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Old 31-08-2014, 07:52   #1
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South Pacific Provisioning: US vs Panama

We're planning on heading out to Panama, the South Pacific and beyond this coming cruising season and starting to plan what to get when and where, especially non-perishable items. We are a gluten-free boat so we'll be stocking GF scratch cooking staples like rice flour and psyllium husk, which I'm betting are best US purchased.

BTW we are fortunate enough to be able to buy at a well stocked Commissary with good prices in the States (JAX NAS) -- pushing off from there in December. Also, I work at West Marine so if we're looking for barter with locals, some things might make sense for me to get using my employee discount (I pointedly rarely stuff that's not just for my own use) and noticed some folks suggested "big hooks" (would like something more specific on size) though others said they're not so popular after all. Hear notebooks and kid's educational tools, rice, flour, yeast are popular....

Finally, we're fairly minimalist so don't want to overstuff our not all that big boat.

Given that, what would you buy in the States versus Panama if you were in our shoes?

Thanks for your advice!
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Old 31-08-2014, 08:23   #2
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Re: South Pacific Provisioning: US vs Panama

I think you will be provisioning in a lot of places and you will learn what works and doesn't. I think you will have to think about what happens when you can't get US type goods any more, if you need time to prepare yourself mentally.

Here is my favorite site for provisioning. A lot of work went in here and the author gives a ton (of info) away for free.

Provisioning
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Old 31-08-2014, 11:28   #3
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Re: South Pacific Provisioning: US vs Panama

The provisioning in Panama City is good. Cruisers typically get a local cab by the hour and hit a number of the stores to get everything. Prices are decent in Panama, but they will still generally be more than a big box store in the US.
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Old 31-08-2014, 12:24   #4
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Re: South Pacific Provisioning: US vs Panama

One of the wonderful things about cruising is you learn stuff. You will learn that the USA is very good for weird crap like Psyllium Husk.
You will learn that your USA fish hooks cost you 10 times more than they will cost a local in the 3rd world so you will be bartering your expensive hooks for something of negligible value... thats if you can find anyone who wants them at all. (We saw no fishermen at all in Tonga!)

Also you will find even 3rd world countries have supermarkets in their capital cities and Panama city has one third the population of the whole of Panama its got some supermarkets that make WalMart superstores look lame.

As Mark Twain said: "Go fill your sails because even islanders use toilet paper nowadays..."
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Old 02-09-2014, 00:20   #5
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Re: South Pacific Provisioning: US vs Panama

@GalleyWenchTale - I'm not sure how well the 'psyllium husk' or rice flour keeps, but I'd suggest that you keep a large area in your dry storage for it well sealed and with both dessicant and Oxygen Absorbers. Those who shop at Wally for GF are often quite disappointed. Publix and even the Base Commisary would probably have a better selection of these items. When my grand daughter was diagnosed with ciliacs disease I immediately began researching it and experimenting with different techniques to make yummy things. One thing you better be if you or someone you love is a Ciliac, and that is creative and resourceful. OTHERWISE, get a drop arranged somewhere along the way. A mate of mine was cruising through Tahiti and arranged to have his medication sent there a few years ago. While I am aware that there is a significant weight differential, Psyllium isn't that heavy. I'm not certain how all of that works but, I'm sure many of the cruisers here can tell you. I know you can get rice everywhere, and as I think it is subsidized in French Polynesia, it should be fairly inexpensive.

Having been to Tahiti many moons ago, we found the grocery facilities quite lacking and the wheat bread prolific. Back then, even as a chef, ciliac meant nothing. Gluten was something we actually added to make the bread a bit more substantive. While I was living in Australia, though, I learned more about it and found that many were alergic to gluten and didn't even know it. I respect your desire to be gluten free, but I think you are going to have a difficult time until you make it to Tahiti.

While I have yet to actually set foot in the Marquesas, I have read that the availability of many items is VERY limited. This is an area that I have been doing a lot of research because of my own dietary needs. There is a very good VEGAN thread that also has had some minor discussion about sprouting etc that might be of help. Quinoa is one of my favourite grain to both sprout and bake with. Though I'm not ciliac, My grand daughter is, and I get how important it is. I also enjoy working with the restriction of locally sourced foods.
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Old 22-09-2014, 21:11   #6
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Re: South Pacific Provisioning: US vs Panama

Thanks, Dean

Sounds like a mix of stocking up stateside and adapting/doing without as we progress.
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Old 22-09-2014, 22:26   #7
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Re: South Pacific Provisioning: US vs Panama

Quote:
Originally Posted by MarkJ View Post
As Mark Twain said: "Go fill your sails because even islanders use toilet paper nowadays..."
Mark,
You haven't been to the Philippines lately, have you?
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Old 23-09-2014, 01:26   #8
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Re: South Pacific Provisioning: US vs Panama

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Originally Posted by GalleyWenchTale View Post
noticed some folks suggested "big hooks" (would like something more specific on size) though others said they're not so popular after all. Hear notebooks and kid's educational tools, rice, flour,
I packed a bunch of trade and donation items and although I have used some I found that the countries most cruisers hit between Panama and NZ (if that is your route) just frankly aren't that poor or desperate for goods that those type of supplies are useful. Later in the Pacific that changes. Our new strategy is just to stock extra of our normal things and respond to visible needs - normal boat supplies often make the best giveaways anyways like rope, duct tape, extra staple foods.

Also, Tahiti has huge mega Costco sized groceries and I wish someone had mentioned that to me when I was stressing about our Pacific provisioning. Most people reach Tahiti within 3-4 months of leaving the Americas.

There are health food stores in Tahiti with gF stuff but they are expensive.
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Old 23-09-2014, 01:34   #9
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Re: South Pacific Provisioning: US vs Panama

Here is a video I took in the Carrefour (mega grocery) in Tahiti showing how huge it is



Also, we found a lot of well stocked groceries in the Marquesas, in Hiva Oa in particular.
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