Organizing the smaller spaces

For us, one of the keys to living comfortably in the small space of a boat is to reduce clutter and keep our frequently-used items easily accessible. Reducing clutter isn’t just for appearances–it also means we can leave the dock on a moments notice without having to spend a half-hour stowing loose items. And if commonly-used items are properly organized and easily accessible, we won’t waste time searching for something we’ve misplaced. The key to keeping things organized is to make it easy–we aim to have systems so that items can be retreived and put away properly with minimal effort. When something is frustrating to access or stow, we’re less likely to put it away properly. We try to follow a couple of simple rules: 1) if we spend too much time dealing with a commonly-used item, we find a new place or stowage system for it and 2) if we have to move a less-frequently used item to access a more commonly-used one, we find a new place for that first item.

Stowing items means you need to have a place for them. As much as possible throughout the boat, we added locker doors and made even small dead spaces accessible. Then we tried to make maximul use of those smaller spaces, particularly the ones we’d access most frequently. Three small lockers with shelves in the salon are a convenient place to store keys and other loose items, but the shelves are small compared to the vertical height of the space. To make best use of the storage, we early on added a 4-hook key rack to one and two 3″x6″x2.5″ bamboo boxes to another. The bamboo boxes effectively turn one shelf into three.

One place we found frustrating to deal with, but took a while to solve, was the laundry area in the day head area The only convenient space available to store detergent etc was in the open area on the washing machine lid. But this meant we had to move things off every time we opened the lid. It wasn’t a huge deal, but it was breaking rule (1). We tried just putting everthing on the floor for the few hours a week when we did laundry, but didn’t like that much either–too messy-looking. We had a difficult time finding a storage system that would attach to the louvered door, be big enough to hold detergent bottles, yet not be too tall or deep for the space. Eventually we found these kitchen cabinet organizers. They are designed to hang from a cabinet door, but we removed the hanging part, attached the two together with cable ties, and screwed the whole unit onto the cabinet door. A hook above holds our folding laundry basket. As a separate item we also added a magnet, visible in the upper left of the vertical picture, to hold the dryer door open. When loading and unloading in rougher water, we no longer have to worry about banging our head on the swinging door.


Another rule (1) violation was glove storage in the pilot house wet locker. We’d been just keeping them in a pile on the locker floor, but were always digging through trying to find the right pair. We had a small strip on the door above the louver to install hooks, but needed a way to hang gloves that wouldn’t extend above the top of the door. We settled on an eight-hook key rack and these Grip Clips. The clip’s non-slip rubber grips hold the gloves well, and they easily hang on the hooks without preventing the door from closing. We expect to find more uses for these clips.

For other organization ideas, see Really Useful Boxes and Galley storage.


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