Tuesday, March 31, 2015

By Michael

We made it to the second SHLP spay-neuter
clinic that was sponsored by Frances's
birthday fundraiser. Here she is in her
element, using a syringe to lubricate the
eyes of sedated cats in post-op.
Years ago I worked with a guy who once spent three months in Japan on a programming assignment. He wasn’t an adventurous eater. Before leaving, he packed three months’ worth of food in his checked luggage. It was all he ate for the duration of his contract.

I remember hearing his story and being aghast. I mean, do you really want to be that insulated? Exploring a place and a culture means exploring the food its people eat. Yet I’d wager most cruisers begin their voyaging lives by over-provisioning. Instead of stuffing our checked luggage with familiar food, we stuff our lockers. There may be security in those stores, but they’re usually unnecessary and often go unused. After all, there will be plenty of people on your path who are eaters too. Food will be available.

But I think there are exceptions to any cautions about over-provisioning. If your cruising plans have you transiting the Northwest Passage or freezing your boat into the ice for the long, dark months above the Arctic Circle, you’d better bring everything with you. And if you’re getting ready to sail west into the Pacific like we are, it’s good to stock up also.

We’re looking at about a three- to four-week sail between Mexico and French Polynesia, so we’ll need at least enough food, water, and toilet paper to last that time. Once we arrive, we’ll face another hurdle. I’ve heard the residents of French Polynesia eat food, but the prices for nearly all imported items (and nearly everything but local fruit and baguettes is imported) are understandably exorbitant. We could eat like the locals, but my understanding is that their diet isn’t particularly diverse—heavy on the starches, meat, and local fruits, at best.

So we’re leaving Mexico with our lockers stuffed to the gills. I thought it would be interesting for many if I quantify that. Despite our small living space, we can stow a surprising quantity of stuff aboard. Here is a small sampling of the consumables we’ve provisioned so far (more to come, including perishables, over the coming 10 days):
  • 126 jumbo rolls of toilet paper
  • 96 liters of milk
  • 96 boxes of crushed tomatoes
  • 14 liters of olive oil
  • 21 bottles of red wine
  • 120 cans of lager
  • 48 boxes of tofu
  • 50 pounds of flour
  • 50 pounds of dried beans of all kinds
  • 1 pound of dry sundried tomatoes
  • 2 pounds of dried mushrooms
  • 1 pound of cinnamon
  • 25 pounds of whole rolled oats
  • 6 gallons of white vinegar (we use it for cleaning)
The vet here doing the surgery on an outdoor
basketball court in a community center is
Dr. Franzoni. He is on the SHLP board and a
great guy. He works six days a week at his office
and then spends every other Sunday leading
these free clinics in different neighborhoods.
It's not just showing up and operating,
he also works alongside the other
volunteers and board members to haul
all the crates, mats, supplies, tables, etc
to each site. 
Additionally, I’ve packed in consumables for our diesel engine. This includes 8 gallons of engine oil, 4 oil filters, 6 quarts of transmission fluid, and lots of fuel filters.

Another note that may be of interest to future cruising families reading this: we aren’t particularly organized. Contrary to the guidance offered in the popular cruising manuals, we aren’t making detailed lists of what we’re stowing where (and certainly not maintaining an inventory such that we update our stock list as we consume things). I guess my thinking is that it will be more fun to spend half a day looking for a jar of mayonnaise you know is someplace, only to stumble happily upon three jars of pesto you do not remember buying. Nor are we stripping labels off cans, labeling them with a sharpie, and varnishing them. This is how we roll. I’ll let you know how it turns out.


The family on the left side of this picture is Robbie,
Ali, and Gene. They are family friends from Montana's
Bitterroot Valley and former cruisers. They came
to La Paz on vacation and gave us the low-down on
the South Pacific, where they spent nine years.
For all you La Paz aficionados, we are on the
roof of the Harker Bar, waiting for our ales
to arrive.
No more kittens for this one. There were
six volunteer vets and their techs at this
particular clinic. Only 40 dogs and cats
showed up, so it made for a short day. The
vet here is operating on a regular ironing
board covered in plastic. 
This is our second-to-last Wednesday night soccer
game on the La Paz Magote. Windy in the foreground,
our friend Ali in the middle, me at the goal.


  1. We can't believe that you guys don't have a spread sheet for your perishables!!! LOL. We are in Disneyland aka Paradise Village and so many folks Puddle Jumping too! So great that you are preparing and getting ready. WE listen to the PJ net often and can't wait to hear you guys out there! All our best-fair winds.

  2. Your daughter Frances is adorable and seems to know her calling in life. How very caring she is. Best of luck to all of you on the next chapter of your adventure.

  3. Totally with you - life is not long enough to inventory your boat. And that varnishing the cans thing is for a different era, when the boats were leakier and the crews were saltier.


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