'Til the butter melts

Pursuing the cruising dream in 32' of sailing ketch

Cruisers eat too, ya’ know!


So, cruising, you like – eat out of cans all the time, right?

It comes as a surprise to many people that we can actually live like real people, even though we live on a boat.  

Notice I didn’t say “…like normal people”. You can’t really be what most people consider “normal” and live on a boat. In an age where a 1000 square foot house is considered “tiny” and 2000 square feet is “cozy”, choosing to live in less than 200 square feet – as we do on Sionna – borders on the radical. Or just plain crazy.

Making salsa Verde “a la Sionna”

In several conversations we’ve had with perspective cruisers, the subject of provisioning has come up, and many times the assumption going in is that living aboard means doing without fresh food, without produce, without “real” meals.
It ain’t true.

Pizza – fresh dough and our favorite veggies

Or at least, it doesn’t HAVE to be true. One of our favorite cruising blogs is called “The Boat Galley”, and the author, Carolyn Shearlock, states categorically (though these are my words) “You will eat like you’ve always eaten – don’t think that moving aboard is suddenly going to make you love XYZ if you’ve always hated XYZ in the past”.  
She’s absolutely right. You have to stock what you like, because you won’t eat what you hate.

 So you can and should stock and utilize almost anything aboard that you’d expect to have in your land-based home, with one significant caveat: Storage space.

Because on a boat, storage – and particularly cool/cold storage – is severely limited. That 22 Cu/Ft freezer and 25 cu/ft fridge you’ve grown accustomed to? Shrink the whole thing down by a factor of 10, and you’re close. Aboard Sionna, we have a 4 cu/ft fridge, and about .9 cu/ft (yes, less than 1 cubic foot) of freezer space, and we feel rich beyond measure each time we take out two ice cubes each to cool our drinks. We took four cold beers to a friends boat to share the other night, and his exclamation “Hey, they’re cold!” When he reached into the bag could be heard across the bay. 

Salad: Lettuce, cucumber, avocado and home-grown sprouts

Scarcity breeds appreciation.
Aboard Sionna we’re beginning to learn what’s possible, and what’s worth the effort. Fresh produce is a non-negotiable. Since my cancer scare back in May, we’ve made a major diet change, and we’re now what I call “Practical Vegans”. We’ve eliminated animal-source proteins from our diets to the extent practical, which means that vegetable sources of fats and proteins are vital to our nutritional balance. Avocados, nuts, seeds, tempeh, whole grains, and of course breads form the base, but the fill includes pretty much any fresh veggie you can name: In addition to fresh bean sprouts nearly every day (I bought and learned to use a small sprouter before we left, and wouldn’t be without one) and salad in any form, brocolli, cauliflower, peppers, onions, carrots, plantains etc. are favorites. And once we get farther south we’ll happily begin experimenting with whatever local produce and seafood we can find.

Biscuits – fresh from the oven!

We’ve also eliminated dairy almost completely. The exception is a bit of half-and-half in our morning cup of coffee. Like I said, we’re practical Vegans – and not having a touch of cream in my coffee is just not happening.
But I no longer miss butter on my biscuits (or only a little!), and though the name of this blog is a reference to needing to keep butter cool, Sionna no longer has the stuff aboard. What she does have is a rather impressive selection of extra-vigil olive oils which – thankfully – don’t have to be kept cold!

Home grown sprouts – heaven on Hummas!

But the cans? Very few. Canned beans, yes. Those are much easier to deal with than dry beans (which we do have), and take a lot less propane (and create a lot less heat in the cabin) to cook, so they get the nod. I also canned 6 jars of pasta sauce before we left Maine, which we’ve yet to use, and we have a few canned vegetables in the bilge which we plan to experiment with over the next few weeks. In general, though, our preference for fresh, real food is so strong that we’re unlikely to ever go the canned veggie route except in extreme circumstances – i.e. imminent starvation. We have canned food aboard for emergencies, rather than for regular usage. 
But please don’t ask me about the three containers of chocolate syrup in the bilge, ok? – I have no idea how that happened. 

Author: s/v sionna

Living the dream in 32'. We left Maine on August 18th, 2016, and have gradually worked our way south until we felt warm enough. After spending the summer in Maine, working to replenish the cruising kitty, and rehabilitating an old house. we’re headed back on the boat, bringing Sionna back home to northern waters. Follow our blog here!

8 thoughts on “Cruisers eat too, ya’ know!

  1. We always tried to eat as much fresh veggies as we could onboard Irie and grew our own sprouts, basil, spinach and mint. I actually think we ate much healthier those eight years on the boat than ever before on land, something we are still doing now. I don’t understand why you had to become vegans, though… What does that have to do with higher risk for cancer? We are definitely on a “plant-based diet” since Mark’s cancer, but why vegan? By the way, vegans don’t eat honey… 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for checking on Liesbet! The connection between cancer development and growth rates is laid out pretty convincingly in a book called “How not to die”. Awful title in my opinion.
      But the data presented there convinced me to make a change. Not fanatical, but that Practical Vegan approach, where we do make occasional concessions to convenience or politeness and consume a touch of cream in our coffee. And you’re right about honey of course – but since it’s not a protein source, it’s not on our list.


  2. I really want to try sprouting. Where kind of sprouter do you use?


    • Hi Ellen!
      Ours is a “Kitchen Crop”, made by Victorious and ordered from Amazon. About $25 as I recall, and so far we’ve made over $120 worth of sprouts in the last month! Wonderful thing.


  3. Yes, Im going to try the sprout thing. We eat a lot of fresh foods, but we also eat a lot of meat. Hope we learn to fish! We aren’t even ‘practical’ vegans. But we also do not eat a lot of bread, rice, and easy carbohydrates. Mike can tolerate them, but if I want to fit into my clothes, which I do, then they are very limited, especially if wheat based. That pizza look DELICIOUS. (She said, longingly.)


  4. Lots of veggies will keep well without refrigeration if you buy them fresh and previously unrefrigerated. As for canned veg, not much beyond corn, beets and toms are worth trying. We are 8 years sailing and have never had troubles find good produce to buy/trade, people on islands eat too 😉

    Liked by 1 person

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