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2012-12-21

Yule be launching soon...

...which is what I'm saying on this, the shortest day of the year and, according to the more excitable among us, the End Times. Given that we launch in the spring, the Apocalypse can piss off, thanks very much. I've far too much to get done, and if any skeletal Horseman should manifest, he can tie a line to his spectral pommel  and provide enough purchase to help me to get the rudder off.

And as I've finished the obligate Christmas shopping, I think I will lay a charge on the extracted boat batteries in the garage, do a bit of house chores, and contemplate a Terrible future.

This is Terrible:


Note: Less terrible, more delicious
I am looking forward to it, although I suppose this would be more in keeping with the day:

From the same brewery. I do like their work
Personally, I take it as a point of pride that I drink better than any Mayan ever did.
Happy Solstice to all, and to all a fine holiday. May the deity, folkloric character or rational concept of your choosing grace you with health and enough wealth to upgrade your boat next year, and may your path to a happy life on the waters be lit with the ever-increasing sunlight of approaching summer.

(Invert as required for Southern Hemispheric readers, of course!)

2012-12-13

Time for OCD? Yes

With all the rules, regulations, check-lists, acronyms, memory work, methodical stowage and general fussiness associated with good seamanship, one could be forgiven with linking successful sailoring and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Maybe even a touch of the 'Spergers.
Yes, it's 12.12.12, 12:12:12 hours, EST
Being largely unconscious of why I interrupted my holiday shopping to take this picture in a busy mall I seldom otherwise patronize, I shall not argue the point too strenuously. I will note that the time on my hands is precise, indeed atomic, despite my cracked crystal.

Write your own jokes here about my mental makeup on this otherwise meaningless post. Assuming we aren't headed for the Mayan Apocalypse, in which case I'll be below decks with the rum stocks.

A brief anecdote on the subjective nature of time: In the context of hearing a joking reference to "when will the slaughter of our oldest citizens cease? A new oldest person seems to die every couple of weeks!", I recalled that some 20 years ago, I had a girlfriend whose mother was adopted in the 1940s by a middle-aged woman who couldn't have kids, hence the adoption.

When I knew her (my girlfriend's granny) in the early '90s, she was 101. Her own grandmother had lived until 98, and had been born in 1819. The two, 1819 grandma and 1890s grandma, had been close, and many "old timey" stories had been exchanged.

So, my girlfriend's grandmother's grandmother had a) been born in the same year as Queen Victoria, b) had been born before Napoleon had died, c) had children before the widespread arrival of photography, and d) at the age of 18 had personally witnessed events in Toronto that were part of the 1837 Rebellion, a minor historical event, but one that led to the formation of Canada as an independent country, which happened when grandma's grandma was already middle-aged.

Hence, old people are like time machines. Get an oldie who knew an oldie as a kid, and you can hear at one remove human experiences nudging 200 years old. If you are fortunate, you may hear them as well. I realized recently that some scary old guys in my youth, particularly one I recall with a bandaid where his nose should've been, were actually World War I veterans, who of course would have been 70-80 years old in the late '60s when I was a nipper. I suppose, being capable of math, I knew that, but I have been quite used to the idea that they were mostly dead, most of my life, and that WWII guys were "the elders". One fails to take into account that they are aging at the same rate as everyone else, and that time is a very slippery customer.

2012-11-18

Knowing when to fold 'em

Practical or flat-water toy?

About two and a half years ago, I wrote on the subject of recent developments in folding boats, a seemingly fertile ground for the inventive sailor or otherwise aquatically inclined traveller.

Fertile ground is usually seeded with money, and the website Kickstarter allows crowd-sourced funding of little inventions. One which recently caught my eye was an 11-kilo vessel touted as a revolutionary folding kayak. It's been successful in getting press, and plenty of attention from the alternative outdoorsy types.

Batteries not required, but can it stand battery in general?


