The evolution of galleys onboard sail and motoryachts below 24m has gained significant momentum over the past three years. What was once a functional, often cramped space, tucked down below out of sight, is increasingly taking centre stage

The evolution of galleys onboard sail and motoryachts below 24m has gained significant momentum over the past three years. What was once a functional, often cramped space, tucked down below out of sight, is increasingly taking centre stage, becoming a focal point on board, just as domestic kitchens, the heart of the home, have evolved with the advent of open plan living and an increasingly family-centric ethos.

Not surprisingly then, while galleys on super and megayachts have more in common with commercial kitchens, serial production builders of vessels from 30ft-90ft are taking their influences overwhelmingly from lifestyle fashions and the high street, to offer the same levels of functionality, quality and style users enjoy at home.

New demands have made the galley fertile ground too for the most innovative equipment manufacturers keen to keep in step with trends. 

Galley development has taken place across three broad fronts – layout, materials, and equipment. This report investigates all three and spotlights how major equipment manufacturers are responding.

Galley layout & location:  the heart of the boat

“Separating the galley area from the rest of the yacht is an outdated concept, especially on models that do not allow for or require separate staff/crew members on board,” says marketing manager Maciej Samet of Galeon, the Polish builder that turned heads with the launch of its 500 FLY at Cannes in 2015. That boat featured a galley at the stern that, with the help of a dropdown bulwark and sliding windows, opened up to create a bar area. Its ‘Beach Mode’ concept has since been replicated in its 460/470, 510 and 640/650 models.

“All the latest models have the galley moved back, so its proximity to the cockpit and flybridge allow for easy serving to the wet areas,” Samet continues. “This also allows for better ventilation as it is close to the main doors, so the smells and humidity can easily escape. On compact models we think it is better to integrate the kitchen area with the saloon and other areas (like the cockpit) to allow for an unobstructed view, free flow of people on board and a more spacious feeling throughout,” he adds.

In short, the galley is no longer somewhere to simply cook or prepare a hot drink, it’s become the social hub of the vessel affording guests easy access to wine coolers, the fridge, coffee makers etc.

“The tendency to bring the kitchen to the main deck is linked to the function of sharing time and space, which is becoming increasingly common in the home.”

Azimut style manager Federica Bertolini

“Beyond around 80ft you start to get the galleys put down below,” says Erik Stromberg, director of product marketing at French builder Prestige Motoryachts. “We have always had galley up (except for some of the smaller express cruisers), at the back opening, not up by the cockpit – it blends indoor and outdoor space. Having a window at the back improves the openness of the boat no end,” he explains. “You can go up easily to the fly from there – it’s a much more ergonomic use of space, rather having to head forward and then down the stairs.”

Italian builder Azimut has also brought its galleys onto the main deck. On its larger (66 and 76) Magellano long-range cruiser models, the kitchen is literally at the heart of the vessel between the cockpit and the living room for external/internal service convenience, while being placed at the stern on the 43 and 53. “The tendency to bring the kitchen to the main deck is linked to the function of sharing time and space, which is becoming increasingly common in the home,” says Azimut style manager Federica Bertolini. On its S7, unveiled at Cannes last year, the builder completely revised the geography of the cockpit and adjacent galley to create a corner bar that has the dual purpose of allowing direct contact with the two indoor and the outdoor seating/relaxation areas, whilst because it is toward the bow, allows potentially for greater privacy for the owner. 

“For owners who choose to use the galley mainly for the crew, a higher screen is available on request,” explains Bertolini. The galley in the bow area is replicated in the S7’s sister boat, the new S6, to be unveiled at Cannes this year. “Obviously the spaces are smaller, but the small peninsula conceptually divides the environments – only the freezer is located towards the stern because we did not find space towards the bow, but it is an appliance that is used less and not for cooking,” explains Bertolini, adding: “If the refrigerators are under top, as in the case of S7, to give the most space to the windows, they must be with drawers with adequate mechanical sealing systems.” On both models the extractor unit, following the trend in many domestic kitchen islands, is located in the worktop.

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Hanse’s 588 interior

The open galley on the Hanse 588. The island unit creates handy storage as well as adding to the ‘loft-like’ feel

It’s the need for light, sense of space and connection to the rest of the boat both inside and out, that have been driving galley design in recent years. “Already in 2007 we were building the Fjord 36 Open which had the galley completely outside in the middle of the boat, and it’s remained a key feature on all our Fjords through today,” says Florian Nierich at Hanse Yachts. From 2014, that Fjord sense of ‘openness’ was integrated into the development of its Sealine ranges, with the result that almost all of its Sealine models now feature a galley at the rear of the saloon, putting it as the heart of the action onboard.

