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Galley Advice from

Amanda Swan Neal S/V MAHINA TIARE III - Current Expedition/Charter chef

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Author of The Essential Galley Companion, Amanda cooks for a crew of 8 on ocean sail-training expeditions aboard a 46' Hallberg-Rassy

Amanda Swan Neal, provisioning in Tahiti
Provisioning in Tahiti

About Amanda Swan Neal

What advice would you give women
in setting up their galleys, in preparing to cook aboard?

My first piece of advice would be that the galley is its own dedicated space. For me it's a luxury to have the galley available at all times and that this is its only function - it does not also provide engine room access or is situated in a corridor to somewhere else such as the aft cabin.

In galley design I really prefer a U-shaped galley rather than a long bench. I find that I don't need a lot of bench space as you can't really monitor too many items placed on the counter top if the boat is moving about.

I make sure all my cooking items are within easy reach of the stove and have dedicated storage spaces for all items, believe me… this sounds easier than it is. For example I have a drawer for all short handled utensils and another drawer for all long handled utensils; these drawers are portioned with Rubbermaid drawer dividers. It takes the guess work of thinking of where things are.

When is comes to stowing provisions I outfit the galley with a week's supply of provisions stowed in sturdy containers that I can often refill. I color code as many of these containers or lids as possible often using colored masking or electrical tape; red-ketchup, yellow-mustard, green-olive oil. This makes for efficient cooking along with taping or writing quantity and cooking instruction times to the outside of containers such as rice and pasta. Further provisions and bulk supplies including cans are stowed throughout the boat.

I can get all my dinner meals on the table in under an hour from when I step into the galley. Organization is the key. I allocate 2 hours for cooking, eating and dishes. All our evening dinner recipes are written up so that I don't forget any ingredients. With 6 crew, exotic locations and offshore passages there are often distractions such as being called on deck to help tuck in a reef or fillet a fish.


What is the best
aspect of cooking aboard?

???? Gee what can I say other than……“You get to eat!”.

Actually I've come to turn the cooking thing around – In cooking aboard I get to be creative for myself and others while not creating another “thing” to crowd out our busy lives and full boats.

Since 2005, when I started writing my galley column for 48 North magazine, I've viewed cooking aboard in a new light; strangely somehow bringing my travels to life through food is very rewarding.

What is the most challenging aspect of cooking aboard?

The most challenging aspect of cooking for me in general is patience. I'm just not that into cooking - I have to work at finding the love. There are so many other things I'd rather be doing, though someone has to take responsibility for the galley and that person just happens to be me!

After a few weeks at sea it gets a little tedious coaxing life into the now not-so-fresh provisions, I get rather intimate with them, inwardly debating when and how they get the chop.


What are the 5 items
that you consider
essential in your galley?

  • refrigeration and freezer

  • efficient gas stove

  • 4-inch paring knife (J.A Henckles 4 star)

  • large high-sided nonstick frying pan
    + large Pyrex serving dish

  • ethnic spices
    my favorite 7 ethnic spices are:

. Patak's Indian curry paste
. Cajun/Jerk seasoning - Costco
. Thai red curry paste
. Fresh Basil or Pesto
. Herbs de Provence
. Taco seasoning - Costco
. Wasabi and soy sauce


My favorite latest additions to the galley

New grill pan!


This year I purchased a non-stick grill frying pan, it's brilliant for searing fish.

I've also recently had a boat yard wood worker cover the dark mahogany wood behind the sinks with white Formica that matches the sliding cupboard and counter top. This has brightened the galley enormously.


What items
can you easily do without?

  • I can easily do without all electrical kitchen appliances such as mixers, blenders, choppers, toaster and microwaves except my 2 lb Williams and Sonoma bread machine.

  • I will happily never use or see another can of condensed mushroom soup, boxed macaroni cheese, Spam or Top Ramen.

What items
are hard to find once cruising?

    I generally can find most items though it tends to be expensive - that's the hard part.

  • it's often hard to track down fresh basil

  • oh… wasabi was impossible to find in Scotland

  • large high sided non-stick frying pans are hard to find

  • as to provisions I really love my ethnic spices and Krusteaz bread mix. John loves real maple syrup and Krusteaz pancake mix.


Can you describe your galley layout?

Amanda Swan Neal's galley aboard Mahina Tiare
Caught testing salsa for tortillas
Amanda Swan Neal's galley aboard Mahina Tiare
Galley with pressure cooker

At the base of the companion stairs Mahina Tiare sports a very basic standard U-shaped galley complete with gimbaled gas stove: 3 burner and oven, twin stainless sinks, no salt water, pressured hot and cold water and fresh water foot pump. Standard white Formica is the counter top, with a Nissan thermos accessorizing the corner.