But at eight hundred bucks per, it had better work. Compactness is the main draw of folding boats, but durability is very much an issue. If you lived in an apartment next to a canal system or a big pond, I can very much see this as an attractive means of kayaking for the space-challenged. The downside for the cruiser, of course, is that there's very little space for cargo. Cruisers' tenders need to haul things back and forth, although this would be ideal for exploring a mangrove swamp or a calm lagoon if you only packed a lunch

And there are few more space-challenged than aboard a sub-50 foot cruising sailboat.

Here's a video of the kayak being folded up:


Interestingly, there are several less-polished versions of the same basic "coroplast kayak/boat" concept:


and this one, which is made of wood for the traditionalists among you:


I like the idea of foam or inflatable tubes lashed to the gunwhales of a tender. It's one used by the Walker Bay tender manufacturers and it's an idea I intend to adapt for our own Portabote and nesting dinghy

Still, it seems that there are many ways to construct folding boats, and the field seems full of interesting ideas and unusual materials. Whether they would suit cruisers as real-life tenders in sometimes choppy conditions will become clear with use and anecdote.

2012-11-10

Too good...and bad...not to share

I don't often post non-original material, but this was too good a horrible warning not to.


What astounds me is the patience and willingness to help of those sailors in the Zodiacs. Could it be an acknowledgement that "they've all been there", or simply that the presence of the charter fleet and their sometimes woefully inexperienced crews is part of the price for "another day in Paradise"? I find their forbearance inspiring, anyway. Maybe while they were helping, spouses and crew were dialling 1-800-UHITMEE.

Some European sailors are critical (and rightly so, in my opinion) that North American recreational sailors, and particularly Americans from certain underregulated states, are not required to have much, if anything, in the way of licencing or boater education in order to operate a boat.

Clearly, a landlubber or daysailer handed the keys to a Sun Odyssey 42 or an equivalent large cruiser is not likely to be the smoothest operator in a crowded anchorage. Most sailors I've met in Canada and the States seem to exhibit a prudent attitude and a willingness to learn, if not in a regulated fashion, but the official qualifications absent or minimal (like Canada's PCOC) are only part of the story.

A basic grasp of physics as it pertains to objects in motion comes into play, and without that, you can get into trouble quickly. The fellow I share my 33 footer with is a long-time passenger jet co-pilot: his docking is a thing of beauty to watch because he is very used to the idea of incremental applications of power to relatively heavy moving objects. Ergo, he docks with the snooker-expert finesse that took me, a non-driver of everything but boats and bicycles, some time to acquire, and I still have to buff out the odd graze on the topsides.

By way of contrast and comparison, here's an example of great helming in extreme conditions. Note particularly that the skipper has aimed for the seawall, knowing he'll be slewed sideways by a big wave, which will allow him to pass into his basin.



The counter-argument against licensing and certification of boaters is that even in places with more onerous licensing regimes than in North America, you can get idiotic behaviour on, in this case, the roads:





The short form of this is "you can't fix stupid, but you can give it a licence." I've been informed that most of the really bad stuff here is from Eastern Europe, which may play into the stereotype of the fatalistic Slav...I'll leave that to others to determine. I don't even own a car (although I can drive) and have no current road licence.

It is true, however, that the lack of educational qualifications to drive a boat in much of the Caribbean is what makes credit-card captains (a great term, by the way) makes the charter business possible.

And the charter insurance business. Man, talk about a job for life. I hope that the rising rates that industry must have to impose doesn't kill chartering. What I do hope is that it helps to drive a higher bar for the sort of training required to leave the dock in the first place. The bleating from certain quarters about "over-regulation" and "freedom" aside, there is an element of responsibility and safety awareness in working a multi-ton boat, and I do not find it unreasonable that people doing so, particularly on the casual basis of a winter charter holiday, should be exempt.

The charter industry won't like it, though.