“We’ve had similar developments on the sailboat side,” he maintains. “Take our new Hanses for instance. On all the bigger boats (458-588), we offer an island kitchen, which stands in the middle of the rear saloon. We thereby create more storage space and offer something to hold on to when at sea. Plus it looks very modern, loft like, our customers appreciate it.”

That ‘open’ feel is as dependent on light, as it is access to the exterior. Slovenian boatbuilder Elan has positioned the galley forward in its new GT5 cruiser, to great effect, according to the builder. 

“We’ve noticed very good responses to how our GT5’s galley is positioned,” says head of marketing David Rajapakse. “The Elan Design Team has implemented an inverted saloon layout featuring the galley forward, ensuring optimal utilisation of the yacht’s volume for the most comfortable and innovative saloon in her size range. The galley forward also offers ample storage space with a customisable corner to be equipped individually for each owner. That’s unprecedented for a yacht of this size.” The real secret, however, to the success of the galley in the GT5 lies in the overhead panoramic skylights that flood galley and saloon with light.

Refrigeration:  beyond the galley

Trend 1:  Bigger is better

Layout is crucial, but what makes the best galleys really work is their functionality. When space is available, full-sized appliances are a must – the bigger the fridge the better, and where once, concealment was the name of the game – standout stainless steel, for fridges at least, is a notable trend on larger motor and sailing yachts. In contrast today’s consumers demand concealed dishwashers, if they have them at all, with some owners preferring the extra storage. “For a long time you found lots of bespoke, smaller sizes, even on bigger yachts – specialist marine product or equipment designed for the RV market,” claims Prestige Yachts’ Erik Stromberg. “Those specialist units could be difficult to service and replace – but now they are all standard sizes, from recognised brands. So rather than designing the space from the ground up – you can have whatever you want like a normal kitchen – so under the counter fridges, wine coolers, coffee machines,” he maintains.

Trend 2:  Drawers and wine chillers

“As far as refrigeration is concerned the main trend is to have very big refrigerators with more different compartments (with different temperatures), fully equipped with several shelves and drawers,” says Irene Pavan of Italian refrigeration specialists Frigonautica. She singles out the recent development of drawer fridges and wine cellars, as perhaps the most significant trends.

“Our sales of drawer fridges in particular have increased by 120% in the last few years and we have upped the number of models from one (it built its first standard drawer fridge in 1990 for Ferretti Yachts) to five different models, from 40lt to 130lt capacity.” Drawer fridges allow for quick and easy access to chilled goods and, according to Pavan, they are no longer the sole remit of the galley: “People would like to have them anywhere: under seats, on the flybridge, close to the bed… Recently we built several small drawer fridges to go in a bathroom – biological types of cosmetics and make up must be stored at a low temperature and we find that women onboard appreciate the detail.”

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Drawer fridges allow for quick and easy access to chilled goods and are no longer the sole remit of the galley. Customers want them under seats, on the flybridge, close to the bed. This unit is from Frigonautica

Wine cellars are also one of Frigonautica’s best sellers, claims Pavan. “We launched our restyled standard wine cellar models a few months ago – they have a compact, clean design, but the greatest demand in this part of the fridge sector is for custom projects. We manufactured a fridge just for one bottle, as well as one for 172 bottles (with golden glass door) placed in the main saloon of the yacht. Wine has become a status symbol and some big boat owners like to show off their bottles.”

Giulia Formenti, sales director at Veco S.p.A. concurs: “We do see a big increase in requests for galley fridges to be on show, especially stainless steel products, such as the ones we produce. We do have a standard line for smaller undercounter fridges/freezers and wine coolers, but custom solutions are a growth sector,” she says, adding that Veco can do almost anything when it comes to the shape, finishing, and internal details required. “We supply motoryacht builders like Princess, Azimut, Benetti, Sanlorenzo and GulfCraft, who are interested in offering custom solutions as options to their clients,” she maintains, but it is the sail yacht business that provides particularly rich pickings for the firm.

