The midday sun is beating down on me as I maneuver this wheelbarrow through a mob that is the line for the dockside convenience store. I give up finding a way through and carry the wheelbarrow overhead through the crowd and onto the narrow street. I find my crew unloading groceries from a cab into the street because the driver didn’t want to block traffic anymore waiting for the wheelbarrow. I almost worried about the groceries spoiling sitting on the hot asphalt but then I remembered our boat wasn’t ready yet so “shade” would be the closest thing to refrigeration we’d manage for the next few hours.
Provisioning is a part of the adventure of bareboat chartering. As I’ll describe below it is, at least, a choose your own adventure 🙂
Unless you buy (and trust) packaged provisioning ahead of time you’ll need a provisioning list. It’s nothing more than a glorified shopping list. Here is the provisioning checklist I use for sailing trips, provisioning is hardly specific to bareboat chartering or sailing at all really…
That’s just a start though. You could have crew with dietary restrictions or crew that are really picky. That’s fine with me though: they’ve just volunteered for provisioning duty!
With bareboat chartering you’ve got some options on how to facilitate your provisioning. Of course, not every charter base will have every option but here’s what to look for:
Figure it out when you get there
For the most part anyway. After you arrive you do your check in and then head off in search of provisions. Or send some of the crew off for provisions while you check in and then meet back at the boat. It’s nice to determine if there is a nearby grocery store if you choose this option; you want to know ahead of time if it’s a $100 round trip to the grocery store by cab (usually, in the Caribbean cabs charge you extra per bag). It’s also good to work out a detailed provisioning list ahead of time.
It’s also a good idea to check out nearby grocery stores selection online ahead of time if possible. That way you can determine whether the items on your provisioning list are going to be easy to come by or if you need to revise your menu.
On the bright side this is all a part of the adventure. Even if you choose another option you’ll almost certainly wind up searching for something at the last minute.
In my experience this option works out the best as long as you can figure out the logistics of getting to and from the grocery store ahead of time. I’ll buy my own provisions at a grocery store so long as I can verify transportation and the store’s selection (usually discussed in cruising guides).
Provision online through your charter company
Their marketing will paint a picture of arriving at a fully stocked boat with cold beer and umbrella drinks waiting. It’s a compelling ending to a day that likely includes hours of grueling travel.
That is, of course, if the boat is ready when you arrive. It also hinges on them having thought of (or you having remembered to order) everything you’ll need, otherwise you’re off for some last minute provisioning anyway. Still, this option requires the fewest onsite logistics and has the best chance of going off without a hitch.
They often have packages you can buy which saves you having to figure out provisions for yourself. Still, you’re likely going to want to double check what they’ve included to make sure they match your tastes; if you can. Even if you don’t use the packages if their contents are listed they can provide you with ideas of what to order yourself; they often take into account local food availability and prices.
If there aren’t packages available or you don’t use them you’ll have to fill out your own online shopping cart from your provisioning list. Or some combination of packages supplemented by the online shopping cart might work out the best for you.
3rd Party Provision Delivery
This is similar to provisioning through your charter company. Third party services tend to have more variety of foods available. They are also less likely to have packages and more likely to simply be an online shopping cart that you fill up and they deliver.
In the delivery, however, lies the rub. The delivery has limited hours which may not fall between when you arrive at the charter base and when you’d like to depart. So you have them delivered early and risk your perishables sitting out on the dock in the heat or delay your departure and have them delivered the day after you arrive. Think of the delivery time as more of a recommendation than a schedule…
If you work out those additional hurdles you save some money. We used Riteway in the BVI and our groceries sat on the dock for a while but nothing spoiled. Part of that was luck and the other part moxie; we sent crew to find and stow our perishables into the fridge on the boat before we were technically allowed aboard. Here is what our order looked like.
Other Bareboat Considerations
A few more miscellaneous things to consider for bareboat provisioning:
- What fuel does the grill use, do I need to buy some
- What paper products come with the boat
- check the packages, if they have paper towels you’ll need to provide paper towels
- What is a lot cheaper bought locally?
- Should you pick anything up on your way through duty free?
Need more information on how to bareboat? Start here. Otherwise, happy hunting!