The Amazing, Wonderful Way My Day Started–Twice in a Week!
Christmas 2013 in St. Thomas

About a Landlubbers Advice re: Galley Cooking.

Oh gee. Sometimes on-line media gets it wrong. Who knew?

Here’s the opening paragraph from a lengthy how-to article on All that was brought to our attention by one of the members of the Women Who Sail Facebook group.

The Galley Kitchen: Boat

Cooking while at sea is part of the adventure.

Prepare for your voyage as if you were camping in the woods: space is limited, as are fuel and refrigeration, so planning ahead is critical. In a galley kitchen, you will be lucky to get two burners on the stove, let alone an oven or a microwave. A tiny sink will give you barely enough room to wash a cup--large pots and pans will act as washbasins by themselves--so plan your menus accordingly.


Oh dear.

We were amused, but not impressed, and whoever wrote the article is spreading that ubiquitous urban legend that living aboard is like camping.

Now, to be fair, most of us have assumed that 1. He/She is not a sailor, but is married to one; 2. They have a small boat, with a challenging galley; 3. He/She is not a candidate for living aboard or long distance cruising.

However, the photo that accompanies the article shows a lovely galley, three burner stove, oven, counter space and what looks like a double sink. This is not camping.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. We are not camping in the woods. We are living on a sailboat – a rather spacious one.

The author did have some useful ideas – but the errors gave us pause, made us laugh, or just ticked us off.

    • Bring only the minimum of cooking equipment: 1 skillet, 1 pot or saucepan, cups, plates, bowls and silverware.

Yeah, right. I did purchase nesting pots at a boat show and never regretted giving up most of my beloved pots from home. I do regret not bringing more serving pieces for parties. I have three skillets, four pots, one Dutch oven, a pressure cooker, a lobster steamer, and a crockery bean pot.

Hey, I’m from Maine, I wouldn’t leave home without the lobster steamer and bean pot .

    • Only cook when the boat is docked or anchored--this includes grilling. There will still be some movement, but it should be more predictable.

Well, we cruisers do cook off shore. EW likes to eat every day. I like to keep EW happy. Now, in our small coastal 26-footer, we had a two burner kerosene stove, one small sink and an icebox. I rarely cooked underway, but managed to turn out meals aboard. Again, the main problem with the article is that the author assumes that all boating experiences are the same.

    • Knives are necessary for food prep, but can be a hazard if you leave them on the counter. Hang a magnetized strip for storing knives and put them away after each use.

EW and I believe that knives on vessels underway must be stored much more securely. However, comments on Facebook indicate that other live-aboards with many  passages and crossings under their keels have successfully used magnetic knife holders with no lost knives, fingers, or lives. Good to know. I’ll give the author this one.

    • Make a list with one dinner for each night you will be out. Choose simple one-dish meals if possible.
    • Plan to have sandwiches for lunch and hand-held items for breakfast: muffins, granola bars, or energy bars. Bring some eggs to scramble and serve in tortillas for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

OK, this is good advice for people underway. When preparing for a passage, I make three or four meals, package them in single serving vacuum bags, and freeze them. They are re-heated in boiling water; easy and delicious. At anchor, I have a list of easy meals and make sure that I have all the ingredients for three of them at any given time, but I also may make multi-pot, multi-course “normal” meals each week. This is my  home. Say it with me: We are NOT camping.

    • Don't rely on catching fish to eat. Consider fish a bonus meal or just replace one of your non-perishable meals.

TRUTH! Absolute truth. See Mr. Romance is Not a Hunter Gatherer. To be fair, EW has worked at his fishing skills and has caught some beautiful and tasty  fish since our first year at sea. So I still keep wasabi aboard, just in case, but I don’t plan fish meals underway, because he will  insist on eating every day whether or not he’s caught dinner.

There is a sidebar to the article with “Boating Menus”. Again, these are great menus for people living onshore and venturing out to sea only on the weekends. The day  I waste propane and steam the boat by boiling pork roast for an hour is the day I move to a condo. Think a cold day in H.E. double hockey sticks. However, the recipes look good and could be adapted for  those who actually live on a boat, or for knowledgeable coastal cruisers.

For helpful information about cooking in a galley – whether you are struggling with only a two-burner stove and an ice-box, or whether you have an oven, coffee-maker, blender, and micro-wave – I suggest you check out by  Carolyn Shearlock.

Carolyn has also published a cookbook that’s on my “want” list, appropriately  called The Boat Galley Cookbook.

Finally, my  current favorite galley cookbook was gifted to me by dear friends Ellen and Frank in 2004. “Cruising Cuisine” by Kay Pastorius. We’ve enjoyed many of her recipes and tips over and over again.

This is our galley.


This is our life. This boat is our home. We are not camping. Say it with me: We. Are. Not. Camping.

NOTE:  Thanks to all of you who knocked wood. The 2013 Atlantic hurricane season is over. We were very, very lucky.


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kate @ bbf.

You have a beautiful galley - I bet La Luna is a lovely boat. The author should take a cruise on some of the Maine windjammers to see what talented people can turn out of a boat galley. Or come aboard the Lynx and check out the huge propane stove/oven, Le Creuset cookware set, and yes, microwave. I did live aboard a 26' daysailer w/ a camp stove and no running water - that was like camping. Our boat now has a grill on the railing - I love it except for that it's a bit slanty, so the pizza toppings tend to run off one side. :)

Heidi Love

Thanks for sharing this. I liked the "only cook when the boat is docked or anchored." I had to shake my head on that one. The menus on one of my passages included:steak pizziole, chicken cacciatore, caldo verde, chili, moo shoo veggies with udon noodles, and lasagne. Definitely not camping. While we skip the wine when we're underway, we do really enjoy the food. It tastes especially great in the fresh air on a moonlit night.

Barbara Hart

Sounds delicious! Also sounds like you have a super season planned. Enjoy.


I love your galley. In fact I'm jealous. Ours is small but I often test it's limits. I have often cooked while sailing. I still have lots to learn tho, so I am open to any and all suggestions.

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