Costs and Time: Provisioning for the Bahamas for a Family of 6

When asking about provisioning for the Bahamas, there always seemed to be two schools of thought. The first thing I heard often was, “Don’t buy too much food before you leave, people eat everywhere you go!” the other opinion was, “Buy what you can before you come to the Bahamas, because everything is EXPENSIVE here!”

Because I really dislike shopping and running errands on a regular basis, the thought of just doing a few months worth of stocking up all at once REALLY appealed to me. I mean, really, it was one of the things I was really looking forward to when I was learning about cruising in the first place. Besides which, I can think of a LOT of things I’d rather do with my time on a tropical island than schlep around looking for a grocery store. That’s not even taking into account that we’d be walking to said store and carrying everything back… um, no thank you.

I’m sure that we’ll be buying some things from time to time like eggs and cheese, but for the most part, I made a provisioning list for approximately 3 months. This was not a huge scientific, mathematically perfected process. I basically just tried to make a list that included the things that we’ve been enjoying since moving onto the boat back in November. Then we went shopping.

We had been waiting for a nice enough day to leave the boat and actually be able to get something done. The weather forecast wasn’t good, but when we woke up on Saturday morning, the sun was shining and Patrick and I were both ready to leap out of bed and get OUT. We had Jaedin give us a ride to shore (a LONG dinghy ride for us that was about 15 minutes long) and dropped us off so we could get a rental car. The car rental place was about 4 miles away, so we sat at the nearby gas station to call and make arrangements to get picked up. After a veritable clusterf#ck of dropped calls, a very busy employee working alone and finally a cab ride to the car rental place…

TWO HOURS LATER we were on our way in our $25.00 a day car rental.

First stop: Dollar Tree where we were surprised to find boxed milk. SCORE!!! We definitely wanted to take milk, but I had been having trouble finding the boxed milk at a reasonable price. Since we had been paying nearly $5.00 for a gallon of milk back in OK, $1.00 a quart seemed like a great deal for milk that we wouldn’t need to refrigerate!

We also stocked up on a lot of first aid and medical type stuff here. Gauze, band aids, pain reliever, anti-itch creams, antibiotic ointment, etc.

Other Dollar Tree things: TONS of crackers, brownie mixes, body wash, deodorant, hand soap, etc.

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Dollar Tree $225.00

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Next up, a 45 minute drive to the next town where we could hit a Costco and Aldi. As it turns out, we filled the car to the brim at Costco, so it was going to take a second day to get all of our provisioning in. Then we saw another Dollar Tree and went in and bought all of the boxed milk that they had as well.

Dollar Tree #2: $50ish

Costco: $998.05

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Costco Batteries for the Boat (A dire need! Our batteries are SHOT!) $432

We stocked up on a TON of food stuffs (pancake mix, oatmeal, BBQ sauce, seasonings, rice, tuna, canned chicken, potatoes, onions & carrots, apples, grapefruit, limes, mac & cheese, sugar(s)), ziplock bags galore, feminine products, toilet paper, laundry & dish soap and batteries for the boat.

After that trip, the car was LOADED down. It wasn’t going to hold another ounce of anything. Exhausted and hungry, frustrated that we were going to have to dinghy all of this stuff out to the boat in the looming storm in the dark… we stopped and ate some food at Panda Express right quick as a decadent treat before heading back to Key Largo.

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It took two trips to get all of the food back to the boat. The rain waited until we were on our last trip out to the boat and then the wind kicked up and the waves started rocking our little dinghy a LOT more than I was comfortable with. I was doing deep breathing exercises by the time we got to the boat. I swear, ever since I had the stupid panic attack on top of the boat on the hard, there has been this residual feeling of excess anxiety… like an electrical current buzzing through me ALL. THE. TIME. I don’t quite know what to do about it.

Anyway, we got back to the boat, soaked through and rushed to get the food all up on the boat before changing our clothes and relaxing for the night.

We probably shouldn’t have, but we saved the removal of all of the paper/cardboard from our food stuffs. We were wiped out, the boat was rocking in the wind so much that most of us couldn’t have done anything without getting sick anyway. Besides which, we’re anchored out in Rodriguez Key and have nowhere to take the trash to dispose of it. Bad cruisers already. 🙁

Sunday morning came and the weather was still… okay. Okay enough that Patrick decided to go ahead and take the kids for the rest of the provisioning. Paris, Jazz and Abyni tagged along. I stayed back at the boat. (As you may remember, if you read my swearing post about my perspective of this day)

They hit the Dollar Tree ($52) again and asked for any back stock of more boxed milk. We ended up with 160 total quarts of milk to last us 3 months (plus two big tubs of powdered whole milk for cooking/baking when necessary). I’m not even sure we’ll need that much milk, but since we have to come back at the beginning of May anyway, we figured this will be a great way to figure out how much we will need to buy before we take off for the next (hopefully much longer) jaunt.

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Next up: Aldi ($380)

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LOTS of canned foods. Black beans, white beans, lentils, kidney beans, pinto beans, tomato sauce, cereal, drink mix liquid, carrots, corn, green beans, peanut butter, jelly, syrup, ketchup/condiments and tortilla chips.

And finally, WalMart ($363.74) for the things we couldn’t find elsewhere. Motion sickness medicine, bug repellent with DEET, dried beans, pasta, a few things for the boat (tarps, ATF fluid) and whatnot.

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Bug spray is a BIG must have. We do have Skin So Soft as well, but that doesn’t work at ALL on Jaedin, and sometimes doesn’t work for any of us depending on where we go. We also got fabric softener sheets, since we’ve been told that those help repel the ‘noseeums’ that we’re bound to come across.

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So, I think we’re good. I know we have at LEAST three months worth of food for the six of us. We may be eating some boring meals at the end, but we’ll have food. Plus, there is always fishing 😉 I wouldn’t be surprised if we now have 4-5 months worth of some things, but I KNOW we can get by through mid-May if needed. Paris, Jazz and Jaedin are coming back to the US at the end of April. Paris and Jazz just for a visit (and doing Ren Faire) and Jaedin is going to work for the summer before college starts. We wanted to try and provision through the time until they came back. Then our tentative plan is to do another huge provisioning, once we know better what we need to get more/less of and take off for a longer stretch of time down through the Caribbean.

  • Bahamas PROVISIONING COSTS:
  • $ 75  car rental for two days
  • $380 Aldi
  • $998 Costco (food and household)
  • $325 Dollar Tree
  • $364 WalMart
  • Total: $2,142.00
  • Plus $432 Costco (batteries for the boat)

As I said, I’m fairly certain that this signifies more than 3 months of food, but still, that’s better than we did on land (and, of course, doesn’t count any eggs, cheese or dairy that we buy as we go)

Next up… now its time to put all of this AWAY in some sort of organized manner! Wheeee!!!

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