Ideally, while on passage we will all eat together and not resort to eating each other. Planning the menu and supplies was driving me a bit nuts until I happened on a method that did not involve learning how to use spreadsheets. Now, it is a simple, if somewhat tedious task in which I have confidence.
And we all know that sometimes life moves too fast. The answer to an overly fast-paced life is often slowing down and appreciating the little things. But, what happens when a sailboat is moving too fast? Well, you put on the brakes –sort of.
Menu Planning and Provisioning Issues
Problems Planning Big Meals on Land
I cook often and am used to having easy access to ingredients, pots, pans, kitchen gadgets, and the internet to help when needed. Even when I forget something, it is an easy trip to the store for one of the kids I browbeat into the chore. I assumed that preparing numerous holiday dinners for 25+ people qualified me to handle the menu and provisioning for a long sailboat passage. I was wrong.
The Much Bigger Problem of Planning Meals on a Boat at Sea
Organizing the passage meals and arranging for provisions cannot be left to my usual tsunami of lists and yellow sticky notes all over the kitchen. And, of course, there won’t be an easy trip to the store to pick up the item I forgot.
The more I thought about the problem the more I realized the number of items I take for granted, like olive oil, salt, and spices. So, I turned to books about passage planning, including one specific to cooking on boats, and the internet generally. The suggestions ranged from three-ringed binders with printed checklists, Excel spreadsheets (oh, hell no!), to a variety of apps.
Meal Planning Apps to the Rescue
One recommended app that caught my attention was Paprika because I’ve had that on my phone forever. I didn’t use Paprika much because I am a dinosaur and am more comfortable surrounded by my sticky notes. Nevertheless, rather than face extinction, this dinosaur chose to evolve and investigate further.
As I explored Paprika, I realized it isn’t just a recipe collector. The app has several features that make it perfect for planning a menu and provisioning an offshore passage. Frankly, the app’s features would have made my holiday dinners easier too.
Disclaimer: I bought the app, and am in no way affiliated with whatever company or person created or owns Paprika. I am, however, willing to do a modeling session for a future Paprika ad. (No frontal nudity, but I’m in for butt stuff.) (By the way, I was going to put some funny picture here but rejected the idea after googling “fat guy nude butt”. You don’t want to do that!)
Adapting Apps to Use for Passage Provisioning
In sum, the app collects recipes, allows you to plan months’ worth of meals, and then dump all of the ingredients for those meals into a shopping list. Although the app does the lion’s share of the work, the process still requires some changes to land-based meal planning to make it useful to sailors. For example, if you like to have parmesan cheese on your meatballs, then parmesan cheese better be on the ingredient list. Also, for simple items that don’t normally require a recipe –like turkey sandwiches — you need to create recipes and those recipes need to include all of the basics like bread, turkey, tomato, mustard, etc., so that when you put the meal on the menu, the shopping list populates correctly.
Overall, I recommend this app with a caveat. It is far easier to have the app on a computer and a phone/iPad at the same time, which means paying for it twice. The reason is that when populating the calendar with menu items, the recipe name is truncated and can be difficult to read. So, it is nice to have another device where you search out the exact recipe you want before inputting it into a specific day.
Whoa There Nelly!
Sailboats are typically relatively slow boats. 8-12 miles an hour is a pretty reasonable speed to sail across an ocean, which, by car or motorboat standards, is glacial. But, in bad weather, it is possible for a boat to go too fast.
Imagine a storm with twelve-foot seas (not that uncommon and hardly big enough to be worth a story at a sailor’s bar), which means that from the crest of the wave to the bottom (trough) is 12 feet. Now, stick a 25-ton boat on the top of the wave. That boat is going to surf down the wave picking up speed until it gets to the trough. If the waves are spread out then the boat will likely just slow and start up the next wave –like the easy curve on a kid’s rollercoaster. But, if the waves are close together, bigger, or steeper, then the boat may come to a jarring stop at the bottom making the ride super uncomfortable and unsafe for the crew.
One way to handle rough seas and the surfing problem is to slow the boat down so that it doesn’t generate a lot of momentum on the way down. But, since boats don’t have brakes like a car or motorcycle, slowing the boat safely and effectively requires some preparation. Small boats can tie together fenders (sometimes referred to by land lubbers as bumpers), toss them overboard, and tie them to the stern. The drag those fenders offer can slow the boat and help control the surfing problem. And, in a pinch, they can be used to steer the boat over long distances if there is a rudder problem.
On larger boats like Wild Rumpus, a professionally made drogue is the best way to slow the boat. A drogue consists of heavy-duty line that trails behind the boat with heavy-duty cones (think min-parachutes). Depending on the size of the boat, the drogue can be rather large.
Wild Rumpus’s drogue is 370′ of line, 170 cones, and 20 pounds of chain at the end to keep everything in the water. Total weight is roughly 70 pounds.
And, if the drogue doesn’t work we attach Sally to the far end and have her paddle to help slow the boat. (I am, of course, kidding.)
I had the drogue made by Ace Sailmakers and really could not be happier.