UPDATE: A reader writes:
 Just a few personal notes about your excellent post on credit card captains.
The video is by Rick Moore, a Torontonian who now lives in Grenada. He’s a professional videographer and charter skipper who probably helped the bungling beginners because he did not want to see more havoc wreaked in the anchorage and because of a seafarer’s duty to assist (although it could be argued that neither boat nor crew were in any real danger).
The larger chartering companies with newer boats now require their customers to have some formal training and experience. See this from Sunsail: http://www.sunsail.com/experience-required/experience-levels. Note the sentence: If we feel that you may need assistance, we reserve the right to add an instructional skipper to your charter. We are chartering two Bavarias from Horizon with my family at Christmas, they were satisfied with my credentials but they would not let my children skipper their own boat until they showed their US Sailing Bareboat Certification.
The boat in the video, Cielo de Dios, a 1996 Beneteau 505, has been shifted from top-tier TUI (Moorings-Sunsail) further down the quality line as she got older. I’ve seen her a few times in the BVI; she has a bad reputation and those in the know keep well clear of her, if at all possible. When I was anchored off Jost last year, her crew dropped anchor on top of another boat’s anchor and then she drifted within a couple of feet of our bow. Typical Cielo crew. So It’s the lower tier chartering companies that are less demanding. Old boats, not in great condition, such as the one on the video. And yes, the insurers must love them.
About qualifications, many European countries now require some proof of competence from operators, although most have not adopted the UNECE’s Resolution 40. Country regulations are confusing and even vary from port to port, particularly in the southern European countries.  Normally, a vessel that complies with her flag’s regs is accepted “as is” in other countries. But it seems it’s not always the case.
Good information! As is probably apparent, I posted that Cielo video primarily for the grim humour value of seeing what appears to be hapless charter crew out of their depth (so to speak). It's "horrible warning" stuff.. But the issue of non-standard sailing qualifications being required to get on charter boats persists, because requiring everyone to have an ICC would be seen as a drag on business. So dragging on anchor rodes and the crunching sound of low-speed collisions that may or may not "buff out" should be part of Paradise for a little while yet, unfortunately.

2012-10-29

Storm prep and mast commutation


The Perfect Squirrel?

The same attributes that make October pleasant for sailing can also provoke concern. The former hurricane known as "Sandy", which as a father is a name I absurdly associate with an aquatic squirrel from a cartoon, is sending gales our way, and has delayed my scheduled haulout.


Not relevant to my haulout plans.


Last week...in fact precisely seven days ago, my wife, a friend, and myself bobbed in near dead calms off the shore. It was warm, well...warmish, quite sunny and windy like the tomb.

Note the gravity-driven sail
The best part was that the water was so wavelet-free, and the work of the plankton-munching mussels so thorough, that we could see the bottom of Lake Ontario some 20 feet down.

Should I break out the spinnaker or just try to find the rum?


For those of you in warmer climes, this may mean little, but Lake Ontario is where murk goes to die, usually after wrapping itself in swamp-coloured muslin.

The yearly boat retirement commenced after this pleasant if nautically underwhelming couple of hours adrift with the hauling of Valiente's mast. This was an exciting exercise conducted with the wrong crane on the wrong day, and ended up with me buying a group of resourceful fellows a round of pints.

I must have been moved near to tears.

With the mast thrillingly untangled from the crane and resembling somewhat less a robot's death spear, I was free to stow it beside Project Number 1.

This game is rigged: Note the arising Temple of R-Boat Repair to starboard.
Even though Alchemy fixing is rarely far from my thoughts and increasingly chewed-up hands, I determined that if the classic plastic Valiente was to turn 40 years in 2013, it would not be with her original standing rigging. Yes, my SS wire, terminals, tangs, pins, buckles and plates are all original. I am replacing the swage terminals and the wire this winter. In order to do that, I have to remove the old stuff, which looks remarkably, if not suspiciously, still in good condition. But as the Botox and implants can defer and yet not defeat the march of time for the vain Hollywood star, so my antique rigging must be relegated to the role of "emergency spares". Also, I got a good deal on rigging. Parsimony and prudence, together again.