“Custom projects on sailing yachts are more requested as we can design the cabinet around the hull to fit any requested shape,” she says. Veco currently works with builders such as Chantier Amel, Oyster, Discovery, Southerly, Grand Soleil and Solaris. It has developed a refrigeration circuit system that it claims is unique to leisure marine – water cooled and installed remotely from the unit, the condensing set can be installed remotely in a space that requires no air circulation, thus reducing noise and freeing up more space in the galley. “We only use stainless steel – 316L if the cabinet is meant for outside – and we have a special fixing system to secure the cabinet to the ground,” Formenti says. “We’ve also specially designed the interiors of the fridges to ensure condensation flow out of the cabinet in a proper way.”

Flexible functionality

With the evolution of boat design Indel Webasto Marine spotted new product opportunities. “Performance in refrigeration, innovation in cooling technology, and perfect integration within the onboard design are still pillars to our product development,” says Giorgio Biggiogero, “but everything had to be re-tuned following the evolution of the motoryacht industry.”

“Trawlers and the newest generation of boats tend to use space by maximising living areas, creating more area where people can spend time together,” he explains. “Fly-decks, sun-decks and in general outer cockpit applications are becoming more and more relevant for a ‘fridge fit’ – in essence, the functionality of the galley is spreading to other areas of the boat. 

“We’ve followed this market trend by developing refrigeration solutions capable of fitting below seats and in cockpit applications, thanks to their extra-low profile,” he says. Witness the Isotherm Ice Drink white BI29 – a low profile ice maker specifically developed for below seat and cockpit applications. Based on Ice-white technology it produces 4kg of ice per day. 

“On top of that we wanted to provide flexibility to users, so we introduced our Dual units concept –where the fridge or freezer function is selectable by the user.” With the Dual mode the user has the possibility to easily access food and drinks from the top and, an exclusive feature on its bigger models, the ability to use an extra side door, to ensure total usability of the device.

The firm’s Built-In product offering ranges from 16lt-172lt. Its Isotherm Built In 172 Dual is a combined cooling solution – 130lt fridge and 38lt freezer capacities, or 172lt in fridge only mode – and features the possibility of top loading openings for fridge and freezer compartments and front loading opening for the fridge. The yard can then customise the exterior finish to tie in with the yacht’s interior look.

Trend 3:  One brand 

One of the most significant trends impacting the galley is customer preference for a single brand whether it’s cookers, refrigerators, bean to cup coffee machines or dishwashers, mirroring a trend in domestic kitchens. “You used to have different brands for the laundry, and throughout the galley,” says Miele UK’s Project Business development manager Jamie Speer. “Now people want the same brand, it looks neater. The kitchen is the show piece of the home, now it’s the same for boats.” Miele has become the goto brand among builders of larger motoryachts, with other familiar names including the likes of Gaggenau, Bosch and Siemens. As well as customer appeal, the standardised offering of some of the top end domestic appliances has obvious appeal to OEMs, with increased ease of installation, while the likes of Miele can offer worldwide marine warranties – 24/7 cover with an engineer waiting at the nearest dock if any problems should occur while out at sea.

Turning up the heat

Aside from refrigeration, the other main focal point in terms of galley development has undoubtedly been around cooker hobs and ovens. 

“Ten years ago I thought the design and equipment in the galley for cooking on sailing boats of a certain size didn’t perform, users just had to put up with it,” says Ralph Olingschlaeger, a hobby sailor whose frustrations with modern day galleys inspired him to come up with a solution. Formerly working in product marketing for Electrolux, Olingschlaeger left the firm to develop the GN Espace Marine cooker that he unveiled in 2005. Olingschlaeger was joined by business partner Julian Kimberly in 2006. Kimberly, also a keen sailor, had trained as a chef and at the time had grown a small chain of restaurants in London that he had sold on. Olingschlaeger had the technical product development skills, while Kimberly brought the hands-on commercial kitchen acumen, helping prepare the cooker for market launch in 2006. The GN Espace company and cooker range officially debuted at the Southampton Boat Show in 2008. 

“Back before we started, the industry was quite defensive when it came to discussions about the galley. ‘People don’t cook on boats, they eat out’ was the consensus,” says Olingschlaeger. The partners set out with the premise of bringing the functionality of professional kitchens to the galley. “The three key ingredients were cooking performance; the robust design and manufacture expected in the commercial sector; and safety – so pan clamps, sea rails, non-sliding shelves and a gimballed cooker option,” explains Olingschlaeger. The pair then set about ‘systemising’ the galley. “There was no such thing as a standard galley. It was the last area on a boat to be systemised – it happened in marine electronics 40 years ago, with sails, masts and rigging – all those areas had been captured and owned,” he maintains.

