Ocean Rowing – Food

Nutrition is important on the ocean, and most rowers need close to 5000 calories to maintain their weight.  Many ocean rowers utilize freeze-dried foods for their staple sustenance. Freeze-dried products are easy to reconstitute and are relatively nourishing and tasty.  Some of these foods are designed to be as easy as pouring hot water into a metal pouch and letting it sit for a few minutes.  Prepared freeze-dried foods are costly, however, and other foods can be utilized.

Apart from your main meals, plenty of snacking and enjoyment foods should be available for morale and maintaining your required caloric intake.  These foods can include dried fruits, nuts, power bars, chocolate bars, potato chips, candies, beef jerky, powdered power drinks (many rowers  rate power drinks highly as a good way to maintain energy and hydration),  tea, coffee, sugar, powdered milk and other favourites.

On our own row we had freeze-dried foods provided by a sponsor, Mountain House, based out of the USA.  Unfortunately, Portuguese customs would not release our food, and instead we had to utilize foods from the local super-markets for our anticipated 4-5 month crossing.  It was necessary to keep the energy-to-weight ratio as high as possible, so we used mainly dehydrated foods.

Some of the foods included in our massive larder were: rice, dried beans, flour, pasta, instant mashed potatoes, dried full-fat Nestle milk (enough for two litres/day reconstituted), dried fruits, dried meats, large waxed cheeses, dried fruits, olive oil, other oils, nuts, some canned foods, coffee and tea.

Food preparation is more extensive when products are individually purchased, but inventive cooking on the high seas can be quite fun.  Birthday cakes and pancakes with caramelized sugar syrup are just a few of the exotic dished made in our rowboat.

We found our rich powdered milk to be one of our greatest luxuries.  Our breakfasts were usually rice pudding, oatmeal, cream of wheat,  (semolina) and tapioca pudding – always made with a liberal amount of full-fat milk.  Being a complete food, it is also very nourishing.

Food should be inventoried and a map of the boat can be used for relocation.  The densest foods should be packed low and near the centre of the boat.  Lighter foods can be packed higher or in the bow or stern. The fore cabin has plenty of room, and should only contain light materials.  This is an ideal spot for packing crackers, cookies and potato chips.

Be sure to keep a plentiful supply of fibre in the way of dried fruits or other products to promote regularity and to avoid constipation.