Galley Tips! Water, sinks, and dishes...oh my

Updated: May 9

While washing the dishes the other day, it occurred to me that maybe I had some useful tips for the cruising sailboat-galley. So I thought I’d do a quick little write up to share some of our experiences in the galley and what little changes have made our lives easier. But first let me give you a quick idea of our current set up.

Right now we have one large sink in the galley, and we’ve set up 3 faucets. Two faucets give fresh water; one is a manual hand pump and the other is a faucet that’s fed front he water-pressure pump. The third is actually more of a sprayer, and pumps out saltwater.

Excuse the messiness...

Plumb saltwater straight to your galley sink!

We’ve loved this set up since we installed it in 2020, and I would recommend a saltwater option in your galley sink to help cut down freshwater use while underway, or in general!

In 2019 when we first purchased this boat and sailed it to Hawaii, our home base at the time, we did not have a saltwater option plumped to the sink. We left the west coast for Hawaii with the bare essentials - as much fresh water as we could hold (4 x 50gallon water bladders), as much fuel as we could hold for the engine, gas for the generator, sufficient energy to run our fridge and navigation system, a repaired rig, and functional sails. At that time, we were on a delivery, and couldn’t take our time to slowly fix up the boat and then head over. We sailed the crossing as a crew of 4, 3 experienced sailors and one greenhorn. Oh yeah, and I was 7 months pregnant at the time as well.

Water conservation is essential on a boat, as in life, and we would often dip buckets into the ocean while underway and use that “clean” saltwater to wash dishes. We’d then give the dishes a quick rinse with fresh water, or just dry them off right then and there, and voila!

Having a saltwater option plumbed right to the sink in 2020 for our South Pacific crossing was such a convenience on everyone! Not only was it easy to wash dishes, but we also didn’t need to worry about crew having any overboard accidents while trying to pull up a 4 gallon bucket of ocean water while fighting the forward momentum of the boat. We also had a much more turbulent crossing in 2020 than we did in 2019, and bucketing water wouldn’t have even been feasible.

Mainstays plates, bowls, and cups! Thank you, Walmart...

Okay, I know for some people these might be too tacky. But let me tell you, if you’re washing with saltwater all the time, you’re going to want plastic dishes! Yeah, we rinse our dishes with fresh water, but eventually salt gets into the metals and rusts. It’s inevitable when living on the sea, the air has salt in it!

“Well, what about glass or that nicer hard plastic?”

Glass- please just don’t. If you absolutely need glass in your life, at least do yourself a favor and lock it away during passages. At anchor, glass is a fine option, though even at anchor or docked there can always be an unsuspected wake that throws your precious glass cup to the floor!

And as for the melamine plastic. What I’ve found with these types of plastic is that they don’t hold up well over time if they experience accidents. We had a lovely nautical themed dinnerware set in this type of plastic, and within a year or so all the handles to the coffee cups broke off. It’s frustrating really, because they look so nice and seem so sturdy, but they aren’t nearly as hearty as these cheap mainstay sets.

Another great thing about these dishes is they’re microwave safe! And yes, I said microwave... We kept some luxuries for those times when we’re running the generator to charge the battery bank and just need to have a plate of microwaved nachos... I speak mostly for myself here, haha!

Consider alternative sink options to stainless.

Salt water....we always come back to its unavoidable corrosive properties. We are looking into composite sinks right now so we needn’t worry about the repetitive saltwater usage on the sink. I guess if you decide to keep a stainless sink, one thing you could do to try and prolong its life, aside from rinsing with fresh water and wiping it down with religiously, is waxing it! If you decide on this route, it’ll surely become a part of your regular maintenance list, but it might be worth it if you just gotta have a beautiful stainless sink.

Here is an example of a composite sink. FIY, there are multiple color options for composite sinks!