Here it is Wednesday again, time to post.
Today's topic is 


Hmmm......the exchange rate???
In February I traveled through Chile with pal John Welsford. I was in Chile for one week and then John arrived and we went into over drive for the next three weeks. The man is strong with great stamina. We hardly had a day of rest given that we traveled from Santiago to Valparaiso and then south into Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego. I had quite the hit list of meetings set and knowledge needed. High on this list was the availability of provisions in Punta Arenas.
Shopping in Valparaiso Chile
Big Ears............and I don't mean his.
A beautiful Chilean dessert in Puerto Montt (nope I hardly got a bite)
We learned much as we traveled visiting public markets and stores of all types. Chilean produce is abundant, in great variety and delicious. I plan to eat as locally as I can. However I will be challenged to carry much fresh produce other than hearty root vegetables and onions as spoilage will be an issue. I plan to start off with fresh vegetables but know in spite of the cold air and cold water these will have a short shelf life.

The last time I sailed the waters of Tierra del Fuego I traveled super light with boat, gear and provisions needed for three months out of touch with civilization and I brought it all with me as baggage on the airline. This trip was several years in the making and as with any such endeavor the best laid plans get tossed out the window the day of setting off. After that its a game of how well did I prepare and with what I have on board can I ad lib in a pinch. One of the challenges sailing Tierra del Fuego is the daily grind of high winds and unpredictable weather leading to extended periods either on shore waiting for a weather window or standing off to sea and having hands full with sailing making food preparation difficult.

Boat, gear and provisions for three months.

During my last voyage I had a plan to load heavy and cache food for the return trip north from Cape Horn. I did this at Bahia Scourfield. In the photo above you can see the frame of a back pack. This was my food cache. I had a heavy plastic bag to put it in and buried it at Bahia Scourfield never imagining I would not be able to make it back there. I figure it is still there and I may take a look for it this trip as it also contains the only two books I carried with me. 

Bahia Scourfield in the Wollaston islands north of Cape Horn. In this photo the wind is blowing 55 knots and it more or less did this for ten days straight.

Weight is always an issue for the small boat sailor and in my case sailing a fifteen foot wood canvas canoe meant I had to weigh everything to the ounce.

Here is a photo of what I carried in and on my boat. The cache pack is on the aft deck (unloaded in this photo).

My friend Jim Gillespie was extremely helpful in planning my daily nutrition for the trip and I Thank him again! Jim is a very talented musician and is part of the group producing the sound track for Dave Nichols film "Below 40 South"...........nice to have such life long pals!

Jim did serious background research on nutritional content of a number of food items, made an amazing food chart, set my daily caloric intake target, etc. Another friend Kirby Snively, superb singer/song writer and Blissfest guy made the tiller for my boat.

Both these gents are part and parcel of a great American music festival that I also had a role in for many years. The event is the Bliss Music Festival and it still takes place annually in northern Michigan the second weekend of July! For many years I hosted the Festival at my farm, now known as the Festival Farm. I feel honored to have had a small role in the Festival and glad to know I helped them establish ownership of their permanent home.

Here is a funny old (oops, reversed) photo of me wearing my Blissfest hat, Cape Horn in the background.

Two food bags enough for 5 weeks can be seen in this photo taken on the Beagle Channel.

The Best Laid Plans 
I was pinned in Bahia Scourfield for the ten days and each of these days I was obviously not moving yet was consuming provisions. At the end of the ten days the wind ceased blowing so I quickly loaded up and headed south under paddle power for a measly four hours before being pinned again on Isla Deceit for another ten days. That would be twenty days straight of little progress other than into my provisions.

The weather was so violent that I could hardly chance standing up outside, I moved around mostly on all fours. To get knocked over by the wind and break a bone in such a remote place would have been a very serious issue. John Welsford experienced similar winds in Punta Arenas last month while we were there and thought it dangerous.

So I spent another ten days curled up in my tent with no ear plugs to keep the roar of the wind down, enough to make a guy crazier than he already was. Waves of freezing rain and high winds made for misery in my one man tent and I sort of stopped eating. The tent was continually flattened by the strong winds. Where I ended up there was not even a knee high bush for protection.

