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Provisioning for The Great Circle
Posted by Lori Ross - Viewed 73879 times

Story and Photography by Lori Ross


Cruising the Great Circle offers ample opportunity to explore local specialties and dine ashore.  Countless guides and articles describe the restaurants, bars and markets along the Great Circle route and the local delights available.  In our cruises on the ICW and other parts of the Great Circle, we often provision with a goal of eating breakfast, lunch and snacks aboard and dining out in the evening as often as possible.  After a long day’s run, nothing is better than a relaxing walk around a new harbor and a leisurely meal watching the sunset.

However, no matter how much research you do or local knowledge you have, things  change…your favorite waterfront restaurant turns into a condo, the farmers market closes down for the season or the bar that came highly recommended by cruising friends last year has become a McDonald’s! These surprises require flexibility and creativity in both schedules and menu, thus your provisioning strategy needs to be nimble and adaptable based on your preferences and the opportunities presented as you cruise the Great Circle.

Preferences -
The most common mistake we’ve made as cruiser is to bring foods we don’t eat at home onto the boat.  In our early cruising years on Long Island Sound and the Chesapeake Bay parts of the Great Circle route, we brought aboard lots of canned meats, pasta, stews, fruits and vegetables in case of emergency.  Despite being fogged in for three days, often anchoring in quiet rivers and creeks that had no restaurants, stores or marinas and almost running out of food several times - we never opened those cans!  They malingered for years, moving from boat to new boat, until finally, we decided to toss them out.  We learned that being on our boat is an extension of our daily life; it is a back- country camping trip!  So we only bring foods that we would normally eat at home and make plans to replenish staples and be adaptable during our travels.

Opportunity -
Before we take off on a cruise, I research the areas we want to visit and determine what local products and dining we might enjoy….stone crabs, mahi-mahi and tomatoes in Florida; low country crab and shrimp dishes in the Carolinas; rockfish, crab and oysters in the Chesapeake Bay; clams lobsters and scallops in New York and New Jersey.  Then we identify restaurants and markets near the marinas that we might like to try.  Often this research has paid off, as in the case of the beautiful new Whole Foods market in Charleston, S.C.; the twice-weekly farmers market in Ft. Myers, Florida; and the delightful Canton neighborhood of Baltimore (packed with great restaurants).

At other times, however, we have been disappointed to find that some of these establishments no longer exist or are closed for the season.  Luckily marina staff is forthcoming with recommendations, but we sometimes find ourselves dining aboard. So we make sure that we have some of our favorite ingredients around which to build a meal.

rice and grains

The Menu and Provisioning List -
The most valuable resource for me is a chart of menu ideas and a provisioning list.  The list has been developing for more than 20 years of cruising.  I keep it on the computer and make change it according to our changing preferences and opportunities and it usually works well to organize our shopping, stowing and meal planning. On the menu, I list dishes we like to eat.  From this list, I compile a provisioning list which indicates what I have aboard, what I need and where it is stored.  I try to keep it updated (manually) while cruising so that I have a quick shopping list whenever I have the opportunity to get to a grocery store.  I usually add dry goods, cleaning products, paper products and boating supplies to the list based on the products I like to use on the boat.

An organized provisioning list and well-stocked galley gives me the freedom to create wonderful meals when I’m inclined and to fall back on simple meals when I don’t feel creative or energetic. 

Enjoy your cruise and Bon Appetit!

Menu Ideas– 2 people for 12-15 days


Breakfast Ideas

Toast: whole wheat; English muffins with butter or jelly

Yogurt with nuts/honey

Sliced Fruit: melon, berries

Scrambled eggs with ham, bacon or sausage

Omelets or frittata with cheese, herbs, onion, pepper

Breakfast sandwiches: egg, cheese and bacon muffin

Egg strata or quiche

French toast

Coffee, decaf, tea

Lunch Ideas:

Sandwiches, subs or wraps:

Roast beef and provolone,  corned beef and Swiss,  chicken, shrimp, tuna or egg salad;  BLTs, grilled cheese,  prosciutto or salami and mozzarella panini;

Soup: Make fresh

Hot: Chicken rice, beef noodle, Clam chowder, Potato and spinach soup,  French Onion soup

Cold: Gazpacho, Cold cucumber soup with yogurt, Vichysoisse


Antipasto, Greek, Chef  salad, Cobb salad, Chopped Salad, Potato salad,  Caprese, Fruit, nut and cheese salad, Goat Cheese salad, and Chicken, Shrimp, tuna or egg salad on lettuce instead of bread.

