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Galley Advice from

Pam Wall S/V Kandarik - Long-Distance Cruiser

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After cruising the world with her family aboard a 39 foot boat, Pam has become known for her terrific boat show seminars as West Marine's Outfitting Specialist. Pam is one of the hosts of Women and Cruising.
Pam Wall provisioning in KANDARIK's galley for passage
Pam provisioning in KANDARIK's galley for passage - Azores to Portugal

About Pam Wall

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

You have to know that cooking aboard a boat is a whole new fascinating experience! 

It is really like "playing house" instead of "keeping house".  Everything on a boat is so compact, so well organized, so little space to stow your precious galley equipment.  But the challenge to make it "like home" is very rewarding, much better than fitting out a kitchen in a house! 

Your new galley has to be comfortable and safe, make sure you remember that you will be moving sometimes, when you are preparing those delicious meals. At all costs make your galley comfortable and safe for you!  If the sink is too small, change it to a bigger one.  If the stove is awkward while sailing, make it safe with a bar across the front, and gimbal it.  If your spices are too far away from your cutting board, make a way to put them closer and easier to open one handed.  Make sure the every day cooking items are easy to get to, like coffee, sugar, salt and pepper should be right there close to the stove and easy to reach under any circumstances.  Have a good place to drain cleaned dishes, even if it is on top of counter get a system for draining dripping water from freshly cleaned dishes.  Little things like this are so meaningful and make life so much easier therefore much more fun!

If you can have a 3 burner stove, you will rarely use all 3 burners, but it is nice to have a gimbaled surface to hold that extra tea pot, or coffee maker, or last nights mashed potatoes for early morning potato pancakes and applesauce! YUM!  Even better is a double sink, then you have your drying rack right at the sink!  Great idea to have a salt water tap to wash dishes and conserve fresh water when on a passage. And foot pumps for the water are terrific as they leave your hands free to work, or HOLD on!  Make a holder for your stove lighter so it is handy in all weather right next to the stove.  Don't forget a good paper towel holder that allows you to pull one piece at a time without the whole roll coming at you.
Little things like this make you feel so incredibly happy.


What is the best aspect of cooking aboard?

The best aspect of cooking on board is that you are cooking in miniature! I mean, it is like cooking in a doll house, rather than a large home-style kitchen. Everything is close by, everything is stowed just so, everything is more FUN to cook because you are on your boat!

And believe me, everything tastes better and is more satisfying BECAUSE you are sailing somewhere, anywhere, and PLAYING at house keeping rather than the drudgery of keeping a big house.


What is the most challenging aspect of cooking aboard?

I think trying to fry eggs, over easy, in a rolling sea with the stove gimbaling merrily away and the eggs trying to keep up with the roll of the stove, well, that is the most challenging aspect of cooking aboard when you really feel like eggs over easy with left over potatoes and fried dolphin for breakfast!!!


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

a gas match to light your burners,

and it is great for candles, creme brulee, lighting a barbeque or beach fire, burning the ends of line, lighting kerosene lamps.  Just much handier than matches!

foot pumps for your water,
and taps for fresh water from your tanks, another line for filtered water from your tanks, and a salt water tap

The foot pumps allow you to conserve water much better than pressurized pumps which is especially important when conserving water on long ocean passages.  It also allows you to have free hands for washing up, holding on in a seaway, and stirring the pots! 

The filtered water from a tank is to be used only for cooking or drinking.  If all the water from the tank is filtered, then you have to replace the filters way too often. 

And of course, when at sea, again to conserve precious fresh water, it is great to be able to clean up with lovely salt water from the sea.  Good for half and half water for boiling potatoes etc. 

a double sink of household dimensions

I do NOT understand why boat builders think we need tiny sinks in our boats.  We use the same size pots and pans, same sizes dishes and bowls, and the same size roasting and baking pans as we do on land.  So, why do boat builders put these Barbie size sinks in boats?  I just don't get it!. 

We went to Home Depot and found a lovely stainless steel full size DOUBLE sink to install on KANDARIK.  I never worry about fitting my dishes and cooking pans in the sink for cleaning.  The second half of the double sink is always used for draining the cleaned dishes, when at sea I rinse in salt water, and when all the dished are in the sink draining, I pour a tiny bit of hot fresh water over all of them and then let them air dry in the sink.  They are out of the way, secure, and much more hygienic that way. 

So, to me, a normal size double sink is the way to go.  AND if you can have it amidships, rather than outboard, it drains no matter what tack you are on, it never fills up or holds water.  Why don't builders think of that too, always?

a really good house quality cutting board

always there, not stowable, but always a surface for cutting, slicing, holding hot pots, etc.  If you have to get one out to use it, it is a nuisance.  A designated part of your counter top as a cutting board is essential: really handy and always available.


      refrigerator or freezer
      of some kind, even if very small. 

