Go to WomenAndCruising.com

Galley Advice from

Betsy Baillie S/V Belair - Long-Distance Cruiser

Next Woman
Previous Woman
18 Women
A dietician and public health consultant by training, circumnavigator Betsy is currently sailing from New Zealand to Bermuda with stops in Alaska and Cape Horn!
Provisioning for the South Pacific

About Betsy Baillie

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

There is nothing worse than opening a galley cupboard door and having the entire contents spew out on top of you and beyond!! To avoid such a catastrophe you need to plan your galley to be easy to use when passage making.

Start by determining which items you use most frequently, and store them so they are easily accessible. This will probably include mugs, bowls, plates, pots and pans. I have these items stored in an aft facing cupboard, which is less likely to empty out. Hot drinks are high on my captain's consumption list! We have an open shelf system which holds five plastic airtight containers with coffee, tea, sugar, etc. to make hot drink preparation easy.

Planning and organization make cooking aboard a cinch! Make a rough menu plan to help you prepare your shopping list (you will be at sea for X number of days, so will need at least X lunches, suppers etc). You also need to determine your normal consumption level of food items (how many days a box of cereal will last you) and determine if this consumption pattern will be the same when you are on your boat (I drink fewer hot drinks when we are passage making).

Luckily we have a number of lockers in the saloon so that I can store like things together:

1) for tinned meats, fish, vegetables, etc
2) tinned fruits and packaged baking goods
3) condiments, mayonnaise, etc
4) rice, crackers and cookies
  5) cereals and snacks
6) UHT milk and juice
7) wine
8) beer and soft drinks

I have a small note book with a page for each locker and I list the food items and quantity. I use a pencil so I can change the numbers when an item is used. This saves hunting through your lockers every time you need to shop.

No flies will bother me in Patagonia

Today you can just about get anything you want anywhere in the world. In the 1980's heading into the Pacific we planned for 6 months as we would have to be our own supermarket!! Besides all the usual things, I had 10 large jars of mayonnaise (knowing New Zealand did not have it that time); real mayonnaise can now be found everywhere.

However, there are still circumstances when you have to buy stores to last you for a number of months, such as for our trip through Patagonia where there are no stores for stocking up.



What is the best aspect
of cooking aboard?

Be able to entertain friends and use some of the lovely dishes I have collected along the way.

Happy Hour on Belair

What is the most challenging aspect of cooking aboard?

Cooking at sea when we are on a starboard tack and hard on the wind
(something we seem to do far too often!)

You have to be very careful about wedging yourself in and not fall into the stove. The stove is gimbaled and on this tack it can block the refrigerator door.

The best advice: avoid upwind passages if you can!


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

  • decent knife

  • can opener

  • good large nonstick pan

  • bowl

  • wooden spoon

  • Most importantly: my husband Bob as he is handy in the galley!

What items
can you easily
do without?

  • rolling pin

  • fancy salt and pepper shakers

  • spaghetti draining spoon

  • Bob says: the BBQ, as it clutters up his push pit!

What items are hard to find once cruising?

  Uncle Ben's Long Grain and Wild Rice original recipe •  Lawry's season salt •  Decent cheddar cheese •  Dried tortellini •  Bermuda Jam Factory Pepper Jelly


Can you describe your galley layout?

Our galley is on the port side of the companionway. The galley is U shaped:

  • Facing forward is a double sink (with fresh hot and cold water taps and a salt water tap). We have a plastic dish bowl in the sink to minimize water usage and we put the dishes in the second sink to drain. There is a large storage cupboard underneath the sink.

  • Facing aft are the refrigerator and freezer (compressor driven) units with a double cupboard with sliding doors above them. Our freezer can hold 50 pounds of meat, this capacity was terrific in the Pacific; however, with meat available everywhere in the Caribbean, two thirds of our freezer is full of ice now.

  • Facing the port hull is the 3-burner stove (essential to have good quality pots and nonstick for easy cleaning) with a large oven and a four drawer unit beside it, and above the counter another large double cupboard with sliding doors.

The countertop is tiled with 1.5 inch square tiles, which are easy to clean and you can put hot pots on it.

