The Galley Kitchen: Boat Article -
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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.

Using Space Wisely

The galley in a boat is a tiny part of an already tiny space. You may not even be able to stand up all of the way if your galley is really small. A miniature kitchen is cute until you try to fit everything (including yourself) inside.

  • Bring only the minimum of cooking equipment: 1 skillet, 1 pot or saucepan, cups, plates, bowls and silverware.
  • There may be an icebox, but you should pack a cooler for drinks and any food overflow. The cooler also makes a nice chair to sit on, or a table to set your cutting board on while preparing food.
  • There are a lot of storage accessories available at boating stores. Pockets for organizing can be attached to the wall for storing silverware, spices and tools such as bottle or can openers. Hanging nets can hold fresh produce.
  • Attach lids of jars to the underside of the cupboard with screws: the jar can be screwed on or off for storage and access. (This is great for spices.)

Cooking Tips

Galley kitchens are not the life of the party that a home kitchen can be. The best cooking in a galley is quick, with minimal prep and clean-up. Safety is very important when out on a boat, as the doctor may be some distance away.

  • Only cook when the boat is docked or anchored--this includes grilling. There will still be some movement, but it should be more predictable.
  • Check all propane tanks for leaks and refill before setting off.
  • Conserve water. It is not only used for cooking, but also for cleaning and for flushing the head. Bring bottled water for drinking. Salt water may be used for cleaning.
  • Keep things put away in cupboards, pouches or bags so they don't go flying if a wave comes along unexpectedly. This also makes things easy to find.
  • Have dish soap for washing dishes; paper plates and cups can be useful, but fill up your trash bin. Bring plenty of paper towels and trash bags for keeping things tidy.
  • Boiling water is dangerous on a moving vessel. Prepare rice and pasta ahead of time, cool, and store in freezer-weight bags. This also helps to conserve both water and fuel.

    Equipment and Safety

    • There are special grills available that attach to the railing of the boat--perfect if you are catching fish to eat.
    • Counter space and preparation areas are usually minimal, so avoid bringing food that involves a lot of chopping. Find a cutting board that clamps onto something or folds down from the wall to create a prep area. Some cutting boards clamp onto the railing of the boat and can be set up next to the grill.
    • Be sure to bring a spatula, wooden spoons, can opener, corkscrew and bottle opener.
    • 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.
    • For dishes and utensils, use lightweight plastic or metal. Things can move around quite a bit on a boat; having unbreakable dishes is safer and they usually float if they happen to fall overboard.
    • Even when docked, a boat does move, so you will want to have safety railings on the front of the stove, oven (if available) in the ice box (if present), and in any cupboards.
    • Safety latches on cupboard and icebox doors usually come with the equipment, but may need replacing before setting sail. Strategically placed handles may be installed near the stove to help you keep your balance while the boat is rocking.

      Meal Planning

      With a little bit of forethought, you can save yourself time and trouble when preparing meals in your miniature kitchen. Many items can be prepared on land before you set sail.

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

      Your main source of fuel will most likely be propane. Since you can only bring so much fuel on board, plan your meals ahead of time and estimate your fuel needs before embarking on your adventure.

      Kathy Henstridge 
      Aug. 5, 2009 9:54 am
      Can you freeze Baklava and if yes how do you wrap?
      Carolyn Shearlock 
      Aug. 30, 2011 5:19 am
      Good info for a start! Another place for more in-depth info and tips on cooking aboard a boat is
      Quips Travails 
      Jun. 20, 2012 8:43 am
      I would bet that the recipes in the Food Desert Project would be excellent on a boat - almost all the recipes involve canned or dried foods.
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