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8 Cheerful and Chewable Charter Provisioning Tips

Charter Provisioning Tips - Renowned BVI Charter Boat Soterion

Sustenance for Sailors – Charter Provisioning Tips for the Trip

I’m an avid cook and food ‘tourist’ who enjoys visiting new, particularly international, supermarkets. While I regard provisioning as a fun project, I recognise that many sailors may not share my sentiment and would rather spend their precious holiday time on the water.

Whether you like provisioning or not, it’s something that every charterer must consider. Even if you plan to eat meals ashore every night – which I don’t recommend, as it means you’re foregoing nights in pristine, secluded anchorages – you’ll still need to provision for breakfast, lunch and beverages. Regardless of your culinary preferences, here are a few tips to keep your provisioning as smooth as your sailing:

Make a Menu. Start by creating a detailed day-by-day, meal-by-meal menu (including planned restaurant meals). Opt for easy meals with straight-forward ingredients that appeal to the preferences of your crew. Then, use your menu to create a grocery list. You can’t just pop over to a nearby convenience store if you forget something, so be sure your list is comprehensive. A coffee-loving friend of mine learned this the hard way when she had to go four days without Java after forgetting to include it on her shopping list. Start from scratch with your list, as you’re unlikely to find any food or cooking supplies on your charter boat – even staples such as salt and pepper, aluminium foil or charcoal for the grill.

Be flexible. Virgin Islands’ supermarkets are well stocked, although the selection varies day-to-day. Residents of the Virgin Islands know to scoop up hard-to-find items when they see them and to stock up on favourite products. Visiting charterers do not have that flexibility when shopping – they only get what’s available on a given day at one store. Be prepared for substitutions, and consider it an opportunity to try new foods and beverages.

Match your menu to your float plan. If you plan to visit anchorages with small supermarkets nearby, consider topping up your supplies instead of buying everything at the beginning of your charter. However, if you think you might change course and spend time in secluded anchorages with no supermarkets or restaurants, then stock additional food. It would be a shame to leave a stunning anchorage because you need food, water or other necessities. In terms of eating meals at restaurants, consider going ashore more toward the end of the charter when supplies of fresh food start to run low.

Stock up on snacks. When provisioning, buy more snacks than you think you need. I’ve noticed that people snack more aboard boats, and crew may replace meals with snacks on busy sailing days. Once you arrive at your anchorage, you’ll also want munchies to enjoy with sun-downer cocktails.

Be realistic about the amount of cooking you plan to do. I’ve done plenty of cooking on boats, but I still overestimate the amount of cooking I will actually do. After a day of sailing and snorkelling in the sun, I’m sometimes less motivated to cook and more inclined to relax in the cockpit with a cocktail. Also, be mindful that food preparation takes longer on a boat, where you’ll have limited space, cookware and utensils.

Charter Provisioning Tips - Renowned BVI Charter Boat Soterion


Pack special items from home. I bring a few Caribbean-inspired recipes and small Ziploc bags filled with spices for the recipes. One exception: I buy special Caribbean spices, such as curry blends or hot sauces, at Sunny Caribbee in Road Town. Depending on my planned meals, I often travel with a few of my go-to utensils, including a Microplane zester and a set of measuring spoons. Lastly, I enjoy baking sweet treats, so before going on a charter, I whip up a batch or two of cookies to share with my fellow crew, who are always very appreciative.

Stay hydrated. Many people are more comfortable drinking bottled water when on a charter boat. To minimise waste, have each person bring a water bottle from home and buy gallon jugs of water to fill the water bottles.

Call in the professionals. Looking for more help with provisioning? The Virgin Islands are a world class destination for charter boats and have outstanding provisioning services to match. Whether you choose to provision through your charter company or directly with a local supermarket, they will assist you with planning meals and will even deliver groceries directly to your charter boat.

Susie Younkle, Home-cook and Sailor

Susie Younkle, Home-cook and Sailor

An avid home-cook and sailor, Susie provides Virgin Islands Property and Yacht magazine with that touch of warmth with her great provisioning recipes for amateur and veteran cooks.
Susie Younkle, Home-cook and Sailor

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