnecessary strain on the propulsion system. What? Boat owners with differing opinions? No way! Yannick researched it and made an executive decision that the decrease in fuel consumption was justified over the potential strain on the sail drives.) Running only one engine at a time translated to roughly 180 hours of tank burning time which would carry us about 1,000 nautical miles purely motoring. The plan was to bring aboard additional Jerry jugs of fuel, each jug giving us an approximate additional 10 hours of motoring, with the amount of jugs TBD considering the additional weight they would bring aboard.
We eventually decided on 11 jugs, stored in the foreward starboard bow. That locker is massive. I can stand up in it!
The funny thing is, as Yannick and Phillip both pointed out, you cannot possibly bring enough fuel to motor across the entire ocean. The boat could not carry it all (and likely could not move with that much added weight). So, once you decide to go anyway, the risk is really the same whether you have 50 gallons, or 90 or 150. We simply brought an amount we thought would help “fill the gaps” when we would have to motor sail or just motor because the wind was not behaving. The plan was to sail as often as we could.
The catamaran has a 100 gallon water tank on the boat. While that sounds like a lot, it also is not much when you consider the washing, cooking, cleaning, and bathing you have to do with that same water, in addition to just drinking it. The boat also had a water maker but we weren’t really sure how well it would work, how much water it would produce and whether that water would even be drinkable. Brandon and Yannick worked on the water maker while Andanza was in the yard and it was reportedly working well, although we all were a little leery about testing it. (To be blunt about it, no one wanted to get the sh%ts!)
Yannick reported to us during the weeks before shove-off that the water maker was working and producing about 3/4 gallon per minute. Quite a bit. He bought a water tester to see how many parts per million (meaning dissolved solids … could be salt, could be fish poop or oil, who knows) and we tested the second batch he made during our first sail on the boat in Pensacola Bay. Yannick told us the first batch registered at 290 ppm and this second batch was now at 66, which is very low. However, we still made him do the actual drinking first.
Phillip couldn’t make it out with us the first time we went out on the catamaran (remember all of that pesky work stuff we were doing to get ready to leave the country) and I told him about the water testing when I got home. His first question: “Where was the first batch made?” Knowing zip about water makers at the time and thinking nothing of it, I told him: “Bayou Chico.” Ruh-roh. Phillip was definitely worried that the filthy water from the bayou had been run through the water maker and we learned later the maker should only be used when you’re in the cleanest water possible. (The Atlantic Ocean would be a great place to start!) But, it seemed to be working fine at the time (Yannick had not yet reported any sh%ts) and it was likely whatever water it made could at least be used for cleaning, bathing, etc. (Another small worry was the fact that the water maker fed straight into the main water tank. Meaning, if the water it made was contaminated, it could spoil our entire supply. For this reason, Yannick always diverted the initial production into a separate gallon for testing before he let it run into the main tank.)
There was also the possibility that the main 100-gallon tank could be contaminated somehow, or that it could crack and leak out. After fuel, water was our most important provision on the boat. We wanted to stock as much water as possible (considering space and weight) to carry us across the ocean. Yannick bought 15 cases (36 water bottles each) of water for the trip and Phillip and I packed the bilges of the boat with a total of 540 water bottles.
Each crew member was responsible for packing his or her own ditch bag with the usual supplies (life jackets, GPS, flares, emergency food and water, etc.) We would also each be bringing our own hydrostatic life jackets with tethers to clip into the jack lines.
Yannick’s boat was equipped with an EPIRB for the vessel (located near the nav station below) and he also had a beacon on his life jacket that would sound an MOB alarm if Yannick fell overboard. Phillip and I brought our own personal EPIRB to keep with us when we were on night watch in case one of us fell over. Yannick also had a green laser light on his jacket that could be seen from (I can’t really remember) like twenty miles or something. For intentional overboard, Phillip and I brought an old wet suit that would be donated to the boat in case anyone had to go overboard (to un-foul the prop for example) and Yannick had a dry suit as well.
We also had many haling devices.
Yannick testing the Delorme’s capabilities in flight. It tracked him the entire way!
Counting everyone’s individual cell phones, hand-held GPSs, iPads and such as well as the two chart plotters on the boat and other electronics (Delorme, sat phone, etc.), Yannick predicted we would have approximately 15 GPS devices on the boat. Needless to say, PLENTY. While a ditch of the boat was not something anyone really thought would happen, we had to plan for the possibility. I can assure you there were many, many discussions about ditch gear. And, with the life raft having arrived (just days before we were set to leave), if in fact the moment did come, we would now be ditching the boat in much better shape.
There she is!