So the ad lib bit had to come into play as before I was even a few miles into the voyage I was in trouble on provisions. So I did skin tests and figured what I could eat from nature. The berries in the photo below became a staple until I reached Cape Horn. They were very sour but mixed well into a number of meals I cooked. Once on Cape Horn I was well fed by my three friends the navy lighthouse keepers...........that's the way the Armada de Chile operates. What a superb navy, more interested in assisting others than just about any other objective. Obviously they are a fighting navy but in my book they are a caring navy.
I have no idea what these tart red berries are really called. The Armada sailors I met called them Diddlydee berries. (Not sure of the spelling either)

Spin Forward

Spin forward to 28 years later and here I go again to an even more remote place in Tierra del Fuego, the southwest islands. This round I will sail a boat with larger capacity but in actuality not that much larger because of my plan to sail backpacker light leaving room for safety/survival gear, warm clothing, repair kit, etc etc. Food is again an issue and even more complicated than the last voyage in that this time I can't put the boat, gear and food on a plane and fly it in. Based on shipping costs I have to be very careful and so have made the decision to provision entirely in Chile thus saving precious pounds and shipping costs.

Whats For Dinner?
I am planning a traditional or ancient grain and hearty (root) vegetable diet for this voyage as it makes procuring, storing and cooking very easy with spoilage less of an issue.

So this was also the case when I came to Jim those many years ago and asked for his help in planning a nutritious natural food diet. Jim was also in the same mind set and so it was a natural (no pun intended) fit. He hit it just right and after testing the diet before I departed the US I knew I could more than survive with his recommended diet until my miscalculation due to the many delays I experienced due to inclement weather. Thanks Jim as he knows I still have that pencil chart of the detailed diet he put together, a great memory.

It's Either Complicated or Not
One of my passions in life is sailing and particularly trying to sail as small as possible. I find this an incredibly interesting exercise in efficiency and paring down to the most basic of basics. This can make for a very simple and fulfilling experience. Part and parcel of this is provisioning and I have found that the diet style I enjoy (based on a very traditional Japanese diet) also packs extremely small. For this trip I plan to be able to boil, pan fry, stir fry and bake while aboard when conditions allow, which won't be often but what a treat when I can. There is nothing quite like being tucked in the on board tent on a tiny boat at anchor roasting coffee beans and whipping up a hot frothy latte after a home cooked meal that can include freshly baked items. Yes its possible that with my set up and wood stove that I will bake simple flat breads, corn breads and muffins.

Freeze dried? dried? canned? fresh? pre-prepared, vacuum packed? Hmmm, all interesting options but do all meet the nutritional requirements caused hard physical labor, cold conditions and this sailors metabolism, which makes it hard for him to gain weight and easy to lose it.

In The Middle of Nowhere
I bumped into a German paddler west up the Beagle Channel. This was near the end of my last voyage in Tierra del Fuego, I reckoned it was time to turn back and so I did and then he showed up, respectfully a bit out of his depth. Very nice guy who was having rough go of it so I offered to give him a lift for the eight day voyage back to Puerto Williams. He looked at me askance when I explained how we'd do it.

I lashed his skinny kayak to my beamy sailing folder and off we sailed cooking and sleeping aboard. He had had real troubles from the word go and was about out of food. By this time I was near the end of my voyage and had stocked up on a few things in Ushuaia, Argentina for an exploration foray west up the Beagle to the glaciers. If I recall correctly what was left of his food consisted of half of a nasty looking sausage, a plastic bag of sugar, 6 onions, two cans of beans and one airline sized bottle of Scotch. Yep he was in a spot.

So I stood back, scratched my head and figured a way to make a sailing catamaran out of our boats and off went went. I inflated a dry bag in the cockpit of his boat when it was time for him to sleep and he slept on top of the kayak feet forward with a Klepper strap (I had on board) around his mid section and under/around the hull, strange but it worked, the water was seriously cold. This kept him from falling off when asleep. After a nap he would deflate the bag and then ride in his cockpit. I slept in my cockpit as he was new to sailing and learned after a few days. The photos here were taken on our one nice day.
The German paddlers boat lashed to mine, I am cooking one of his cans of beans under way, Yum sort of!
My new German friend digging out onions from the fwd hatch of his boat as we sail on a good day east on the Beagle Channel.

The Set Up
My at anchor galley, which folds flat and stows below. The wood cutting board top is Birds Mouth Maple from Dave Nichols (Thanks Dave) and can be easily switched out to be a work bench. When at sea I will be cooking on a single burner home made gimbaled stove. I can also cook on the boats wood stove and can bake bread etc.