      We used to sail without any kind of cooler, and it really limits your diet.  I LOVE my freezer/fridge because it gives me the opportunity to have so much more fresh food on passages.

      Market in Portugal
      Green grocer in Azores - Terceira

      I remember getting the giggles when Andy first installed a real fridge, to go into it for a bit of fresh meat, hard butter, crisp vegetables, and even way at the bottom a tiny pint of chocolate ice cream to be gorged on only after a happy landfall is made and the anchor is down after a long passage.  There is really nothing quite like that treat! 

      We had an engine-driven beautiful compressor freezer when sailing around the world.  It was fantastic BUT it required the engine to be run everyday for about an hour, and it kept us from staying away from KANDARIK for more than a day.  If we stayed away from the boat for too long, we would have to empty the freezer because we were not there to cool it down every day.  This is really limiting and a nuisance. 

      So, we changed to a 12 volt system which is just as effective, runs whether we are aboard or not, and only draws a minimal amount of amps because it is so well insulated.  It is the answer to a great system to keep cold food aboard and I wouldn't leave home without it.


What items
can you easily
do without?

I don't have any electric appliances at all. 

I don't need them. 

A stainless steel 8 cup stove top coffee percolator, a mesh toaster, a hand can opener, my two hands to knead bread, a kettle for hot tea, a hand mixer like your Mom used to use, all these electric appliances are NOT necessary as you can get just as much accomplished without electricity and the need for a generator or inverter that suck the amps from your batteries.

What items
are hard to find
once cruising?

Hardest things to find for the galley are: 

  • paper towels that are inexpensive,

  • comfortable toilet paper,

  • Ziploc bags of all sizes,

  • good kitchen sponges that work and not smear,

  • drawstring garbage bags,

  • Lipton's onion soup for California Dip, Lawry Salt, Lemon Pepper, disposable salt and pepper grinders that are made by McCormack etc., I could go on and on!!! 

  • my kids really missed Doritos when crossing the Pacific and Indian Oceans!!!  Funny what you remember like that!


Can you describe your galley layout?

KANDARIK's safe and comfortable galley
My sister Jill in KANDARIK galley in Bahamas

I do NOT have any kind of generator. But I do have an inverter for whipping and for mixing and cold crushed iced drinks. So the only, no sorry, 3 electric appliances are, mixer, blender (plastic), and coffee bean grinder! I have never missed having a generator and love the fact that I do NOT need electricity really to keep a good galley. We do not even have an electrical shore power cord; we are strictly 12 volts with an inverter for the rare use of electrical appliances, EXCEPT for that first delicious cup of fresh brewed ground coffee first thing in the morning!!!!!!!

Our galley is laid out in a U shape to keep me safe and have a comfortable place to lean while cooking!

  • As you come down the companionway hatch there is a quarter berth to port that is mostly under the cockpit and sticks out into the cabin only a couple of feet.

  • Forward of that is the well insulated deep freeze only, 12 volts Waeco, air cooled, top loading, and absolutely amazing the way it keeps frozen food and ice, and most importantly ICE CREAM! It is only a freezer, but as we eat down I cover the frozen food with an insulated blanket and can keep a few cold drinks and fruit and Vegies but hope they won't freeze before we drink or eat them!

  • Forward of the freezer is a 3 burner with oven kerosene stove on gimbals. We wanted kerosene because of the safety factor and the ease of purchasing kerosene anywhere in the world. It is a very hot and efficient fuel and once you get the hang of preheating the burners with a squirt of alcohol, you wonder why anyone would have any other fuel! It is hot, not combustible, easy and cheap to get fuel, and I LOVE it! And it does NOT smell if the burners are clean! That is a myth!

  • Forward of that is a deep well for anything, but I mostly keep large plastic jars of dry food stowed in the well which is also a counter.

  • Inboard of the well is a real wood cutting board. The right kind of cutting board with the grain up. Under the cutting board are drawers for utensils and flat wear, and cleaning products. The drawers are built so you lift them to release them, and drop them in a groove when closing them. This is so they will not open unless you lift them.

  • Inboard of the cutting board is the double, full size household stainless steel galley sink. This is amidships and goes aft the full length of the galley to enclose the galley. I have a fresh water hand Fynspray pump for filtered water from our tanks, a Whale foot pump and spigot for normal water from the tank, and a Whale foot pump and spigot for sea water. The double sink is great because it is big, has the second sink for draining cleaned dishes, and NEVER fills with water because it is right in the middle of the boat.