To be honest, our primary concern was significant injury to a crew member (think illness, broken bone or infection) or a man overboard. There were also many discussions about everyone’s respective first aid experience, known procedures, and the proper response and duty of all crew members if a man fell overboard. Yannick explained many times (likely because he had to, the electronics on his boat are dizzying) how to set off the MOB alarm on the chart plotter and what each crew member should do to safely retrieve the fallen crew member and get him (okay, or her!) back on board. Our primary defense to injury and emergencies was what Yannick continually referred to as “discipline.” This included:
- Moving around the boat slowly and with caution;
- Clipping in at night or in rough seas;
- Never leaving the cockpit alone during a night shift;
- Monitoring and timely responding to health problems (fevers, infections, malaise, etc.).
We also discussed the known possibility that catamarans, because they do not heel, can get unknowingly overpowered with too much wind on the beam. This was discussed and it was decided we would always put a first reef in at 20 knots of wind, a second reef at 25, and a third reef at 30. The crew agreed we would also always reef at sunset. Sailing cautiously and conservatively was another huge part of our safety plan.
Let’s just say we had way, waaaay too much medical crap on the boat. Yannick had a fantastic supply of antibiotics, which was one of our top concerns. Johnny, having been a paramedic in a previous life, also had great wound care and suture kits to supply. Phillip and I cleaned out all of our band-aids, bandages, Neosporin, Ibuprofen, etc. from Plaintiff’s Rest and contributed that. And, we brought many varieties of seasickness prevention.
While neither Johnny, Phillip Yannick nor myself were prone to seasickness (thank goodness because once we shoved off for France, we were looking at 30+ days at sea), many folks had told Phillip and I that the motion of the catamaran is just “different” and that it’s possible for people who do not get seasick on a monohull to get seasick on a catamaran. So, we were prepared.
I hope as you’re reading through this, you’re starting to get a sense of how much planning really goes into making a passage like this. Yannick was good at delegating items like this (i.e., rounding up everyone’s first aid gear and making a combined, non-duplicative kit for the boat) to each of us so no efforts were wasted. Phillip and I were responsible for preparing the boat’s first aid kit as well as food-planning for the passage. Phillip specifically requested this task as it had already been decided among the crew that he would serve as Andanza‘s head chef for the passage. (You recall Yannick’s “gut it and put soy sauce on it” approach.) I worked on the watch schedule, the window sealing and inventorying the boat while Yannick and Johnny completed the work on the starboard sail drive once the parts arrived from Italy. Hooray!
We all had many, many jobs to do during those tumultuous two weeks before departure.
Clothing and Gear:
Phillip and I found it a little difficult to pack for this trip for two reasons: 1) we needed clothes for extremely hot conditions (think bikinis in the Gulf of Mexico), potentially very cold conditions (spitting rain in the North Atlantic) as well as a few somewhat stylish pieces for France and 2) we needed to be able to fly home with only two checked bags. Our goal was to bring many things with us on the trip that could be shed (meaning thrown away, used as rags, or donated to good will) once we got to France so our packing for the flight home would be minimal. This proved even more difficult as most of our carry-home luggage was already going to be filled with items we needed to bring back–i.e., our foul-weather gear, life jackets, tethers, electronics (sat phone), etc.
For me, the clothing items that proved to be the most comfortable and useful were wool socks, long johns and anything synthetic or quick-dry. I will never set off on a long off-shore passage again with as much cotton as we brought for this crossing. It never (ever!) dried completely. Our plan to bring clothing that could be discarded once we got to shore was good, in theory, but it put us at a disadvantage in that most of the clothes we already had that we were willing to part with once we got to France were cotton and many of the items we purchased were cotton (because they’re cheaper). I now know why high-performance gear is more expensive … because it performs. Phillip and I did have a great time, however, watching the Wal-Martians for a bit and picking up a lot of cheap, throw-away goodies and toiletries for the trip.
This is where I found my infamous Paris Panties!
Seriously, they had little Eiffel Towers and other Paris icons on them. Some even said “Bon Voyage.” How friggin’ perfect?!
Another really cool item we had was a complete set of Third Reef foul weather gear (jackets, bibs and boots) for the entire crew donated by West Marine. You can tell I was a little too excited when I made the pick-up at the store. It was a very generous offering and the gear proved to be perfect for our cold, wet days and nights in the north Atlantic!
