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Galley Advice from

Lisa Schofield S/V Lady Galadriel - Coastal Cruiser and Island Hopper

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From the sea to the galley, Lisa uses what's local and fresh to produce great meals for themselves and for friends aboard their compact Crealock 37 sloop.

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

My primary advice to women preparing to cook aboard is to do what you know. Aside from some resource considerations (water, power, refrigeration etc) that vary from boat to boat, I find that keeping things familiar makes for an easy transition. 

To whatever extent possible, bring the tools you use every day, and I say "tools" because it is a great argument for space with the one who controls the boat "tools"!  Plan your galley for the way you like to cook, and eat what you normally enjoy eating.  One of my favorite sayings is "if you don't like spam at home, you won't like it on the boat".

Cooking is my passion and hobby, in addition to being a necessary part of living aboard, and the captain and I spent time planning how it would be both functional and satisfy my creative needs.  Just as someone with a photo or jewelry hobby needs a space and tools to conduct their activities, so does the passionate cook! 

We planned the size and configuration of the refrigeration, and Dennis built in a lift up counter for additional counter space.  He also built me a lift up step, to help me (since I am short) to get into the far reaches of cabinets and the frig.  If you have the luxury of a handy captain, take advantage of it to customize your galley. 

Set up an organization plan for your food lockers.  I started out by setting up a spreadsheet to inventory and locate food items, but found that I didn't keep it current, and it fell by the wayside.  The more successful method for me, and the one I use now, is to divide the lockers by categories.  First, I have short term and long term storage.  Things I use frequently are closer to the galley, and the long term stores are in the bigger, less accessible, more distant bins.  Then beyond that division, I have separate lockers for canned goods, grains and staples, baking, snacks and appetizers, condiments and specialty items.  That works for me, but you know what works best for you.  Rubbermaid plastic coated shelving and plastic baskets are very useful for dividing storage areas in large compartments.

Lastly, I'm a great believer in the "2 uses" rule
.  All those wonderful gadgets we have in our land kitchen are really handy, but if it doesn't do at least 2 things, it doesn't go in my galley, with the possible exception of my pineapple corer - and I'm still looking for another use for that.


What is the best/the most challenging aspect of cooking aboard?

I think the most challenging aspect of cooking aboard is also the best aspect of cooking aboard,

utilizing what you have to create the meals you want to make

Sometimes it takes a great deal of imagination and even courage to make substitutions for items that you don't have, because you've been sitting in an anchorage for several weeks, you ran out, or you just couldn't find arugula in the local market! 

In some areas, there is very little selection or variety of fresh products (very true in the Bahamas), and you have to use local pumpkin instead of potatoes.  You get to be very creative.

Grocery shopping

I also play "what's going bad next" to make decisions about what to cook for dinner.  Everything is precious, and we try to keep wasted food to a minimum.  It is really a joy when we bring a fish or lobster or conch aboard, and I get to use my imagination to combine our very fresh catch with what I need to use out of the frig.


      One of the many rewards of cruising is the ability to "hunt and gather" fresh seafood. 


      Make sure to check the rules and license requirements of the individual countries, and talk to other cruiser and locals about what is safely available. 

      We are currently in the Bahamas, where your fishing license is included with your cruising permit, but you have to request they make a notation that it is OK to use a pole spear.  Spear guns are prohibited here and you cannot "hunt" on Scuba or in designated park areas.

      The rules change frequently, and there are always rumors that you can or can't take something, but we find the best policy is to go by the rules on the fishing permit.  Right now, the fishing permit says that we can take limited numbers of certain fish, lobster and conch, with certain size restrictions.  Also, Nassau grouper is closed for a certain part of the cruising season, as is lobster.   

      Because of the possibility of ciguatera, we choose not to eat fish from the reefs, but others certainly do here.


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

Oh boy, just 5???  Well, I would have to say that these are the first 5 that came to mind, each of which is invaluable, or I use very often:

pressure cooker

I love anything that saves resources (in this case both propane and time).  Great for beans, risotto, stews, soups, and I know several people who use it to bake bread.  I use my 6 quart pressure cooker quite a bit.

Foodsaver vacuum packer

Food items age much more quickly on the boat, and a vacuum packer really helps extend the life of many foods.  If you have a freezer, it reduces freezer burn, and I have had fresh chicken and meat
last 50% longer by vacuum packing. 

