By Kristian Beadle, Green Coconut Run
Many sailboats stop in the Galapagos Islands, on their way to French Polynesia, downwind about 3000 miles in one of the loneliest stretches of ocean on the planet. Among the myriad preparations for such a trip, one continued to preoccupy us: how will we store fresh food, and eat well, during this 21 day long passage? While picking up bread at Hossana’s house, our friendly baker in San Cristobal island, my wife Sabrina met Christina. With the loaves of whole wheat bread cooling off behind the counter, the three ladies discussed our Pacific crossing food challenge. Here was the crux: we only had a mini-fridge on our 42 foot trimaran, a 1968 beauty with lots of character. We were running a cooperative expedition to the South Seas, called Green Coconut Run, with many friends and community members joining different legs of our trip. In other words, we had several mouths to feed. For our Pacific crossing, our crew was a 27-year-old sailing instructor and a 72-year-old interior designer, plus Sabrina and I. Like us, they loved eating healthy and fresh whenever possible. The numbers added up: 4 people over 21 days = 84 breakfasts, lunches, and dinners… minimum! “We’ve looked into canning, and pickling, which are good options, but we also want fresh food,” Sabrina mentioned. “Perhaps you can use my dehydrator and vacuum sealer,” offered Christina. “Wow. That would be amazing! Could we really?” Sabrina responded excitedly. Christina nodded, “Why not?” Thus decided, on Saturday morning, at the Farmer’s Market which gathers produce from the highlands of San Cristobal, we purchased heaping bags of bell peppers and zucchinis. Then we spent hours in Christina’s kitchen, overlooking the bay with the sailboats anchored below, turning the vegetables into dehydrated packages a fraction of the original size.
Meanwhile, we learned from other cruisers some techniques for preserving fresh food, which are remarkably low-tech:
- seal the stems of pumpkins and squash with wax
- wrap carrots & oranges in aluminum foil
- wrap apples, and cabbages in newspaper
- onions & potatoes are not friends and will rot each other.
- potatoes like cool dark places, while onions and garlic prefer light airy places
- turn over eggs every couple days to keep internal membranes moist and fresh
We also purchased cured meat and hard cheese like parmesan to store at room temperature; and dialed in our yogurt and kombucha production. In the mini-fridge we stored soft cheese and uncured meats, along with lettuce and other leafy greens which lasted for the first few days of the trip. After gorging on pizza for our last night (not a great idea for, ahem, one crew member) we bid farewell to Christina, Hossana, and all the friends in San Cristobal, and set sail from the Galapagos heading south-west. We did have two yucky food situations. First our papayas were forgotten in a compartment where they managed to liquify and rot a squash. Then our big stalk of green bananas ripened at the same time and fell everywhere in the cabin with a sudden crash of a wave. We had lots of smoothies after that. Yet the other fruits and vegetables handled beautifully for the 21 days of sailing. We ate fresh food through to our first landfall in Pitcairn Island, home of the Mutiny on the Bounty, where the locals are truly masters of homesteading and preserving food. Due to modern reliance on refrigeration (and the convenience of picking up fresh items at the grocery store every week) there are many techniques for keeping food that have been forgotten. Our sailing travels have reminded us about these wonderful bygone approaches.
After Kristian and Sabrina landed in French Polynesia, they decided to call it their home. With the help of their sailing cooperative, they purchased a 46-foot catamaran and now run family-friendly adventure trips and mindfulness workshops with their baby twin girls aboard. Occasionally, our very own Galapagueña Naturalist Guide, Alexandra, joins them for special trips. Learn more about Green Coco Charters here.