Ground Zero for "The World Encompassed" could use some tidying up,
I believe that most of the rest of the mast gear is still OK, but I'll know more when I disassemble the various pinned nuts and tangy bits. I will also redo the sheaves and (sigh) pop for new halyards that aren't the colour of grandpa's jock. The point being two-fold: I have to do this stuff to keep it safe for me sailing, which will be at least another season. But that said, it wouldn't hurt to make the boat more attractive and structurally "refreshed" for whoever buys or babysits her.

Besides, it's good practice for the steel boat.

Speaking of which, the aforementioned Hurricane Sandy is producing sandy gales outside, making me happy I put on a third layer of tarp on the "lid" of Alchemy today and added some racheting tie-downs.

I'm more "function" than "form", as can be seen here.
Poor Valiente was turned away from the inn, or rather boatyard, until a calmer day. This led to sudden arrangements that saw her randomly docked at my club and trussed like a sea chicken to various points that I hope are not moving very much.
Dirty, but serviceable: When the wind blows 50 knots, you can't have too many
Doubled bow lines and improvised chafe gear. My bike-riding habit produces a good supply of rags.
Spring time in the fall! This better work.
If the boat survives the night and tomorrow, the wind should drop enough to attempt to haul out on Wednesday. The gales are N to NE and there's a convenient screen of condos, etc. in that direction, plus the bow of Valiente is aimed more or less into the wind. We'll see if the low profile of That '70s Boat preserves her to sail in 2013 with the same number of dents and dings as she sported this morning.

UPDATE, October 30:  Despite some harrowing winds approaching...but not quite reaching...the forecast 50 knots last night, the boat appeared undamaged today. Tomorrow, Hallowe'en, I'm skedded to have a scary haulout in rain and light wind at Pier 35.

If mere 50 knot gusts do this, no wonder the U.S. Northeast is half-wrecked.

The wind was enough to tear down trees in the park behind my house. I feel both like I prepared and got lucky with the wind direction.

UPDATE, October 31: Got hauled without (much) incident. After the defunct hurricane's wind wrath, the waters were still and the wind wouldn't heel an Opti driven by an infant.

Old, stripped and dirty, jus the way I like 'em
This was somewhat surprising given the very Hallowe'en cast to the skies:
One does not just walk into the Bank of Mordor

Where I haul is lacking in charm, but also in high fees
Fitful dribbles of rain came and went, but no real wind, for which I was quite appreciative to Boreas and his wind god chums.

Not bad for turning 40, is she? Not her best side, however.
After some fiddling/manly pushing, we got the keel settled. Must remember to replace the wood pad on the cradle as it is looking worse for wear.

I will never get used to this sight, frankly. Seems...unnatural
And we're off to our winter berth. Toot, toot.

Like cleaning the hull and coiling down the dozen or so Sandy-inspired spring lines.


And so to bed. Time for a new tarp, maybe? Maybe.

Upside: Plenty of fresh air.


Last and not least, I finally got all the shrouds and stays off the mast and they are going to be replaced over the winter. Took some chunks off my hands, but at least the tangs and pins look good and probably OK to keep. Bless you, fresh water! You save me money!

Stays: Just a little bit longer.

The old 'uns look good enough to be spares, or perhaps bits of anchor bridle for future use.

Now it's back to Alchemy until spring. First off, the rudder!

2012-10-23

Stow low and go

Stuffing boxes


We'll take two dozen, thanks.
Somewhat updated, 151027: A recurring theme with non-cruisers talking to cruisers is "where do you put your stuff?"

The answer is "you don't bring much stuff". That is, of course, not true. You bring loads of stuff, sometimes a tonne or more, beyond even the obvious weight of gear, fuel, water and tools. You bring food, drink, spares, documents, books, sextants, binoculars, PFDs, foulies, entertainment items, dive equipment, oars, bits, pieces and odds with a side of sods.

I haven't even mentioned the extensive bar or the wine cellar in the driest part of the bilges. Another post, perhaps.

