Ten Galley Upgrades.

Ten Galley Upgrades.

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Upgrading to a double sink makes galley prep much easier. Photo: Capt. Lincoln F. Sternn

Make mealtime prep a breeze with these 10 galley upgrades.

Those forced to toil at the often thankless task of fixing grub for the crew may feel more like a galley slave than galley gourmet, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Here’s a look at 10 easy upgrades that can make galley duty more enjoyable. For the HGTV dreamers with a knack as a handyman or woman, tackle this list yourself to save on cost. Or for those who prefer the peace of mind of professionalism, save yourself the headache by checking references for a good local contractor. For a simple spruce, freshen your galley with a new coat of paint and de-cluttering.

1. Improve your lighting. Nothing makes a galley seem more cramped than poor lighting. Replacing outdated incandescent lights with modern units featuring fluorescent or LED technology will not only improve available light but reduce energy consumption as well. Upgrading or installing additional lighting over the stove, sink and food prep areas will go a long way toward achieving galley nirvana. For night-vision-safe galley work, choose units that provide both white and red light options, such as those offered by Alpenglow. Painting or covering dark, less reflective galley surfaces with light-colored countertop materials can also improve your existing lighting.

2. Increase counter space. When it comes to food prep and serving, most galleys are notoriously short on counter space, doubly so when entertaining onboard guests. A quick, easy way to supplement existing workspace is to install a cutting board over the galley sink. Wood and synthetic cutting boards come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, making it easy to find one that will fit your sink with minimal trimming. Another option is fitting a removable top over your stove burners for use when preparing cold foods.

3. Maximize storage. No matter how you slice it, you just can’t have too much galley storage. Take a moment to step back and look at your galley and surrounding areas as a whole, not only to visualize ways to better utilize existing space but also to ferret out hidden or unused areas to increase storage options. Pots and pans that are used less frequently might be stored under the stove, sink or even the galley floorboards. I installed several shelves in an underutilized hanging locker adjacent to the galley aboard my boat, converting it into an easily accessible storage locker for cans, dry goods and other foodstuffs.

4. Upgrade sink and faucet. Too many galleys feature a single, diminutive sink that’s unfit for food preparation, dish washing or pretty much any other galley-sink related task. Upgrading to a deep, full-sized single or double sink is fairly straightforward and will make a marked improvement on most any galley operation. Swap out that old dual control faucet with a single lever unit to make one-handed operation a breeze. Those with extendable, pull-out faucets provide even more flexibility.

5. Get some air. Nothing enhances the quality of galley life like plenty of cool, fresh air, particularly during the heat of summer. Good ventilation provides a multitude of benefits, from rapid removal of smoke and food odors generated while cooking to the elimination of minor carbon monoxide buildup and its negative effects on crew health (headaches, seasickness, etc). Even something as simple as installing an adjustable galley fan can make a huge difference in aiding ventilation.

6. Install a saltwater faucet. Fresh water is something most of us take for granted, especially in the U.S. where it’s readily available at most marinas for no extra charge when fueling or docking for the night. When cruising outside of the U.S. where water supplies are limited and costly, however, having a saltwater pump and faucet is not only handy but economical to boot. From rinsing potatoes to washing dishes, using clean salt water in the galley is an excellent way to stretch your fresh water supply. Manual hand pumps are popular and easy to install, but foot pumps have the added benefit of freeing up both hands during use.

7. Add a real trashcan. Nothing says fancy galley living like a fixed trashcan. Sure, that diminutive plastic can under the sink works, but the convenience and luxury of a built-in, kitchen-bag sized bin (possibly topped with a cutting board lid) has to be experienced to be truly appreciated.

8. Add a dish drying rack. A drying rack not only makes dish washing easier but also cuts down on wet towels. Look around and find one that fits into your sink, which provides both an easy way to dry dishes and store the rack when not in use.

9. Install a “Vacuum flask” (aka Thermos ®) holder. Thermos bottles rock! That’s why a holder or rack that keeps them secure and handy is just the ticket for those cold days or overnight passages. Just heat up water at the beginning of the trip and crewmembers will have hot water for tea, coffee, hot chocolate, or instant soups for hours to come.

10. Move up to a wall-mounted dispenser. Everyone loves the convenience of paper towels, but where do you put them where they’re out of the way yet easy to grab when needed? Same thing with tin foil and cling-wrap—they’re always clogging up your drawers or impossible to find when needed. Multiple wall-mounted dispensers keep each of these in easy reach and are compact to boot—just perfect for that bare spot on the galley bulkhead!

Captain Lincoln F. Sternn has operated and maintained vessels ranging from dive boats to passenger ferries in the Atlantic, Caribbean, and South Pacific.