One Sink or Two?

By Carolyn Shearlock © 2013 • all rights reserved

Double sinkShould a galley have a double sink or just a single bowl?  That’s a question that I frequently see in cruising and boat-buying forums.  Boat listings often play up that a boat has a double sink in the galley.  But is it really that big of deal?

Supposedly, the advantage of a double sink is that you need less water for dishes.  On a couple of boat-buying forums, I’ve seen people who are looking at boats with a single sink say that they can use a dishpan.  I can’t imagine finding space to store a dishpan where it wasn’t a pain to get out every time you did dishes.

The reality is that I know few people who actually fill anything as large as a sink or a dishpan with water when washing dishes.  You just don’t need to.

  • For just a few not-real-gunky items, you can just put a little dish soap on a damp dish cloth, wash and rinse.
  • If you have several items, put a little water in a dirty coffee mug or small bowl and add a bit of soap.  Stick your dishrag in the soapy water as needed.
  • For gunky pans, put an inch or so of water in the pan and add a bit of soap.  Use this as your “dish pan” and rinse other dishes over it so that the rinse water helps to soak the pan.  When everything else is done, wash out the gunky pan, which will have had a nice soak by now.

Bottom line:  Despite all the experts saying that double sinks are almost mandatory in a galley, I disagree.  I don’t think it really matters, with one caveat:  whatever sink you have, make sure that your pans and plates will fit in it.

This was my big gripe with the double sink on Que Tal:  the two halves were so small that I couldn’t put a plate in the sink, even diagonally on edge!  Changing to a single bowl sink was one of the first upgrades we did (read the story here).

All that said, if you’re looking at boats and otherwise love one but the sink is too small, does that mean that you should pass on it?  I wouldn’t.  No boat is going to be perfect for you as is.  Changing the sink (assuming there is space for a larger one; making a double into a single usually doesn’t take any extra space) is one of the least expensive upgrades you can do — much less than electronics, canvas, upholstery, dinghy, ground tackle, engine work, new sails or even just re-doing brightwork.

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  1. Jim Shell says:

    We use a plastic tub used for hospital inpatients inside our large single sink. It lives in the large sink most of the time. Our plates and most of our pans fit in the tub. We consider the main sink as contaminated and don’t want our washwater there. I once considered a double sink an asset, but now we have a system that works well.

  2. Debbie Wasserman says:

    I love the double sink on my boat. Both are large enough to fit my dishes and pans so I fitted one side with the in-sink dish drainer you suggested. My drying dishes are out of the way and save precious counter space.

  3. We love the double sink in our boat. One used for cleaning and the other for drying…

    Cheers and good winds!

  4. I’ve always had a double sink wiith each sink large enough for our plates (!which were bought for the boat – fish shaped – so kind of oblong – which helps them fit). I have a slight preference for the double sink because thy are smaller (though large enough) – and when we’re underway – I end up storing things in one of them.

    One thing that helps make a small sink somewhat more acceptable is a faucet that goes up pretty high. That way you can fit a pot under it – to fill with water for boiling spaghetti noodles, for example. You can also fit a piece of clear tubing on it which gives you more flexibility in where the water goes.

  5. First upgrade we did on both our Ericson 35 and our Caliber 40 was to either increase the size of the single sink or swap out the double for a single. A faucet with a pull down sprayer is also a good addition.

  6. Brenda Harbottle says:

    I love our single sink. I have a plastic dish dryer that completely flattens for storage that we bought at RV World that I use and move over the sink when the dishes are washed. I’d rather have the counter space for prepping and cooking and holding cocktail stuff in the evenings. (We have a tiny ’76 Catalina 30). The double sinks look cool but I don’t think I would use both enough to warrant it.

  7. Love my single bowl!

  8. Single is best for me! Collapsible dish drainer is great, also.

  9. I like my double sink simply because I can leave dirty dishes on one side & soapy ones in the other while I rinse them, but it’s not a crucial detail. I agree on the collapsible dish rack, I got a bamboo one at TJ Maxx for $10, looks great & easy to fold up & stow when underway.

  10. I have loved the double sinks on both our Seafarer, and now our Caliber. I use one sink to wash (I never fill a sink with water to wash, but rather use the water-conserving measures you describe in this article) and one to (air) dry. I leave the clean, drying dishes in the second sink, with a dish towel draped over them for a neater look until I have time to put them away. But, more than that, the nice deep sinks in the Caliber are perfect for holding things that could spill or crash while underway. I sit my thermos coffeepot with melitta filter in one sink while it drips, underway or not. If I am down below getting a meal ready, while heeled, placing various items I’m using in the empty sink keeps them secure and close at hand, avoiding a mess. I value double sinks in any house I live in, as well as on my boat. I think a single sink on a boat could quite possibly be a deal-breaker for me, because I really love my double sinks and use them all the time.

  11. One large sink for me after having double sink in sailboat for 17 years….dishes didn’t fit, pots didn’t fit….I gladly use a dish pan in my big sink and am able to wash everything I need….and I can even clean a fish in the big one!!!

  12. One to wash, one to rinse.

  13. Two reasonable size deep sinks in my trawler cat. My square Corelle dishes are a perfect match! Best purchase ever.

  14. In theory, two. In reality, I have seen few boats w large enough double sinks to be able to make good use of them. I went w the largest single I could when I remodeled my galley. I love it.

  15. One! I have double sink on a 40′ with decent sized galley. Nothing fits. Next boat will have one or I will retrofit.

  16. boat or not, double sinks are best for me. More options.

  17. I love my double sink. Smaller side on the left for washing and bigger on the right for rinsing. Also good for keeping everyone’s cups corralled while under sail. Any spills are no big deal.

  18. I like deep sinks, they can hold a coffee thermos on a 20 degree heel without rattling around and they don’t spill in ruff running.

  19. We are on a cat, and my one large deep sink is perfect. I use dish pan to wash, rinse on side. All my kitchen counter things ( like olive oil) go in the sink when weather picks up. Double sinks are nice IF large enough, which I have only seen on much larger boats.

  20. Trish Draze says:

    I have a double sink and I absolutely hate it….I will change it to a single when we decide to update the counter top. It is too small….barely lunch plate size across. Drives me crazy when trying to clean..constantly bumping the sides, the faucet, water goes everywhere.

    If we had a larger boat then it might be different but we don’t so time to modify and make practical.

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