In this roundup of sailboat owners, designers, builders, and liveaboards, we learn that people like the amenities of the modern home kitchen so much that they're carrying them off to sea. "Hands-On Sailor" from our June 2010 issue
"It's nice to be able to find the oil, have a place to chop vegetables, have the spices within reach," he says. "I prefer to dry dishes and let them nest. You need a stove with a good oven. You need to be able to operate it safely, so it needs to be gimballed and you need to be able to strap yourself in with a harness. You can put a very large pot under the gimballed stove."
And Johnson agrees with Catalina's Douglas that the best in home-kitchen design can also find an appropriate corollary afloat. "Like a house, the galley is the central gathering point," he says, noting with irony, "I eat better when I'm sailing than I do at home."
"As a designer, cruiser, and onboard cook," he says, "and knowing owners who enjoy cooking on board, it's practical to consider these points."
He Wrote the Book
When Donald Launer got to his 17th sailboat, the bare fiberglass hull of a schooner, and was faced with constructing everything from scratch, he went looking for advice in his vast nautical reference library at home in New Jersey.
He couldn't find much of anything written about galleys, either new or refit. The Galley: How Things Work ($18; 2009; Sheridan House) is his way of filling that gap, by documenting everything he did. It's a thorough compilation of galley infrastructure and resources, materials choices, and galley hardware, from types of water tank materials to stoves, fuel, pumps, electrical requirements, as well as construction considerations.
"I had experience in putting things together," he says. "It seemed appropriate to help others who were either modifying or building their galleys from scratch."
"Before you go cruising, it's hard to imagine exactly what it will be like," says voyager, author, and website creator Kathy Parsons.
"The galley is a real important part of the boat and a segue to learning about other things, like refrigeration and plumbing. This is a really great way for women to transition into the cruising life," she says.
Besides creating the Women and Cruising website (www.womenandcruising.com) to address resources geared to female crew, Parsons interviewed 18 women solely about galleys. The result is a gold mine of advice and ideas about provisioning, what works when living aboard, what doesn't, what they like, and what they've changed.
Many of the women, like Hamlin of Tackless II, undertook extensive refits and in at least one instance, design, aboard a variety of boats, from a 46-foot Crowther catamaran to a Whitby 42. Even in the most minimal of projects, recurrent themes and a few surprises emerge. One woman, a professional interior designer and the co-owner of the Crowther, lofted the galley on paper and then made a plywood and cardboard mockup to test usability of the new layout.
Aside from that owner, most of the women are aboard used boats. Their liveaboard priorities are strikingly in line with those of builders and designers of new boats: better, more efficient, front-loading refrigeration; more and accessible stowage; more counter space made of durable materials; roomier walkways to accommodate more than one person; stronger lighting and additional ventilation; range/stove hoods; filters for water taps; pressure water systems; eye contact with other crewmembers while cooking; and double sinks.
The main element of surprise is that these liveaboards, no matter what size the boat, altered galleys to accommodate a host of electrical appliances, particularly, microwaves. Read each woman's account carefully and realize that a range of personal preferences and divergent opinions also emerge and influence their work.
You've gotten a taste of valuable insights into galley refit and design. There's only one thing left to say: Bon appetit!
CW deputy editor Elaine Lembo has earned her keep working in galleys luxurious and rudimentary throughout New England and Caribbean waters.