When is Galley Up or Galley Down Better? Woods Interview # 2

We talked with Richard Woods, catamaran designer and sailor, about galley up versus galley down. The main advice is to consider how you will actually live in the catamaran and what size salon you need. If you are considering staying small in terms of catamaran length, then galley up configurations can lead to numerous compromises you should be aware of.

Can you sit up, put your feet up, and read a book or watch TV?

Richard Woods on galley up leading to space restrictions in salon.

Please see his website for more information about him and to purchase plans to build Woods catamarans. This is the second in a series of interviews with Richard Woods. If you missed it, the first one was an introduction of Richard with his general thoughts about the current state of catamaran design. Please stay tuned for additional episodes with Richard as well as other designers, builders, and owners over the next few months.

Reasons For Galley Up

  • Common on larger catamarans (over 40-feet)
  • Great for chartering and entertaining with the connection between cockpit and bridgedeck area
  • Airy and open feeling galley with a view of everything happening unlike the dark enclosed feel of galley down.
  • When chartering you more often eat out for dinner than cook, so trade off of living area for party space is worthwhile.
  • Catamarans are getting bigger and bigger, and if your budget and capabilities allow you to purchase a large catamaran then space considerations may be a non-issue in the salon area. Plenty of space for galley and seating area.

Reasons For Galley Down

Catalac 12M Galley
  • Common on small catamarans (below 40 feet).
  • Also typically preferred for offshore catamarans where you are cooking in rough weather.
  • Less wasted floor space and more seating and lounging area for living aboard. Do not need as much passage room around cook.
  • Salon can be a very active place with kids, so you might want to separate hot stove top for safety and the chef’s sanity.
  • Less wasted space in the hull passageways allows for smaller length catamarans to have plenty of living area in salon.

It’s a kind of a strange phrase. Can you explain what we’re talking about with galley up versus galley down?

Yes it does sound strange doesn’t it. The galley down means having the galley in one of the hulls, and the galley up means having it on the bridge deck.

These days so many catamarans are built for charter trade, and they tend to be larger over 40 feet and that’s when galley on the bridge deck makes quite a lot of sense.

Then the smaller boats having the galley in the hull makes sense, and on offshore boats that are sailed regularly where you’re going to be day after day cooking at sea having the security of somewhere to wedge yourself against and lean back on one side and still be able to cook.

Does this come down to a personal taste thing or are there elements that we should really be looking at when we’re looking at galley up versus galley down?

Well as I’ve just said anything under about 40 feet and a galley up doesn’t work too well because you’ve got a limited space.

When you’ve got a galley up, you’ve got to have a passageway through across the boat so you can get past the cook and you can get down into the hull.

You end up with a lot of floor space which – when people aren’t actually walking on – is a waste of space. That’s one factor.

I’ve sailed on a number of boats with the galley up. I have done a lot of living on board with a galley up. When I did the Cape Town to Rio race which was on a Norseman 43, that had a galley up. And the Leopard 39 I sailed to the Bahamas last year had a galley up, but those two boats even though they were sort of the 40-foot or above mark, they had very limited saloon seating area.

For example and particularly on the Leopard 39, you could sleep eight people, but you could only sit two people in the salon. And neither of them comfortably.

Leopard 39 Galley / Salon Area

One of the things with a cruising boat is that, as opposed to a charter boat, you spend most of your time at anchor and with a charter boat you’re going to be going to sail from one harbour to the next one. Then you come in and you stop and to be honest usually you eat on shore if you can.

So you cook breakfast, coffee in the morning, and you might have lunch or lunch at sea which might be sandwiches.

You do very much less cooking than when you are living on board and the other thing is that you have a sort of a party atmosphere every night because you’re with your friends or family for just a couple of weeks which again is not something that you do when you’re living on board.

One of the things that I always ask is can you sit up, put your feet up, and read a book or watch TV? Watch a movie on your laptop screen.

And on that Leopard 39 you couldn’t do that at all because they had a galley up.

Leopard 39 Galley

If you’ve got the galley up instead of in the hull, what do you put in the hull instead?

Normally on the the charter boats you’re going to have at least one shower compartment if not two in each hull and then that nicely makes the four corners of the boat. Four separate bedrooms with ensuite heads.

But when you’ve got the galley up and you’re living on board a lot of the boats have basically a passageway from the front to the back and it seems such a waste of space.

The early Privileges were like that for example and you went down into a railway corridor and went forwards or back. And it seemed so pointless.

Passage with Galley Up on Privilege 435

So you’ve got to really think what you want to do with the boat and just because there’s a thousand Leopards, Lagoon 38s being built. Remember that 980 of them were built for chartering.

Lagoon 38 Galley

It is hard when you’re looking at about to really get a sense of how you’re going to use it, but you almost need to visualize if you’re a family having the kids run around while you’re trying to cook in a galley up and visualizing how homeschooling is going to occur at that same time when you’re trying to make food.

Any other reasons for galley up or galley down?

The other reason why galleys you traditionally were down in the hull is because you used to be on ocean passages you would navigate with a morning sight to noon site and an evening site which is exactly the same time as when you’re going to eat.

Gemini Galley Down

So you want to keep those procedures separate. But even now even though you’ve got a chart plotter and so on, you’re quite likely to be getting charts out and seeing where you’re going the next day and talking about it.

Again on the smaller boat when you haven’t got that much galley space. you use the saloon table as a worktop.

Some people really do want to socialize at all times, but regardless of any of that you end up with a smaller saloon with the galley up and big empty passageways, so the first thing to do really is say this is the saloon size I need to have four people sitting around able to have their own corner basically like their own armchair to sit in and watch TV together or that sort of thing like you would at home.

Then can the galley still fit in that space? And if you can’t then put it in the hull.

That’s a great way to wrap this up then. When looking at catamarans don’t just look at them but model how you’re going to live in it a little bit to make sure you you can make that layout work for yourself.

Diane Selkirk

By Diane Selkirk

I love to travel and have spent the past seven years sailing with my family aboard our 40 Woods Meander catamaran - traveling from B.C.'s north coast, to the west coast of the US, Mexico, the South Pacific, Australia, New Zealand, South East Asia, across the Indian Ocean to South Africa and on to St Helena, South America, the Caribbean and Central America.

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