The company drew on Kimberly’s knowledge of commercial kitchens to come up with Gastronorm – a fully integrated cooking, food preparation and storage concept. The system utilises a standardised range of containers, cooking pots, pans and trays, that slide safely into the oven and fit snugly and safely into the sink area for prep work, storage or serving, thus avoiding the hazardous need to place hot pots and pans on unguarded worktops, especially while underway. “By systemising the galley in this way you can improve the ergonomics and safety even within the smallest galley,” he claims.

“Induction is a lot safer and you’re only heating the pan – not the entire galley – so you’re not heating up the boat.”

Phil Williams, Kenyon Marine

The UK manufacturer currently supplies the superyacht sector as well as blue water sailboat builders such as Oyster, Discovery, X Yachts, Contest Yachts, as well as a number of French and Italian yards.

As for trends, he says: “Up to 60ft-70ft it will be gas cookers, but there is a move toward electric, you just need a hefty generator to run it – and have to have it on while you cook. But we’re watching that market, we’re not sure it’s large enough to justify the investment from us just yet. Sailors are always reluctant to have gas onboard – but a 15kW generator won’t fit on a 50-footer, so they go for gas, but with increasing use of hybrid systems and improved solar use it might be option,” he adds.

Trend 1:  Induction

“We’re seeing is a big move toward induction cook tops, they’re much more energy efficient,” says Phil Williams at Kenyon Marine, which came to market with its innovative and patented non-slip silicone SilKEN2 induction cooktop mat back in 2014, when it secured a DAME category award win at METSTRADE. “We’re seeing galleys with two individual induction cook tops using Kenyon silicon non-slip mats that avoid the need for fiddle rail and clamping systems,” he claims. “Induction’s a lot safer and you’re only heating the pan – not the entire galley – so you’re not heating up the boat,” he adds. According to Williams induction hobs are 90% efficient, compared to around 60% for standard electric and 40% of a gas stove.

Trend 2:  Outdoor grills 

Alongside induction hobs, another major move over the last two years, has been the growth in outdoor kitchens, says Kenyon’s Phil Williams. “A lot of designers are now taking the kitchen outside, they’re focussing on making the outdoor entertainment area much more enjoyable. You’re seeing boats with outdoor kitchens from 30 feet up now.” Grilling on day boats has also seen a big rise. “We’re selling more grills into the powerboat market than cook tops,” Williams maintains. “Ten years ago you only found gas/electric cookers on boats over 28ft – now on smaller boats they’ll have a grill outside and maybe a microwave down below.”

Kenyon’s electric grill and induction cooker tops have the same controls to enable a neat, unified look that is very much a requirement, and are all fully functional in the outdoor environment. “Pretty much every boatbuilder in the world has one or both of our products on board,” he claims.

With grills and grill plates, electric ‘Teppanyaki’ baking plates and built-in ovens and ovens with top burners, are also proving popular according to Mark Rutgers, CEO of leading European distributor of marine equipment Allpa, which partnered up with CAN, an Italian manufacturer of cookers, sinks and hobs, a number of years ago to develop a customised series of gimballing marine cookers for European OEMs. The key drivers for the OEM and aftermarket are: product quality, functionality, availability, service and of course price. 

“Ease of installation, warranty, service supply and support are absolutely key to the galley equipment offer. CAN and especially ALLPA offer an excellent customer service.”

Mark Rutgers, Allpa CEO

“We carefully follow what products are doing well and if the product mix is changing with customer demands,” CAN’s managing director Lorenzo Bellini told IBI. “We have just updated our range of gas cooktops and hobs with electric and induction solutions. Customers are slowly moving away from gas on board. We are ready and we will be able to satisfy both gas and electric demand,” he maintains.

According to Bellini, a number of major European manufacturers have already chosen both CAN’s CU2000 and CU3000 cookers for their new 2018 boat models. The CU2000 features two burners with gimbal, completely built in stainless steel, with glass top surface, a flame failure safety device on all burners and piezo ignition to turn on the flame in the gas oven. The see-through oven door has double thermal glass with an internal oven capacity of over 30lt with an efficient 1.90kW burner. CAN says the cooker is designed to be easy to install and includes a gimbal mounting kit. Pan holder kits and a stainless steel heatshield are offered as an option.  

Rutgers adds that the two partners are looking to expand and increase sales overseas thanks to the type Approval in Australia and the expected approval of its products in the US soon.

