LIVING THE GOOD LIFE
My partner, Christian, and I love to spend weeks on end aboard Pitufa, our Sparkman & Stephens 41, in remote, uninhabited places exploring their abundance of coral reefs, colorful fish and endless sandy beaches. While fellow cruisers regretfully share their last can of beer, finish their last bag of rice and then rush off to the next atoll with shops, we wave them goodbye and stay for yet another month. As much as we enjoy untouched nature, this certainly does not mean that we abstain from culinary pleasures. With well-planned provisioning, creative cooking and a certain DIY effort, it is possible to go a long time without shopping, and still eat and drink tasty, healthy, and balanced meals.
We know many sailors who nibble crackers whenever there’s no bakery around. Maybe they don’t know how easy it is to indulge in the luxury of fresh, warm bread for breakfast. Crepes or pancakes are a quick alternative when there’s no time to wait for a dough to rise. No matter if they get a sweet, traditional topping or a savory filling, they are always a treat. The bottom of our fortunately spacious fridge is reserved for big containers containing cheese and sausages for our daily, hearty brunches. A bowl of cereal is easily made with milk powder but tastes even better with yogurt or kefir, which are simple to make aboard.
A light lunch is the best option on a hot tropical day, and we usually prepare a salad. While we do have a stash of canned vegetable for emergencies, we much prefer to eat fresh food. Fortunately, there are a number of fruits and vegetables that can have an extended life aboard, provided they are properly stored. We store items such as carrots, apples, lemons, cucumbers and radishes in plastic boxes in the refrigerator, near the top to keep them from getting too cold. We check them every other day to make sure they stay dry and to sort out feeble individuals for consumption before they can drag their neighbors into a mushy, moldy death.
Sprouts are a great way to add crunchy greens to the daily menu. Some sorts require special containers and lots of attention, and appeal to cruisers who like gadgets and complicated instructions. We prefer low-maintenance food and have therefore specialized in mung beans and green lentils. They are easy to sprout in simple plastic boxes, grow extremely quickly, and result in an incredible amount of biomass. OK, you might say, but at some point, you run out of stored vegetables; what then? Then we start harvesting from our dodger garden. We grow all kinds of herbs and even lettuce, bok choy and arugula in pots that live all year long under the dodger, secured by a bungee cord on passage.
Dinner is always a big deal on Pitufa,
and we enjoy international cooking even when we stay in one anchorage. It’s fun to experiment with local produce and invent fusion food, leaving out or replacing ingredients that are mentioned in the original recipe: Sliced green papaya can pose as bamboo shoots in stir-fries. Bread fruit and plantains can be used in all kinds of potato dishes, stews and curries, and the same goes for starchy roots such as manioc and taro.
Dried tomatoes and mushrooms are great because they come in light, small bags, but once they are rehydrated and revived, they pop back to their normal size and are almost as good as their fresh colleagues when hopping into salads, soups and sauces. Cabbage, onions and potatoes last for weeks in a dark locker, and pumpkins last even longer, as do ginger and turmeric roots, which are essential for the many Asian dishes we cook. Dried beans and chickpeas can be soaked and boiled within a reasonable time in a pressure cooker; even easier are red lentils, which don’t require so much cooking time and make a stew or curry in a regular pot within 30 minutes. We don’t have a freezer, so we make canned preserves in the pressure cooker whenever we catch a big tuna, mahimahi or wahoo during a passage, and those jars last a long time.
As delicious smells from the simmering dinner waft up into the cockpit and the sunset is painting the sky over the lagoon in shades of pink and orange, we lean back and clink our glasses. Homebrewing is the definite solution for remote explorers who don’t want to renounce an after-work beer and another one for dinner (and maybe another one afterward). Ready-made beer kits in cans contain all that’s needed; you just have to add water, yeast, wait for a week, and then bottle the golden liquid. Of course, the equipment needed takes up quite some space and the whole procedure is rather time-consuming, but the luxury of sipping boat-made
Pitufa brew all on our own in an uninhabited natural paradise is well worth the effort. Cheers! (For a few galley-friendly recipes and information about brewing beer aboard, see cruisingworld.com/2105pitufa.)
We don’t have a freezer, so we make canned preserves in the pressure cooker whenever we catch a big tuna, mahimahi or wahoo.