Being conscious, however, that every gram added will slow the boat and cause it to lie infinitesimally lower in the water (generally considered A Bad Thing, particularly by racers), the savvy sailor is quite selective about what comes aboard and stays aboard. Also, boats being dynamic, and sometimes violently so, places, the quest is to Keep Stowage Low and Secured. It's practically a science, but with elements of art and possibly sorcery at play. Fans of Douglas Adams's Dirk Gently stories will recall the impossible couch permanently jammed in his stairwell. Boat stowage holds the same challenges, both physically and temperamentally.

Now, I'm just going to brush the surface of working with the space you've got. Our boat is a steel full-keeler with significant interior stowage volume, so we concentrate more on organization of existing space at this point, not saving space through clever ideas like a collapsible silicon kettle...pretty cool, eh?

Yeah, that's pretty clever, as long as your tea doesn't taste like sex toys.
My wife and I are investigating silicon cookware and nesting pots and pressure cookers, etc., but the galley set-up (and its particular stowage solutions) will be a separate post. This is just a general approach to an Uncluttered and Safe Life Aboard.

For when modesty prevails


While it is not exactly a secret that certain stages of the cruising lifestyle are clothing-optional, one does not address the Port Captain sans culottes. It's generally a good idea for all but the most hermit-like of cruisers to keep a pair of pressed khakis and a light jacket carefully stowed so that one may appropriately enter certain clubs and offices. Clothing storage is, however, problematic for cruisers due to the need to a) keep wearables stowed well enough to avoid chafe, which means hangers are troublesome, and b) keeping them surrounded by fresh air so damp and mildew are reduced or avoided. There's also the issue of "hump laundry ashore or wash indifferently aboard" for those of us who haven't got Euro-styled appliances in the V-berth, but if you do, you probably don't need to read on about plastic bins. You have people for that sort of thing.

Modular "condo-sized" ideas can be worked into some boats.
Other ideas, for those whose boats do not have a lot of built-in cabinetry and/or people, involve collapsible cloth or plastic organizers:


Cloth or impermeable cloth-like plastic are better than cardboard or wood because they can be washed or wiped down. Boats can be wet in places one would think they wouldn't be.




Even these sort of dollar-store finds are seen on a lot of boats. They don't endure, mind you, but the price is right:

For a buck or two, if they last six months, it's a deal.

Low, flat plastic lidded boxes, like the kind practical Swedes have to use the space under their beds for clothes storage, are great ways to stow gear and provisions inside lockers. They keep things tightly packed and free of chafe, which can damage the item or the boat itself, and the lids lessen corrosion, particularly if you chuck in little bags of silica to lower the humidity.
Small Coroplast or similar dividers reduce movement, and therefore chafe.
Options here include types that pull out of standing or mounted frames, have split lids to keep most of the contents packed...

Three drawers for T-shirts and shorts, and the top can hold underwear or swim trunks, secured with plastic wrap.

 ...and those which can fold flat for occasional use, like market runs to shore:
People with two kids in one apartment love this.
You can measure the cubic capacity here and compare it to your galley and fridge capacity so that you avoid "overstock".

Going ashore and back again

An increasingly popular choice for dinghy or dock is the "crate on wheels" types, which fold flat and some of which are integral to little dolly carts ideal for shopping:
I never saw these on the docks until 10 years ago. Now everyone seems to have them.


I own one of these and if you don't push the weight, they are handy as dock carts. Sturdier ones no doubt exist; if not, a hand cart could be modified. Ideally, an aluminum hand cart...

Another tip for the prospective stower is that sticky labels or can labels will NOT survive in salty air; label provisions or spares in ink that succiently describe (even in code, if you wish, co-ordinated with your Excel provisions and spares spreadsheet, which you have, right?) what the tins contain and when they were purchased and/or when the contents expire. This last bit could save your health or could avoid a nasty under-sole explosion. Nothing ruins the sundowner than smelling death in the saloon and having to identify "10,000 NM stew".

Mark thee well these provisions, laddie!

Down to the nuts and bolts

If you have the money, and odd, otherwise unusable space on board, there are interesting "built-in tackle boxes" that look like a great way to stow the innumerable bits and pieces essential to boat repair in exotic places.