The Allpa CEO summed up the key trends: “For sure, customers (certainly for the bigger boats) are increasingly after ‘full size’ white goods and cookers – to make their kitchen onboard the heart of their boat like it is of their home, and on the larger boats, we see a trend for ‘same-branded’ product throughout. Conversely,” he added, “we see neat ‘space saving’ products coming onto the market and products that have an ‘eco’ footprint drawing less power for instance.

“We are always in the process of updating our products with all the possible innovations to meet these trends. However, space (especially on sailing boats between 35ft-50ft) is always tight but people like to cook on board and it’s more and more common to increase the amount of kitchen furniture onboard.

Modular approach:  standardised, interchangeable

Arguably the manufacturer of the most comprehensive galley equipment range on the market is Dometic. In both the Americas and Europe, Dometic has been predominantly focused on OEMs as a company across its entire HVAC, sanitation and watermaker ranges, however, for galley equipment it has traditionally put more emphasis on the aftermarket.

“Dometic is in a unique position as the only company to develop a complete range of galley products, from cookers, microwaves, fridge/freezers and sinks to counter-top extraction units, work surface covers for the hob or sink and other components,” says Paul Hickinbotham, Dometic’s product director - Marine EMEA.

Increased standardisation of sizes brings a more logical approach to galley layout, providing inter-changeable equipment, modular installation and consistent finishes.

Paul Hickinbotham, marine product director at Dometic

“We have now capitalised on this capability with the development of our next generation galley product offering which we believe represents a true breakthrough in the world of boat galleys and the way boatbuilders and OEMs will be able to configure their vessels’ galley layout and select all products from one single manufacturer.” The company plans to unveil its new ‘modular concept’ at METSTRADE in November. “It’s based on a grid format that allows our equipment to be configured in a variety of orientations and lay outs,” Hickinbotham explains. “Our products will be of standard dimensions to ensure they are interchangeable in whatever format or position required by the customer. In the future, the integration of our various products will lead to increased standardisation of sizes across all ranges and a more logical approach to galleys. Significantly, our concept will benefit OEMs by providing a galley building process that enables modular, consistent finishes. For boatowners redesigning their galley, it will offer a much easier, more cost-effective option than selecting a variety of products from different manufacturers.”

One-stop appeal

Dometic believes the ‘one-stop shop’ will have universal appeal to boatbuilders, providing a platform from which to grow its OEM market share. 

“We deal with all the OEMs across our complete product portfolio, but for the galley, we mainly deal with OEMs for the smaller vessels. Despite the fact that larger vessels tend to be fitted with 230v high-end products from domestic white goods manufacturers, we are confident our new concept will enable the OEMs of larger vessels to use more of our marine products in the future.

“None of the manufacturers have been able to offer a complete range of products before. As a one-stop supplier, we want to be the company that makes OEMs’ jobs simpler when it comes to choosing galley products.”

Form & Function

The open, exposed nature of today’s galley where much more is on display, has placed greater emphasis on the quality of materials and final finish. 

“For kitchen appliances that are open on the living room, I prefer them to be hidden or in the case of hobs (strictly induction for safety reasons)  flush – in colour and geometric continuity with counter tops,” maintains Azimut’s style manager Federica Bertolini.  “So in the case of the worktops of the S7 and new S6, preferably black. The same trend for appliances is precisely this – increasingly simple, minimal, technical, and retractable.” She adds: “Microwaves must be ‘combi’, and the dishwasher is an expected but not mandatory appliance, with some customers preferring more storage.”

With more owners cooking on board, storage has become increasingly vital. “As well as clients demanding larger refrigerators (more than one!) and dishwashers,” says Maciej Samet at Galeon, “storage areas customised to fit plates and cutlery, are important.”

In the remodeling of its E–Line, Slovenian builder Elan was aware that a focus on the galley was critical to establishing the quality look and feel throughout. “We upgraded our galley heavily,” explains Elan’s head of marketing David Rajapakse. “We started to use natural oak veneer in combination with solid wood and upgraded the counter material, substituted the plastic sink with Inox, and upgraded the stove on the E4 and E5, as well as adding a front-opening fridge.”

Erik Stromberg at Prestige Motor Yachts concludes: “One of the big changes has been the materials for counter tops. The industry used to use a lot of laminates and Formica – now its marbles, granites, Corian and resins, higher end product. That is a large part of the cost now. Appliances have become relatively inexpensive.”