Real-Life Galley Storage

So what does galley storage really look like? A reader asked if I’d be willing to post photos of the inside of my lockers and cupboards so she could get a better feel for how storage really worked in a galley.

Sure, I can do that! Here’s a tour of my current setup, as it really is. No special straightening or cleaning. Obviously, every boat is different and every person will arrange things differently even on the same boat. But if you’ve never lived on a boat, it can be hard to visualize just how you’ll fit things in.

First, the layout of our boat with galley storage spaces marked. I’ll refer to the numbers here in my descriptions of the photos. Links in the descriptions go to articles I’ve written about specific items.

What do galley storage areas on a boat look like in real life? A photo tour of the lockers on our boat just as they really are!

Storage area 1: Just inside the cockpit door is a low seat with storage inside (on later Geminis, this houses the air conditioning system). It’s top loading. Right now, it’s not full . . .

What do galley storage areas on a boat look like in real life? A photo tour of the lockers on our boat just as they really are!

Storage area 2: A wall-mounted shelf unit with a large but shallow drawer underneath. When we get underway, I do a better job of securing the small containers — the shock cords work well. Paper towels here and trash/recycling bags underneath.
What do galley storage areas on a boat look like in real life? A photo tour of the lockers on our boat just as they really are!

What do galley storage areas on a boat look like in real life? A photo tour of the lockers on our boat just as they really are!

Storage area 3: A previous owner removed the cushions from the aft cabin; our watermaker is under the bunk and the front area has to be kept open for us to get to the water maker controls — underway, the bins of bread and produce now on top of our storage drawers get placed down on the front. The shopping bag on top contains rags. The water jug is on the floor because our water maker is not plumbed into the tank — we put the hose in the jerry jug and then transfer the water into the tank via the deck fill.

We have less accessible (long-term) storage bins behind. I have to be careful not to put too much stuff here as catamarans are weight sensitive! I don’t show it in a photo, but I normally keep my shopping bags, dry bags and soft-sided provisioning cooler on top of the bins in the back.What do galley storage areas on a boat look like in real life? A photo tour of the lockers on our boat just as they really are!

Note: we do NOT use bottled water; what you see in the photo below is our emergency supply.

What do galley storage areas on a boat look like in real life? A photo tour of the lockers on our boat just as they really are!

Storage area 4: Shelved storage with drink cans below. A hanging “sock” for grocery bags. Fire blanket on top of the shelves. A bin held in place with Velcro to hold food storage containers (most of my Lock & Locks are in use, these are extras for leftovers).

What do galley storage areas on a boat look like in real life? A photo tour of the lockers on our boat just as they really are!

Storage area 5: Odd-shaped storage compartments with sliding doors above and below. First the two top areas.

What do galley storage areas on a boat look like in real life? A photo tour of the lockers on our boat just as they really are!

What do galley storage areas on a boat look like in real life? A photo tour of the lockers on our boat just as they really are!

The aft lower one has baking supplies and cereal in front, and baking pans behind (if I’m baking, I already have the flour and sugar out, so it’s easy to get to the pans behind). And yes, I do have a couple of glass pans because they fit in my odd-sized oven. In summer (high humidity) and when we’re on the move, I use plastic bags over the Gatorade, Nido, and bottles on the bottom shelf.

What do galley storage areas on a boat look like in real life? A photo tour of the lockers on our boat just as they really are!

What do galley storage areas on a boat look like in real life? A photo tour of the lockers on our boat just as they really are!

The forward area. In back is a bin for canned meats and I also store bags of dried beans, rice and so on, as well as my American Press coffeemaker, grilling tongs and our grilling sheet.

What do galley storage areas on a boat look like in real life? A photo tour of the lockers on our boat just as they really are!

What do galley storage areas on a boat look like in real life? A photo tour of the lockers on our boat just as they really are!

Storage area 6: All the way forward is a drawer for silverware. I keep a knife block on the counter (no, I wouldn’t do this on a monohull even at anchor; underway this gets laid down on our bed with a blanket around it so that knives can’t fall to the floor). Our drinking water filter and a second fire blanket are here.

There is a big top-loading storage area under the counter — this is my prime work space and dish drying area, so I use this for cleaning supplies instead of food. Actually, there is a lidded bin with some “hidden” snacks under the cleaning supplies that I fill when we are heading off on passage. It’s fun to have some extra treats!

Along the back of this counter is a very narrow shelf where I keep spices. Occasionally one falls into the sink underway, but that’s not a problem.

What do galley storage areas on a boat look like in real life? A photo tour of the lockers on our boat just as they really are!

What do galley storage areas on a boat look like in real life? A photo tour of the lockers on our boat just as they really are!

What do galley storage areas on a boat look like in real life? A photo tour of the lockers on our boat just as they really are!

