What do I eat?
This is, without a doubt, my most FAQ, and just goes to show that at the
end of the day we all, no matter what we do for a living, all have to
eat, sleep and perform other bodily functions, and it is our shared
experience of those functions that most unite us. The Queen of England,
Cameron Diaz, the Dalai Lama, peasants, priests and ocean rowers –
everybody has to eat. So why what I eat should be of especial interest
I'm not sure… although I suppose I do have a few unusual constraints, as
obviously the food I bring on board has to be compact, relatively
un-crushable, long-lasting without refrigeration, and nutritious enough
to support unusual physical demands. So here goes.
While at sea, my diet is 99% raw, mostly organic, and very nearly vegan.
Eeek, that sounds horribly virtuous. So I would also like to add that
what I eat on the ocean and what I eat on dry land bear very little
resemblance to each other. If only they did, I would probably be much
healthier and live much longer. But I wouldn't have nearly as much fun.
I tend to look on my ocean time as a chance to detox and undo some of
the damage that I inflict on my body (especially my liver) while ashore,
where I indulge in – well, pretty much anything and everything. A true
So here's how it breaks down – and I think you'll find it's actually a
lot yummier than it initially sounds. In fact, I find these foods a lot
tastier and more satisfying than many restaurant meals ever manage to
Larabars – fruit and nut bars made in Denver, available in most
wholefood stores in the US. No added sugar, unprocessed, raw, non-GMO,
gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, vegan and kosher. And very good. My
favorites are Peanut Butter Cookie, Pecan Pie, Banana Bread, Apple Pie,
Ginger Snap and Jocolat (Chocolate and Chocolate Coffee flavors). I'm
saving all my Larabar wrappers from this trip [see photo] and we're
trying to think of something creative to make from them.
Rawfood crackers – these were made for me by Marlene Depierre, a friend
of a friend who lives on Maui. Rawfood crackers are made by germinating
grains such as buckwheat, sunflower seeds, or nuts. These are then
whizzed in a food processor with whatever you fancy to make different
flavors – herbs, spices, sundried tomatoes, the pulp you have left over
after making your carrot juice, whatever. The mixture is then spread on
trays and "baked" in a dehydrator, a low-temperature method of cooking
that keeps the enzymes alive. Marlene has given me 9 or 10 varieties,
all beautifully vacuum packed and labelled. My favorite amongst her
creations are the walnut pumpkin crackers, and sweet crackers made with
buckwheat, dried fruit and chia seeds. (Chia is the latest superfood, of
Beansprouts – I grow these in a Sproutamo pot that I keep in a string
bag in a shady corner of the cockpit. I got 3 different bean mixes from
Sproutpeople in San Francisco – their Beanie mix, Peasant mix, and San
Francisco mix. Sprouting is dead easy – just soak the beans for 8 hours,
rinse, and water a couple of times a day. After about 2 days you've got
beansprouts. I like to mix them with some tamari almonds or sunflower
seeds, tahini, and some nama shoyu sauce. Rich in enzymes, vitamins,
minerals, protein and fiber.
Dried fruit and nuts – I get through tons of these. The nuts were
provided by Wilderness Family Naturals (and a few additional treats from
Living Nutz – their Bodacious Banana Bread Walnuts are especially good).
I chose these suppliers because they soak the nuts and then dehydrate
them at low temperatures – as with the rawfood crackers, this kicks off
the germination process which makes the nuts extra-nutritious, and also
easier to digest.
I've also got some emergency rations, in case my voyage takes longer
than expected. I didn't want to spend much on these extras, as I hope
not to need them. So I've got a load of quinoa and two bottles of olive
oil (extra virgin, cold pressed). It might not make for the most
exciting diet, but if that was all that stood between me and starvation
it would be very adequate, quinoa being high in protein. I also brought
a few cans of sardines and kippers, just in case I get major protein
cravings. I used a few cans in the first couple of weeks, but haven't
felt the urge since.
I've also got some rations left over from Stage 1 of the row, that I
brought along for lack of anything better to do with them – sachets of
oatmeal and dehydrated expedition meals. In fact, some of the expedition
meals date from the Atlantic. But they last forever and are handy for
I do have a cooking stove on board, but I haven't used it so far. The
weather has been way too hot to even think about cooking hot food. But
it would be useful if I needed to use the expedition meals or oatmeal.
And of course a few treats. Chocolate syrup from Wilderness Family
Naturals (made with organic cocoa beans and organic agave nectar) and
some Meyer lemon marmalade made by my friend Karen Morss at Lemon Ladies
of Emerald Hills, CA. Both are good with the sweet rawfood crackers.
Even though this diet is much more nutritious than what I eat on dry
land, I've got multi-vitamins and minerals, supplied by Biocare, just to
be sure I've got it all covered.
And that's about it. Before the Atlantic row (my first) I carefully
compiled spreadsheets of daily rations broken down by carbs, protein and
fat, and calculated every meal down to the last calorie. Now I take a
much more relaxed attitude to it, and just eat as much as I want to,
when I want to. I eat frequently throughout the day – 7 or 8 snacks
during breaks in rowing shifts.
All this food is nutritionally very dense, so it doesn't take up much
room. I could easily have fit twice as much food on board – probably
more. I could in theory live on this boat for over a year without
resupply. In practice, though, I wouldn't want to. I'm quite looking
forward to getting back to dry land and enjoying that other essential
food group – cold beer!
[photo: my collection of empty Larabar wrappers so far. Any creative
ideas for some piece of memorabilia we can have made with them?]
Yesterday's calm conditions were clearly a One-Day Special Offer only.
Today the trade winds are back in business at 18 knots or so, and
pushing me west again. As I approach the single digit latitudes I'm
intrigued to see what's going to happen in the ITCZ…
No attacks from the local wildlife today. Phew. Thanks for all the
sympathy and ribaldry at my expense. I hope there will be no further
unwarranted intrusions upon my person. By my posterior is not how I wish
to be remembered for posterity.
CG – love the suggestion of the bootie-fish. Made me LOL! Also good to
know about Bikini Atoll. Still hope to get further south though.
Thanks, Lily, for your comment. Nice to know you're there and following!
Hi Jen. I can't wait to find out what you're plotting. Will row faster
Position at 2115 HST: 10 05.283N, 171 18.589W
Wind: 18kts E
Seas: 6-8ft E
Weather: mostly sunny, overcast towards sunset
Weather forecast, courtesy of weatherguy.com
As of Monday, 29 Jun 2009. The easterly trade winds 20+kts hanging on
a little longer. Expect a brief period of lower winds then back to
20+kts. Seas abate to 8-9ft.
Sky conditions: Partly to mostly cloudy with multilayered clouds of low
to mid level. Very isolated rainshowers.
ITCZ: The most active part of the Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ)
has drifted westward to 175W between 2N and 8N. There are widespread
areas of wind 30-40kts in heavy rainshowers have been measured. These
systems are often times accompamied by thunder and lightning. You may
observe these conditions. There are some holes in this activity of
Forecast below is for a SWerly course.
Date/Time HST Wind kts Seas (ft)
29/1800-30/0600 ENE-E 17-22 8-9
30/0600-30/2100 ENE-E 12-17 6 -7
30/2100-04/1800 ENE-E 17-22 8-9
Next Update: Thursday, 02July