Following the same line of questions that we frequently get here at bareboat-sailing.com, this topic has to be in the top ten. Let me start by saying that most of the bareboat inquiries that we get and the quotes that we send out, do not include the cost of the provisioning. At some point however, the issue arises, many times after the boat has actually been booked and the number of guests finally nailed down: what, where and how are we going to eat while on charter?
Different strokes for different folks. Answers range from: “we really don’t want to cook at all so we’ll buy coffee and cereal for breakfast and have our lunches and dinners ashore”. Other answers are, “we love to cook, so we’ll buy everything at the local supermarket and eat breakfast, lunch and dinner aboard every day”. Probably the most prudent solution is somewhere in-between.
If you are bareboating in the Mediterranean, for example, most experienced bare-boaters will arrange their provisioning so that they can eat breakfast and lunch on board and eat ashore every evening. This is true for crewed charters as well. Of course in the Med, every little island you visit has really neat and for the most part, inexpensive little tavernas or trattorias that serve local fare, so this is definitely an excellent option.
The Caribbean is quite different, and the local restaurants are pretty expensive, the food indifferent and “local fare” is defined as hamburgers. There are, of course, honorable exceptions and there are also some excellent restaurants all over the Caribbean but the prices are pretty unbelievable. For the best culinary experiences in the Caribbean, try the French islands, including St. Maarten, St. Barth, Martinique, etc. But for those of us who are die-hard BVI fans, my favorite routine is to take all breakfasts, some lunches and some dinners on board and perhaps eat lunch ashore a couple of days and dinner ashore perhaps 3 or 4 evenings during the week.
How to provision your boat?
a) Most of the bareboat companies we represent offer a provisioning service. We send you the forms, you fill them out, tick all the right boxes, and bingo, the provisions miraculously appear on your bareboat at the base when you arrive. This is especially true and a good idea in the Med where there is always a language problem. Some bareboat operating companies have several different provisioning plans to accommodate your needs. The Moorings for example has full provisioning and split provisioning options.
b) A less expensive option in the BVI though, is to contact the supermarkets online yourself, place the order, use your credit card and bingo, the provisions also appear miraculously on board. There are two major supermarkets in the BVI that offer this service Bobby’s and Riteway. Both are reliable and responsive.
c) An even less expensive option is to for the captain to order the crew to go to the supermarket in a cab, do the shopping and bring it back to the boat…!!
Regardless of which method you use, The KISS method is the best – keep it simple. If you’re a accomplished and experienced bareboater, you’ll probably know all of this anyway. If you’re not, I hope the above helps.
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