I use it most to store flour, grains, sugar, etc.  They last longer, and the "bug eggs" that are already in the product do not have a chance to hatch, keeping the items bug free.  Wouldn't be without it! 

It is a real plus with the captain too, as he can vacuum pack tools and parts he wants to keep really dry.

stick blender

Great substitute for a blender (which takes up a lot of space and power).  Don't have to pour hot liquid into blender to puree, just put the stick blender in the pot which is much safer in a rolly boat.  The Braun model I have also comes with a mini chopper and a whisk, both of which I use often.


salt water pump

Limitless supply of salt water for all the "non potable" uses in the galley. 

Pre rinsing dirty utensils and containers, cooling down items in a water bath, or thawing a frozen item, and rinsing plastic wrappers and containers before putting them in the trash (reduces smell) are just a few of my uses. 

I just found a recipe for salt water bread I'm going to try - but be sure you are in a clean anchorage before you use the water for cooking.  Also, don't use straight salt water for pasta or rice, turns mushy and too salty.

stacking pots

A good quality stacking pot set will be a tremendous space saver in your galley.  They typically have removable handles which allows for easy storage and washing, and the set offers you a variety of pot sizes.  We put the Rubbermaid non-skid material between the pots to reduce the rattling.


What items can you easily do without?

Don't need all the energy burning appliances

- or as the captain refers to them, resistive loads - such as toaster, coffee maker, rice cooker, crockpot, bread maker. 

Now, this is truly my opinion, because I know some cruisers that love their coffee makers and bread makers.  In my experience, these items consume large quantities of power, take up space that you can use for your priority items, and can all be accomplished with things you already have on board.  I don't mind kneading bread, and if I am not in the mood, there are lots of no-knead recipes.

You typically have lots more free time on the boat, so you don't really need the "time saver" equipment. 

Oh, and ditch the table cloths

I brought a couple, and have never used them.

Cockpit party

What items are hard to find once cruising?

This is a little tougher for me, as we generally try and use local items. They tend to be much fresher, less expensive and a rewarding cultural experience as trying new things encourages interactions with local folks.

Also, this will vary depending on where you are cruising.  In Panama City, Panama, we found almost all our usual grocery store items, and even some specialty items, but at Blackpoint, Great Guana Cay in the Exumas, we were happy to find eggs. 

The following are on my list of the hard-to-find and prefer-not-to-live-without:

  • specialty items
    If you have something you really like (from Costco or Trader Joe's for example) that you don't see in most grocery stores, bring lots of it, because you won't find it in a tienda in Central America. Arborio rice is one of these items for me.

  • parchment paper:
    Can be difficult to find even in the US.  I use it to line baking sheets to minimize the need for multiple baking sheets that are large and hard to store and to reduce the need for washing large items especially baked-on food.

  • paper products.
    Not that you can't find paper towels, but if you have a particular brand or style you must have, load up.  My captain is very picky about his paper products, and I insist on the "1/2" towels that extend the use, so we bring many rolls with us.  Usually, outside the US, the quality of paper products is not that good, and they are much more expensive.

  • freezer quality Zip-lock bags!!! 
    We use these for everything, and recycle them.  Similar to paper products, generally lesser quality and more expensive.


Can you describe your galley layout?

I have a small "U" shaped galley starboard aft, with a 7 cubic foot
refrigerator on the forward edge, a Force 10 4 burner stove with oven and broiler outboard, 2 deep sinks aft edge and a safety bar with strap in front of the stove. 

My refrigerator has Glacier Bay R 50 panels that really reduce power consumption, and although we do not have a freezer, there is ample refrigeration space and we have a vertical ice tray that sits on our holding plate and provides us with our daily ice ration. 

My outboard sink has a salt water foot pump and the spigot for waste water from the water maker plumbed, and the inboard sink has a fresh water foot pump and pressure water (hot and cold).  I have a drying mat and small dish rack outboard of the sinks.  My lift up work surface and a cover for my stove provide more work space in addition to the regular counter space, and our storage cabinets behind the stove and the sink have Plexiglas sliders which visually enhances the depth of the galley.

