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How to Transform the Galley into the perfect kitchen

Submitted onSeptember 10, 2009 No comments yet, share your thoughts

“The boat may sail on its bottom but a sailor sails on his stomach”


The act of eating has evolved into more than just a necessary means for survival. Today, it has taken on the role as a favorite pastime, becoming an event which offers one a break from reality and presents the opportunity to enjoy some delicious eats & stimulating conversation. More and more, families and friends are coming together to join in the ritual of preparing, cooking, and feasting on savory meals that meet their own personal preferences. Why go out to an over-priced, semi-decent restaurant, when you can indulge in some 5-star dining all in the comfort of your own home? When you are on your boat you may encounter a different set of challenges. Cruising on choppy waters or safely docked at our favorite marina, our vessel is always affected by the motion of the ocean. Yacht Help Desk was set to find out how can you transform the galley into a workable feasible kitchen?

Galley Layout
What shape is your galley? Is it open or enclosed, Country kitchen or U-shaped? Maybe you have a galley up or galley down? What do these descriptions really mean? The U-shaped galley is one of the more popular styles for the galley design and appears just as the name implies, in a U. It is tightly enclosed, with a small opening for the cook to enter & exit from and contains all the essential appliances within reach. The cook is supported on all sides, cradled safely in this structure and is less likely to suffer from excessive bumps or bruises. In an open galley or country kitchen, there is still an enclosure, but it is more open, creating a spacious feel for those working within the area.

If you have a galley up or galley down, this is referring to the galley’s actual location and whether you need to walk up or walk down into it. When a galley is up, you walk one or two steps upwards, where your galley & pilothouse share the same space. If you have a galley down, you will normally step down from your pilothouse into the salon, the galley is located at that level as well.

Galley LocationGalley_pic3
Midship is the best position for the galley on account that is the most stable area on the boat. The midship stays leveled as the forward and aft move up and down with each roaring wave. The center is always the most even keel. Maybe you are dealing with a split galley where a major appliance is situated outside of the main area, forcing the cook to leave his safe enclosure. If this be the case, you may want to think about some additional safety features in order to prevent any unfortunate accidents. For instance, there are some handholds and strong grip surfaces that will help your cook avoid falling on his way to the freezer. If your vessel is carpeted, you are at a great advantage because this carpeting provides traction and is not slippery like a wet teak floor. If your floors can get slippery when wet, you will definitely need to research certain traction pads and non-slip rubber surfaces.

Does Size Matter?
Once you familiarize yourself with the layout of your galley as well as the advantages & disadvantages of the entire design, you will undoubtedly notice another big difference between your galley and kitchen… the SIZE! The galley tends to be much smaller than your average kitchen, so it is important that we take a deeper look and discover ways around this issue. There is one benefit to working in a smaller space everything you need is within arm’s length. Still, for most, the smaller cooking space can be a downfall when deciding to cook onboard.

With countless cooking appliances, utensils, and cookware, not to mention provisions, spices, and wine (don’t ever forget the wine), it could take time until you master the art of storing everything efficiently? When building new some may face the dilemma of full height refrigerator/freezer or under-counter appliances. The full height unit gives you more under-counter storage with cabinets & drawers, but less countertop space. The under-counter appliances give LOTS more countertop space, but less under-counter storage. Keep that in mind and make sure it fits your needs.

So, what happens when you already own a boat or purchasing a pre-owned vessel? If the galley is already in existence, are there any changes that can be made to accommodate your cooking? Since a galley refit will create more of a headache than offer immediate solutions, there are some changes that will provide you with more space to utilize. One great quick fix is a cutting board that conveniently fits over your sink, bridging the gap in your countertop and forming one continuous surface for you to work on. There are also similar covers that fit perfectly over the stovetop, once again generating extra counter top space that is available for you when not using this appliance.


Once the sun sets, many find that their once workable galleys are not so practical at night, due to inadequate interior lighting. Having sufficient ceiling lights that can aid you in your cooking will ultimately determine the successful of your meal. Having ceiling lights that shine over each appliance is a key ingredient to any flavorful recipe. If you feel that you are lacking in the lighting department, research the possibility of installing some additional wiring or invest in battery operated lighting systems.

Now that we can actually see what’s in our galley, let’s get to the real meat & potatoes, where the heart lies, in the appliances! What are the main appliances and what are the best options available for boat owners? The number one “must have” appliance is a stove! Today’s market is dominated by the glass/ceramic electric cook-top made by Kenyon. The smooth dark surface has a clean look, is easy to install, is easy to replace if damaged, very reliable, acceptable power consumption and cooks extremely well. Your vessel automatically comes equipped with a stove, so understand the type of stove you own and learn about the safety precautions you need to undergo. You do have the option to replace the stove you currently own if that best suits your personal needs and expectations.

Continuing on through the galley, another significant component worth mentioning is the sink, which greatly differs from the sink we use at home. For one, like everything else in the galley, it is excessively smaller than the average sink. One should not overlook this important feature when surveying the galley as it is a significant tool used for preparing your meals. Is your sink usable and convenient or is it simply taking up extra space? Do you have a single or double sink? How shallow is it and can you really imagine using it? There are ways to enlarge the area of your sink, for example, by adding a higher faucet or a swivel nozzle, you will create more room for washing dishes or produce. I would suggest investing in a dish rack or drain box which will provide a little extra storage when needing to place the dishes somewhere temporarily. One more enormous difference to think about when using the sink in the galley is water conservation. Consider using salt water when cleaning your dishes, instead of wasting the water in the fresh water tank. Remember not to use water frivolously after all it is a limited commodity onboard!

For many, the kitchen is the number one favorite spot in their homes, your galley is no different. Cooking can be a great joy for most, but you must first be comfortable in your work space. When buying a boat observe what works and what doesn’t, most importantly make it work for you!

Bon Appetit

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