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Galley Advice from

Judy Knape s/v Ursa Minor - Former Charter Chef

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After trading in her career as a lawyer for a more gratifying one as a charter-yacht chef and captain, Judy is now cruising the Pacific with her husband aboard their Saga 43.
Loading the dinghy

About Judy Knape

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

Ideally you want a compact area into which you can wedge yourself safely for preparing meals underway, with everything you're likely to need at your fingertips, while at the same time having enough room for all the tools and supplies you need you'll need to create wonderful gourmet meals. 

Hah! Ultimately, it's all a compromise. 

There's never enough counter space. Add a fold-down one that can easily be available when you need a bit more if you've got a good place for it. I don't, but drool with envy when I see one on someone else's boat.
On Ursa Minor I'm constantly having to move what I'm working on from one place to another so I can get something out of a locker, the door of which swings over my workspace, or out of the fridge, the top of which is another favorite workspace. I either have to plan carefully what I'll need, and get it all out at one time or move everything elsewhere just to get out something I forgot.

For refrigeration, we started with a large box that was both fridge and freezer - anything frozen had to be carefully placed near the plates in the back corner, with things needing less cold arranged further away.  This was fine for charter, when I generally only provisioned what I needed for a week and it didn't matter so much if a few things thawed a bit early, but for long distance cruising I have been much happier since we divided the box and added an extra plate giving us separate fridge and freezer so I can now keep things well frozen for long periods.

A gimbaled stove with moveable fiddles on top are essential for cooking on passage to keep pots from sliding around.  It's really helpful to have secure racks for plates, cups, glasses, and canisters for basics all easily at hand. 

I wouldn't cook with anything but a propane stove/oven with a solenoid cut-off switch. Forget electric unless your boat is big enough to have 2 generators, and even then I'd prefer propane.


What is the best aspect of cooking aboard?

The ever-changing views out the porthole.

Also, with a well set-up galley, everything is close at hand and making meals can be far more efficient than in a large house kitchen.


What is the most challenging aspect of cooking aboard?

Cooking underway when its rough.

  • keeping everything from flying or sliding while I'm getting it together - the key is to keep meals underway very simple, and to wedge, wedge, wedge      
  • keeping my lockers full enough that stuff doesn't fly around inside while we're at sea yet not so over-stuffed I can't find anything and with room to put in new things I pick up

Finding enough space to work

(sometimes it seems half my prep time consists of moving things from one place to another and back again, countless times, so that I can get into a locker or the fridge)

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

pressure cooker

Very efficient in fuel use, quick, and more secure on
passage. Also you can close it up after a meal, bring it back to pressure briefly, then leave it on the stove top for tomorrow without having to refrigerate the contents.

yogurt strainer

If you make your own yogurt, you can use the strainer to make equivalents for mayonnaise, sour cream and cheese.

dog bowls

Great for meals on passage

rug or rubber mat

The first thing I'd rush out to buy when I started on a new charter boat. Standing for hours on a hard wood floor will make you miserable.


coffee thermos

With melitta filter cone: best way for making coffee with
minimal fuel use and keeping it hot

cloth napkins

One lasts several days before cleaning and is much greener than paper.

heavy duty square griddle 

Useful for all the normal things (pancakes, French toast, bacon, etc.) plus a great replacement for an electric toaster which you do not need. You can do 2 pieces of toast and 2 fried eggs and only dirty one surface and not need any electricity.


What items can you easily do without?

china or stoneware dishes

glass glasses

we have one, but use it to store eggs and other things and only use it if on a dock with power.


What items are hard to find once cruising?

It's hard to generalize on this as what's available differs tremendously depending on where you're cruising, but some things I've often had trouble finding are:

  • yogurt
    You can get powdered starter or buy a yogurt with good live cultures and make your own as you go along or get some starter from another boat.

  • good dark chocolate
    Stock up on bars from the Grenada Chocolate Factory if you can which keeps almost forever without refrigeration and is absolutely scrumptious.

  • good bread
    Get a good sour dough starter and make your own.

  • I like to stock up on coffee filters, good paper towels (Bounty), dried fruit, quinoa, couscous and Pataks curry paste when I find them.  Also, coffee beans and Grenada chocolate.


Can you describe your galley layout?

Judy's Galley

We don't have a generator, but do have an inverter which in the galley is used mainly for the coffee grinder, and occasionally for the blender/food processor and hand mixer. 

We separated the big refrigerator box into separate freezer and refrigerator, which is far better at keeping the right stuff frozen and the cold air in.  A lot of cruisers don't have any refrigeration and seem perfectly happy without, but I think I'd go nuts! 

