After 30 years trying out various boat galley accessories, long-term cruising sailor Nica Waters offers her top recommendations for kitting out your sail boat's kitchen with a few tried and tested items from our Tech Editor Fox Morgan's Dehler 36 galley…
A well founded boat galley with just the right accessories for your food prepping style can make life on board an absolute joy.
Nica writes “We recently rebuilt the galley on our 28’ cutter, Calypso, the boat we’ve owned and cruised intermittently on since 1992. This time, using the wisdom gained over the past 30 years, we incorporated more usable storage areas, installed a large undermount sink, and even splurged on Corian counters.”
“As we moved aboard in April of 2021, we made sure that the galley items we brought with us are all ones we love and use frequently. After all, having the right tools makes cooking even more of a pleasure.”
“Working in a confined space with limited storage, it’s a balancing act to make sure you have enough galley kit on board and don’t lack things that would make your life easier. Being judicious about what comes aboard can pay off handsomely both in terms of organization as well as the sense of space. For example, despite being a self-proclaimed cutting board addict, I had to be honest and realize that most of the time I use the same board over and over. I don’t need to take 15 on the boat! Almost everything needs to serve double duty; almost nothing is single use.”
If you’re just setting up a galley on the boat, here are some boat galley accessories you might not have thought of…
Boat galley accessories – knives
At the core of a good galley is its knives. You do not need to buy a complete knife set, which often include a number of knives you don’t need, but rather buy individual ones.
A 9” (or 7”) chefs knife, a serrated blade for cutting bread, and a smaller paring knife are essential; the next one I’d get is a long bladed boning knife for filleting your fresh catch of fish.
Find knives that fit your hand and feel good; some people prefer heavier ones while other people like light blades. Stainless steel blades will dull faster than carbon steel blades, but carbon steel blades will rust. Ceramic blades hold their edge for a long time but are notoriously hard to sharpen.
ZWILLING Chef’s Knife, Blade length: 20 cm, Wide blade, Special stainless steel/Plastic handle
A chef’s knife is an absolute must, ideally you’ll have more than one of these. As a boat galley accessories go, this is an area not to be scrimped on. Buy good quality. There’s a chance it will also be used for cutting and trimming lines on deck at some point too.
ZWILLING Twin Pollux Bread Knife, steel, Silver/Black
A bread knife is one of the staple boat galley accessories, you might be cutting bread with it… sometimes it’s useful lashed to a pole for lopping a rope off your propeller too. Make sure you buy a good one of these!
Ceramic Blade Paring Knife with Sheath
Tech Editor, Fox Morgan says “Onboard Boogie Nights there’s two paring knives. One steel the other is ceramic and 9 times out of 10 I’ll reach for the ceramic blade. It is light and I like the white blade. It is SUPER sharp and I have already sliced the tips of my fingers off when not paying attention chopping an onion one day while distracted and chatting with my co-skipper. The blade protector stays in place and the knife lives in the cutlery drawer with other stuff. It’s a few years old now but still sharp and still my first choice from the drawer. It’s also great for slicing mooring lines for splicing or repairs. watch out for the super sharp blade really near the handle though. That can catch you out”
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Having chosen your knives, you need to have a place to store them safely, and a way to sharpen them. One of our galley upgrades was a pair of magnetic knife strips which we’ve attached to the underside of the deck in the galley area.
You do need to make sure these powerful magnets are placed far from any compass or autopilot. We have two strips so the knives are secured in two places along the blade. Our stainless steel knives hold well, which is an indication of the quality of the stainless steel they are made from. (note from Tech Ed: beware that some stainless blades are not fero-magnetic due to their metal composition. So double check this if buying new blades and intend yo hang them safely on magnets.)
MIU France Stainless Steel Magnetic Knife Bar, 15-Inch
If you store your knives in a general cutlery drawer, be prepared to sharpen them even more frequently as the blade edges will be .amaged and dulled by contact with other utensils, although some knives do come with blade protectors that slide or clip onto the knife blade to keep it tip top and to avoid accidental injury when reaching into the cutlery drawer.
WORK SHARP Guided Field Sharpener
Chef’s Choice Professional Electric Knife Sharpener
Though this item possibly fails the ‘multi-use’ test, a Microplane zester is another must-have cutting tool in Calypso’s galley. Coming with its own guard, this slender rasp-style grater makes quick work of ginger, garlic, and parmesan cheese and stores flat; it’s also relatively easy to clean since you have access to both sides of the tool.
Microplane Zester Grater Black for Citrus Fruits, Hard Cheese, Ginger, Chocolate, Nutmeg and Truffle from The Premium Classic Series with Stainless Steel Blade
Boat galley accessories – tongs
Everyone has their own preference as to tools to use to turn food in the pan. While spatulas and spoons, forks and even chopsticks all have their place in the galley, I can’t speak highly enough of these locking tongs.
OXO Good Grips Tongs – 12 inch
We have two pairs as we use them so much. One might be in use at the stove, turning meat or stirring pasta, while the other is being used to toss salad. I find the 12-inch size to be far more versatile than the longer ones, and personally find the silicone-tipped ones go gummy too quickly. Just be careful if using these with a nonstick pan surface.
Colourworks Mini Tongs
These Mini tongs are useful in so many ways around the galley. You can pull a hot packet of wet food out of the the boiling pan with them or give a small pot a stir or flip your bacon with them. These fit into places where the larger tongs do not. Silicon tips can also help to preserve nonstick if you have that on your pans. Tongs of all shapes and sizes are considered one of the most essential boat galley accessories.