Now for the really important stuff. FOOD. As you’ve seen from our initial briefing with Yannick, we quickly learned he is decidedly not a “foodie,” so Phillip was quick to step in to fill the role of head chef for the passage and handle the planning for food. While the boat did have a rather large fridge (with a small icebox) as well as a separate, almost as large, freezer, Phillip continually warned me: “You have to expect they might go out.” Brandon had actually told us a fun story of a trip he made from Bermuda to New York where the freezer went out in the first few days and he and the crew had to eat meat for breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert, before it spoiled. “It was SPAM after that,” he said. *gulp*
I wasn’t nearly as concerned about the canned goods conundrum as Phillip was. I’m a bit like Yannick in that, if it was me, I’d be fine opening a can every day, eating out of it and drinking the veggie juice after! Proof:
Phillip, however, is a bit more gourmet. And for good darn reason. The man is an exceptional cook. I am grateful and honored every evening he cooks us up a feast better than I have had at any fine-dining restaurant. These are, seriously, just a few of his at-home creations:
Arugula, pear & blue cheese salad:
Stuffed bell pepper:
Braised short ribs:
For this, reason, Phillip was definitely gunning to be in charge of the food. He spent a lot of time planning the meals and preparing the grocery list for the passage. His plan was to get about a week’s worth of good, fresh stuff we could eat in the beginning before it spoiled. The second week, we would be defrosting things we froze (pork, ground beef, shrimp, etc.) as well as cooking up the last of the hearty vegetables – cabbage, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, potatoes, etc. Once the perishable goods were gone, it was on to the canned goods as well as non-refrigerated eggs, UHT milk, sardines and the infamous Spam (which actually is quite gourmet these days as part of a pineapple slider!). This was Phillip’s list of planned meals.
I have included a link for Phillip’s complete shopping list for the passage in this week’s Patreon post, “Phillip’s Provision List,” which includes food, safety gear and other equipment needed for the trip.
Then it was time to go grocery shopping … Holy crap did we go shopping!
Yannick met us at the Commissary on the Navy Base in Pensacola so we could get boat-loads (no pun intended) of large quantities of food at a good price. Phillip divvied the list up among us. I had three pages of canned goods, pasta, crackers and snacks to get. Yannick was sent to produce, while Phillip dove into dairy and meat. Shoppers eyed me strangely as I filled my cart with multiple 12-can packs of canned peas, corn, potatoes, pineapples, tomatoes, carrots, tuna and more. I ran into Yannick somewhere near the Velveeta and it looked like he was pushing a bush around the Commissary. His cart was brimming with leafy greens, carrots, cabbage and bags of apples and oranges. He called it his “barge” and then he ran it straight into a 5-Hour Energy display and sent those little cocaine-filled energy bullets rolling everywhere. We had accumulated four “barges” by then and were definitely turning heads all over the store.
Things only got more comical after that. As we pushed our four carts (‘scuse me, barges) toward the check-out lane, people started to stack up behind us, pointing, whispering, then finally asking us what the heck we needed all those groceries for. It was fun to tell them: “Because we’re sailing across the Atlantic!” We were all so proud! Thankfully our checkout girl was phenomenal and she started zipping us right through. “No bags,” said Yannick.
After the 5-Hour Energy incident, several floor managers had come out to help “escort” us through the check-out process, which was probably a good call. As our goods were ooching along the conveyor belt toward the cash register a shoe-boxed size carton of grape tomatoes got the bump, crashed to the floor and sent little red balls rolling everywhere. While Yannick and I scrambled to pick them up, a manager worked to finish unloading my cart and he dropped a half-gallon size bottle of Dawn on my foot where it ended it’s life after in a goopy puddle on the floor.
I swear I can’t make this stuff up. There he is with a handful of Dawn-soaked paper towels cleaning it up! Better put out a “Wet Floor” sign, sir. We’re lawyers you know.
It’s a good thing Yannick was moving back to France, because I don’t think they’d want to see him in there again. That was wild. I’m surprised we were able to cram all of the Commissary crap into Yannick’s Explorer but somehow we did. Yannick called his technique “pyramiding.”
I thought the tailpipe was going to drag. Buying all of the food and getting it in and out of the Explorer proved to be the easy part, however. Once we got it all onto the boat, trying to figure out where in the world it should all go turned out to be the real puzzle.
We stocked every cubby!
Inside the fridge:
We wanted to try, as best we could, to stock items according to frequency of use while being sensitive to location on the boat (i.e., moisture or potential for breakage or spilling), while also trying, as best we could, to inventory the items so we could somehow find them later. This had to occur within about about an hour and a half’s time before the boat needed to be cleaned up so we could finish other projects, actually move aboard and have the boat presentable enough to host a little farewell party at the dock. At the time the boat looked like this:
This was just days before we shoved off. With the time constraints, I will say we did not stock that boat as well as we should have and we paid for it during the passage with the loss of some produce and the occasional discovery of a molded unidentifiable object in a dark corner of the boat. Friends, don’t let moldy unidentified objects happen to YOU. In hopes of helping prevent that, I have included below some offshore provisioning tips (some earned from our very own lessons learned aboard ANDANZA) in case any of you are planning for an offshore passage soon. (I hope so!)
