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Galley Advice from

Truus Sharp s/v Key of D - catamaran cruiser

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From a Thames barge to their current custom built catamaran in the Pacific, Truus and her husband have sailed much of the world waters.
The galley on Key of D

About Truus Sharp

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

I will assume that the basic layout of each woman's galley has been determined by the designer/builder and that what you require is suggestions for minor changes that can be easily made.

a)  Make sure you can be secured when using the galley.  If you have a monohull with a gimbaled stove you must have a solid safety bar in front of the stove.  Unless you have an in-line galley where you can wedge your knees against one counter and your rear end against the other you will need a strap that goes behind your rear end to prevent you falling backwards.

b) You cannot have too much ventilation but it must be waterproof so it can be used in bad weather when the smell of cooking is most likely to cause sea-sickness.  An extra-large Dorade box over the stove is helpful, even better is an exhaust hood with a powerful fan over the stove that vents overboard through an all-weather fitting.

c)  Wooden or plastic tops that fit securely into one of your sinks and over the top of the stove will increase food preparation surface space and can double as cutting boards if you don't mind the scratches.

d)  I prefer a front-opening fridge. If it's located above and behind the counter top it is very easy to access, and if it is located under the counter you don't have to clear the counter top to access it.  They don't waste as much energy as your husband thinks they do.

e)  Shop diligently for high quality, airtight plastic containers that make good use of the space in your lockers.  You do not want to store anything a cardboard box or in any container that is not airtight.  (Tupperware and Click-Clack both work well on my boat.)

f)  Unless you have a reliable watermaker, install both saltwater and fresh water manual pumps in the galley.  (I like the foot pumps that you operate with your toe.  They install easily in the locker under most sinks.)

g)  Dedicate one of your lockers near the galley as a "Goodies Locker" where each crew member can store their favourite treats and comfort foods.


What is the best
aspect of cooking aboard?

I enjoy the creativity and challenge of making healthy, appetizing meals with whatever we have on board and local produce.


What is the most challenging aspect of cooking aboard?

To me the greatest challenge is managing my inventory of supplies.  At any given time we may be several days or several weeks from a good shopping location so I must plan to buy supplies long before they run out.

Daily Sashimi

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

high quality, cooking pots

including at least a frying pan, a large pot and medium-sized pot (I have 3 pots and 2 frying pans, one large and the other medium-sized.)   Non-stick is easier to clean and uses less water when washing up.

a kettle

with a wide bottom and a really loud whistle so you can hear it over the noise of the wind and sea.  (I use a stainless steel, conical kettle designed for use by the fishermen in Washington and British Columbia. Similar designs can be found in good kitchen stores.)

a spice rack

that will hold all the herbs and spices you use at home plus two or three spare spaces for new spices you will come across as you cruise.  Use only the small bottles of herbs and spices and carry extra ones unopened as they lose their potency or go mouldy quickly in the tropics.


an unbreakable teapot

and a double-walled, SS French press coffee maker large enough to prepare for each crew member a mug, not just a cup, of their favourite hot drink

the best available quality of stainless steel knives

especially paring knives and vegetable peelers.  Peeling fruit and veggies is one of the best ways to avoid disease.


If I can add a 6th item I would include:

one of the high-end manual can-openers

that remove the lid and don't leave sharp edges on the lid or the can.  Tropical waters are often full of staphylococci bacilli and small cuts can become big problems very easily.


What items
can you easily do without?

Unless you have a redundant electrical system and an all-electric galley, leave behind

all electrical appliances

such as toasters, coffee makers, electric kettle, food processor, blender, etc.


What items
are hard to find once cruising?

  • If you are from North America you will not find 120V 60 Hz appliances or facilities that can repair them.  The rest of the world (other than Japan and that is a whole different story) is 240V 50 Hz.

  • Bring a wind-up kitchen timer with a loud ring for cooking and watch-keeping.

  • Bring any special spices and long-lasting ethnic foods or comfort foods you really enjoy as they may be difficult to locate in areas with different tastes.

    Having said the above, I can find, with a bit of work, everything I really need almost everywhere and almost everything I want in New Zealand, New Caledonia and Australia.

    Shopping in the South Pacific island countries is getting more westernized every year but the equatorial countries are often quite limited in the range of foods and goods available.


Can you describe your galley layout?

The galley in our catamaran is down in the port hull slightly aft of amidships.  I insisted on a galley down rather than up on the bridge deck as I do not want the mess and smell of cooking and the dirty dishes, sharing our company as we dine and relax afterwards.

Visiting chef settles into galley

The galley is 10 feet long and the aisle is narrow enough that I can securely brace myself wherever I am working and yet wide enough that, as my husband says, "2 people can ease past each other without first having to propose marriage." 

  • On the inboard side, fore to aft, we have a refrigerator under the counter top with a work surface and a stainless steel draining board on top.  A wooden board fits snugly over the large sink whenever two people are preparing a meal together. 

  • On the forward bulkhead there is a clever device that holds rolls of paper towels, aluminum foil and cling wrap.  Next, under the double stainless steel sinks (1 small and 1 large with a snugly fitting draining rack that stores away in it) is a large cupboard where we store all our cleaning materials plus a few handy-dandy items such as the WD-40 that my husband is always calling out for when I am cooking. 

