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Galley Advice from

Heather Stockard S/V Legacy - Coastal Cruiser and Island Hopper

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The author of A Cruising Cook's Guide to Mexico, Heather and her husband have sailed from Alaska to Ecuador and beyond aboard their Saga 43.
I find that cooking aboard is a pleasure, not a chore.

About Heather Stockard

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

When setting up your galley and provisioning your boat, I think that it's very important to consider where you will be cruising and the type of cruising that you expect to do. Provisioning for and cooking on an ocean passage is quite different from the type of cooking and provisioning that you will do when coastal cruising.

Also, don't expect that you will radically change how you eat just because you're going cruising. If you enjoy steak and potatoes, don't expect to be happy with a cruising diet of rice and beans. Figure out how to modify the foods you like so that you can prepare them in your galley.

Also, consider the impact of climate on how you cook and eat. If you are headed to exceptionally hot areas, such as southern Mexico and Central America, you likely won't eat as much or have much interest in standing over a hot stove. Think about including heat-saving additions such as a microwave oven and, of course, a good barbecue grill.


What is the best aspect of cooking aboard?

The luxury of time to enjoy preparing, serving, and eating meals.

Buying fresh fish and shellfish directly from local
fishermen is another pleasure of cruising.

When we were working ashore, we would quickly throw together and eat a meal before getting on with our busy schedule.

Now I think about what to prepare for dinner in the morning, so I can get ingredients out to thaw, and can complete some prep work during quiet moments throughout the day. I find that cooking aboard is a pleasure, not a chore.






What is the most challenging aspect of cooking aboard?

The heat.

I've found a number of coping strategies including using the microwave, rice cooker, and BBQ. I also prepare meals that can be cooked in the cooler morning hours and refrigerated until dinner.


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

the microwave oven

I use the microwave to warm up meals on passages, heat water to activate yeast, warm tortillas, defrost meat, and melt butter.

a small electric rice cooker

Our small electric rice cooker holds 3 cups of uncooked rice and is small enough to run on the inverter. It's a great way to prepare a side dish without adding much heat to the cabin.

a vacuum sealer

My vacuum sealer gets frequent use, preparing meat and other items for the freezer. We also used it to seal important papers and supplies that we packed into our liferaft and ditch bag.


a good instant-read digital thermometer

A good instant-read thermometer makes it easy to ensure proper water temperature for yeast, as well as checking foods for doneness when grilling or roasting.

a set of good knives

In boat galleys, you may be working under adverse conditions or in limited space. It's important to have sharp, well-maintained knives to allow you to work safely and efficiently under poor conditions.


What items can you easily do without?

About the only item aboard Legacy that I could have left behind is

the pressure cooker.

It has seen little use over the past 6 years. We love using it for stews and other long-cooked dishes, but we find that we don't eat those foods often in the tropics.


What items are hard to find once cruising?

There are several hard-to-find items that I like to bring from the U.S. to wherever we are cruising.

  • one is the shelf-stable, precooked microwave bacon that is sometimes found at Costco, or other warehouse stores. It minimizes the mess and allows us to enjoy a couple of slices of bacon anytime we please.

  • in cruising areas, nuts are often expensive or hard to find. I like to carry warehouse store bags of walnuts, cashews, almonds, and pistachios for baking and snacking.

  • Ziploc freezer bags in quart and gallon sizes are another essential aboard, though in recent years they have become more widely available outside the U.S. I wash and re-use the freezer bags to make my supply last longer.

  • canned diced green chiles are another item I bring from the U.S. I was surprised to find that they are unavailable in Mexico and other Latin American countries.

  • lastly, I always find room for a few small holiday items. Consider bringing along whatever holiday foods are most important to you: cranberry sauce, canned pumpkin for pie, canned ham, or specialty items.


Can you describe your galley layout?

Legacy is a Saga 43 monohull sailboat. She was built in St. Catherine's, Ontario and designed by Bob Perry. Bob likes to cook and is well known for including nice galleys on his boats. We describe Legacy's galley as the only “2-butt galley” that you'll find on a 40 – 45 foot sailboat.

The galley is a broad, shallow U-shape to starboard of the companionway stairs and includes a double sink, pressure water and freshwater foot pump, 3 burner stove with oven and broiler, refrigerator, freezer, and microwave. We have an inverter to operate 110-volt appliances.


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

It's nice to have a couple of pretty serving dishes aboard for cruiser potlucks.  These wooden bowls came from Zihuatenejo, Mexico.

When we moved aboard Legacy, we decided that we weren't willing to use plastic plates, flimsy flatware, and cheap pots and pans.

So, we bought nice stoneware for daily use. We bought 2 sets at the same time and have the spare items stashed in an inaccessible locker to replace broken pieces. We have a nice, sturdy set of stainless flatware and a good set of Calphalon cookware.

Except on passage, we generally have 2 or 3 sit-down meals a day, at a table set with cloth place mats and napkins. Of course, meals are more casual when we are underway.

While I have the primary responsibility for provisioning and meals, my husband Chris cooks as well. We generally trade off dishwashing and cleanup chores.


What cookbook do you recommend?

I carry several cookbooks aboard Legacy.

- for an all-purpose galley guide, I like Amanda Swan Neal's The Essential Galley Companion.

- for general reference, I carry the CD-ROM version of Joy of Cooking.

- and, of course, since it includes all my favorite recipes, my own book, A Cruising Cook's Guide to Mexico sees nearly daily use.


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

Shrimp Paella

from Heather Stockard

Serves: 4

½   lb. chorizo
1   tbsp olive oil
1   small onion, chopped
1   clove garlic, minced
1   can chicken broth
1   can diced tomatoes
  tsp cinnamon
  tsp saffron threads, crumbled (optional, but a very nice touch)
  cups rice
  lb. shrimp, shelled and deveined
  cup frozen peas, thawed
  • Remove the chorizo from its casing.
  • Over medium heat, cook the crumbled or diced chorizo, onion, and garlic in hot oil until sausage is browned and onion is tender, about 5 minutes.
  • Add broth, tomatoes and their liquid, cinnamon, saffron and rice.
  • Heat to boiling.
  • Cover and simmer 15 minutes.
  • Add shrimp and peas; simmer 5 minutes more.
  • Good served with crusty bread.

This is one of my favorite boat recipes.

It's so versatile that I almost always carry the ingredients aboard. It's a quick and easy, one-pot meal that is elegant enough to be my standard company dinner when dressed up with some nice, crusty bread and a bottle of wine.

It also works well as a make-ahead dish to reheat on passages.

Fish, other shellfish, or even chicken may be substituted for the shrimp.

Hard Spanish chorizo or other flavorful sausages can substitute for the Mexican chorizo.

18 Boat Recipes

About Heather Stockard

Heather Stockard

Heather and Chris Stockard, along with their 2 Portuguese Water Dogs, have cruised aboard their Saga 43 sailboat, Legacy, since 2003, traveling the Pacific Coast from Alaska to Ecuador. In 2009, they transited the Panama Canal to explore new oceans.

Heather is the author of A Cruising Cook's Guide to Mexico which is available from Seaworthy Publications or from Amazon.

You can read their blog and more information about their travels on Legacy's website, www.legacysailing.com.


[February 2009]

Coastal Cruisers and Island Hoppers
have more ready access to regional markets, and cook mostly at anchor

Ann Vanderhoof Heather Stockard Kathy
Mary Heckrotte Sylvie

Catamaran Cruisers
cook on boats that don't heel


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


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

Swan Neal