The refrigeration and freezer is by the fantastic, adorable and reliable Frigoboat and other stunning galley features include a Hella turbo fan, an opening port with curtain, boat show under-counter Cantalupi halogen lighting and overhead Alpenglow white/red light.

There is no generator and other than the bread machine no kitchen gadgets so I've no need to switch on the inverter.


What is your eating/cooking style on board? Who cooks?

Amanda Swan Neal, aboard Mahina Tiare
Easy pizza

As John and I are conducting sail-training expeditions with an expedition crew of 6 we plan and provision for breakfast, lunch and dinner onboard every day. John cooks breakfast and I prepare lunch and dinner with help from crew. As to dishes?… ah that's an expedition secret.

All meals are served at the saloon or cockpit table and require all crew to be present. For our evening meal we have a story teller of the day and this encourages entertaining dinner conversation.

We enjoy dining in style making meal times a relaxed and family occasion.

I have 2 sets of dinnerware; Corelle plates for calm seas and Galleyware plastic non-skid bowls for choppy conditions. Depending on the conditions the cockpit table has a variety of tablecloths from non-skid to tropical plastic to fabric. The varnished mahogany saloon table lives under a turquoise naugahyde vinyl fitted cover. For serviettes (napkins) I have a designer stainless steel paper napkin holder that crew can help themselves to. I try and encourage conservation of napkins.

When it is just John and I aboard John does all the cooking whilst I tend to graze.


What cookbook do you recommend?

  • There's this ancient 1,000,000 Low Fat Recipes book onboard that I use as standby for recipes to use up the odd provision.

  • But my favorite book is The Food of Italy by Murdoch Books. It's a lovely large colorful dream book that takes you on a foodie tour of Italy combining life with simple food, the way you picture it should be. It's probably a bit too big and heavy to have onboard but if I need a bit of inspiration this book is the winner.


Would you like to share a recipe that works well on the boat?

Another curry you say… but yes, this is an all time winner dish that requires no vegetables. Patak's mild curry paste, bought in a jar, is the best ever. Whenever I have an excess of bananas I slice and freeze them for use in this dish. Just add them frozen.




from Amanda Swan Neal

Serves 4

2   lb chicken
1   can tomatoes
1   cup dried apricots - chopped
1/2   cup slivered almonds
2   bananas - sliced
2   onions - chopped
1   apple - chopped
2   garlic cloves crushed
1   tbsp curry paste
  handful of dried cranberries

chicken, onion and garlic, 3 minutes. Add remaining ingredients and simmer until cooked, about 12 minutes. Serve with toasted slivered almonds and couscous.

18 Boat Recipes

About Amanda Swan Neal

Amanda Swan Neal

The Essential Galley Companion, by Amanda Swan Neal

With over 230,000 miles , including Sydney-Hobart Races and numerous Cape Horn roundings, Amanda Swan Neal's offshore sailing started before she was a teen with a family cruise through the South Pacific and on to Seattle. Upon returning to New Zealand she became a sailmaker and rigger, completing the 1990 Whitbread Around the World Race aboard Maiden.

In 1994 she fell in love with John Neal or perhaps Mahina Tiare II's passage to Antarctica. Together they run Mahina Expeditions annually conducting 8 intensive offshore sail-training expeditions aboard Mahina Tiare III, presentations at major boat shows, and several Offshore Cruising Seminars.

When not enlightening others with the joys of sailing Amanda can be heard Celtic step dancing or seen out paddling.

Author of The Essential Galley Companion, Amanda writes the monthly "Galley Essentials" article for 48 North magazine and has contributed to Blue Water Sailing, Cruising World, and Latitude 38.



Mahina Tiare III, a 1997 Hallberg-Rassy 46 is their sailing home. Designed by German Frers she features a long waterline, modern underbody, powerful sail plan and sturdy hardtop dodger. Down below there's four cabins that sleep a total of 9, two heads with showers, a saloon that comfortably seats ten for class and dinner, an efficient galley plus tricked-out nav station. Mahina's reliable 95 hp Volvo gives them a cruising speed of 7.5 knots.

Cruising grounds

Recently she has sailed from Spitsbergen to Hawaii via the Panama Canal and for the next few years she will be averaging 10,000 miles annually in the South Pacific, based out of New Zealand.



More articles from Amanda Swan Neal (on this website):


[February 2009] [Updated April 2010]

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Swan Neal