Making Space in the Galley

One of the things I’ve been doing on our new-to-us boat is considering what of the previous owner’s galley gear I want to keep and setting the rest out as giveaways.

The galley only has two fairly short drawers, yet almost all the tools left aboard are longer than will fit in them! In addition to being long, they’re just plain large . . . and tend to be single purpose. That’s doubly bad! Two lessons from this: measure your storage space before buying anything, and never have anything that’s not at least dual-purpose unless it’s something you just can’t live without.

I brought one of my favorite tools with me – the Orka Silicone Spoon/Spatula (the blue item at right). I’ve written about it before; you can buy it here on Amazon.

Not only do I find it to be a great all-around tool in the galley, it’s short enough to fit in my drawers and you can see how much less space it takes than the nylon tools that the previous owner had.

I can live without a special pasta serving tool. My measuring scoops can double as a soup ladles. And I prefer the spoon/spatula to a big spoon like that in the photo.

When we first got aboard, I found a mishmash of galley tools stuck everywhere in the drawers and all the galley (and near-galley!) lockers. I’ve been pretty ruthless in culling it – seriously, who needs three sharpening steels for knives?  Or seven paring knives (none good). Admittedly, I’ve added back a few of my own (smaller) favorites. And I’ve discovered a couple things that I still need to get, such as metal spatula.

Maybe there’s a bit of hoarder in me – it was hard to take an armful of items down to the giveaway area in the yard. I mean, this is stuff that’s mine and I’m just getting rid of it?

But now everything fits in the drawers – with space to spare – and I can actually find what I’m looking for. And I have some empty locker space to put “missing” items like a Thermos, a can opener, a mixing bowl and the all-important corkscrew.

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  • S/V Dos Libras
    Posted at 08 October 2014 Reply

    I put cheap shower curtain hangers through the holes in the handles on my utensils and hung them on two cup hooks in the corner. They don’t swing around there and they don’t fly off. The shower curtain hangers have lasted almost two years and counting and I love having them all hanging in one place and more space in my drawers

  • Jane Gammon
    Posted at 08 October 2014 Reply

    I have a cylindrical vase secured in the corner of my pot locker for tools like the pasta server. Works well for us.

  • Waterwoman
    Posted at 08 October 2014 Reply

    Carolyn, sounds like you are getting very organized. I have that silicone spatula and really like it. Yeah, it is hard to get rid of stuff, but think how happy you are making someone that really needs it!

    I made a “shoe” bag thingy out of terry cloth with a sleeve for a line to hang it in an out of the way area by the companion way in the galley. It wouln’t work for some, but it holds tools I don’t have room for the the drawer/s like potato masher (multi uses), tongs, chopsticks, (and those come in handy many times and not for eating, extra trash bags, etc. I made the pockets different sizes so that most anything could fit in them, it served us well while cruising Mexico for six seasons. I also made one for the head to hold extra stuff, but would have to take it down and stow it on passages due to the banging. The terry cloth washes easily when soiled.

    Dos Libras idea was genius also!

  • Barbara Lowell
    Posted at 09 October 2014 Reply

    Carolyn, I am curious as to why you would not just take with you all the stuff you love from your previous boat? Why would you want someone else’s when you are so honed in your lifestyle and such a good product buyer and organizer? Do you have to sell a complete working boat so you sold your stuff? I’m not a boater, just live in a tiny house and love all the ideas you and commenters share.

    • Carolyn Shearlock
      Posted at 09 October 2014 Reply

      Hi Barbara!

      We sold our previous boat several years ago in Mexico — and yes, I left most things on it as it just wasn’t cost effective to bring it all back to the US with us. Also, with a different boat, different things fit in some cases. I brought some things with me, am using some things the previous owner left, and buying some new things to fit the new boat.

  • Cathy / ORION
    Posted at 09 October 2014 Reply

    Hi Carolyn!
    We too are cruising on a “Cat”, based out of La Paz, MX. I have become a huge fan of the collapsible bowls / tools for the galley, manufactured by Progressive.
    Not only do they help with efficient storage, but they have been very clever with their designs. Check out the collapsible salad spinner!
    Have fun getting your “Cat” ready to cruise…

  • Louise
    Posted at 14 October 2014 Reply

    I love the feeling of getting rid of the stuff that doesn’t fit properly in a drawer. Afterwards, the drawer is so much neater and spacious! Ahhhhhhh….

    Hm, think I’ll go clean out our “junk” drawer.

  • Dave Skolnick (S/V Auspicious)
    Posted at 09 January 2018 Reply


    This is a great topic. I suggest that anyone go through their galley and make piles for “tools” and “gadgets.” Gadgets go.

    Basics for me are three or four spatulas, a big spoon (more volume than the nylon one you list although that would count as a spatuala for me), a real ladle that holds at least 1/2 cup, and two or three pairs of locking tongs. The new can openers that leave a clean edge that won’t cut are great. A peeler (maybe two) and a corer. A spider.

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