  • At the aft end is a 3 burner propane stove with an oven containing a grill.  Under the stove is a deep drawer that contains my pots and pans.  We have a wooden work surface that sits on the stove but it is seldom used as we usually don't need any more counter top space than we have.  Over the stove is a stainless steel range hood with a fan.  Behind the counter are large, very deep cupboards.  The top shelves of these hold plates, serving dishes and unused storage containers.  The bottom shelves hold a stainless steel microwave oven forward ($49.95 at London Drugs in Canada) and a large assortment of frequently used foodstuffs, coffee, tea, cocoa, mustard, crackers etc.

  • In the centre half of the outboard side of the galley is my pantry where I store plastic containers of dry goods plus bottles of vinegars, sauces and the like.  At the forward end of this very tall pantry cupboard is a liquor locker that holds all that we can drink in a year.  On either side of the pantry are counters that have been gradually given over to baskets of fresh fruits and vegetables, a bread box and a corner for boxes or bottles of wine.  Below counter-top level we have a garbage bin forward, drawers for storing cutlery and cooking utensils, a bin for storing potatoes and onions and another bin for rolls of foil and kitchen wrap and larger utensils. Under the aft end is a three-level "goodies locker" crammed with treats to suit each crewmember's tastes.

We have an 1800 watt inverter and 765 AH of 12 volt batteries powered by the two 85 amp engine alternators, 290 watts of solar panels on top of our hard dodger, a KISS wind generator and a small Honda 1000 EU gasoline generator all of which come into play almost every week.


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

We sat down to dine upon oysters and wine
Sundowners in the cockpit

Whether under way or at anchor, we usually eat 3 meals a day at a table, in the saloon or in the cockpit, set with place mats, cutlery, and condiments.

That is one of the nice benefits of a catamaran, no cooking or eating at a 20 degree heel!  Our plates and mugs are mostly melamine; the glasses are polycarbonate and the cutlery stainless steel.

Most of the time I am the captain and the cook, my husband is the owner, mechanic and the dishwasher.  We trade jobs from time to time as we each have our own personal repertoire of recipes.



What cookbook do you recommend?

  • I regularly use the old New Zealand standby, the Edmonds Cookery Book; first edition 1907 and still going strong.  My well-used copy is from 1993 when we first sailed from Seattle to New Zealand.

  • I also regularly use my own collection of recipes gathered from other cruisers and copied from old magazines found in the laundry rooms in many ports around the South Pacific.  Everyone should make a collection of their own favourites.


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

These cookies are easy to make, delicious and have the added advantage that ginger aids in the prevention of seasickness so they make a great watch-keeping snack.  They have proved so popular with visiting cruisers that I have to have an extra batch on hand so that they can take a few back to their own boats after sampling them on Key of D.


from Truus Sharp

Dry ingredients Other ingredients


1   cup rolled oats (raw)
1   cup white flour
1/2   cup sugar
3/4   tsp baking soda
1   tsp of spices (½ tsp cinnamon, ¼ tsp ginger, 1/8 tsp cloves, 1/8 tsp nutmeg) but just cinnamon will do.
1/2   tsp salt
8-10   pieces of crystallized ginger, finely diced


1/2   cup oil  (Grape seed oil is very healthy as it reduces cholesterol.)
1/4   cup milk
1   egg  (An egg is not necessary.  If omitted the cookies will be crunchy like Anzac biscuits.)
  tsp vanilla extract


a. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (180 degrees Celsius.)
b. Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl.
c. Mix milk, oil and egg together, add to the dry mixture and mix very thoroughly.
d. Drop heaping teaspoonfuls of the dough onto a well greased cookie sheet leaving room for expansion.
e. Bake 20 minutes until golden brown.

18 Boat Recipes

About Truus Sharp

Truus Sharp

Truus was born and raised in The Netherlands where she learned to sail on traditional tjotters, the boats that look like large wooden shoes with leeboards.  Her husband, Steve Sharp, was born in Canada where he learned to sail on the Great Lakes in the 1940s and 50s.  Together they are the 2 "Sharps" that form the signature for the Key of D They are leaving the South Pacific and heading west to cross the Indian Ocean.


Over the years Truus and Steve have sailed everything from dinghies to a Thames barge including 5 monohull cruising boats and their current catamaran.  Since 2002 they have lived aboard Key of D, a 46-foot Crowther-designed catamaran designed and built to their specifications to accommodate the two of them with occasional guests and to carry the five tonnes of fuel, water, ground tackle, equipment and supplies necessary to be independent of re-supply for up to 90 days at a time.

Cruising grounds

In the past, Truus and Steve have sailed the Atlantic coast of North America, the Caribbean, the Mediterranean and crossed the Pacific a couple of times. Since launching the boat in Perth, Australia and bringing her around to New Zealand they have spent their winters in the South Pacific islands of Tonga, Fiji and New Caledonia and their summers in the higher, colder latitudes including circumnavigations of New Zealand and Tasmania.


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


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

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