The U shape is partially blocked off by a pantry cupboard. The cupboard is 50 inches high, 24 inches wide and five inches deep with 5 shelves with restraining bars so things can't fall out. It is terrific because it holds all our condiments and any food items I want easily accessible. It is great to lean back on when cooking at sea and a good support when coming down the companionway.

We have an inverter which is mainly used for the computers and charging cameras etc. It is only 800 watts – have you ever tried vacuuming a carpet with an 800 watt vacuum? It's like trying to suck dirt through a straw!


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

Our eating style depends on whether we are at sea or in port and whether we have guests or are on our own.

At sea

When there are just 2 of us we each get our own breakfast and lunch and sit in the cockpit and eat off our laps. At sea, we eat supper in the cockpit and eat our meals from a bowl. In port, we generally eat supper at the saloon table using place mats.

When we have guests on board we generally use a table cloth and put out breakfast food for guests on the saloon table, and make sandwiches for lunch to be eaten in the cockpit. We generally sit at the saloon table for supper.

Our dishes are a pretty design of plastic. I usually collect unusual mugs, serving dishes, bowls and baskets in countries that we visit.

My husband and I share the cooking and washing up. We usually take crew for long ocean passages and everyone does watches so everyone cooks and cleans up!


What cookbook do you recommend?

When we circumnavigated in the 1980's we had no refrigeration so I used the book The Cruising Cook by Shirley Herd Deal (ISBN:0-930006-00-3) to give me recipe ideas to expand our menu options.

I was very organized in those days and as one of our guest book entries states “Betsy – she was so organized, Bob trained her well he brags, she even had the dinners, all packed in plastic bags!” This is exactly what I did! Suppers were a lucky dip! I had large plastic box with 20 plastic “Dinner Bags”. Each Ziploc bag contained all the ingredients including cans of food and other necessary pre-measured ingredients (such as rice), and a copy of recipe needed to construct the evening meal. The cook of the night (there were three of us and we all stood watches and steered the boat, so we all took turns cooking!) would just pulls out a bag and get to it!


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

Mock Potato Salad

from Betsy Baillie


This dish is quick to make and even works if it is still warm. Therefore, it is a great recipe when you have a late invite to a potluck supper!

1   package of Uncle Bens Long Grain and Wild Rice original recipe –
cooked without the added butter
1   onion chopped
3   hard boiled eggs, coarsely chopped

Combine the above with mayonnaise

18 Boat Recipes

About Betsy Baillie

Betsy Baillie

A dietitian and public health consultant, Betsy circumnavigated with her husband Bob from 1987 to 1991. They bought their present Belair in New Zealand and have lived onboard since 2000. They are presently sailing home to Bermuda via Alaska and Cape Horn. Betsy says "We have been very lucky and met some great people along the way."

Betsy and Bob sailed in company with Pam and Andy Wall from Australia to Fort Lauderdale in 1990/91. In the middle of the South Atlantic their sailing path would cross in the late afternoons to exchange their warm beers with cold beers from Kandarik's fridge!

Betsy has written a number of articles for the RG Magazine in Bermuda, the Cruising Club of America, Cruising Club News (recipient of the Charles H Vilas Literary Prize) and the Ocean Cruising Club Journal, Flying Fish.


Betsy and Bob have a custom designed and built Roy Davies 48 foot sloop which is strip-planked with California redwood and glassed inside and out. Roy, a Kiwi, was a house builder by profession so BELAIR has a beautiful wood interior accented with New Zealand Kauri wood.

Cruising grounds

Betsy and Bob completed a circumnavigation from 1987 to 1991. Their route from Bermuda was through the Pacific to New Zealand and back via the Indian Ocean and South Africa. They cruised the South Pacific for two seasons before heading for Alaska via Hawaii, and then sailing down the coasts of North America, Central America and South America, through Patagonia, Cape Horn, Falkland Islands, Uruguay and Brazil. They came north to Trinidad in May 2008 and are presently cruising the Caribbean where it is now possible to buy anything!


[February 2009]

Coastal Cruisers and Island Hoppers
have more ready access to regional markets, and cook mostly at anchor

Ann Vanderhoof Heather Stockard Kathy
Mary Heckrotte Sylvie

Catamaran Cruisers
cook on boats that don't heel


Long-Distance Cruisers
provision for long passages and cook often at sea


Cruising Charter Chefs
current & former; challenged by cooking for guests

Swan Neal