Provisioning for our trips to the Bahamas is in many ways similar to provisioning for a long domestic cruise – just on a grander scale. When we head down the coast, we try to anchor out often. When we do stop at a marina or yacht club, we seldom venture anywhere near a store. I’d rather be on the beach or the docks than in a grocery store!
I can’t give amounts of items, because that is going to depend on personal preferences, length of cruise and – in the case of food – where you’ll be cruising and how often you plan on eating aboard! So the following is my checklist for our next Bahamian cruise.
Paper Towels – I like to buy mine from Costco (Sam’s, BJ’s, etc. will do) because the rolls are wrapped individually. Ditto with Toilet Paper (Scott is easy on the holding tanks.)
Dish Detergent – Take a large bottle to refill your smaller one.
Laundry Detergent – the pods are great for cruisers, as you don’t have to carry a box or bottle with you to the Laundromat; just toss what you need in a plastic bag. They are very easy to store; just be sure you can keep them dry.
Cleaning Products – Bar Keeper’s Friend (powdered cleanser) & White Vinegar are truly all you need! I keep a large (again, Costco is this cruiser’s friend) bottle on board to clean the heads, and I keep a spray bottle full of water and white vinegar for cleaning most everything else.
Tip: Several months before a long trip, I will start evaluating our usage of essentials so I can take an adequate amount for the islands. I can restock when we get back to the states, but I never assume I can find it when I need it in the islands.
Soap – Of course you can find this in the islands, but your choices will be limited. Toothpaste –take the tubes out of their boxes
Hair products (Again, you can find most of these, but the selection will be limited)
Toiletries – you know what you can and can’t live without.
Sunscreen – Not only can you never have enough, it is very expensive in the islands. Take more than you think you will need. Truly, one large tube per person per week is not excessive if you wish to avoid sunburn, much less skin cancer.
Tip: These items are easier to store out of the boxes they may come in. Individual bars of soap can be wrapped in plastic wrap, and many of these items can be stored in a plastic canister or shoe box sized plastic box. If you have the shallow cabinets in your stateroom that I do, try a plastic tackle box with the dividers removed, or rearranged. They utilize those shelves very well.
Health & First Aid
Prescriptions – can get a three month Rx from doctor
You can buy a first aid kit, or put one together yourself. The following are just some of the items I find indispensable:
Bandages – All sizes. Waterproof are a no brainer.
NuSkin wound repair
And because you want to have these if you need them:
Analgesic (Aspirin, Ibuprofen, Tylenol . . . your choice)
Can put following in smaller, travel size bottles:
Ammonia – Good for jellyfish stings. We’ve never encountered any in the Bahamas, but we’ve seen quite a few while making our way there and back.
Utensils are either basic or personal preference; but if you like conch, don’t forget a meat mallet!
Foil – If you’ve got a grill, you can cook just about anything if you have some.
Ziplock bags – every size. You’ll find you use them for everything from marinating foods to keeping items dry when you go to the beach. I take mine out of their boxes and store them in plastic canisters.
Trash bags – there will be places that do not have receptacles for your trash; when that occurs it’s so nice to have some of the big black bags.
Dish towels – because you’ll want to keep your trash to a minimum.
Many of the items below are based on our personal needs, but it should give you a general idea.
Coffee,tea – store in plastic canisters or containers.
Creamer “ “ “ “ “
Sweetner or sugar
Spices & Condiments – For me, Tabasco, garlic granules, powdered ginger, Italian seasoning, soy sauce, olive oil, Ken’s Dressings (for marinades,) and the standard mustard and mayo are a must. If there’s something special you like, bring it with you! You’ll find the basics, but if you just have to have that special Dijon mustard or Balsamic Vinegar don’t count on finding it there.
Cheese – Nice to have around for docktails. Hard cheese keeps the longest, so I get several packages before departing the states. However, we really like the Bahamian cheese – sort of a cross between Hoop Cheese and Cheddar – so I always look forward to picking that up.
Bread – But buy the native coconut bread when you can find it. It makes awesome French toast!
Chips & Nuts – see docktails above.
Summer Sausage – or similar item. Keeps well, easy to store and good for …. Docktails!
Vegetables - Canned, frozen or both. Again, you never know what you will find or when/where you’ll find it.
Tip: If you don’t eat it at home, don’t bring it on the trip. Those are the items that come back with you. My personal exception is canned sardines and Ritz crackers. The captain loves them for lunch when he’s on a long haul. How can I refuse him???
Pet Food – Dried food should not be kept in paper or cardboard packaging. We store it in recycled plastic containers such as the large plastic jars that mixed nuts from Costco come in. Gallon milk jugs would work as well, depending on your storage area. Only you know how much your pet will need.
Flea and worm meds
First aid kit recommended – Veterinarians are hard to come by in the islands. One of the vets at Marathon (FL) Animal Hospital has spent a great deal of time in the Bahamas. He sells a relatively inexpensive kit with the basics for eye infections, wound care and intestinal upset.
Alcohol – Liquor is relatively inexpensive in the islands, though if you are in the out islands, there will not be as many places to obtain it. Wine and Beer, though, are expensive here; so if you must have it, consider your desired amount and where you will store it. Boxed wine is a good option, and many a bunk has storage that will accommodate a number of them. The advantage to this storage location is that it is generally cooler than most places on the boat. Not being beer drinkers, I don’t have any suggestions there.
Chocolate – You will have serious sticker shock if you try to buy this in the islands!
This is for the first timers. If you have been before, you’ll know!
Your basic wardrobe is going to consist of shorts, t-shirts and swimsuits, especially if you’re only in the out islands! Dressy clothes aren’t really required anywhere, but the ladies might like a sundress or two. The most the guys would need would be a sportshirt and nice shorts or khakis. If you plan to anchor out a lot, and you don’t have a washer/dryer, some clothes pins can come in mighty handy. If you’re not a sailor, you’ll find a way to string some cord. Necessity truly is the mother of invention.
It can occasionally get cool, even in the Bahamas, during the fall and winter months. It’s never a bad idea to have a pair of jeans, a few long sleeved shirts, some socks and a jacket on hand. You may need to layer.
I’m sure there are some things I left out, as well as things that may not apply to you. There are many who have cruised as much or more than I have. Please feel free to add your comments. They are welcome!!!!