An old and worn galley combined with a inefficient refrigerator required addressing.

The replacement of the galley on our HR 41 was undoubtedly the most lengthy project we have undertaken. There are a number of contributing factors:

  • the shape to be fitted in is awkward (to say the least)
  • we decided to both improve and enhance the galley counter space
  • there are a lot of different systems in a relatively small space (e.g. pressurised water, unpressurised water, gas, coolant lines, electrical)
  • to maintain access to the components of the different systems the neighbouring installations have to be installed without impinging on those components – this complexity quickly escalates by the time some of the last components are being installed
  • our galley had been partly removed and we needed to restore the structural potions of this without really knowing what the original had been like

In hindsight an indication of the time required for this project probably could have been judged from the time it took to remove the old galley. The factory installed galley was very sturdily built and this took time to remove. Also we needed to see how things were assembled as we removed the old and this meant things took longer. The only way the cool box for the fridge came out was firstly by a very large steel bar breaking it loose and secondly by cutting it into multiple pieces. Due to the recessed (and partially covered corner) in which it sits this took a very long time, time which was eaten up once again when we installed the new cool box.

We had decided that if we were going to the trouble to rebuilt the galley then we would undertake the following:

  • replace the air cooled fridge with a water cooled system
  • increase the fridge insulation to increase thermal efficiency and lower electrical consumption
  • replace the 2 burner Eno stove with a 3 burner Force 10 unit
  • replace the 2 shallow single sinks with a deep double sink
  • replace the countertop to get rid of the synthetic woodgrained covering the factory had put on
  • extend the countertop so there was a “pony wall” running forwards into the galley
  • extend the countertop to port so that the countertop was continuous (i.e. do away with the section that served as part of the companionway ladder)
  • line the stove bay with stainless steel to get rid of the synthetic woodgrained covering the factory had put on
  • install foot pumps for salt and fresh water so the electrical pump did not need to run when cruising
  • restore the modifications where an oversized engine had been installed and jutted through the bulkhead from the engine room
  • improve the galley lighting as well as improving the efficiency of the lighting

If the galley had been situated against a long side of the hull then the installation might have been easier, but sadly, it wasn’t.

Below is the list of the major projects we undertook as part of our galley upgrade.

Restore Wet Locker and Sump Area – Add Access Hatch From Wet Locker to Engine Room

This was the one area where we needed to do structural work. Maringret was fitted with a Mercedes 603 when we bought her. As this engine was larger than the original Volvo Penta MD 21 A, the bulkhead at the front of the engine room had been cut through to allow the nose of the 603 to extend forwards above the sump. Some floors and stringers had been cut out to accommodate the over sized engine and the floorboard for the wet locker had been lost. When we re-engined, the Westerbeke 64A was approximately the same size as the original Volvo – hence the hole in the forward bulkhead was no longer needed. We fitted a plywood panel to fill the hole which was covered with sound insulation, making sure that the panel remained removable in case we needed access to the Westerbeke from the front. This was not in the original construction but we thought that as we were filling the hole we may as well do it in a manner that would benefit us.

For restoring these structural members of the boat we had iroko wood milled to the same dimensions as the floors and stringers that had been removed. Where there was a gap we inserted a piece and epoxied it fast. Where the complete stringer was missing we epoxied in a replacement. We also epoxied a floor alongside the existing floor immediately aft of the water tank and then put some bolts through the pair. This would give us double strength but more importantly would give us a top surface to place the new galley cabinetry on.

The point where the galley cabinetry was fixed to the floor under the companionway was a weak point in the original galley, as people went through the companionway the whole area flexed as the fixings to the floor were not strong enough. Over the years the fixings had worn themselves loose – a problem we wanted to make sure was fixed when we redid the galley. The original wet locker floorboards were 20 mm thick and made of plywood where each layer was a ply of teak – not just teak veneered plywood. We traced the shape and cut two layers from marine plywood, we then epoxied these two together. This was then ready to have teak & holly plywood epoxied to it (click here for details).

Extend Cabinetry and Replace Countertops

Replacing the countertops interacted with every other activity. In addition the fitting was a lengthy process as it had to accommodate numerous corners, but on top of that many of the corners turned out not to be exactly 90 degree corners. With all the lovely sepele mahogany that the HR 41 had been finished with, it seemed a shame that the countertops were covered in some synthetic wood grain material. We decided to remove this and replace it with a synthetic surface, but one that was lighter in colour so that the interior became a bit brighter. We also made sure we picked a pattern that had browns in it to pick up on the surrounding wood. What we finally selected was the Riga (K5951) pattern from Formica:


We noticed that the pattern appears slightly darker on computer screens than the actual material does.

We had various reasons to replace the cabinetry:

  • it was necessary to remove it to replace the fridge
  • we wanted to add a “pony” wall
  • we intended to replace the pair of single sinks with a integral double sink
  • the cabinetry had been compromised when an over-sized engine was installed which extended into the wet locker

This certainly became our most complex undertaking , click here to read about it.

Replace Refrigerator (both cool box and compressor)

Within limits this project was in its own space which made it separate from the other projects. It is complex enough to fill a page of its own (click here for details).

Replace Stove

Although the most expensive piece of equipment in the new galley, the replacement with a Force 10 3-burner stove was quite straight forward. It is enough to fill a page of its own (click here for details).

