Category: Mexico

One Step Closer

Well, it’s official. We jumped on a bus and went to the Port Captain’s office in Nuevo Vallarta today and started the process to check out of México. It’s really a pretty simple process as long as you have your ducks in a row. You know, lots of red tape designed to generate income for the government. (CLICK HERE FOR ZARPE 2018 INSTRUCTIONS)

Our appointment is set for 11:00 A.M. on Friday, March 23rd, 2018!

After the paperwork was complete and our appointment was set we hopped another bus and headed off to Puerto Vallarta to the Banjercito to relinquish our TIP. A TIP is essentially a travel permit required for boats planning to stay in Mexican waters for more than 3-5 days and allows you to leave your boat in Mexico when you fly out and/or need to import parts for your boat duty free. When leaving the country it is customary to relinquish your TIP. If you don’t and you sell your boat to someone who wants to then bring the boat back into the country it can create great difficulties for them.

There are some cruisers who refuse to relinquish their TIP in case they take off and have to return to Mexico due to mechanical issues etc… In our case our TIP will expire in the next two years and we don’t plan to be back here before then so Dan wanted to make certain we did the right thing in the highly unlikely event we decided to sell Dazzler.

Well, it turns out our trip to the Banjercito was all for not. Since we aren’t leaving the country until Friday they would not allow us to have it cancelled as they stated we would be here on the boat illegally until then. Instead she said it was best just to let it expire naturally. Like I said, this process is one that takes time AND patience. But the fact is we are here in paradise and we’re pretty much ready to go so it was just another Mexican adventure. And, honestly it was nice to see Puerto Vallarta one last time before we depart.

Of course since we were down in that general direction we had to stop back in Nuevo Vallarta at our favorite wing joint, Wings Army, for some wings and cold beer. We’re really going to miss that place!

Tonight I’ve got lots of feelings rushing through my body. First and foremost I’m excited as can be. This adventure is one I’ve thought of since I was in my twenties and my Dad talked to me about what it would be like to work my way around the world on a boat. I never dreamed I’d actually be sailing on this adventure for real, let alone doing it with the man of my dreams. Sometimes I literally pinch myself because I’m sure I must be dreaming. No really, I pinch myself. I have the little bruises to show for it.

Yet in all the excitement there are other things I’m thinking and feeling. Of course there’s the obvious sadness that comes with leaving great friends and family behind. And while the majority of our boating friends understand our lust for adventure, sadly some in our families do not. Most think we are crazy and some still question if this is really happening. I guess that’s a fair question if you are not the adventure seekers we tend to be. And, of course, there is the part where they may feel somewhat abandoned because we can’t tell them when we will be coming back. I know my mother has had a hard time coming to grips with all of this. Of course she’s a mom and worrying is something she does very well.

If I had one wish it would be that those who are doubtful of our decision actually understood the level of planning, work and dedication that went into making our dream a reality. Neither Dan nor I have any desire to leave this planet anytime soon. We have put in place as many safety precautions as we can. And by safety, I’m not just talking about a life raft and some flares. I’m speaking of the numbers of extra parts, bolts, nuts, screwdrivers and the entire chandlery of tools and backup systems we have aboard. Dan has spent months working on preventative maintenance and making repairs. We’ve amassed months worth of food and a medical kit that is better outfitted than some small clinics. There’s the planning, reading, seminars and hours and hours spent discussing this with others who have gone before us. And let’s not forget about the four methods of communication we have on board… HF Radio, VHF Radio, InReach and Iridium Go. Oh yes, we also have a self inflating life raft, EPIRB, storm sails and two drogues not to mention the fact that we have a highly comprehensive float plan that has not only been sent to our families but has been discussed with them at length.

And when you add all of that to the fact that Dan has 15 years of sailing experience with Dazzler and I was raised on boats, I think we have made a well calculated decision. One that allows us to live our dream but that should also provide a high level of comfort to those who love us and worry about us. No, nothing is guaranteed and Mother Nature can be cruel if she so desires but the fact is that when your time is up…it’s up. It doesn’t matter if you are sailing an ocean or walking through a parking lot so why not live each moment to its absolute fullest?

Yes, Dan and I are confident in our decision to make this jump across the Pacific and wherever the winds takes us after that. But, neither of us take for granted the risks involved. This is why we go over everything in fine detail. To be honest, Dan is one of the finest Captains I’ve ever known. And I’ve had the pleasure of knowing some great ones….my Daddy included. Dan doesn’t leave anything to chance. He analyzes each and every detail to the nth degree. He can fix anything. I’m quite certain of that as I’ve seen him in action. No, MacGyver has nothing on Dan. In fact he probably studied under him so I feel like I’m in the safest hands possible.

