How to Add Storage to a Small Boat

Written by will charpentier
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How to Add Storage to a Small Boat
Storage space is at a premium on a small boat. (storage room image by Vonora from

If you ask an old sailor what it's like at sea, he may respond with stories of storms and other fierce times. If pressed about the living conditions, he'll say something like, "Move into a closet with all of your worldly goods for a few months." In the semi-cramped conditions aboard small recreational boats, if you add storage, you can save some of your sanity. Since most small boats utilise every available square inch of space, building a closet may not be an option, but additional storage can be had in other ways.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Stackable containers
  • Screw hooks
  • Storage nets
  • Clear vinyl shoe organisers
  • Back-seat organisers
  • Adhesive hook-and-loop strips
  • Chart cases
  • Rigid CD/DVD case
  • Drill
  • 1/8-inch bit
  • 2 ANSI size 5-40 screws, 1-inch long
  • Screwdriver

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  1. 1

    Add stackable storage containers where the galley has room available. Available at major discount retailers, these open-top containers can be filled and stacked in the galley and are particularly useful for storing things such as table linens and the excess canned food that you can't fit in cabinets or in the storage beneath the bench seating at the galley table.

  2. 2

    Twist screw hooks into the galley overhead and hang storage nets. Storage nets are perfect for storing fresh fruits, other than unripened bananas, and can also be taken to the market when you're provisioning, to be filled with the goods you buy. They work well with vegetables that don't require refrigeration such as onions, bags of elephant garlic, bags of dried chilli peppers or avocados; you can also fill them with bread or chips.

  3. 3

    Twist two screw hooks into place on the back of galley closet doors, 5 feet above the deck. Hang a clear vinyl shoe organiser on the hooks. There's enough space where each shoe would be inserted to accommodate at least two 439gr cans and, because the organiser is clear, you can see exactly what's in it.

  1. 1

    Hang a "back seat organiser" over the back of the pilot chair. If the wheelhouse has additional seating, hand similar organisers over each seat. You can also hang these organisers over the seats in a small-boat cockpit.

  2. 2

    Peel the protective backing off adhesive hook-and-loop strips and place the strips on vertical surfaces of your dashboard to hold items such as flashlights and navigational instruments. In addition to freeing up space on the dashboard, the hook-and-loop strips will secure expensive binoculars or a sextant so they won't fall to the deck when the vessel rolls.

  3. 3

    Store your charts in one or more chart cases. Not only will chart cases keep charts, charting equipment and the various logbooks organised and in one place, chart cases may be removed from the vessel at need.

  1. 1

    Twist screw hooks into the cabin overhead and hang storage nets. Storage nets are perfect for storing clothes or personal items such as toiletries. Storage nets also provide handy storage for your linens. In the head --the bathroom -- storage nets make the perfect place to store extra towels, soap and toilet paper.

  2. 2

    Add stackable storage to your cabin, as well as the galley. Clothes stay fresh when folded and placed in these containers with a fabric softener sheet. If there's space under your bunk, push them under there, or stack them in a vacant corner.

  3. 3

    Hold a rigid CD/DVD storage container, of a size to accommodate your "boat" CDs or DVDs, to a non-structural bulkhead and drill two 1/8-inch holes through it and into the bulkhead with a drill. Continue holding the container in place and thread two 1-inch ANSI size 5-40 screws through the holes in the storage container and into the bores in the bulkhead. Tighten the screws until snug, using a screwdriver.

Tips and warnings

  • Use empty cardboard boxes acquired during provisioning for storage of unripened bananas. This type of temporary storage is disposable at the first port call after the bananas have ripened, and frees up storage space they would have occupied.
  • Never store heavy items, such as canned drinks, in nets hanging from the overhead of any compartment. If you move "wrong" or the boat moves, you may end up with a black eye from a swinging can.

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