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Galley Ideas

May 27, 2013

Not long ago a follower of Simply Sailing Online sent us the following message:

Having got the head situation resolved, I am now contemplating construction of the galley. So, what tips, cautionary tales, ideas would you implement if you were designing a galley from scratch?
We will be using propane for hot water, offshore refrigeration, and range. I am appalled at, but semi-resigned to the cost of a marine stove, but haven't decided on a brand. Any tips on that, storage, clever work-arounds, and real-world getting the job done would be most appreciated. With this non-ocean-going houseboat, we have the luxury of stability, but vast shore-like space, not so much.
I look forward to your suggestions, as we are new at this.

After spending the weekend jotting down notes and brainstorming, this was our answer.

If you had asked us this question a year ago, I would have fumbled around and given some vague answers because, honestly, I didn't have the experience at that time to allow me to have a strong opinion about galleys. We had one, it worked, end of discussion. But after 8 months on Walküre, I'm discovering that not all galleys are alike. I used to say you have to own several homes before you can design one that has everything you want and like because until you have something that you don't like, you don't realize you don't like it. So with the experience of having cooked and cleaned in two distinctly different galleys within the past year, here are our thoughts.


Notice: sink too close to bulkhead, hand pump, large spigot, sink sits above counter

We have a Force 10 stove on Eurisko that has worked well for us for 11 years, though, like you, we were appalled by the cost of a marine stove. We researched other options but really didn't find anything that would withstand a marine environment, so we laid out the cash. What we would have preferred (and almost found) was a used Broadwater stove. We would have been willing to pay the same for a used Broadwater as a new Force 10, but we were a few hours too late in getting there, so no go. But definitely check consignment shops. We found the one we almost got at Bacons Sails in Annapolis, but of course there are marine consignment shops everywhere.

When designing a galley, one of our biggest concerns would be counter height. Our countertop on Eurisko is too high to knead bread on and every other surface is too low. It becomes a serious pain (in the arm, shoulder, back, etc.) to knead bread. But on Walküre, whose counters are just a few inches lower, it's a treat. Her counter is 36 3/4" from the sole. Check out some yacht design books for recommendations. Skenes is our favorite.

I'm not sure what the layout of your boat is, but if you can at all avoid it, try not to place your stove or sink somewhere where you have to stand on a slanted surface (like the hull) to work at it. It will wear you out more quickly and is really painful if you're prone to back or leg pains at all. We have no choice on Eurisko because of space constraints, but on Walküre it is noticeably less painful to spend hours in the galley.

Otherwise, just from having moved onto Walküre not long ago, there are a few other things I'd recommend. Have at least one drawer. Eurisko has a rather large one: Walküre didn't have any. The previous owners had lived on her for many years without one, but it drove me crazy and Dave finally had to build me one. He bought an adjustable laminated bamboo drawer organizer ($9) and built a drawer out of it. He put it under a part of the counter that had an overhang (no cabinet under it) so it took up no space. If your stove gimbals, there is another consideration with drawers. Our drawer on Eurisko doesn't have room to open when the stove is gimbaled and we're on a starboard tack. Oops, didn't foresee that one.


Foot pump pedal too close to bulkhead, nice flat sole to stand on

If you have open areas (shelves without doors) be aware that some things do better in the dark: spices, potatoes, even things like plates keep cleaner when they're behind a door. But especially in the galley, allow some ventilation in enclosed areas: louvered doors and the like. Think about storage for spices. We didn't have a spice rack on Eurisko for years. Now I don't know how we lived without it. Thankfully, Walküre had a shelf in the galley that we relegated to spices.

If possible, have your sink recessed so that it sits below the surface of the counter. That way water will flow into the sink when it gets on the counter and it's MUCH easier to keep dry and clean. I LOVE our recessed sink on Eurisko and miss it terribly on Walküre. It really makes a difference. And if you have room, two sinks are the best! We even have two faucets, fresh in one sink, salt in the other, but even just having the two sinks makes doing dishes so much easier.

And as the dishwasher, there are a few other considerations that I never would have thought of before moving on Walküre. Something has to annoy the crap out of you sometimes for you to realize how wrong it is. The sink in Walküre is an inch from the bulkhead, making washing large pans impossible. Though we couldn't do anything about her sink placement, I insisted that Dave change her small spigot and a hand pump. The typical short spigot doesn't allow for washing large pans or filling a pot with water for pasta. And a hand pump is nearly useless, in my opinion. We have one in Eurisko's head and a friend and I used to joke that there should be a stick with a mouthpiece on the end so you could raise and lower the pump by raising and lowering your head, since washing your hands with a hand pump is nearly impossible. Or maybe a headband with a stick on it that you could use to raise and lower the pump by bobbing your head. (I believe these silly ideas was rum-induced.) So Dave built me a larger spigot--a $3 part at Home Depot. It comes as a straight pipe, meant to be bent in place, found near the icemaker section. He also installed a foot pump in the galley. The problem with Walküre's foot pump, though, is that the door under the sink dictated how far out from the bulkhead the pedal could be: not far enough for me to use right footed. I've adapted, but I can't wait to get back to Eurisko's right footed pedal.

Even though heeling may not be an issue for your boat, you may still want to put fiddles on your countertop. We have a one-foot space that doesn't have a fiddle (because of the table Dave built) and it's amazing the crumbs, water, onions, etc. that always seem to find that spot to fall off of, even when we're at anchor. If you think about it, even houses have a bump at the end of the counter to keep stuff on it. Finally, something to consider if you have the opportunity, Dave went to a restaurant supply place and got a stainless steel side of an industrial stove for CHEAP (it was used, I'm sure) and that is our countertop on Eurisko. It's quite a luxury to have a stainless steel counter top.

Thanks for the question. Again, let us know if we can help in any other way. Hope these suggestions help. Best of luck!

These are the suggestions we offered. What would you add? You can send your ideas at the Contact Us link above, or like us on Facebook and message us there.

We talk a lot about tying knots. MONDAY we'll share some ideas for untying them.

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