Several people have asked me how I feel about being at sea for three to four weeks? Well, I’m not sure. Of course I’m excited but I’m certain that will wear off after a few days when all we can see is sky and water and we still have weeks to go. But, Dan and I have lots of fun just the two of us. We both read, play games and spend a lot of time talking and making each other laugh. And let’s not forget there will be plenty of sailing related tasks on this journey so I seriously doubt I’ll be that bored. And, our friends, John and Deb on SV Lovely Reta gave us a nice parting gift that should breakup any boredom. It is ten separate gifts that are numbered with a note saying when we can open each gift. Can’t wait to see what little treasures await us there.

But honestly, I would be lying if I didn’t say I do have some trepidation. The obvious is weather. I’ve been in bigger seas before but when you hear about the potential of 20+ foot seas it can be quite daunting. (Keep reading mother!) That said, I understand that they are usually at long intervals and I know from experience that those types of seas don’t really feel so big when that is the case. However, Mother Nature can get her knickers in a twist so you always have to be on guard. Again, I look to Dan. He studies weather like other men study women and cars. He knows what to do, how to avoid the squalls and how to handle things if the weather becomes a bit nautical. He’s even made me watch a video on storm tactics that was done by Lynn & Larry Pardey. They have over 200,000 sailing miles under their belts and have circumnavigated a couple of times. I learned a lot about what to expect and what we would do in really bad seas. And I’m quite certain we will endure some nautical weather but I trust Dan implicitly.

My only other fear is not that I would fall overboard. I know Dan would get me back if it was at all possible. My fear is that he would go over. Yes, we’ve trained for exactly that scenario and he is constantly quizzing me on “what if scenarios” but it’s the one thing that really puts a knot in my stomach. I go over the procedures in my head multiple times a day and quite frankly I’ve told him he is NOT allowed to go over. Of course it is unlikely because we have a strict rule that when on deck we both wear life vests attached to a jack line on the boat. But as Dan says, “We have to rehearse the worst so we don’t hesitate if it happens.” So, there it is…my only real fear but knowing Dan the way I do I’m not sure why it even crosses my mind. Oh yeah…it’s that rehearsal thing!

So in two days we will be taking Dazzler down to the Port Captain’s office for final paperwork to get our ZARPE and then it’s off to Punta de Mita for a day or two of relaxation before we hit the high seas. All in all I can honestly say that the excitement far outweighs any other feeling I’m having. I’m so looking forward to the journey ahead and can’t wait to share it with the man I love…and all of you too.

Until next time…


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Provisioning Notes From Dazzler’s Galley!

Here in La Cruz there are a lot of cruisers preparing for the 2018 Puddle Jump and many others heading the opposite way with the Panama Posse. With so many of us about to make long passages there has been a lot of talk about provisioning, cooking and storing food for our adventures. Since we are somewhat ahead of the game, Dan and I were asked to prepare some notes for a seminar that was held last week at Marina Riviera Nayarit La Cruz. After preparing our notes we decided this might be some good information for others who may be preparing for a long journey.

Obviously provisioning for food is a very personal thing. After all, we all have different diets, favorite foods and galley equipment. Here on Dazzler we are fortunate enough to have a built in refrigerator & freezer as well as an Engel 42 quart refrigerator/freezer that we use as a freezer. With that in mind, we have taken a “fix it ahead and freeze it” approach to our provisioning.

I’m a southern gal so cooking for two is very difficult. When I make stew or anything else for that matter there is usually enough for the entire dock. The good part of this is it makes pre-cooked meals easy. Well, maybe not easy…you should have seen the salon and galley on Dazzler as I spent four full days cooking, packaging and freezing 80 individual meals!!! I looked like a mad chef with hair stacked on top of my head to keep it out of the food; food all over my clothes and dishes on the companionway stairs, in the cockpit and all over the galley and dining table. I love cooking but I’m not sure I was prepared to cook 80 meals over the span of a few days. Fortunately Dan was on a last parts/provision run to the land of plenty while I was doing all this. I can’t imagine having to do it with both of us on the boat.

So, what did I prepare in those yummy packages? Well, here’s a list of the meals I made:

  • Beef Stroganoff*
  • Spaghetti and Homemade Meatballs*
  • Macaroni & Cheese*
  • Enchiladas
  • Roasted Tomato/Pepper/Basil Soup
  • Brunswick Stew
  • Marinated Chicken & Garlic-Dill Roasted Potatoes
  • Creamed Chicken with Veggies
  • Frijoles de la Hoya
  • Chicken & Gravy for Open Faced Chicken Sandwiches
  • Lasagna
  • Crunchy Granola Bars (Great protein and filling plus they can go in dry storage!)