  • Like all other boats, my condiments are right above the stove in sliding lockers along with all the small daily things like sugar, jam, tea, coffee, cocoa etc.

  • Under the stove is the pot locker, and under the floorboards are the larger pots for lobsters, the pressure cooker, etc.

I can be in the galley, completely out of the way of the rest of the crew, enclosed and safe, and happy as a clam when cooking. Oh, I also have a dorade right above the galley to either extract or bring in air! It is terrific.

We do have a Magma barbeque with disposable gas cans, but as much as I would love barbequed food, we don't use it very often. BUT when the urge is upon us for grilled food, I am sure glad we have it. And does it smell good downwind of our boat when we use it! I remember being in the British Virgin Islands in 1972, in those days ONLY the charter boats had barbeques. If we were anchored downwind of a charter boat, and they were barbecuing, Andy and I would drool wishing we had a grill too! How times have changed!


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

Andy and Pam Wall
Andy and me at cocktails

WE ALWAYS have 3 good meals a day, huge breakfast, light lunch, and enormous dinner!! I eat like a bird, a vulture! And eating is very important to me and our family! WE do not skimp on meals, ever!

When at sea we generally eat on our laps, in the cockpit or down below depending on the weather and sea conditions. But in port it is always full service with place mats, real napkins, flowers or candles on the table when available. We love the ceremony of eating. I do all the cooking, except when our children are with us which is wonderful. When they are with us, they do ALL the cooking!

I don't allow Andy in the galley, he can boil an egg and mess up the entire galley! I am not sure he did that on purpose, but it worked!!! He is not a galley man! For cooking or cleaning!! AND we made our counter tops 4 inches lower than normal to make cooking and cleaning easier for me, a shrimp! With Andy's 6 foot 2 inches , leaning over a low counter like that is very uncomfortable. But as I said before, I love the cooking and I love the cleaning, it is playing house! Funny enough I hate cooking and cleaning ashore at home!


What cookbook do you recommend?

I really don't have any favorite cookbooks, but I do have a large file index with wonderful recipes given to me, or tried by me! Over the years! If they are good and delicious, I keep them for another meal! Most of my recipes are tried and true from years of trying to make cooking aboard much much more fun than cooking at home!


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

KANDARIK's Home Made Brownies
from Pam Wall

My favorite recipe that is so easy and goes into an eight inch square pan
and you would have just about everything aboard anyway! 
  • Melt slowly in a pot:
    2   squares of UNSWEETENED chocolate
    1   stick or butter (1/4 pound if you have chunks of butter)
  • Do not let clarify
  • Take off heat when melted and add:
    1   cup sugar
      cup flour
      tsp vanilla extract
      cup crushed walnuts, or any nuts you have aboard
  • Mix together and pour into greased and floured 8" square baking dish (or I have used a pie dish when I didn't have the square!)
  • Bake at 325 degrees for about 50 minutes or until a fork comes out clean
  • Cut into squares, and serve with coffee or tea and see how the crew LOVES it!



I have a friend who I gave this recipe to years ago, and when her son got married this year, he insisted on the entire wedding cake to be made from this recipe! 

Can you imagine how rich a 3 layer wedding cake would be made from this recipe, and HOW MANY EGGS IT TOOK!!!!!! 

18 Boat Recipes

About Pam Wall

Pam Wall

Pam is a woman who as a young girl dreamed of sailing around the world with a man who would sweep her off her feet with love and adventure! Pam says "I am so lucky to have found Andy Wall who did just that!" Their two children and crew, Samantha now 32 and James now 28 are still her best friends. Pam works at West Marine in a job made in heaven for her, helping people to go sailing. She is 4 feet 11 inches, 95 pounds, and so full of the love of the sailing life it hurts!

Pam is one of the hosts of Women and Cruising. She is a popular speaker at boat shows, with seminars on outfitting, sailing around the world as a family, cruising the Bahamas and more. Pam teaches women to sail as part of Women on the Water Week held in the British Virgin Islands.


KANDARIK is a Freya 39, hull number one. 39 foot fiberglass hull, flush deck, canoe stern, sloop that can be sailed as a cutter under heavy conditions. Andy and Pam built her themselves. As she says "We must have been crazy!!" It took them ten years to build her and then they sailed her around the world with their two small children.

Cruising grounds

Where do they sail? To anywhere they want to go! They could easily go back again and again to so many places and see and do even more. They have been across the Atlantic a couple of times, around the world, to their beloved Bahamas as often as possible, up to Maine and Canada, and Lake Sylvia in Fort Lauderdale!


I now have my own website www.pamwall.com. I am using it to pass along more information, more inspiration, and more knowledge to other sailors and cruisers!

More articles from Pam Wall 0n this website:


[February 2009 - Updated August 2010]

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