Fitting the wood stove (tent not up), which is on a 2 piece collapsible hearth. The set up takes about three minute to assemble and can be taken down in about 2 minutes. Everything stows below. The stove has a water jacket for heating soup, water etc and also features a cook top.

Back to the options question. I married well and my wife (a linguist by profession and a foodie by passion) is in to a very unique style of Japanese cuisine known as Tubu-Tubu. This is what we enjoy every day and what I will be basing my provisioning on for my coming voyage. Thanks Keiko!

Meet Keiko

Keiko as mentioned is a serious foodie and is planning my provisions with me.

Tubu Tubu

Tubu-Tubu is a Japanese nickname for native grains. “Tubu” actually refers to granular items, such as small seeds, beads, beans and balls. Tubu-Tubu is an interesting and I feel appropriate food for not only enhancing health but also a very personal way that helps us feel we are doing our part to help the planet and our health. 

So I am going to be eating a grain based vegetable diet and the cool thing is I can get what I need in Chile. The grains pack small (bulk up on cooking), are dense in nutrition, are complimented when cooked with any number of hearty vegetables and do not require refrigeration. This style of cooking uses no eggs, dairy products, sugar (we make our own natural sweeteners) or animal products. For small sailboats this type of provisioning is ideal. If not embraced for every day living it is a viable and delicious diet for weekend small boat warriors or those headed over the horizon.

For the past year Keiko has been working with me (well the real work is hers) testing meals to see what I like, what will be easy to prepare and what will offer the greatest nutrition for given weight. 

This has been fascinating and I have to say delicious. One interesting outcome of this is that she has decided to author a book on provisioning specifically for sailors, hikers, bikers and anyone doing anything outdoors where weight and space are an issue but it will be very focused on sailing needs where lack of refrigeration and storage is an issue.

I like delicious food and am not much for some vegetarian meals that are in my opinion boring, her food is amazing, savory or sweet, easy to prepare and fun to look at. All that time, money and effort we put into her linguistics education and career has morphed into her passion, cooking and teaching others what she has learned from experts in Japan.

So for fun here are some photos of just a few of the test dishes she has prepared for me to choose from. I firmly believe nutrition will be one of the key elements of voyaging below 40 degrees south.

For example here is yesterdays one pan experiment. Of course I won't have asparagus but the concept of a multi course meal in one pan is what we are working on now. Eating well is important. If I get tired of what I eat my nature is to not bother cooking, bad idea.

Granted these are quite stylish and I won't be eating off of plates on nice table cloths. Our objective is one pan meals with left overs being primary ingredients for the next meal.

Packing and Weight
Sailing a SCAMP allows for more room below for stowage than one can imagine yet my available room for provisions will be quite limited. I have installed padeyes low throughout the boat in all compartments. This will enable me to strap heavy items (food bags, etc) low and tight so that in the event of a capsize weight below will not shift and cause a righting issue.

I see the grains I am carrying as nutrition and needed energy and as ballast and ballast and that is a good thing. I will be sailing with varieties of Quinoa, Amaranth, Millet, Buckwheat, Oats, fruits, vegetables, oils, spices and different varieties of flours because I like to bake. There may be few things better for moral than hot biscuits off the wood stove on cold damp mornings side up against a cup of freshly roasted and brewed coffee. Yachting at its best!

Here are a few examples of traditional or ancient grains that Tubu Tubu chefs use to create foods (eggs, meats, etc) many people like. Many of these grains have been staple foods for cultures around the world for thousands of years.

If interested take a look at Keiko's blog
 and keep an eye out for that book she is writing.

Here is Keiko's Japanese blog for additional photos of her food

Next weeks topic is- Voyaging Strategy

Dave Nichol's film web site is at: and I sure hope he can raise the funds he needs to produce the footage I shoot into a small boat film many folks might like to see. 
                    I support Dave's effort and will do my part to shoot film while underway.


  1. Very interesting Howard. If i were to provision for another voyage, it would not be based on 200 cans of food in the bilge! I look forward to the book release, and trying out some new dishes, looks tasty.

  2. Love the grains idea.. we've only started getting into grains the last few years.. grains, bell peppers, avacado and owls have become very popular .. yes photos..statuettes anything owls!!I'm very interested in her book.. BRING IT ON!!

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