The word “provision” comes from the Latin words provisio, meaning “foresight and preparation”, and providere, which means “look ahead”. In our world, it refers to the act of outfitting the yacht with food and other supplies necessary for the smooth running of the vessel.
Every once in a while, however, the seasoned yachtie finds an item or product that he or she just can’t live without. The hoarding begins to ensure it's always on hand.
Depending on your job, you all have access to your own little nooks and crannies aboard for storage. Deck crew have the lazarette and a multitude of deck lockers; stews are intimately acquainted with every inch of under-bed storage and chefs generally can quote to the millimeter how much they can cram into their freezers.
Where you’re going and how many guests will be aboard determines how you can stockpile different items. If you know you have a busy charter season, you might amass good chocolates, since it can be risky to purchase them in the Caribbean and get them back to the boat without melting (if they hadn’t been destroyed in shipping already). If you know you will be down island with the boss all winter, chances are the deckies will have an abundance of fuel filters and boat soap.
Not all stashes are based on foresight, however. Some spring from bitter experience. I am a chef, and I once ran out of balsamic vinegar. Between St. Maarten and St. Barths there was none to be found, not a drop. I couldn’t fathom my culinary repertoire without it and have kept a large stash of it ever since.
Sometimes, the hoarding is location-driven. Suzie Hot Sauce is delicious and is available only in Antigua, as are some versions of local banana rum from Guadeloupe, so why not leave with a case or two? Especially since you have just made room on board after having finished the last of that luscious olive oil you found in Italy last summer and the frozen scallops from Lunenburg, Nova Scotia.
A brief survey of fellow yacht crew revealed that we can’t live without and at different points in our careers have squirreled away caches of the following:
- flavored coffee creamer
- frozen vegetarian burritos
- lavender ironing water
- butterscotch chips
- hair dye
- oil filters
- A4 paper
- birthday candles
- Swiffer refills
- tea bags
- light bulbs
Robin K, mate and chef aboard a sailing yacht, says, “When we started on board the boat, there were over 200 cartons of long-life milk – enough to nurse a baby sperm whale – and all were out of date. I also found 29 containers of toilet bowl cleaner and dozens of boxes of dryer sheets. I’ve been on board for three years and haven’t had to buy dryer sheets. Didn’t the last crew know that storage space would have been better served by filling it with Ziploc bags or paper towels?”
What do you hoard on board and where’s the best place to buy it?