Anyone interested in the finer points of managing a galley?

Here's where I'm coming from:

(1) John Hanna, designer of the famed Tahiti Ketch once remarked: "...and the only interior detail (of a sailboat) that really matters is a full, man-sized, actual, practicable working galley, for indigestion has wrecked more cruises than rocks and hurricanes."

(2) "The act of cooking seems to help people get along with each other, especially when they are in slightly dire, less than luxurious and more than stressful circumstances. - Dr. Robert Zubrin, President of the Mars Society, speaking of the long voyage to Mars.

After almost three decades of voyaging and living aboard the year around, chartering and delivering boats, and entertaining friends, I have come to believe, like John Hanna, that the galley is the heart and soul of life aboard a sailboat.

And I've learned that there's much more to preparing dynamite meals than mixing together ingredients according to a recipe, especially if traveling in a remote area, or offshore for weeks at a time. For instance, there are some interesting techniques for extending the life of perishables, dairy products and meats without refrigeration that seem to not be common knowledge among many sailors. Would SeaKnots members be interested in discussing and sharing ideas along these lines?

If so, let's hear from you and get started.

Robbie Johnson

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I haven't seen much info in this chain about actually cooking while at sea - lots of in-th-slip things don't work as well on a 15 degree heel. We don't live aboard, but when we sail it's mostly offshore and often on trips to somewhere (i.e. the Regatta de Amigos: Galveston to Vera Cruz, about 650 miles each way with some provisioning available at the Vera Cruz end). We have a good galley on Paloma, but at sea, things change - you can have gimble an oven, but in a seaway, the boat may also be hobby horsing.. To cook in all kinds of weather, I added a SeaSwing propane cooker to the galley for single pot cooking under any conditions other than a knock down. Refrigeration isn't much good away from the dock, so we turn it and two high-tech ice chests that I picked up at West Marine, into ice chests. We use a combination of dry ice and regular ice and find that in the high-tech ice chests, the combo lasts about a week - not so long in the boats ice box which is not as well insulated. For good drinking water (besides bottled water), we freeze gallon water jugs and they are first additional ice, and as they melt - drinkable ice water.
Hello, John:

Thank you for your thoughts. You are absolutely correct when you say that in-the-slip things don't work well when at sea with the boat heeling to the wind. Multi-hull owners (of which I am not) would probably smirk at that observation, but while the multi-hulls tend not to heel, they pound up and down on the faces of waves, and that can be as unsettling to a galley chef as heeling.

The SeaSwing cooker is an excellent way to go, especially in rough weather. Many boats have stoves that are mounted on gimbals, but the installation was poorly executed and there is not enough room for the stove to swing freely, or the tension on the mountings is too tight and restricts the swing. And some stoves I've seen don't have really effective fiddles for grabbing and holding a pot to the stovetop.

You didn't mention whether or not you have a pressure cooker aboard. I am a strong spokesperson for the pressure cooker. If you have a pressure cooker aboard, the crew will never go without a hot meal.

Refrigeration on a boat is frequently a dicey thing. It's great when it's working, but all too often it quits for any one of a number of reasons, and usually it decides not to function just when you've loaded the fridge with lots of meats, etc. Even when the fridge works perfectly, the tiny size of the freezer area and the refrigerated area are so small that when you have 2-6 adults aboard eating 3 meals a day, the refrigerated stores are quickly exhausted. That is why I am such a strong advocate of practicing tried-and-true methods for extending the life of perishables WITHOUT resorting to refrigeration. (See the Website

One trick I have learned for extending the cooling period of ice chests is to have two medium-sized ones rather than one large one. This reduces the amount of times a cooler is opened. Plan your meals for the day in the morning and try to open the cooler only once a day, if possible. Second, wrap your cooler in one of those emergency "space blankets" and then again with a large beach towel. This will get you 3-4 extra cooling from your ice.

When you say you haven't seen anything in this chain about actually cooking at sea, can you give me an idea of what you think is missing, especially those things that would be of particular help to you. I have spent many, many years cooking at sea, a lot of it for paying guests or crew, and I will be happy to share any insights that have come my way. I'm also into sharing some quick-and-easy recipes if that's your pleasure. Just let me know.

Fair winds,

Lost In Translation!

I just received an email from a fellow sailor who gave me his recipe for a "Yellow Bird" cocktail. His description read as follows: "into a glass, pour a shot or jigger of rum as desired, and one tablespoon banana liqueur. Fill remainder of glass with canned orange-grapefruit juice."

I asked him where he got the recipe and he said "from a sailing cook book." I asked him if he would like to have the authentic recipe for the Jamaican Yellow Bird cocktail, and he asked if it was substantially different from the one he had just given me. I replied, "As different as swiss cheese from Parmesan cheese." And I asked him to call or email me once he had tried the authentic version and let me know what he thought.

For anyone interested in stirring up sweet memories of steel band music and Rasta Jamaica, here's your ticket to paradise:

3/4 cup white rum ( I like Bacardi)
3/4 cup fresh orange juice
1/2 cup Galliano banana liqueur
1/4 cup apricot brandy
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Garnish glass rim with slice of lime, lemon, or orange

Mix ingredients together in a pitcher, then fill a tall glass halfway with crushed ice and pour in cocktail.

Now, THAT'S a Yellow Bird!

Fair winds,

More than one of those and I'll be seeing Yellow Birds flying around my head.

Sounds like a sure winner in a cocktail contest.

s/v EmmieLou (Oday 322)
Little Silver, NJ
Hey, Pete!

That recipe for an authentic Jamaican Yellow Tail has been around for a long time. I wouldn't want you to think that was my own creation. But I've mixed it enough for my charter guests to tell you that is a winner every time!

Another of my favorites is the Hemingway Daquiri. The following is the original recipe created at the Floridita Bar in Havana, where "Papa" hung out. It, too, is a smasher! Here it is:

1 1/2 oz. rum (Bacardi Light is best)
1/4 oz. maraschino liqueur
3/4 oz. simple syrup
1/2 oz. freshly-squeezed grapefruit juice
3/4 oz. freshly-squeezed lime juice

Combine and shake ingredients in an iced shaker until well-mixed and frosty, then strain into a chilled cocktail glass.




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