Underway, everything on the counter gets put into the sink.

Storage area 7: A small drawer next to the stove. I use it for cooking utensils . . . and really need to get rid of a few more things that the previous owner left! Under the stove is a small cupboard where I keep my nesting pans (due to the way it’s configured, I can’t get a good photo inside).

What do galley storage areas on a boat look like in real life? A photo tour of the lockers on our boat just as they really are!Overall, it works pretty well. On our previous boat, a monohull, most of the food storage areas were under and behind the settees, so my arrangement was somewhat different.

In top-loading lockers, it really helps to label the tops of containers. In deep compartments, I’ve found that it works best to put long-term stocks in back or on the bottom, with smaller containers for use now in the easier to reach areas.

And one final note: I’ve never found the “perfect” arrangement. I periodically rearrange my storage areas as we change locales and may get foods in different packaging — or get different food, period — and as our tastes evolve over time. Or I may just get fed up with something being difficult to get to!

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34 Comments
  • Pamela Douglas Webster
    Posted at 17 February 2017 Reply

    Thanks. That was interesting.

    Do you know a monohull owner who might be willing to share pics for a future post? I’d volunteer but I haven’t yet made the most of my galley storage since I’m in the ICW and can shop every week or two. 🙂

    • Jo-Anne Mason
      Posted at 17 February 2017 Reply

      I would be happy to do that but first I want to fit plastic bins in our closet. We have an old boat not tons of storage but I am making the best of it.

    • The Boat Galley
      Posted at 17 February 2017 Reply

      Let me see if I can find one . . . anyone here willing to share pics? If so, I’ll make them into a similar post. Need them to be about 1000 to 1200 pixels wide (if larger, not a problem).

    • Rosalind Franks
      Posted at 17 February 2017 Reply

      I don’t mind sharing some pics. I’ll send them to you tomorrow

    • The Boat Galley
      Posted at 17 February 2017 Reply

      Many thanks — email to carolyn (at) the boat galley (dot) com (take the spaces out)

    • Rosalind Franks
      Posted at 17 February 2017 Reply

      The Boat Galley – will do

  • Jo-Anne Mason
    Posted at 17 February 2017 Reply

    Wow you have tons of storage I love it. I finally figured out the best way to store food in fridge, got some of those tall plastic food storage containers and put the same types of food in each. We have an old fashion in the hull fridge that is difficult to reach. Ice in a bin in the bottom so no leaks if we have a melt down. Working great so far.

    • The Boat Galley
      Posted at 17 February 2017 Reply

      My biggest problem now is not to use all that space in the aft cabin! It’s easy to stuff it full and weigh the boat down.

  • Terri Zorn
    Posted at 17 February 2017 Reply

    Thank you,thank you. You have no idea how helpful this will be,esp the photos. I just haven’t been able to get things “right”. You’ve shown some wonderful ideas.. #442

  • Michelle Rene
    Posted at 17 February 2017 Reply

    Love this post!

  • Joysealife.com
    Posted at 17 February 2017 Reply

    I think we get used to everything looking like Better Homes & Gardens. Nice to see you keeping it real!

    • The Boat Galley
      Posted at 17 February 2017 Reply

      Thanks. I notice so many pics that cannot possibly be of a boat that’s actually being used. But it was a reader who asked for it, so I can’t take credit for the idea.

  • Betina Lange
    Posted at 17 February 2017 Reply

    I know this has little to do with storage, but how come your water maker isn’t plummed into your tank?

    • Carolyn Shearlock
      Posted at 17 February 2017 Reply

      Previous owner did it that way, and it’s Katadyn’s recommendation so that you don’t accidentally get bad water into the tank. We’ve talked about plumbing it in, but it just hasn’t come to the top of the priority list!

  • Kristine
    Posted at 17 February 2017 Reply

    Fire blankets? Does everyone carry them except us? Are they for the obvious or some other use?

    • Carolyn Shearlock
      Posted at 17 February 2017 Reply

      Fire blankets often extinguish kitchen fires faster than a fire extinguisher and with a lot less mess. See my post: https://theboatgalley.com/fire-blanket/

      • cyndy carter
        Posted at 03 March 2017 Reply

        You can also use a fire blanket to lay across a blazing hot engine to close a through hull or tape up a leaky exhaust elbow or other emergency repair (quick and dirty until that engine cools down!)
        You can also wrap a person who’s clothing has caught fire and put it out FAST. It’s very difficult to “stop, drop, and roll” in a 2 1/2 by 3 galley.
        As a redhead with very tender skin…. lots of uses! I only have one but 2 might be a good idea!
        You may have covered all these things in your article but since I just 2 minutes ago made an amazon order that I linked thru the boat galley… including a new heat blanket…. LOL

  • Lori Steinbrunner
    Posted at 18 February 2017 Reply

    Great post. Especially being a fellow Gem owner, it’s always nice to see how others use the same (or similar) space.