*Note that with the stroganoff, spaghetti and Mac & cheese I just made and froze the sauces. Cooking noodles on the boat isn’t a big deal and by just freezing the sauce it took up less room in our freezer.

Food Collage1
The top left is from our 1st Costco run. The bottom left is just a portion of the pre-cooked, pre-packaged meals I prepared. They wouldn’t all fit on the table! Some of the dry goods I’ve packed are on the top right and the other four are some of the dishes I cooked.

So why did I choose to pre-cook and freeze our meals? Well, by vacuum sealing them I created boil in a bag meals that will be easy to cook underway. Just pop them into a pot of water, boil and pour into a dish. Much less mess and if the sea state gets a bit nautical I won’t have a pot of sauce on the stove…just water and possibly some noodles. I’d rather clean up spilled water and noodles than red sauce any day! Of course we have other meats and meals that we are taking along but this is really focused on what we will eat on the 21-30 day passage.

Tips On Packaging & Freezing Foods

  • I chose to package individual portions so that we both don’t have to eat the same thing if we don’t want to and chances are that given our watch schedule we may be hungry at different times.
  • Depending on who you talk to, foods with liquid, most of what I cooked, should be frozen in a Ziploc bag before you vacuum seal them. I tried this but found that it was an unnecessary step and really made things a bit more difficult. In the end I sealed stews and “wet” items without freezing them. I did make certain to leave a little extra room in the bag so that it didn’t immediately begin to suck the liquid from it. I hit the vacuum button and as soon as the bag began to collapse and liquid started to get sucked out, I hit the seal button. Yes, there is a little air in them but the fact of the matter is I’m not sealing them to last for months and months so I feel like they will be just fine.
  • If you do freeze them first, be sure to make them as flat as possible. For example I froze the soup in quart size Ziploc bags and laid them on the bottom of the freezer. They flattened out to about ¼ inch thick packs that stack oh so nicely in the freezer.
  • Even though I ultimately chose not to freeze my food first, I still made certain I laid Collage Engelsthe packages very flat when I did freeze them. This saves a lot of room and makes packing your freezer a breeze. I was able to fit all 80 precooked meals along with a few other meats and two ice cube trays in our Engels. I even had enough room left over to put three beers at a time to chill them to the perfect temperature! (NOTE: Make sure you put a piece of paper towel or waxed paper between your packages when freezing a lot of them at one time. If you don’t you will end up with a block of frozen packages that will be next to impossible to separate later. Yes, I learned this one the hard way!)
  • If you cook all your meals in the span of a few days you might find, as I did, that you will be working the heck out of your freezer and it will take a long time to get Cooler Bag
    them to freeze. I found a solution to this problem very early on. We have a large cooler bag that we take to the grocery store to put our cold items in to transport them back to the boat. I bought a couple of bags of ice and placed the newly cooked items (after they cooled on the counter) into the freezer bag for several hours. By the time I moved them to the freezer they were cold and didn’t put as much strain on the freezer. They froze MUCH more quickly.
  • For the granola bars I made packages of six. Once opened I’ll put them in Ziploc bags. This way they don’t all have to be removed from vacuum-sealed bags at once and will stay much fresher along the way.

Other Food Tips

As you can probably tell, we love our vacuum sealer and use it A LOT! Here’s some other things we have done with dry foods.

  • Flour is supposed to be good for trading so we bought a lot of it to bring along and