Line Stove Bay

This project was the easiest as the stove bay didn’t require any modifications and the Force 10 stove was a direct replacement in terms of fitting size. While we had the stove out we removed the 30 year old artificial woodgrain Formica lining. The glue was failing quite extensively and so we were able to remove the 4 sheets without any breakage. We then used those pieces as templates to have sheet stainless steel panels cut. So there was an interlocking and the spills would be caught we had flanges put on the sheets as follows:

ig41_stoveBayLining became ig41_stoveBay

The picture is a bit confusing with the reflection of the gas hose appearing numerous times. We fitted a gas hose long enough so that the stove can be lifted out onto the floor for cleaning of the stove bay. A gas shutoff is fitted where the flexible hose joins the copper tubing and there is another shutoff directly  behind the shelves in the cupboard above the stove – this is easier to reach when needed. The solenoid shutoff is in the anchor locker where the gas cylinders are. Anything that spills is caught in the bottom tray. The gas line comes through the panel at the back of the stove bay (click here for details on the gas system), the gimbals are mounted on the two side panels.

Replace Sinks and Taps

Click here for details on the Plumbing page.

Install Foot Pumps

Click here for details on the Plumbing page.

Walkthrough to the Cockpit Locker

This is actually a modification that we did not undertake. Once again through looking on the internet we had come across sister boat where the galley had been altered as follows:


The incredible advantage of this modification is the free access to the cockpit locker. We once were on a boat (which was not an HR 41 but very similar in size and layout) with this access: there was a work bench, floor to top built in storage systems and even a miniature washing machine plumbed in. It was very tempting when we started our plans for modifying the galley. However there were a number of reasons we shied away from this modification:

  • It becomes hard to keep the size of fridge as a lot of it’s space becomes walkthrough. The fridge can be moved somewhere else but then it takes space from other purposes. One sister boat we’ve seen on the internet had built a freezer into the walkthrough immediately behind the nav station – obviously if a freezer can be fitted there then so can a fridge.
  • Placement of the sink, stove and other units of the galley takes on a secondary nature towards the walkthrough as the walkthrough can not be compromised if it is to work as intended.
  • The space used for the walkthrough becomes permanent dead space except when someone uses it to walk through to the cockpit locker. Although incredibly beneficial when used, we felt that the frequency of use was not high enough.

In the end we decided to extend a pony wall out of our countertop and not reserve the space for the walkthrough to the cockpit locker. This was a very hard decision but we just could not dedicate that amount of prime galley space to such an infrequent use. Of course another option would be to provide walkthrough access from the aft head to the cockpit locker.

Construct Ladder for Companionway

One side effect of extending the galley countertop to the walkthrough on the portside was that we had to do away with the original steps for the companionway. We took various measurements and made various mockups. Part of the puzzle was determining what the angle of the ladder would be as that determined the length of the rails, the angles for the dados (the grooves for the treads to sit in) and even the angle of facing on the treads. Our ladder turned out to be based on an angle of 19 degrees from vertical.

Having never designed a ladder for a specific installation before we had various issues to resolve:

  • avoid having feet hit the countertop or the fiddle on the countertop
  • minimise the amount of floor space taken by the ladder
  • make sure that the ladder was comfortable and safe to use, both when in berth and heeling under sail

We found some useful information in the Fred P. Bingham book “Boat Joinery & Cabinetmaking”, it only had a few paragraphs on designing and building ladders but that was enough. Tellingly enough Bingham starts the section off with the statement “Ladders are great space wasters.” Our early prototypes were in cardboard just to make sure that the ladder would not interfere with persons walking past the ladder. Then we took an old wooden ladder whose rungs were appropriately spaced, we cut that to length and fixed its bottom to the floorboards. Numerous trips up and down it as well as walking past gave us some additional insight into how best to design our final ladder. We then took that information and made up a strong but less than pretty ladder from pine planks. That enabled us to verify that our measurements were accurate and by leaving it in place and using it daily for the next few months we made sure that there was nothing that we had overlooked. Then we finally made the final ladder in sepele mahogany:


Replaced Galley Lighting

As part of our galley and saloon overhaul we were determined to get improved lighting conditions and at the same time improve the electrical efficiency. Click here for the details.

  • This project is only for those with a strong commitment. Ours took 6 months although that obviously was not full time work.
  • We undertook many things we had not tried before and paid for it in learning curve. We came out on top of most of those activities but it did eat some hours.
  • The complexity of so many different systems in such a small area definitely increases the hours required, had we tried to estimate it (which we didn’t) we surely would not have allowed enough to cover the complexities.
  • We underestimated the amount of joinery tasks we would deal with. We bought a mitre saw, router and a bench sander which helped with cross cuts and edge trimming. What we neglected was the number of straight edges we would cut. Initially we had understood that a wood shop could make the cuts on their table saw but it turned out that our cutting widths were wider than their saw could accommodate. Luckily we were able to use another table saw. If we were to start out again I would seriously consider getting a small table saw, or making sure I could borrow one. An alternative would be the combination units with a table saw mounted over top of a mitre saw. Trying to cut long straight edges with a router means a major time investment setting up the jigs, it can be done but a table saw is faster.

The commissioning has been incremental as different portions were completed. So far the new galley is a major improvement over the previous one. This took a lot of hours but everything seems to have worked out in the end.

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