Living on a boat and being hyper-organized go hand in hand. You quickly learn how to maximize every inch of storage space you have. Once you finally find the perfect spot for each item onboard, you quickly realize the real challenge is remembering where said spot is! After living aboard for 2 years on Chance, and now on Chancelot, I’ve gotten pretty crafty in how I organize all our crap, I mean, worldly possessions.
If your boat is anything like ours, you have so many hidden sailboat storage compartments, but I bet they aren’t used to their best ability! Boat storage options are truly endless. Every time I step on to a new boat I am always inspired by something. Picking up little tips and tricks along the way, I have come up with a few boat storage ideas I’m pretty proud of. Since the majority of you may never cross paths with us and stop on by, I wanted to share some of my most clever boat storage solutions.
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Sailboat Storage Ideas
Canvas Bags: Bags have so many uses on a boat to help you keep everything organized and easy to manage. For Chance, I bought these bags from the Container Store to use in our closet. They allowed us to maximize the space (including along the curve of the hull) that we wouldn’t have been able to do if we use rigid buckets. I still use these on Chancelot along with packing cubes. Having multiple size bags makes it easy to organize like items and allows you to maximize the amount you can shove into a single cubby. I do wish they were waterproof, you know, just in case. I also bought a bunch of these shoe bags that help me keep my shoes organized and any dirt that may be stuck on the bottom contained.
Fabric Bins: Dog toys, handbags, electronics, more sunglasses – really, whatever odds and ends we have lying around – all find their way into a few fabric bins. These boat storage bins keep our shelves clutter-free and small items from being thrown around while we’re underway. I find that the fabric bins are more useful and can squeeze into spots that plastic crates can’t. And, they look a lot better! We do use the rigid bins in the galley and in the fridge. These are much easier to rinse off if food spills on them.
Wine Glass Rack: When we move aboard Chancelot we were gifted a set of plastic wine glasses. They are perfect for a night out on the deck and we don’t have to worry about them breaking if someone drops one. We installed a hanging wine glass rack under one of our cabinets and use a velcro tie to keep them in the rack while underway. Works perfectly.
Pockets & Hammocks: I’ve written about my love for pockets as one of my all-time favorite boat storage organizers before, but I’ll say it again that these things really do come in handy. On Chance we had a pocket in the cockpit that kept our Explorer Charts nicely tucked away, but within arms reach while we were in the Bahamas, another pocket for our remotes and now on Chancelot we use one in the aft cabin to keep Jason’s socks out of harm’s way. Hammocks are equally as useful. We’ve used them to store produce and this winter we’re storing all our hats, gloves and scarves in one in our forward berth. The hammocks are nice as they let more airflow through whatever you have stored in them.
Bungee Cord Flip Flop Organizer: Our companionway entrance used to house our battery bank so the bottom half of our entrance is a pretty hefty sized box. To keep our many flip flops off the floor I fashioned a bungee cord around it to slide them into. This is one of my favorite smart storage ideas because it creates new storage space and it is super easy to install. Pairs of flip flops easily slide behind the bungee cord, keeping them tucked out of the way.
In Stair Drawers: On Chance, our 34′ Seafarer, we built in a few drawers into the companionway stairs that ended up being one of my favorite small boat storage ideas. They gave us a lot of extra space that would have gone unused otherwise to store our silverware, stick lighters, cooking gadgets and random odds and ends.
Over the Cabinet Racks: These things are great. I have a few of these hung between the louvers in our cabinet doors and even over the fiddles in our heads. They keep shower products, toiletries, pens, etc all nicely contained and not thrown all over when we’re healing. The over the cabinet towel racks also work really well and avoids extra putting unnecessary holes in the walls for a permanent rack.
Sunglasses String: We tend to collect sunglasses over here and have run out of places to keep them safe and scratch-free. I came up with the idea of hanging a simple paracord string up and hanging our sunglasses up and out of harm’s way. Boat storage solutions don’t always have to be complicated. Sometimes simple is best.
Duvet or Blanket Bolster: We have so many blankets aboard Chancelot. So. Many. They sure have come in handy when we have a group out for a sunset cruise and the temps start to drop, but for a while, I had no idea what to do with them when we weren’t using them. I saw the idea of using the blankets as the stuffing for a bolster pillow and a light bulb went off. It was so brilliant. So I hauled out my Sailrite and whipped up a bolster for the end of our bed and I haven’t looked back. You can find directions on how to make a bolster in one of our favorite sailing DIY books, Don Casey’s Complete Illustrated Sailboat Maintenance Manual. It provides something nice to lean up against when not in use and easily unzips when I’d rather snuggle up in the blanket hidden inside.
What do you think, am I missing anything? Do you have any genius sailboat storage ideas that will change my liveaboard life?
Article updated July 2019. Originally posted in January 2016.