Not cheap, but elegant

I personally think you could get these kind of "tackle boxes" and containers at Fastenal or CTF or any contractor-oriented hardware place and modify an existing lidded box or salvaged cabinetry, but not everyone wants to pay discount.

We've also used for several years some of the gear-stowage solutions from Blue Performance. Some loose gear, like winch handles, bungees, sheets and gloves, are tamed in the cockpit by the sort of organizers that this company seems to have perfected...

No, not just for racers with budgets
...but they also make a lot of items one could use anywhere aboard to keep galley, head and bunks better organized. We've had the one hanging on the right on a bulkhead for years, and have recently (since resuming sailing on Alchemy) hung one from the back of the helm seat as a convenient place to stow blocks, winch handles and the sort of bungees and small stuff you want to hand in a hurry:

Clean and clever

 Tooltastic

After food, water and medical stowage, tools seem to present the biggest storage issue aboard. Keeping them free of rust and working properly is one issue, but keeping them tidy takes real effort and forethought. While most sailor/fixer types would like this:

Y'arr...where be me chest braces?
...the reality is that most will have a collection of indifferently labelled plastic and metal boxes like this:
Plastic isn't actually a bad choice for the sea life
This sort of single clasp will open in one-foot waves. Don't ask how I know.

Plastic is a good choice for not rusting and for lightness, but the issues with it include how it can be secured and the strength of the hardware in the drawer slides, which may not endure the movement of a boat in a seaway when the wrenches start to move.
That's not necessarily a bad thing. Dividing tools into broad categories, like "plumbing", "electrical", "sail-related" and "whacking stuff" is helpful when you need something specific at 0300 in a gale, and a horde of smaller tool boxes does give you the ability to stow them effectively. I have a "forepeak workshop" in my future, however, and I'm going to centralize my heavier tools into a lockable, bolted-down tool chest similar to this:

Size isn't everything. It's the only thing
This can be made more secure than smaller plastic or metal tool boxes, and can contain the wide assortment of fasteners and related bits I wish to bring.

And maybe this:
I love the little dividers, but those clasps are crap. Flat bungee or lash these tightly.

Or this:
Picture every little sub-section labelled. It's my special gift.

And a few of these, of course:

Not seen: Tiny lengths of bungee cord to keep all those drawers shut

I like to have and can carry a lot of tools in the spirit of self-sufficiency and not being caught without the proverbial nail, the absence of which loses the kingdom. Living on a boat with both metric and SAE hardware means I have to be flexible.

Power tools and the larger sort of hand tool (saws, torque wrenches, breaker bar, big ol' pliers, etc.) will have separately locked bins of their own. The forepeak work area will have a vise and a range of clamps and a light source, but will otherwise be left clear when not in use. Because "unclear" on a boat means "potentially full of projectiles".


Mark thee well


A tip I've picked up from other cruisers and have since implemented on our boat are to label (using the plastic Dymo tape or something similar) EVERY nook and cranny aboard.

Batteries and patience not included

I was on a teaky sort of boat of many cubbies that had little Dymo-tape labels on every lid and hatch, each with a number that related to a binder of Extreme Thoroughness. I noticed the labels went well past one hundred. Another way, if you have a more or less symmetrical boat, would be a simple, intuitive code: PG3 would be the third galley locker back from the bow on the port side. This should be related it to a "stowage log" with a line diagram indicating every hidey hole. You can test theory against reality by having a guest find an item without prompting. I follow (so far) a Port (P) and Starboard (S) guide. P1 is the first stowage spot directly under the anchor well... and to the left. Ultimately, how one arranges the stowage is irrelevant (although I wouldn't keep your lead figurine collection in the bow). You can do it from the stern or the bilge or in Japanese. As long as it's current, consistent, reflects reality and possesses an easily grasped, internal logic, you're golden on the quartermastery.
This doesn't have crazy detail, but I would imagine a lot of cursing and rummaging is thereby avoided. Diagram (c) S/V Grainne

A schematic, either top or side views or both, of the boat with all the numbers marked is at the front of the log, followed by what's in the labelled spot in a written list. This is the same way I stow safety gear in my regular log on Valiente: I have every fire extinguisher, set of flares, flashlights and PFDs marked on a diagram of the boat in the hopes that if I get beaned by the boom at the moment we crunch a container or log, others will be able to solve the situation through rapid equipment locating or at least will be able to help themselves if I am beyond it.