We have a double sink, in one side of which a small-size Rubbermaid dish drainer resides permanently I hate to dry unless I really have to.  We do not have a salt water faucet, and have rarely wished that we did. The very few times we've had a fresh water shortage caused less aggravation I suspect than continually rusting silverware would have. 

We bought a set of nesting heavy duty marine pans, formerly made by Cuisinart but now by another maker and sold through West Marine, which we have been very happy with. We got the stainless steel ones without the non-stick finish and they clean up nicely. We have some other expensive non-stick pans, but their finishes are not doing well after a few years in the salt air environment (or maybe my husband is using metal utensils on the sly?).

We have a Magma grill on the aft railing which uses small disposable propane canisters, which sometimes we can't replace for long periods.

Our galley is small and in what I would call a wide U shape. A narrower, longer U would be better at sea, but on our skinny boat it wouldn't fit.


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

Our new china
Spinach salad


We generally do 3 meals per day, plus a piece of dark chocolate at night when we're lucky to have some onboard. We usually set a table for dinner, often for lunch, and occasionally for breakfast, unless on passage. 

We got rid of all the good china dishes and glass wineglasses when we left chartering to go cruising, and now use plastic, both for safety and lighter weight.  We did keep many of our nonskid place mats and most of our cloth napkins, which we have found quite useful when paper becomes expensive and not always available.  With just the 2 of us and no charter guests to worry about, 2 cloth napkins can last us a week or more and thus are not a laundry concern. Unfortunately, since cruising I have not been able to convince Bryan that he should do fancy folds with them like he did on charter.

On passage, meals are more simple, often served out of plastic dog bowls: the double ones for smallish dogs that have two compartments so we can serve a multi-course meal if so inclined.  They're far less likely to spill or go skidding across the table if they have to be left unattended for a few minutes. 

I generally cook, although Bryan does a mean chili and occasionally treats me in bed with an egg breakfast.  Bryan often does dishes, for which I am eternally grateful.


What cookbook do you recommend?

- Ship to Shore series by Jan Robinson

- Pressure Perfect by Lorna J. Sass

- Joy of Cooking - It's great for all the basics, and actually has recipes, albeit limited, for a variety of exotic foods you may run into for the first time while cruising.


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

Curried Quinoa Salad

from Judy Knape

This is great for a potluck.

  • One box of quinoa, prepared.
  • Make a dressing with mayonnaise, Patak's curry paste, plus a little lemon juice if you have it and some sugar to offset it.
  • Add whatever vegetables you have, diced small, and possibly some tuna or other meat and serve cold. (I especially like broccoli, scallions, red or green peppers, but just about anything can work.)

18 Boat Recipes

Frying Pan Bread
from Judy Knape - shared by Judy on Veleda IV

For one

I hate making bread, or should I say kneading bread, but this recipe is really a simple and quick way to make bread when there's none available.  Its quick, and doesn't require lighting the oven.

1/2   cup flour
1   tsp baking powder
1/2   tsp salt
1   tbsp milk powder
    water to make a fairly thick batter (or leave out the milk powder and use milk)
  • Stir till smooth.
  • Let sit for 10 minutes.   
  • Heat 1 tbsp butter or oil in a heavy frying pan,
  • Add the batter,
  • Cook on low heat till the bottom is brown and the top dry.
  • Turn and brown the second side.

Options (add whatever combinations appeal)

• Savoury
    additional salt to taste
1   tsp dried herbs
1   tbsp grated cheese

Cook in olive oil.

• Sweet
1 - 2   tbsp sugar
1   tbsp cocoa powder
1/2   tsp instant coffee
1   tsp spices (cinnamon / cloves / ginger / cardamon / allspice / nutmeg / mace / ...)
1   tbsp raisins or other dried fruit


18 Boat Recipes

About Judy Knape

Judy Knape

Judy says she is "too close to 60", cruising the Pacific with her husband of 7 years after careers as a lawyer, charter yacht chef and charter yacht captain.  They may make it around the world, but are enjoying it one day at a time with no plans set in stone.


Their boat is Ursa Minor, a modified Saga 43, monohull.

Cruising grounds

They are headed, slowly, around the world, having started in the Caribbean where they sailed for many years, mostly as a charter boat out of the Virgins. They are currently in the Marshall Islands, just north of the equator in the Western Pacific, having done much of the traditional milk run across the South Pacific before heading north to avoid the cyclone season down south.


[February 2009]

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