    • The Boat Galley
      Posted at 18 February 2017 Reply

      There’s no one way, is there? And even my arrangement has changed over time . . .

  • Dona Cantwell
    Posted at 18 February 2017 Reply

    We find rearranging the galley is a constant shuffle. What seemed to work, eventually we find isn’t quite right. Still working and not cruising yet, we’re hoping to add storage in our galley steps. Has anyone done this yet?

    • Carolyn Shearlock
      Posted at 18 February 2017 Reply

      I’ve met several people who have done this (it wouldn’t have worked on our previous boat as the steps exactly covered the engine). Basically, they’ve made the step so it’s on a hinge and opens upward.

  • Tory Fine
    Posted at 18 February 2017 Reply

    Wow it’s good to see this just to confirm we can’t possibly complete the typical provisioning lists with the room our boat provides, lol. It’s always boggled my mind when people come back with 3 carts of food as to where it would go! We have a 37 foot monohull and two cubbies behind our settee and a top loading fridge to store food. Maybe an eighth of the storage you have here. That’s it. But we’ve still done almost 2000 miles of cruising so it’s so true that you can cruise with any size boat if you plan accordingly!

    • The Boat Galley
      Posted at 18 February 2017 Reply

      I actually was able to put MORE food on our 37-foot monohull — or at least more heavy cans. A previous owner had done some carpentry to make the under-settee areas into large lockers instead of small drawers (they glued the drawer fronts and cut access panels in the top under the cushions). And we used about half the quarterberth for bins with drink cans.

    • Tory Fine
      Posted at 18 February 2017 Reply

      The Boat Galley wow, crazy! It’s amazing what space efficiency some boats have!

    • The Boat Galley
      Posted at 19 February 2017 Reply

      Actually, I think it’s a case of knowing how far it is to the next provisioning stop. I suddenly found more places to store stuff on this boat when we went to the Bahamas, and on the previous boat when we went to the Sea of Cortez . . . in both , we wanted to be able to go at least 3 weeks before restocking.

  • Julia Weeks
    Posted at 21 February 2017 Reply

    Thank you so much for sharing this info – especially the photos. We have an older cat also – Richard Woods, and have been trying to figure out the best way to store provisions for longer hauls. I really like the way you turned the aft bunk into a pantry. I’m thinking of doing this as well and adding some plastic storage bins with drawers like you have done. I think that would make great use of a space that we rarely use, other than a catchall.

  • Julie OFlaherty
    Posted at 21 February 2017 Reply

    Hi Carolyn,
    I have learned a lot from your website and emails. I am not a boater, but an Airstream camper owner.
    I can recommend another great and inexpensive container for storage when ventilation of the contents is not a concern.

    It is the bins designed to hold ice cubes in the door of a refrigerator. The cheaper ones from Big Lots are better than the more expensive ones, because they are a bit more flexible, and I have even trimmed the ends at the top to get them to fit just right in smaller areas.

    I use them in several areas of our camper. They are good because they are narrow to fit in a lot of areas, but have fairly high sides to keep things from falling over. Great to hold spice bottles, coffee filters and a collapsible cone filter holder, CDs and DVDs in jewel cases, shampoo bottles in the bathroom, The solid bottoms contain any spills, and they hold a lot without taking a lot of room.

    Just wanted to pass this along, as I appreciate all of the tips I have gotten from you.

    • Carolyn Shearlock
      Posted at 21 February 2017 Reply

      Thanks so much! There are a lot of similarities between boats and RVs — my parents had an Airstream Argosy back in the late 70’s and early 80’s.

  • Amy
    Posted at 22 February 2017 Reply

    I’m very jealous. We are moving on board our Gemini in July with 2 of our teenage sons. No port berth to use as a pantry and more stuff to store!

  • LeslieByrne
    Posted at 23 February 2017 Reply

    We live on a 48 Selene trawler. Sailboats have way more storage.

    • Carolyn Shearlock
      Posted at 23 February 2017 Reply

      And I’ve always been jealous of the space when I step on a friend’s trawler . . .

  • Coleen
    Posted at 25 February 2017 Reply

    I found an inexpensive wire 3-shelf horizontal rack at Walmart. The wire shelves slope toward the front. Load a shelf with cans of same size (I typically buy canned tomatoes, broth, etc. in 14.5 oz size), Cans roll down–easy to remove the one in front. New provisions load from the back. No more “losing” older stock with earlier sell-by dates underneath or behind newer stock. Depending on your boat’s configuration, you may need to set it sideways.
    Wire rack can storage

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