Outfitting the Galley

Proud boat owner
Proud boat owner

I meant to write something or possibly did write something on this topic several years ago on how to outfit a boat from scratch. If I wrote it, I failed to publish it, and a document sits somewhere tucked away on the notebook. Consequently, I am starting from scratch.

Our 25′ Vancouver sloop is a pocket cruiser, eager to go on long voyages, but comfortable for summer cruising around Nova Scotia.  Since the largest expense was buying the boat, and it seems that everything once you pass outside the companionway is pricey to add or replace, fees for yearly maintenance, storage, launching, etc aren’t cheap, one of the few ways to keep the set up costs to a minimum is to outfit the inside of the boat as cheaply as possible!  That was my job. I realized very quickly that this page became dedicated to outfitting the galley!  It is like a house. I would say that the most amount of items in a home or what takes the largest number of boxes in a move is the kitchen. The galley is the same on a boat.

The following is a check list of what we purchased or obtained in some other format to outfit the boat, providing us with a comfortable place to call home.

I purchased “Not so stainless steel” cutlery from a dollar store.  Might get a bit of rust, but nothing a steel scouring pad can’t remove. Drop one over board? Replace with a new one-off purchase.  But extras from home will work just fine. Ten years later, I am still using the same cutlery. It stays on and winterizes with the boat.

I don’t have any drawers on the boat, so I purchased a small plastic three drawer storage unit, which I put in the bottom cupboard below the sink.  It holds everything I would put in my utility drawers at home, just at a smaller scale. Unfortunately, in a rough sea, the cupboard door flew open and the whole container filled with my two drawers of kitchen utensils and cutlery fell onto the floor and a part of fit shattered. I haven’t been able to find a replacement or something else that could work as easily and nicely and still using it in a cumbersome fashion. (updated 8 Jan 2017)  In the fall of 2020, I moved my utensils to a larger plastic drawer that was underneath a bed in the salon. I was able to insert a cutlery tray. It is much more practical and I don’t have to worry about the drawer opening.

wilkinsonselfsharpeningkivesSearching around the house for extra items gave me an opportunity to purge at home.  My best find was a small paring knife which fits inside its own self-sharpening case. A bread knife makes the second second knife on board, along with a set of steak knives brought from home. Don’t invest in wooden spoons. If not used regularly, they attract mold. I eventually opted for a large plastic spoon and a plastic spatula. Again, a dollar store purchase which is economically to replace every new season, if needed. (updated 8 Jan 2017) On the door to the head, I added what looks like a small plastic shoe holder. I believe this one was designed to hold items in a shower. I tied it on the door and all my larger utensils fit snuggly there.

I like to cook and bake on board (it’s gas, so who wouldn’t?), so I purchased silicone folding measuring spoons and measuring cups. They have magnets on their handles so stick together. I bought those from Avon Canada.  Avon seems to sell more than just smelly soaps. I invested in two more expensive items (from my observations price wise). A can opener and a potato peeler.  As I am left handed, I do have my favourites that sort of fit the task best. 

StemlessWineGlassThe first year owning the boat,  I went to MEC (Mountain Equipment Coop) and purchased, plates, plastic glasses and a folding frying pan spatula. All seemed great at the time. I liked how the spatula folded and could be easily placed into one of the drawers, but it soon melted at the edge due to high temps in the frying pan, so I opted for a less expensive more rigid plastic spatula for a replacement. The plates have raised edges which help prevent food from slipping off during dining and still serve their purpose, but started to look a bit “ratty” from scratches they obtain from the utensils. I found medal replacements in 2014. They haven’t rusted or scratched and I left them on the boat over the winter just to see how durable they are to dampness. The are true stainless steel. The plastic glasses obtained from MEC are just divine!  They are made so they won’t easily tip over. A must on a moving boat!  They are getting a bit scratched up over the years, as plastic does, but they are worth their price over and over again having saved many a fine glass of wine! They will tip, but it does give you a bit of time as they balance on their bottom edge giving you that extra second to grab and save the drink!  Just love them. As you can see in the picture, the base of the glass is small, and spreads upwards like a saucer. Having most of the weight at the bottom and the upper rim is small. In 2019, I retired my MEC glasses as they became very scratched up. I opted for plastic glasses that look like cut glass.

I found a small dish rack at an RV/camping store. I have seen them since in the camping section at Canadian Tire. It folds into its own little pan. The pan I put upside down on the bottom cupboard to elevate the set of plastic drawers which I placed on it.  It allows the drawers to pull out through the opened cupboard door. Hence, them sliding out easily in a rough sea. Again, another convenient purchase at the dollar store was a small sized dish pan which fits perfectly into the galley sink. Over the years, I still have the same dish pan but opted for a larger dish rack. This one has silicone sides so can be folded down in size for easy storage.

