How Things Work
Sheridan House, $17.95, 102pp
Long enough for ya? I know the standard winter greeting is "cold enough...?" but my farmer nephew says this winter hasn't been as cold as recent ones...he actually saw the ground earlier this month. However, that doesn't mean it's nearly over and my stored energy is getting so low that I've contemplating a dash for the sun or worse...and then, there on the "new" book shelf of my local library was The Galley...and I saw the light. Get thyself a righteous project, I whispered, and reading this book warmed me right up to the idea.
The Galley is too slight to be gaudy with glamour shots...the cover being the single lonely example, so I figured the galley in question might be something simple, affordable and clever with space that would work in my 18'Rosborough outboard "overnighter." In fact, the material is so basic and so soundly explained that I think even I could apply a few ideas to my little craft...and call them the "luxuries" they'd be. Such a thought never entered my head before I started reading.
In his preface, Launer states, "just as with any other project, knowledge of the subject is essential." Launer shares his with exquisite simplicity and meticulous detail. He provides all that you need to know to choose marine galley appliances and install them in your boat...making safety the most important element.
In plain English (most of the time) he explains how to plumb water into the galley space, discusses options for holding tanks (and the various materials they're made of), water level monitors, pumps and pipes, and filters and sinks, hot water, reverse-osmosis water makers, and then, how to winterize the entire mysterious working maze you've created and I, female English major (read useless) was getting it...not only just getting it...I was enjoying getting it.
This is not a "how to" book. Launer does not give the reader step by step instructions; rather he explains the function and relationship of each component in the system to the other. His explanation of the entire subject (of supplying water to the galley, storing, accessing and disposing of it) is so direct and sequentially logical that it made me feel as if I could actually put it together, right now. I have knowledge of the subject.
Besides the water system, the book covers types of galley stoves and fuels, (a very scary subject, it turns out) and galley equipment, which includes a fairly elaborate list. Launer and his family do not skimp on niceties like blenders for frozen drinks. The complex subject of refrigeration is deftly demystified in just a few pages. Big on safety, he discusses the pros and cons of particular kinds of fire extinguishers and fume detectors at some length and I was completely absorbed.
As for work space and storage, Launer uses the example of his own boat's galley. (Delphinus is a 39-foot two masted schooner that Launer built from a bare fiberglass hull in 1980. She was his 17th boat.) He likes furniture that does double duty. His counter top expands and his cabin table doubles as his cockpit table. Here again, his explanations of how to accomplish similar effects in your own boat are the sparse and well-chosen words of a very experienced man and a marvel of a teacher. I won't say the book read like a novel but I read it straight through with well-piqued curiosity and finished, convinced that I could build a galley in my boat with this little book (and maybe a guy) by my side.
So, this is February. I have plenty of time to spend looking at the references and catalog sources that Launer mentions, get a list together, go kick some tillers at the marine supply stores in my area. Maybe in March I'll shovel a path to the boat, climb aboard and take some measurements and go back inside for some more internet research and calculation. In no time, it'll be April and plenty long enough! I'll have peeled off just about all my outer wear except a down vest and a couple of fleeces so my arms can move about again...and I'll get crackin'. Read this book and I bet you'll be out there, too.
For more information on the remarkable Captain Launer, go to: http://donaldlauner.com