altWe Shop And Stow, You Board And Go

It was a sunny mid-March Saturday in Vancouver.

Granville Island was crawling with locals provisioning their home galleys. The boatyard is crammed with boaters drawn by the breaking weather to remove the tarps, hit the hard and refresh the bottom paint in anticipation of the 8 months of boating to come. (Don’t forget, by March on the West Coast we have already cut our lawns 3 times and been to the beach twice!)

We had just completed provisioning a 46’ Westcoast Trawler for a very excited and appreciative family from Calgary. Then, whom do we run into on the sea wall, but the Galley Guys!

Clearly these two have used the local boat shows as an excuse to escape the eastern spring thaw and head west. We must point out that although they were trying hard to fit in, their Maple Leafs underwear gave them away as being of questionable geographic origin (AKA easterners).

“How ‘bout doing a column in Canadian Yachting magazine about provisioning?” they asked. “Great”, we said, “Let’s sit and chat.”

As true boaters often do in such a situation, the decision was quickly made to retire to the local pub!

The best part of being a yacht provisioner is the people you meet. We, in the boating community, all share the same desire. It doesn’t matter if you are day sailing on your local club boat, or heading out for a week long excursion to the Gulf Islands, the goal is the same: get out on the water, relax, and enjoy the atmosphere that only being on the water can offer.

We must add that the stories that accumulate over time in our business, are many and varied; from the elderly couple on a Meridian 49 who went out for two days with a provisioning list composed entirely of champagne and pâté–for the dog–to the family on the Catalina 34 who were gone for 7 days but had coordinated the embarkation and offloading, provisioning and sleeping arrangements for 20 family members at various points during their week!

At the end of the day however, our memories tend to be composed of laughter, wine and great food shared with friends.

The bottom line when using a yacht provisioner is that boaters are looking to maximize their time on the water and minimize the time it takes to prepare for the experience.

By using the service, you can take advantage of the provisioner’s knowledge of stowing–what keeps best, what to avoid–and most importantly, menu plans that are easy to prepare, delicious and memorable.

Because it affords you more time on your boat, provisioning is a common service and well established in all the popular chartering meccas of the world. The good news: it is now offered in Vancouver and is a much-appreciated service to charterers and locals alike.

Using a provisioner is a service that pays for itself. Boaters who are new to the area will likely not know where to shop, but more importantly, they’re on vacation and don’t want the shopping hassle. Nobody wants to spend precious chartering time in a line-up at a grocery store?

What could be more convenient than getting off the plane and stepping directly onto your chartered yacht, already fully outfitted and waiting for you? Local boat owners love the service because they can escape early on a weekend, heading straight from the office to the boat. The provisioner will have not only stowed the goods, but usually has a cold beverage and the first round of hors d'oeuvres awaiting the owner’s arrival.

There are several ways this can happen. The provisioner can develop an entire menu for the client’s approval and shop accordingly, or clients can simply e-mail their food/ beverage list to the provisioner. Sometimes the client and the provisioner develop a menu together. This works well for a new boater who is not yet comfortable with what stows well. Using a provisioner's knowledge of where to shop for specialty items like locally featured wines and cheeses can really enhance any boater’s experience.

The key is providing those extra items that clients haven’t anticipated but when discovered, produce a “Wow, what a great idea” reaction.

Corporate customers in need of catering can rely on a provisioner as a liaison for one-stop-shopping to ensure everything creates the right atmosphere in which to show their clients the beauty of their local waters. A dedicated yacht provisioner knows boats, knows what shows well, is familiar with refrigeration capacities and can plan to maximize the impact of your venue (boat).

I suppose we live a little vicariously through our clients when making suggestions for their menus. We think of what we would like to eat and how much prep time we would be willing to do. When the weather is good (and even when it’s not) we like to do as many dishes as we can on the BBQ. You can cook almost anything in aluminum foil! There is less clean up and we’re outside enjoying the sights.

One evening, sitting in the cockpit of our chartered Catalina 32 in Poet’s Cove Resort and Spa on South Pender Island–a can’t miss spot especially if you have kids aboard because the amenities of the Spa are open to moorage customers–we fired up the Force 10 BBQ and prepped a Bosun pizza. Our neighbours couldn’t help but ask what we were cooking as the savory aroma drifted over to their boat. Of course, we had to share our gastronomic delight just to see the looks on their faces as they bit into the medley of flavours. The lasting impression was that, “Hey, boat fare is not just beans and dip, it can be as varied and gourmet as your imagination can conjure.”

Provisioning is what we do because we love it. Nothing beats the atmosphere of a bustling marina, boaters waiting to get out, beautiful yachts straining at the lines, and of course, the people that make up our community. Give us a call next time you’re in Vancouver and we’ll do what boaters do best…share a drink and swap stories!


1 Thin Crust Pizza Shell
1 Jar Pesto
1 Fresh Pear, Thinly Sliced, Unpeeled
1 Small Onion, Caramelized
1 Tbsp Butter
Stilton Cheese

Cut pizza shell in half (It fits perfectly on most boat BBQ’s that way

Sauté onions in butter in a pan over medium heat until soft. Add pinch of sugar if desired.

Crisp the top of the pizza shell on the BBQ.

Spoon a thin layer of pesto over shell.

Top with onion and crumbled Stilton. Arrange pear on top.

Close bb-q lid and cook just enough to melt cheese. Careful not to burn. You just want the cheese beginning to melt.

Slice into wedges and pass them around.

If you’re boating with kids, here’s where they can have a turn at preparing a meal. They can get creative with the toppings and all you have to do is man the BBQ.

TIP: When cooking something like onions in a galley, cook extra to use on steak, in pasta etc., so as to not stink up the salon twice!

By Donna and Rob Watson