I have a microwave oven that I mostly use for electronics storage during thunderstorms or for reheating food when we are plugged into a dock.  We have a propane grill on the stern which is plumbed into our propane system, and we have a Katadyn water maker with over 1100 hours on it, and a Freedom 20 inverter.  The Honda 2000 generator is a recent addition, and is a great help when the clouds reduce the efficiency of our solar panels, and it powers the hot water heater, which eliminates the need to run the big expensive diesel boat engine!


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

Party appetizer

We have somewhat of a meal routine aboard, usually enjoying a light breakfast together, and a sandwich or lobster salad (when the catching is good) lunch informally, and unless we have a cruiser party scheduled for cocktail hour, we have a sitdown dinner, whether in the cockpit or below. If we have a potluck cruiser cocktail hour, we usually skip dinner.

For dinner, we set the table, I was insistent on durable china, and "glass" wineglasses, although we have recently switched to the stemless ones.  We have only lost 1 small plate and 2 wineglasses in over 7 years. 

I generally cook, although Dennis will fill in with a top ramen dinner, salad or pasta when I am kicked back.  Dennis does the meal dishes, and I usually do the dishes associated with producing a more complex meal.

Underway, we are much more flexible.  Before the trip, I generally prepare foods that are nutritious and easy to eat at an angle, such as meatloaf, pasta salad, potato salad, roast chicken….  One pot meals will help keep utensil use to a minimum in difficult seas, and are a blessing for a cook's weak stomach, as they are quick or can be prepared topsides.  These practices allow us to eat separately if the watch schedule dictates.  Of course, we always make sashimi if we are lucky enough to have a catch underway.


What cookbook do you recommend?

I am a cookbook collector, and try and pick up local cookbooks where ever we cruise.  I love trying the local cuisine.  I left things off the boat so I could have some of my cookbooks aboard. 

I especially like the dedicated cruising cookbooks, as they also have sections on provisioning, cleaning and cooking the bounties of your hunting expeditions and other useful subjects for the cruising cook.

Some of my favorite:


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

Zucchini Frittata
from Lisa Schofield

3   zucchini, sliced or shredded (or broccoli, spinach…)
1   cup bisquick
1/2   onion, finely chopped
1   clove garlic, finely minced
1/2   cup grated parmesan cheese
2   tbsp parsley (dried works fine)
1/2   tsp salt
1/2   tsp seasoning salt
1/2   tsp marjoram or oregano
1/4   tsp pepper
  cup salad oil
Tabasco sauce per your taste (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Beat eggs in large bowl.  Add all other ingredients.  Mix well.  Pour into greased 9 x 13" pan.  Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until set.  Cool slightly.  Cut and serve

Good cold, too.

After much consideration, I chose this "Zucchini Frittata" recipe to share, as it meets so many of the issues I have discussed. 

It is a simple, versatile "one pot recipe", which can be adapted to many vegetables, depending on what is available.  The ingredients are ones that are likely to be aboard.  It is great for potlucks, whether appetizer or meal.  Because it holds well in the frig, and because it has protein and complex carbs, it is great for nutritious underway meals and snacks.  It is one of my husband's favorites!  Don't be afraid to substitute!

18 Boat Recipes

About Lisa Schofield

Lisa Schofield

Lisa Schofield of Lady Galadriel is a retired financial advisor, who entered the cruising lifestyle by marriage contract.  Lisa is an occasional contributor to Gwen Hamlin's "The Admiral's Angle", and Lisa and her husband, Dennis, have given seminars at West Marine, Annapolis and at the Seven Seas Cruising Association GAM in Annapolis.  Their subjects, both together and separate include, "New to Cruising" (both), Provisioning and Cooking aboard (Lisa), and Marine Electrics (Dennis).


Lady Galadriel is a 37 foot Crealock cutter rigged sloop.  She is very traditional with lots of wood both above and below.  She is 30 years old, has been in the family for 21 of those years, and, as her husband likes to say, "the only original equipment on board are the galley and head sinks".

Cruising grounds

Lady Galadriel and crew departed San Francisco, CA in September of 2001 and turned left, spending the past 7 ½ years cruising both the west and east coasts of North and Central Americas.  They have been as far south as the Panama Canal, and as far north as Bar Harbor Maine. 

They are currently in their second season in the Bahamas, and their next destination is the Pacific Northwest.


Lisa Schofield also contributed to our article "Refitting the Galley: 12 Experiences": you can read what she had to say here.

[February 2009]

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