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Galley Advice from

Diana Simon S/V Roger Henry - Long-Distance Cruiser

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Cruising World contributors and authors of the book North to the Night, Diana and her husband Alvah are world adventurers aboard a 36 foot steel cutter.

Provisioning aboard Roger Henry

About Diana Simon

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

Good lighting, ventilation, sufficient counter space and a well functioning stove are a plus for an efficient galley.

Check the safety issues of the galley also, a fire onboard is extremely dangerous, making quick and easy access to a fire extinguisher and fire blanket very important. Marine stoves are generally small so ensure pots, pans and ovenware fit efficiently and fiddles secure them safely. My galley runs fore and aft, therefore in heavy weather I am open to being tossed amidships. To prevent this I run a detachable retainer strap across the galley bench top to keep me in position while cooking.

Focus on simplifying your requirements; that is, leave behind the fine china, the complex and power hungry gadgets and those ‘once in a blue moon' utensils. However to avoid that camping out ‘afloat' feeling, with careful consideration some home comforts should make it aboard. Eg, my tableware is sensible Corelle, but I do have my favorite ceramic tea mugs in tow and wine glasses too.

When provisioning for a passage, include variety and options to enhance recipes and have a happy crew. Eg herbs & spices not tried before or specialty grains like buckwheat, couscous and quinoa. Always check expiry dates of products. Inventory provisions and list their storage places. Most-used items should be readily accessible and I always have measuring cups or spoons already in containers, for easy measuring.

Just prior to departure I will:

1) Prepare several meals and extra baking.

2) Make up a variety of bouillon, garlic, spice and herb mixes, for easy and tasty addition to rough weather meals.

3) Ensure plenty of snack food is at hand eg dry fruit, nuts, granola bars, cookies, crackers and cheese.

4) For a satisfying change from regular tea & coffee, have a variety of instant soups & herb teas at hand.

5) Stuff the coffers with guilt free chocolate.


What is the best aspect of cooking aboard?

After making landfall, cooking in a snug harbor becomes a luxury and a celebration.

Diana shops the local markets for exotic delights

At each new port, to expand my culinary horizons, I always head straight to the nearest market to see what exotic delights await me.

Be willing to take recipe ‘risks' using ingredients on hand and if the recipe doesn't work out, just change the name.
Eg: inappropriately spiced Hungarian Goulash could become Spicy Samoan Beef


What is the most challenging aspect of cooking aboard?

The Roger Henry is quite a lively boat at sea so cooking underway on a 25-degree heel can be challenging.
When necessary, for safety and ease, we may reef down during cooking and dining.

Continually making one pot wonders wonderful while making passage requires lots of imagination. That's where my previously prepared spice & herb packages come in handy. When heavy weather threatens, Alvah prepares decks & sails etc, and I immediately cook a large pot of food, heat water for the press pot, have plenty of snacks at hand and stow all loose items.


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

  • adaptability

  • creativity

  • imagination

  • a willingness to try the unknown

  • and of course sharp knives




  • knife sharpener - keep knives well honed to fillet fish etc
  • pressure cooker - great for cooking one pot wonders underway, big enough for steaming lobster & mussels etc and for me essential for chutney making
  • wok - ideal for quick oriental meals
  • double steamer - healthy vegetables
  • 1.5 liter press pot - fuel saver by providing hot water for beverages & soups

Worth considering:
sprouting jar, lime or lemon press/squeezer, yogurt maker, immersion hand blender, canning jars


What items can you
easily do without?

This depends a tremendous amount on your storage space and ships power capacity.

With a relatively small battery bank and without a large inverter or a generator onboard: I have no electrical appliances like a toaster, coffee bean grinder, blender, or bread maker.

Cruising teaches you to improvise and to adapt. Eg I use a tea cloth instead of a bulky salad spinner, a camping toaster, a hand coffee mill and make bread from ‘scratch'.

I recommend avoiding unnecessary duplication of utensils, pots, pans and dishes. Many items onboard Roger Henry serve double duty eg my pizza pans also serve as cookie trays.

What items are
hard to find once cruising?