Boat galley accessories – blenders
Rounding out the hand tools category is an immersion blender.
When I lived on land, I used my beloved Cuisinart food processor almost daily. Space and power constraints on the boat mean it can’t come with us cruising, but I really did want something that could do some pureeing and fine chopping tasks.
A good galley alternative is an immersion blender. This stick blender does require an electrical outlet nearby, but fits into small spaces and larger pots with ease.
We call it the boat motor; it makes a lovely smooth vegetable soup as well making quick work of frozen fruit and yogurt for a smoothie.
The accompanying small bowl and blade means that smooth hummus and other luxuries are possible on board.
You can buy kits that come without some of the extra attachments (we in particular question the masher attachment), but they’re more expensive.
Braun MultiQuick Hand Blender
As used for over 10 years on the Tech Eds boat, this tried and tested hand blender has been pressed into action offshore many times, whipping up cake batters and chopping tomatoes and anything else we care to throw at it. One of the best value for money items ever introduced to the galley. It’s powered from a small inverter. Though, sometimes cake making goes a bit awry… sense of humour required when this happens. Thankfully we were moored up when this happened. This Braun hand blender was the secret weapon used in the great Atlantic bake-off during the Azab 2019 race.
Best pots and pans
Made-In Stainless Clad Saute Pan
On board, I tend to cook with an eye toward cleanup. Like most cruisers, we’re water-conscious, and one way to minimize water use is to create fewer dirty dishes.
One-pot meals are a good way to put this mantra into practice. A surprise favorite pan for this is a stainless steel 3.5-quart saute pan (if we were a family of 4 still on board, I might like a larger version.)
This straight-sided skillet goes from stove top to oven flawlessly; the tight fitting lid for it means it can also work to cook rice or pasta. Watch for a handle that’s short enough to fit in the oven.
Kuhn Rikon Duromatic Inox Stainless Steel Pressure Cooker with Long Handle, 5 Litre / 22 cm
Pressure cookers are another conservation tactic, working to save on cooking fuel as well as time spent in the galley. The premise behind these pots is that they cook foods at a higher temperature by applying pressure, meaning that cooking takes less time.
For example, if we decide at 5 pm that we’d like black bean soup for dinner; the pressure cooker takes beans from dried to yummy in half an hour. This pot doubles as my largest mixing bowl as well as a regular, non-pressurized pot for pasta.
Unfortunately, the Fagor brand we use has been discontinued, but this recommended one has been in use on my friend Behan’s boat for the past ten years.
Instant Pot Duo Nova 7-in-1 Smart Cooker, 5.7L – Slow Cooker, Rice Cooker, Sauté Pan, Yoghurt Maker, Steamer and Food Warmer
If you have the electricity and storage space to spare, multi-cookers (essentially, electric pressure cookers with a few other bells and whistles) are all the rage in the United States. I’ve never used one but have yet to meet anyone who is not wildly impressed. Many boats are shifting away from propane as a cooking fuel especially as lithium batteries are becoming more widespread, and a multi-cooker is a favourite boat galley accessory for cruisers with an electric galley.
Tefal Ingenio Essential Non-Stick Pots and Pans Set, 5-Piece, Starter Kit
The Tefal Ingenio pans are also a boat galley favourite as they can go from stove top to oven to cool box and back again with their removable handles and clip lids to stop spillage.
The Tech Ed writes “These have been in use onboard SV Boogie Nights for around 8 years now.
The small frying pan is looking a bit tired because it get’s the most use but the clip handle, lids and pans are still going strong. The good thing is that you can buy the pans individually so you can make your own set that suits your particular galley needs. The handles are easy to find, often in European supermarkets too.”
Best of the rest
Other favorite boat galley accessories and tools are personal: there’s the wide-mouth thermos I use to make yogurt, the citrus juicer I bought in an eclectic hardware store in the Dominican Republic, the French Press coffee maker we use every morning.
Zulay Metal Lemon Lime Squeezer – Manual Citrus Press Juicer
If lemons and Lime are your thing, then much like a garlic press, you’ll love this and it will make life just a little neater. Cocktails and cooking are a little bit better with a dash of citrus. The boat galley accessory you never knew you needed…
CLASSIC LEGENDARY FOOD JAR | 1.0 QT
A robust food flask with a wide mouth. Its ubiquitous design can be seen around the globe in the ditty bag of anyone who travels or wants to travel relatively light but head away from it all. This isn’t just a boat galley accessory, but a trekking and hiking accessory too.
Frieling USA Double Wall Stainless Steel French Press Coffee Maker with Zero Sediment Dual Screen
If you’re a coffee lover then a decent press will really enhance your mornings. Avoid glass and go for something sturdy, reliable and without consumable parts, such as paper filters. The dual mesh inner keeps the coffee grounds away from your cup and you’ll have enough in this press for more than one cup.
Luci Solar String Lights + Phone Charger with 100 Lumens
One special tool, although not a galley-specific item, that has immeasurably improved our dining life at anchor is these Luci string lights. Solar powered, they clip easily to our bimini top and provide light and ambience for dinners in the cockpit.
My husband was skeptical at first and now is the first person to reach for them when the sun starts to go down!
Didn’t find what you’re looking for? Head to Amazon’s dedicated sailing page for more marine products.
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