Pinterest is a terrible thing for a girl who lives aboard her boat. Beautiful bedrooms, gorgeous spacious kitchens (I have yet to see a galley) and huge closets filled with stunning shoes litter my feed and remind me daily of what I could have if I had not traded life on the land for a floating home. The truth is, though, that my life on land was really not that much more spacious than it is now. I lived in a teeny tiny studio apartment with a small kitchen, ok sized closet and a surprisingly spacious bathroom. At least now I have multiple levels to work with. What living in a studio did teach me was how to organize and hide all my crap in the most efficient way possible. You would be shocked at how much I could fit into my closet, under my bed and in that space between the fridge and the wall. This is definitely a skill that is transferable to my new aquatic life!
When I first moved onto the boat full time I had a small duffle bag full of work clothes. Clothes solely dedicated to painting, sanding, fiberglassing and getting dirty. I didn’t care what happened to them. Once we got to the point of needing real life clothes on board I had to figure out how we were going to store them. I had already converted our hanging locker into shelves, but I needed to figure out how we were going to keep our clothes fresh, organized (I didn’t want them flying everywhere if we were healing) and mold free.
When I first started researching clothing storage I really liked what SV Estrellita 5.10b had come up with. They used storage cubes or coolers to keep their clothes dry and free of the dreaded boat smell. I was all for going this route, until I priced out the cubes. At the time these were just too pricey for me (although now I am seeing them for a decent price on Amazon in some colors).
My next idea was to use dishpans. Carolyn from The Boat Galley had told me about their solution of using the dishpans as drawers in their hanging locker so I thought that it may work for us as well. The best part was they were under $3 a piece. I estimated that I could fit 2 large and 1 medium on each shelf. Unfortunately this left us with a lot of unused space – a big no-no to efficient boat living. The curve of the hull was pretty severe so the pans couldn’t rest flush up against it. Also, the dishpans themselves waste a lot of space. They angle in as they go down and have a lip leaving you with about 2 – 3 inches of unused space between the pans when they were set up next to each other. I know that doesn’t seem like a lot but just think of how many bathing suits you can roll up into that space! On to the next solution.
Jason and I both decided we needed some sort of fabric tote that would mold to the space we had. We also wanted them to zip closed to keep out unwanted smells and keep our clothes organized if they happened to get knocked around. I found a lot of plastic bags that fit the bill but I was concerned about the cheap and thin plastic melting in the Caribbean sun or just ripping too easily. Finally I came across these storage bags from the Container Store. Even better was finding them when they were on sale! They were cheaper than the storage cubes, even at full price, and actually fit our space much better. Even better was when they accidentally processed my order twice and let me keep the extra order for the trouble.
Each shelf has two medium bags and one small bag. Shockingly Jason and I have pared down our clothing and shoes to one shelf each. We each get two medium bags for clothes and one measly small bag for shoes. Luckily flip flops don’t take up much space. We certainly have come a long way from having over 50 pairs of shoes each! The other shelf is full of sheets, towels, cold weather clothes and foul weather gear.
We’ve been using this solution for a few months now and so far I am really happy with it. The insides of the bags are coated but they are not waterproof. We had a leak and the clothes inside definitely got wet, but once we fixed that we haven’t had any sort of mold or boat smell. I think my favorite part of the bags is that they maximize our storage space as the cloth molds to the shape of the hull. The only real negative is that the faux leather pulls on the zippers rip off pretty easily which isn’t a big deal at all. I don’t think these will last forever, but they will until I can at least make my own with better and waterproof fabric. Sometimes I throw in a lavender scented fabric sheet to make it smell really nice.
What are the best ways you’ve found to store your clothes?