    Flour & Rice
    The entire bag is full of nothing but flour and rice!
  • we packaged it in 2-cup bags as well. (Of course, don’t forget to freeze your flour for at least 24 hours before you package it to prevent weevils.)
  • We divided rice into 2-cup bags and vacuum sealed them so that we have portioned out rice for dishes like chicken and rice.
  • Nuts, dried fruits etc… were also divided into smaller vacuum-sealed bags to keep them fresh.
  • We seal our pasta as well. One point here is that pasta such as Rotini has sharp edges that can poke through the seal a meal bags. I line the bags with paper towels before putting the dry pasta in the bag. This prevents puncturing and has worked beautifully. I do the same with crunchy granola.
  • Milk…I LOVE FRESH, COLD, WHOLE MILK! But, I HATE boxed milk. Dan, on the other hand, likes it. I’ve finally resigned myself to the fact that I won’t be drinking much milk for a while. I can handle that but when it comes to cooking it is a must. Dan calls me a milk snob but I refuse to use the boxed milk in my southern cooking. It has a strange aftertaste and I refuse to put that in my lovingly cooked meals. So what do I use instead? Well, I’ve found the best alternative is Evaporated Milk. (Called Evaporado here in México) It actually makes things much creamier than milk does and has fewer calories than heavy cream. The awesome part is the obvious fact that it doesn’t need refrigeration. One tip though…You will probably want to add some water to the dish as it does thicken quite a bit. It’s my favorite new cooking ingredient and I highly recommend it.
  • Sour cream! We love our Mexican meals like tacos, burritos and enchiladas and sour cream is a staple in our diet. Of course it requires valuable refrigerator space. While we will be taking a few small tubs of the real stuff,  we also make our own using canned Crema. All you need to do is add a touch of white vinegar to Crema and voila! Sour Cream! Of course you have to refrigerate it after making it but you can make small batches for a meal or two. I’ve saved some of the small sour cream containers to use when we make it so it won’t take up much room in the refrigerator.
  • Spices…we love spicy, flavorful foods and from what we know about the food in the islands it tends to be rather bland and spices are not easily found. Stock up on spices and hot sauces etc… before leaving México. We also stocked up on taco seasoning. Just because we won’t be in México doesn’t mean we can’t have the flavor!
  • I created pre-packaged mixes for things like my granola bars, cheddar biscuits, butter biscuits etc… I measured out all of the dry ingredients and then vacuum sealed them into one package. This way when I get ready to make them I just dump the dry package into a bowl, add the wet ingredients and with very little fuss or clean up they are ready to make.
  • For things like Mayonnaise and other things like that which require refrigeration after opening, we always get small jars/bottles. It’s not as cost effective but a small jar of mayo takes up a lot less room in the refrigerator once it is opened.

Where, When & How To Buy Your Provisions

Before you go shopping, take the time to inventory your food. You’ll be glad you did! Throw out or donate the things that you never eat and discard those that are expired. I know we have gotten rid of quite a bit of food that we thought we’d eat but found we didn’t. Things that are on the cusp of expiring have been discarded as well. If I don’t think we will eat it in the next couple of weeks, it’s out of here! We need the room.

Now I’m a bit of a freak when it comes to the inventory thing. I have an inventory spreadsheet that lists all lockers on the boat and what is in them. It helps not only with locating tools and parts, but makes shopping much easier. For food, I keep all items listed on one spreadsheet in alphabetical order. I list the item, quantity on hand and location. For parts & tools I list the individual lockers and what’s inside each of them. (I’ll go into detail not this in another article.) I did this for food but found it to be a bit cumbersome when you have diced tomatoes in three different lockers. By having it all on one list I can see exactly how many of each item I have which makes creating a grocery list much easier.

Here is a screenshot from our food item spreadsheet…

Screen with Yellow
Note above where we have almonds in three different lockers. By having all food listed in one list I can easily see that I have 6 packages. If I want to see all the food located in one particular locker I can just sort my spreadsheet by location.

Here on Dazzler we have a “two ready cabinets”. In one cabinet we stow the dry goods we use almost daily. In the other we stow the canned goods we use daily. This keeps us from having to get into several different stores each time we cook a meal. In the “storage cabinets” we stow the rest of the food. As we move food from the storage cabinets to replenish our ready cabinets, we change it on the inventory log. Before we go shopping we review the inventory and know exactly what we have and what we need. Yes, it’s a little work but we’ve found it to be completely worth it. We keep our laptop on the nav station next to the galley so it’s just a matter of opening it up and making a couple of changes when something is moved or removed. We also track what’s in our Engels and our built in freezer. We don’t do it for the refrigerator so much because we are in that all the time and we just know what’s there and what is needed.

Before we started provisioning I prepared a list of meals I’d be making and what ingredients would be needed. I compared that to our inventory list to determine what we would need to buy.

However you decide to track your food, make sure you prepare a list of the meals you will be making beforehand or underway and do a good inventory before you start provisioning. It will make it a whole lot easier and less confusing. Plus, you aren’t as likely to end up having too much of one thing and not enough of another.

If you are here in México you know finding what you want can be a challenge at times and you probably won’t find everything in one place. We divided up our food gathering into several trips. So far we’ve made two trips to Costco to get the bulk items like Evaporated Milk, Giant Jars of Peanut Butter, Canned Tomatoes, Sodas etc… And remember, if you see it in Costco and think you want it…BUY IT! Chances are it won’t be there the next time you go. We’ve also made trips to Mega and La Comer (grocery stores) where we’ve found most everything we need.

