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Stocking the Offshore Galley By Robbie Johnson

John Hanna, designer of perhaps the most famous ocean-voyaging sailboat of all time, the Tahiti Ketch, once remarked, “Indigestion has wrecked more cruises than reefs and hurricanes.”


anna also said, “…the only interior detail (in a sailboat) that really matters is a full, man-sized, actual, practicable working of a galley.” His comments were duly recorded in Rudder Magazine over 60 years ago, and they are as righton today as they were when he first said them. I am of the opinion that the joy of sailing and the pleasure of eating go hand-in-hand. I have learned the hard way that tasty meals are essential to the morale and performance of everyone aboard. It makes no difference how big—or how beautiful—your boat is, nor how lovely the weather and scenery. If the food coming out of the galley is bland, or if the crew is just plain hungry, no one is happy, and everyone just wants to get ashore. The remedy is to give just as much attention to your


December 2008


galley and food preparation as you do to your sail inventory and choice of ground tackle, for as John Hanna warns, your cruise can be wrecked just as easily by the galley as a dragging anchor or blown mainsail. Most of us have not had the benefit of formal training in the culinary arts. We bring aboard a few pots, pans and utensils that we have cobbled together from home or a garage sale, and we crank out replicas of meals we have eaten all of our lives without regard for the special conditions imposed when traveling on a sailboat. Even weekend sailors, who probably constitute the greater portion of boat owners, can benefit from an adjustment in their attitude toward the galley. Begin with this thought: A weekend of sailing is NOT camping out! There is absolutely no reason why the meals prepared on your sailboat cannot be just as delicious, just as nutritious, and just as pleasurable in the preparation as when cooking in your shoreside kitchen. But it will take some planning. As Hanna pointed out, a man-sized, practicable galley is necessary, and here is where the first challenge starts: Most of the sailboats built over the last 40 years or so have miserably small galleys. So, you’re going to have to deal with space limitations that reduce stovetop area, food preparation surfaces, and storage area. And once you venture beyond weekend sailing, cruising for weeks or maybe months at a time, and shopping in native food markets along the way, there are the added challenges of avoiding the high cost of canned foods and extending the life of perishables. The weekend sailor can begin by assembling the appropriate amount (depending upon number of crew) of the following: (1) dried beans; (2) a selection of pasta; (3) white and brown rice; (4) assorted basic beverages like coffee, tea and powdered mixes; (5) packaged bread and pancake mixes, or your own mixes that you’ve prepared yourself, and of course, cooking oil. To these must be added basic herbs such as basil, bay leaves, Chinese Five Spice, dill, marjoram, mint, oregano, rosemary, sage, tarragon and thyme at a minimum. Then a small quantity of spices such as allspice, cumin, chili powder, cloves, nutmeg, paprika, ginger, saffron and curry powder. And finally, white and brown sugar, salt, black and white pepper, cayenne pepper and red pepper flakes. Any of these ingredients that are packaged in paper or cardboard should be repackaged in zippered plastic bags, or Tupperware/ Rubbermaid-type containers to keep out moisture. Eliminating square or rectangular store-shelf packaging will save storage space, too. Step back for a minute now and consider your list. With