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altThe Galley Guys gave me a daunting one-day assignment while at the 2008 Annapolis Boat Show: determine which sailboat, currently available in Canada, had the best and possibly the ultimate galley. Have you ever attended the Annapolis Boat Show? Seen an aerial shot of it? Daunting! Amazing! Thankfully, limiting the assignment to boats available in Canada made the job a tiny bit easier.

So what are the key considerations when determining who has the ultimate galley? I opted for the basics. I considered what kind of storage was for dry goods, cutlery, serving wear, glasses and so on. How big and accessible is the refrigerator? Counter space? Natural and artificial lighting? Overall access to everything? Proximity to guests? These were the attributes that mattered to me, and really, it all comes down to personal taste and what you like best!

So, what boats did I get to explore? Twenty-two in all – and I must tell you that overall I was very impressed! In the past, I have griped about lack of storage for those who like to cruise. My reference has always been a CS 36, and for those of you familiar with the boat, you know that you can hide a 5 year old in the icebox and a 3 year old in the dry locker!

In comparison, the tiny little bar fridges I’ve seen in past models just didn’t make sense if you wanted to go cruising for any length of time. I was very pleasantly surprised by all the boat builders – they seem to have read my mind. Now there appears to be a lot more storage overall on all the boats and the refrigerators often have upper and side access to the shelved compartments.

I must also mention that I was on boats that ranged between 40-49 feet. This naturally gives you more of everything but also gives you an idea as to the standard for that builder. How did I choose what size of boat to go on? I left that up to the sales representative of each manufacturer. I asked to see what they considered to be the best galley their line of boats had to offer – that is what I evaluated.

Overall I was really impressed with what the yacht designers and builders had to offer. I’ll start with the “Honorable Mentions” (you didn’t think I’d tell you the best one first, did you?). The J122, C&C 115, Sabre 426, Hanse 400, Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 45 DS, Wauquiez 47 and the Tartan 4400 all have fantastic galleys!

First, I have to say that the Tartan 4400 didn’t make the top three for one reason only; the galley is toward the bow of the boat and a couple of steps down. This takes you down and away from your guests – not ideal for social occasions. Most hosts want to be able to converse with their company directly, and not always be looking up at them.

The Wauquiez was set up similarly, although it too was beautiful and both boats offer a lot of storage and counter space. If you ever get a chance to see the Jeanneau 45DS, check out the wine/liquor bottle storage (that’s all I’ll say). All of the boats had some great galley features. Just bear in mind that I was only on these boats for a short time (slightly longer if they had the A/C turned on), and could not actually try cooking onboard them, but I would happily spend extended time on any of these boats!

Third place is actually a tie. Why? One boat is considered a production boat and the other is a semi-custom boat. What are they? The Beneteau 49 and the Gozzard 44 are my third place choices. So what, you ask, makes these two boats worthy of third place?

The Beneteau has a really nice, clean layout. It is very user-friendly with decent sized ice and dry storage lockers (sorry, still having a difficult time saying “fridge” in relation to a sailboat). The storage for all your cooking gear is well thought out. A good amount of counter space, different layout options and being open to the rest with easy access to and from the cockpit makes this a great galley!

Gozzard builds beautiful boats! They suggested the 44 Mk II Ketch and it is amazing! The owners had the galley set up quite similar to what you see in the line drawing. There is ample storage space, counter space and natural and artificial lighting in the galley. What I thought was a fantastic touch was the pull out pantry drawer. This narrow vertical drawer pulls out all the way across the companionway and holds an amazing amount of dry goods. Definitely a huge plus for cruising! Of all the boats I was on, this galley had the most “homey” feel and great visual access to your guests.

My second place boat is the Hunter 49. It has a lot of easily accessible drawers and cupboards, an icemaker and lots of natural and artificial lighting. Whether entertaining on deck or down below, you won’t lose touch with your guests. There is also plenty of room for helping hands in the galley – always a plus when there are dishes to be done! I liked the overall feel and fantastic storage. This really is a great galley for entertaining and cooking in!

So, after all of that, what could possibly be at the top of my list? It was the first boat that I stepped on to that day – the Catalina 470. The flow of the galley, storage, access to the fridge from top and side and the proximity to your guests, both above and below decks was fantastic. A lot of thought had gone into making sure you could secure your wares; pegs to hold in any size of plate/bowl and well-located wire shelving in many cupboards help store a lot in this galley.

The lighting, both artificial and natural, was great. I especially liked the small hatch that opened up overhead of the forward counter. A nice touch was having cupboards along the cabin top, over the counter between the galley and salon. Everything was close enough that you would have lots of areas to hold on to if your skipper was testing your Spiderman skills while below deck. Who hasn’t been through that sort of situation?

The Catalina 470 incorporates modern looks with classic details that have proven effective over time. For example, there is a glass door cupboard for wine glasses – very classy looking. There are also different layout options to choose from as with most of the boats.

Now, before the Catalina owners and brokers start cheering too loudly, there is still the actual award for the ultimate sailboat galley that I have yet to mention! What could possibly top all of the features already mentioned?

Check out this list: side by side stainless steel full size refrigerator, full size gas stove and oven, dishwasher, garberator, wine fridge, full size double sink, a wide window for natural light and more storage than you can imagine!

Did I mention the chef that comes with all of this? Or, the captain and crew? All this can be yours...to charter! Zingara takes the prize of being the Galley Guys Ultimate Sailboat Galley! For obvious reasons (mentioned above), this is one amazing, custom-built, 76-foot catamaran! They can comfortably cook for 10 people for a week at a time before having to restock the galley and there is a beautiful teak table and chairs out on the covered aft deck to enjoy your gourmet meals. For all of you “foodies” out there, I’m sure Chef Rachelle wouldn’t mind some extra hands in the galley, if that were your passion.

So there you have it –with apologies to anyone who feels that their boat was slighted. It’s a lot of fun to compare the different makes of boats and find the unique touches on each of them. I really enjoyed the whole experience! If any of you are going to be at the Toronto International Boat Show in January, I will be making the rounds of all the powerboats with the same goal in mind!

Which powerboat has the ultimate galley? Stay tuned, and until then, happy boating and eating!

By Kathleen Mackay