Back to provisions and spares: The canny sailor stows based on weight and ease of access considerations, which may vary if the flats of beer are accessible only through lids under the visiting crew's bunk, for instance. After the schematic and the list shoild come notes listing the amounts and time to replenish estimates. For instance, if you carry four primary filters for the fuel and two lift pump filters, and you are down to two and one, respectively, you trigger an alert, mental, written out or via a spreadsheet notification, to acquire fresh spares. The initial work in setting up an entire boat's worth of food, tools and spares is daunting, yes, but it enables you to avoid running out, and also to acquire if, as is often the case, something useful, something rare or a popular consumable cheaply.

We've come a long way

It's pretty easy to keep an Excel file for provisioning. Here's a decent sample of what I mean (thanks to The BoatGalley.com). You may also choose to employ colour codes for the type of thing being stowed by the function or form it takes. A flat plastic box full of tinned soups, for instance, properly marked and dated, might be accessed frequently in higher latitudes and should be coloured "accessible". The prop puller? Let's hope that can be greased, bagged (Ziplock or vacuum-bagged), tagged and buried as low as possible...but not forgotten, thanks to the coded stowage log.

As an aside, a rule I've heard for years among cruisers is that if you don't want insect pests aboard, you must dispose of corrugated cardboard at the dock. While this is inconvenient and it means bringing containers of the folding crate type shown above ashore, it's still the lesser of two weevils.

Another advantage of keeping a stowage and provisioning log is that you can shift stuff around to improve trim based on the weight stowed in individual compartments or lockers. You may also find that you can free up space by creative stowage that can be used to a) purchase more or better provisions, or b) relocate some items you find you buried too deep in the first place.

Now you may make a focus of eating fresh food...a good thing...but it's not always possible to eat freshly at sea or even at anchor...there's something about the walk to the store that may discourage this.

Must enjoy penguin stew and a touch of gangrene
You may find a middle ground with "home canning" (Mason jars of pickled veggies, cheese stored in olive oil) so this aspect of boat housekeeping goes a bit beyond stowing 80 packets of curry roux. At any given time, we will be carrying four to six months' worth of food, minus fresh fish and "island chicken", but not all of which will be stuff we will want to eat every meal. Some of this type of food will be basically raw materials purchased in bulk, like pasta, sealed coffee beans, flours and rice, and with the idea that we will want soups or stews made in the pressure cooker for those times on passage when galley work is onerous. Other stowable items will be "opportunistic purchases", where we've bought something (corned beef, tinned peaches?) in bulk because everywhere ahead of you on your passage plan has the same items (if at all) at extortionate prices, or because your handy SSB informs you that creative trading arrangements between sailors will be available "ahead". Rum is always popular and you probably can't stow too much, unless it's a high-crime anchorage, in which case leave The Book of Mormon open on the aft deck, religious tracts at the companionway and hymns on the stereo.

You will likely, on passage or island-hopping, be cycling through a ridiculous amount of food, beverages, and coffee: It will mean keeping a good record to avoid distress (we're out of what?) and much of which you purchase will be perishable. Stowage of these items are, beyond the obvious locale of the top-loading fridge, can be found in wire baskets or "breathable" containers in cool spots (don't forget them!). Bunches of green bananas used to be commonly seen in the rigging both to keep them ripening, to keep them fresh, and to keep any interested insects out of the boat.

Keeping a printed or a computer log (both, maybe!) of what you have and, most importantly, where it's kept and for how long, becomes the only way to manage your provisioning and stowage, plus gives you pointers as to whether you can score bargains knowing you have a place aboard to put them.