Tips on Storage on a Small Boat

Written by karen waggoner
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Tips on Storage on a Small Boat
Challenge every boat occupant to anticipate how to stow the belongings he brings aboard. (Jupiterimages/ Images)

Whether canoe, kayak, rowboat or day sailor, all small boats offer storage challenges and possibilities, and human nature seems to require that every occupant bring just a few necessities for the day's activities. Because space on a small boat is so limited, those items must be few and proper storage should be provided for before the need arises.

Storage Options

Before embarking on a plan for storage on a boat, explore the options on other small boats and recreational vehicles. Ask other boat owners how they manage to provide comfortable space aboard their boats while also providing places for drinks and sandwiches, fishing rods and bait, life jackets and safety cushions as well as oars, anchors and gasoline cans. The amount of space on a boat will strongly affect the number of people and the activities they can enjoy on or from the boat.

Storage Plans

Make a list of all the items that must be stored on the small boat. Begin by thinking of all the possible activities that you plan to launch from the boat, beginning with a short canoe trip to visit a neighbour. Lifejackets, sunglasses and sandals can all be carried on and off by the boaters, but adding more activities to the hypothetical trip, like a picnic on the opposite shore or a few hours' fishing, will multiply the supplies needed.


Even the simplest picnic will usually require the use of a cooler. Some are small enough to tuck under the bow of a canoe or to slide under a seat. Many boaters find coolers to be ideal storage solutions because they can double as dry storage and occasionally can replace seats. Many kinds of coolers, unless heavily packed, will float and keep the contents dry, at least temporarily.

Other Containers

Ingenious boat owners have devised storage in a number of other containers, including plastic storage bins, stackable tubs and the boxes designed to hold ammunition. Storage bags for tightly rolled clothing items will help keep fabrics dry and minimise space required. Dry storage for safety items such as flares and first aid kits require the use of containers in placed in easy-to-locate spaces.

Nets and Bags

For boats with interior space, hanging storage is appropriate. Professionals have long used cargo nets to suspend items over bunks and seats, and mesh bags are perfect for organising personal items such as books and an extra swimming costume. Accessories intended for use in cars are also helpful in boats, especially the organiser bags that hang on the backs of seats.

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