On our most recent cruise (2008), New Zealand to Alaska via Japan we were surprised at the availability of produce even in the remote eastern Solomon Islands. Local islanders were growing ‘familiar' fresh vegetables for the Eco tourist lodges.

  • spare parts – carry spare part catalogues/web sites to enable you to keep any galley gadgets maintained.

  • LPG tank adaptors compatible with foreign refilling systems. We had difficulties in both New Caledonia and Japan.

  • canning jars & high quality can-openers, baking paper, Ziploc bags

  • herbs and spices are sometimes limited to the very basics. However they go stale so I buy many small jars rather than one large. (Or vacuum seal small quantities and stow in a dark place)

  • gourmet and specialty foods eg olive oil, capers, sprouting seeds for salads, canned butter, cheeses.


Can you describe your galley layout?

Back from the market
Cooking in a snug harbor becomes a luxury and a celebration.

All preparation is made on a 2ft x 2ft counter space, augmented by a small drop-leaf table.

A deep sink provides ample dish washing space and is great for securing hot pots while underway. Foot pumps provide salt & fresh water.

A 2 burner gimbaled stove with oven completes the picture.

I have onboard

  • a tea kettle, 1 deep-sided fry pan, 1 small breakfast fry pan, 1 mid sized pot with steamer, 1 small pot, 1 deep-sided baking dish (good for either cakes, lasagna or casseroles), 1 pie dish and several pizza trays which second as cookie sheets, muffin tins, 2 bread pans and a wok.

  • I also have a 4 liter pressure-cooker, used mostly underway; its locking lid provides security from hot food spills. It is large enough to cook shellfish and lobster and I also use it to make chutneys.

  • also onboard, 2 nesting mixing bowls, a measuring jug, a press pot for hot water, a thermal coffee press, grater, garlic press, lemon squeezer, a table setting for six with extra serving and snack dishes completes the list.


We have a small 12-volt refrigerator. A collapsible Pyramid BBQ, suitable for taking ashore along with a ready-to-go beach kit containing plastic plates & glasses, utensils and seasoning. Forward I have 4 large sliding wire baskets. These are a great asset for stowing fresh produce and often-used products.


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


Onboard Roger Henry being underway and at anchor are 2 different chapters.

Although no rigid regime is adhered to, I cook and do most of the galley work at sea.

  • as I usually do the ‘dog watch', (2am–6am), for breakfast if the weather is fine I may bake muffins or quick bread.

  • otherwise, to maximize rest time, it's help yourself to, leftovers, fruit, or bread & cheese. Lunch is also a casual affair, usually soup and crackers or sandwiches.

  • however dinner is more formal, we both sacrifice an hour of our respective watches to enjoy an evening meal together. Dinner usually consists of one of 5 basic starches/grains with a variety of tried and true protein toppings served in a large bowl to avoid spills. Weather permitting it is often eaten in the cockpit.

Division of labor can become an issue onboard however I am fortunate, I have a captain who likes to cook, and so at anchor we share the galley chores. Candlelight, flowers & table mats always make a pleasant change from underway one-pot-wonders balanced on your knee.

What cookbook do you recommend?

I have onboard


About Diana Simon

Diana Simon

In 1983, after many years traveling the world Diana met sailor and adventurer Alvah Simon. Together they have sailed about 50,000 miles on two different boats, circumnavigating on Zenie P11 & sailing the high latitudes on Roger Henry. They both write for Cruising World and Diana also provides the photographs. Their book North to the Night was published in 1996, and Diana and Alvahwere the subject of a Travel Channel/Discovery documentary called, To Survive, in Panama in 2000.


The Roger Henry, is a French 36ft Damien IV, steel cutter, built in 1983.

Cruising grounds

Worldwide. Most recently Diana and Alvah sailed from New Zealand to Alaska via New Caledonia, Eastern Solomons, Vanuatu, Micronesia, Guam, Japan, and the Aleutian Islands.


An essay account of their most recent voyage (New Zealand to Alaska via Japan) may be found on the Cruising World web site on the Alvah Simon Blog, which Diana contributes photographs, input & editing.

Their book, North to the Night, relating a year spent onboard in the Canadian Arctic, may be found in paperback published by Broadway Books (Random House) or on www.amazon.com.

Diana Simon 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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