I bought a bright coloured (colour seems to be an important must on a boat) striped pattern for bowls at Walmart. I later added smaller bowls which have three stubby legs for stability which are great for snacks. Another purchase in assorted solid colours (using the colours from the stripes on the bowls) were mugs. The mugs are square, so fit neatly into the small cupboards that you often find on a boat.   As the boat’s name is Rainbow, I try to keep that colour scheme throughout, when possible. Over the years, I have been changing my dishes and at the moment have high end plastic (Melmac?) nautical designed place settings for six! Any extra dishes, pots and pans all get stored in my ice box. I never use it to store food anymore.

I was never able to secure food hammocks without adding hooks to the boat. Ikea mesh bags are a wonderful alternative. I use 3M hooks to hold the bags on the wall and have them overlapping. I store like minded things in each bag. Plastic bags of all sorts in one, snacks in another, fresh fruit and dry previsions in other. The current price in Canada is $6.99 for two bags that are two different sizes. When I close the boat for the winter, I just bring the bags home and hang in the pantry.

I thought I could easily use foil pans when needed, but in theory that is smart, but practically they just get bent up inside the small storage areas.  I thought I was going to be even smarter and I purchased a silicone square pan that I could fold away to store. It lasted one year up until I was cutting out a piece of “boat pizza” a bit too strongly and pierced the bottom with a knife. They also bend with the weight of the uncooked food, so not really that practical after all.  The following year it was replaced by a metal square pan.  I also bought a frying pan in the camping section with a fold-over handle (2014 available at Canadian Tire for $19.99) and a set of blue speckled camping double boiler pots. I later found in my downstairs kitchen a frying pan with no handle and took that to the boat. I works so much better, larger and more durable. (updated 8 Jan 2017) In 2020, I purchased a set of pots from Ikea for less than $20! I had to assemble the knobs and handles but they worked so well on the boat, I bought a second set for home! My frying pans were not lasting long on the boat. I finally splurged on one medium sized stainless steel high end frying pan. After each use, I let it cool down, add water and a bit of detergent, bring to a boil and it cleans ups extremely well! Much nicer than a non-stick pan.

A double boiler is pre microwave and I forgot what a good replacement it is for that appliance!  Also, giving me two pots, one top of the other, which is a necessity for cooking a meal on a two burner stove. The frying pan, double boiler pots and square pan easily fit inside the oven for storage. As well as a collapsible folding camping toaster which as of 2014 are $5.49 at Canadian Tire but can be found almost anywhere, as the design is decades old!  A year later, I added two other cooking items. They were older from a bygone era of stuff I had at home.  A grill which fits on top of the stove, enabling me to cook a feed of pancakes and is stored underneath the dish rack to act as a drain board sitting on top of the cooler beside the sink. The other item was a heavy Teflon deep frying pan that didn’t have a handle although it was replaced by the new frying pan in 2020. There isn’t anything that I cannot cook with these few pieces of equipment. In my pantry area below the bench seat of the diner style table, currently turned into Michael’s bed, I also store two large bowls. An old plastic Tupperware bowl with a lid (the ones you burp in the centre) and a stainless steel bowl with a rubber non skid base that I use all the time! The plastic bowl returned home but the steel bowel with a rubber non skid base is still a useful tool in 2021! It is true stainless steel which I purchased at Walmart. The first year I used a roll up plastic cutting board, but I opted later (once I lost my galley table) for a small rigid plastic cutting board that I store in the cupboard below the sink. I also have a collapsible silicone colander that hardly takes up any space at all!

This is where I would like to speak about using a pressure cooker on board. I read continuously about them and how wonderful they can be on a boat. I do have one at home that I rarely use. The reason why I don’t like the idea of using a pressure cooker on our boat is the fact that I must run cold water over the lid and the pot to cool it down prior to releasing the lid.

1. That is a waste of water.
2. The pressure cooker is too large to fit in my sink.

Maybe people take their pot to the cockpit and pour water  from a bucket dipped over board over the pot. I am not sure, but it sounds a bit dangerous to be carrying it around. Consequently, I have learned to cook without using a pressure cooker.

After we dropped the table for a permanent bed, we soon realized we needed a table. For about $20 I discovered a nice small folding aluminium table at Princess Auto.  It is light, doesn’t rust, and can be used in the cockpit or as an extra table inside.  It folds away easily into its storage area in the pilot’s berth or lately inside the cockpit.  In 2014, it is  also currently available at Canadian Tire for $29.99 (a bit more than I paid for it).

Folding chairs repurposed from camping to boating.
Folding chairs re-purposed from camping to boating.

We keep two folding canvas chairs on the the boat. We used them tenting, and onboard one extra chair comes in handy for eating or lounging. They are also a must on the dock. Michael uses it outside while working on the boat before the launch. Folding canvas chairs can be found almost anywhere, with a price range of $10-$70.

Check out my Pinterest site for any potential new boating stuff that I might find useful.

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