1. Discard all boxes and any unnecessary packaging. Put as many things as you can in Ziplock bags (often double-bagged). I found it useful to tear off the instructions and put them in the bag with the food for identification as well as instructions for cooking.
2. Do not stow “breakables” in hidden or sloshing lockers. If there is a chance the container could roll, puncture or spill, try to stow it somewhere visible or packed in such a way as to prevent collision and rupture.
3. You do not have to refrigerate as many items as you think. We bought several containers of UHT milk (Annie loves her Grape Nuts in the morning) and refrigerated only as needed. We also had cartons of never-before-refrigerated eggs that will keep for weeks if turned over once every week. Also, many vegetables (tomatoes, carrots, zucchini, cabbage, etc.) and condiments (mayo can stay out as long as the utensil used is always clean as well as butter) do not have to be refrigerated. Many people simply throw them in the fridge out of habit. And, little tip on the un-refrigerated eggs: If you’re worried they may have turned, put them through the “float test.” Submerge the questionable egg in water. If it sinks to the bottom, you’re good to go. If it floats, toss it out.
4. Stow onions and bananas separately. They tend to accelerate the ripening of any fruits and vegetables near them.
5. Watch out for the “frozen tundra” around the portion of the fridge that is a freezer. We had many produce items (carrots, zucchini, etc.) get pushed too close to the small box freezer in the fridge and we lost them to freezing. We found packaged cheeses and meats survived the freeze just fine. Beer also worked as a great freezer buffer.
6. High calorie/protein snacks serve you better than candies and sugar. If you’re heading up on deck for your night watch or to handle something that may require energy for hours, peanuts, peanut butter and protein or energy bars were a good idea to grab on the way out. We stocked a lot of Nature Vally granola bars, peanut butter crackers, nuts as well as peanut butter and Nutella for this reason.
7. Mesh bags or hammocks are best for fruits and vegetables. It keeps them dry and visible (great to both remind you to eat them and make sure they’re not “turning”). We lost a bag of oranges because I stowed them in a dark locker and we all forgot about them. You don’t want to know what they looked (and felt like) upon discovery …
8. If you have time, write the name of the canned good in Sharpie on its top. This makes it much easier to see when searching a large locker for a single type of canned good.
9. Freeze as much meat as you can. Yannick’s wife made us a huge batch of frozen pulled pork which was fantastic to pull out every 4-5 days and make for lunch or dinner. All we had to do was thaw, heat and add BBQ sauce. We also had a good bit of shrimp in the freezer as well as two pork loins as well as ground turkey and beef. Oh, and bread. Bread was one of the most quickly-consumed items, but it was still hard to keep up with the growing mold on a damp boat. Freeze as much bread as you can for longevity.
10. Stow away some treats for special occasions. We had some frozen peanut butter M&Ms (my favorite!) that Yannick’s wife tucked away for my birthday, home-made pepper jelly that was poured over cream cheese for Johnny’s birthday, as well some nice cheeses and a bottle or two of wine that we saved for certain milestones or celebratory-worthy events (like making it to the Azores!). “Pop!” went the champagne after we docked. Little culinary boosts like this are great for crew morale.
I also welcome any additional tips you all may have for best packing and preserving food for long offshore passages. Please share them in a comment below.
One of the best things I believe we were able to accomplish while stowing away all of those goods, was creation of a complete inventory list, documenting how many cans or boxes of what went where. It is a lot of work in the beginning to tediously document all of those items, but well worth it while you are voyaging and looking for that one stupid can of sardines! I typed it up that night (I believe it was around midnight May 26th), Phillip printed at the office the next day before we officially moved onto the boat (May 27th) and it served as our official, incredibly helpful “Inventory List” for the entire passage. I have included a link for that as well in this week’s Patreon post. Here is a sample from one of our largest (and only one of what ended up being 14 total) food lockers on the boat:
So, provisioning …. whew. Done.
Are you tired yet? We were! But, we were running on French fumes and Atlantic-crossing adrenaline. Who’s ready to sail to France? Next week, we shove off!!
Thank Patron, Carl (aka “Chief Corrao”) for the shove here. My Patrons make all of this fun adventure sharing possible. Get Inspired & Get on Board!