Snack and dessert ideas

Fruit: Apples, pears, bananas, grapes, berries, melon, citrus, plums, peaches

Olives and pickled vegetables

Raw Veggies with Dip

Cheese and crackers

Tapenade with breadsticks

Cream cheese spread (e.g. Hot pepper jelly; Liptoi; cheese ball)

Candy: chocolate bars, hard candy, caramels

Cookies: chocolate chip, shortbread, ginger snaps

Taco chips and salsa


Dinner ideas:


Roast chicken (make stock for soup from this and use leftovers for chicken salad or paella)

Shrimp (use leftovers for shrimp salad)

Steaks with potatoes

Italian sausages (use alone or in paella or in sauce for pasta or polenta)



Pasta with pesto or tomato sauce with meat

Polenta and mushrooms or gorgonzola sauce

Risotto with mushrooms, artichokes other veggies or seafood

Paella with sausages, chicken, artichokes and shrimp

Nachos with cheese, jalapenos, onion and burger meat

The Provisioning List – 2 people 12-15 days




Where stored






2 boxes




1 chicken base

1 beef base




1 package each: M&Ms, caramels, hard candies

4 large chocolate bars; plain and with nuts



Canned tomatoes

2 large - diced

2 large – crushed

1 large- whole




1 small jar

1 jar large caperberries




1 can




2 lb. regular

1 lb. decaf

1 lb. flavored




Taco chips




4 boxes: water crackers, wheat thins, club crackers, flatbread




1 flour

1 cornmeal

1 polenta

1 couscous

1 cracked wheat

Baking powder and baking soda




4 large Frozen: OJ, Cranberry, Lemonade, Limeade

2 tomato juice




1 small




1 large Hellmann’s




1 package dry milk; 3 small long shelf life milks;



Soft drinks

6 cases; 2 diet; 2 regular; 2 club soda/tonic




1 Dijon; 1 Coleman’s dry mustard; 1 honey mustard




4 cans: cashews, mixed, honey nuts, peanuts and 1 bag pistachios




1 large bottle olive; 1 small peanut oil



Olives, pickled vegies

Jars: 2 black; 2 green; 1 cocktail onion; 1 gardiniera; 1 sweet and 1 sour pickle




2 Asian noodles (wheat and rice)

2 spaghetti

2 penne

1 linguine




2 risotto

1 wild rice

1 Uncle Ben’s brown and white rice




2 jars – 1 mild;

1 medium




1 pesto

1 tomato with meat sauce

1 tomato with herb sauce




20 dried incl. Salt, pepper




White/brown and artificial sweetener




1 green olive and 1 black olive




1 box each of herb and regular



Tuna and canned fish/seafood

2 clams chopped

4 large tuna

2 shrimp

2 crab



Vegetables (canned or dried)

1 jar roasted peppers

2 cans artichoke hearts

2 cans mushrooms2 cans hearts of palm

2 sun dried tomato

1 jalapeno peppers sliced

2 oz. dried mushrooms




1 red wine; 1 tarragon; 1 balsamic








Fresh or Frozen Foods




Bacon, sausage

2 packages cooked



Bread, Rolls

1 large wheat loaf

1 French bread

1 Italian bread

1 package of pita

6 sub rolls

6 sandwich rolls




1 pound




Assorted – 4 lbs.

1 Lb. cream cheese



Cold cuts

½ lb. each roast beef, corned beef, ham, salami, prosciutto




1 dozen



English muffin

2 packages




Assorted 5 lbs. –berries, apples, pears, melon, bananas, plums, peaches

Citrus: 3 lemons; 3 limes; 3 oranges; 1 grapefruit





Bunches: 2 poultry blend; 1 cilantro; 1 rosemary; 1 thyme; 1 sage; 1 parsley





1 jar




1 roasting chicken

2 small packs of boneless chicken breasts

4 steaks

1 lb. each sweet and hot Italian sausage

1 lb. burger meat




Milk, Cream

1 fresh quart 2 %; 1 pint cream




3 heads romaine; 1 bag spinach; 2 mixed greens





2 bags Jumbo frozen shrimp



Sour Cream

1 large




celery, radish, cukes, broccoli,  garlic, tomatoes;  Onions, peppers;  potatoes; baby carrots;





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