7 Recipes for 7 days of Paddling Without Fresh Water

This past summer I did a salt water paddling trip where there was no fresh water to be found. Initially, this was a scary proposition. I wanted my cast iron pan, my camp chair, double sleeping pads, my tasty food and my low volume kayak (the Murrelet). In the end I got to have it all (minus enough beer, should have been thinking more about that), but it took careful planning of meals and gear.

WATER: For 7 nights and 8 days we carried five 10-liter MSR dromedaries. An Old adage is 1 gallon of water per person per day for drinking and cooking. If you are water savvy you can do a little less with the tips below. We used roughly a little over ½ a dromedary per day for two people. We also had hot chocolate for breakfast and dinner and most mornings had oatmeal because we were so scared of not having enough room in our kayaks for other things besides water. In the end we had plenty of water, we didn’t feel like we were lacking but we also didn’t end up with too much extra. Here are a few tips for paddling in places without fresh water:

1) Wash dishes using kelp/sand seawater.

2) Cook only meals where little water is wasted. No Pasta, (we had pasta one night towards the end of the trip when we knew we had enough. I have tried boiling pasta in sea water and it was WAY too salty. Not a viable option as far as I’m concerned.)

3) Carry 1.5 liter bottles inside your kayak between the hull and your seat back. Each paddler should have 2 of these in their boat which gives an extra 3 liters / paddler. This came in handy!

MEALS: Planning food for 7 days and two people with low volume kayaks (the Murrelet SDC and the Murrelet 4PD) is a challenge, especially with limited water. I am also obsessed with having a hot drink both in the morning and at night. Hot drinks are a great way to keep hydrated and get warm if you get cold while kayaking.

I like hot chocolate or chai tea/coffee with my breakfast. This trip we did all oatmeal. To make oatmeal actually tasty we packed a lot of dried fruit and nuts: cranberries, mango, raisins, raspberries, almonds, cashews, etc. But the key ingredient to good camp oatmeal is something creamy added to your instant packets. The perfect solution is BAILEYS! Yes a swig of Baileys in your oatmeal every morning is fantastic and it won’t go bad like normal cream. This is my new favorite trick to make oatmeal bearable!

Tuna Packets, Salame, Hard cheese, Tortillas, crackers, avocadoes, bell peppers a container of hummus (will last 2 days) Mayonnaise packets (take some from the deli at your grocery store) and maybe grab some hot sauce packets if they have them and some salt and pepper. YUM!

Dinner is more challenging to do compact with little water waste. I ended up super happy with this 7-day meal plan and may just keep using it for years to come:

Night 1) Carnitas, with beans onions and bell pepper:
The key is finding pre-cooked vacuum-sealed carnitas; I get them at Trader Joe’s.
Cook with onions, bell pepper, and a can of black beans. Eat on corn tortillas with avocado, cheese, cabbage and canned salsa.

Night 2) Quinoa veggie medley with chicken sausage and feta cheese on top:
Buy precooked chicken sausage and freeze them. We forgot to do the freezing, but they were still ok. Store all meats at the bottom of your boat. If you’re paddling in cold water like we were it will keep them cool even on hot days. Quinoa uses water but there is no waste like when cooking pasta; you consume it all. Sauté onions peppers, maybe even a zucchini on day 2 and roast your sausages on a fire. Cook the quinoa with the veggies. Watch the sunset as you eat dinner!

Night 3) Black bean burritos with avocado/ and salsa:
Sauté onion, peppers add taco mix, add 1 can whole black beans one can corn, 1 can green chilies optional. Eat on tortillas with cabbage, salsa, avocado and cheese. Cabbage is a hearty vegetable that keeps well into day 3.

Night 4) Quinoa Veggie Medley again: This time with canned chicken.
We made the mistake of not having frozen the chicken sausage and also eating it on night 4 after 3 days of hot sunny weather. We did not get sick but our chicken sausage looked a little funny. I would probably use canned chicken at this point. For variety you could also do rice or other grain.

Night 5) Polenta with red sauce and Salami:
Polenta was a hit. Pan-fry it in the cast iron with lots of olive oil. Fry until brown and crispy on the outside. Top with canned pizza sauce that has capers/olives and salami added. Top with cheese. Fantastic!

Night 6) Mac & Cheese with fire roasted oysters:
OK I’m not going to lie you don’t always get this lucky for your Mac & Cheese night but we happened to paddle by an oyster farm and the farmer sold us 40 small oysters for $20 Canadian. We feasted on the most perfect teeny tiny oysters. Consumed all 40 that night, just the two of us, and those that were more cooked we threw on our Mac. Best Mac & Cheese ever!

Night 7) Thai Curry and rice with canned Chicken:
This is a trader Joe’s special, and I was amazed how tasty it was. We bought 1 bottle of Trader Joe’s Thai Red curry sauce, cooked up the last of our veggies, added a large tin of canned chicken, and poured in a packet of precooked brown rice, an item you can get at most grocery stores. It was sooooo GOOD!

There you have it. Seven nights of really amazing eating out of the kayak and using very little water! Enjoy on your next adventure! Have some recipes you love to use while kayak camping? Feel free to share them with us at info@pygmyboats.com! Happy Paddling!







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