We divided our trips up to give me some breathing room when it comes to stowing it aboard Dazzler. I know it can be overwhelming when you see a grocery cart overflowing with food and you start wondering where in the heck it is all going to go. My advice, just take a deep breath and calm down. You will find a place even if it’s tucked in your clothing locker or underwear drawer. Just make sure you document where you put it, especially if you are putting food in different places than normal.

How Much Food Do We Need To Take?

This is a loaded question for sure. How much food you take is entirely dependant upon your personal situation. How many people are you feeding? How many meals a day do you typically eat? Do you eat big meals or do you snack throughout the day and then eat smaller meals? Where are you planning on stopping along the way? How long before you reach the bigger islands where larger stores can be found? How much are you willing or do you have to spend on food once you get there? Do you eat more veggies or meats? Red meat or white meat?

It’s really hard for us to say how much you should take but if you answer those questions you should be able to figure it out. In all of our reading, of which we’ve done a ton, we’ve found that items like staple items, fruits and veggies are pretty easy to find in the islands. Chicken is there as well. Red meats will be much harder to find until you reach Papeete so if you like your red meat, I’d stock up now. As for us, we will be bringing filets along for our first anchor down meal in Hiva Oa.

Fruits & Vegetables

Veggies, oh those veggies! Well as you probably know most won’t last more than a couple of weeks unless you can them or refrigerate them and we all know how precious refrigerator space is on our boats. Root vegetables and onions will last the longest. For others you will likely have to resort to canned after a couple of weeks. This is another reason I chose to pre-cook meals. I was able to use red meats and fresh veggies and won’t have to make these meals with canned ones later. Of course we will buy our fresh fruit and veggies at the very last minute.

Some simple things I’ve learned about stowing veggies:Some say to wash and dry veggies before storing them. Others say not to do this. We will be washing our fruits and vegetables in a solution of water and vinegar then drying them thoroughly before storing. The vinegar helps to kill bacteria and spores that spur ripening.

  • Don’t store potatoes and onions in the same place! In fact, store your onions far from other veggies. They gas off and promote ripening.
  • Root vegetables should be stowed in cool, dark places. We will be placing ours in paper bags made from food grade brown paper. They need some ventilation so we will just poke some holes in the bags. It’s important if you do this that you check them often. When you find items that are getting ripe, remove them from the bag and use them up. If you find items that have bad spots, remove them immediately to prevent them from rotting and affecting the other food in the bag.
  • Don’t just buy fruits and vegetables that are ripe and ready to eat. Buy some that are still “green” as well as some that are ready to eat.
  • Buy vegetables and fruits that have never been refrigerated. Those that have been will ripen much more quickly if you don’t refrigerate them.

Beer, Wine and Liquor

Vokda BottleThese items will be expensive in the islands. We don’t drink underway so it’s just once we get there that we will need these items. After all, what’s fun is anchor down without an icy anchor down beer?

We received a great tip from some friends who have already done this trip. We bought a
5-gallon Jerrycan and will be filling it with vodka. This serves a couple of great purposes. One…we won’t have all those bottles to contend with and two, we can stow it along the rail on deck where we have our extra fuel so we don’t have to make room down below! HUGE BONUS!

We also drink beer and have heard of others who have lined their bunks, under their mattresses with beer. While that’s a great idea, our bunk is at the bow and we don’t want to put that much weight up there. We will likely stow it on the settee with the lee cloth up where we will be putting some other items. We have a few bottles of wine on board that we put in old socks and stowed in our clothing lockers to give some cushion. Of course we have other miscellaneous bottles of liquor that will just stay in their normal lockers.

It’s All Personal

As we said at the beginning, provisioning is a very personal thing. What you do and how you do it depends upon your circumstances, wants and needs. This information is just what we are doing based upon what we’ve read and learned from others. As with everything there are many ways to accomplish this task and we certainly are not experts when it comes to provisioning but if some of the tips here are useful for you then we are glad to have been a part of helping you on your adventure.

We’ll be posting the recipes for the pre-cooked meals I prepared here in the coming week. I’ll also have some other recipes for things like my refrigerator granola bars, one pan, no roll butter biscuits etc…

We hope this was helpful. If you have questions, other ideas or suggestions we’d love to hear them. Please email us at

Wishing you all happy, safe sailing and great meals!Jilly & Dan Sailing

Until Next Time…


P.S. Do yourselves a favor… spend some time eating out while you can. Whoever is on galley duty during the crossing will greatly appreciate the break now! I know I will!