Afternoon Ramblings: On Storage and Space

Lots of my random thoughts lately have been about storage space and tidiness. When you’re on the move on a sailboat, things get put away regularly because otherwise they’ll fall on the floor and break. Also, when we were living at the dock, I saw clients regularly, so the boat had to be fairly tidy below. All of that has changed. And now, things are starting to bug me.

I’m having trouble keeping the boat tidy enough to suit us. Well, to suit me, actually. This is partly due to the number of projects going on all at once. So I think to myself, ‘well, this is short-lived’. But is it? Is it really? I don’t actually think so. We live with projects. Always have, always will. Life is meaningless to us without our projects; at least the evidence supports that statement. So why can’t I figure out how to do these projects and keep things down to a mild roar in the tidiness department concurrently? There is a solution. I just know it.

The meaning of this will become clear.

Today we sealed that forward hatch. I hope we got it right this time. I have two more to go so why put the cleaner and supplies away? I’d just have to get them out again. So they sit out on the counter in the shop area, along with thousands of other small things. It breaks my brain to think on keeping the shop neat. But thank goodness for that shop area! Without it this boat would be a mess all the time.

The bulkhead in the aft cabin is repaired and Mike has the fiberglass supplies out to do the new fiberglass tabbing at the top. I bought paint supplies for this project and those have no place to ‘live’ until I use them on the bulkhead. There’s a quart of paint and another one of primer, along with some rollers and tape just sitting in the cockpit. They look at me expectantly as I scoot by, but I just ignore them. It’s not their time yet.

All flat surfaces in the boat attract ‘stuff’. This is no different than in a house, but somehow it’s more irritating. I took 30 minutes yesterday clearing the navigation desk off. It looked great. Now it’s already collecting stuff again. I. Will. Win. This one.

I”m just going to take care of this now before it takes on a life of its own.

Mike took the microwave off the top of the cabinet where it has lived since 1992, the vintage posted on the sticker inside the door. It’s a Kenmore. Those used to be built to last and this microwave still works. Now what do we do with it? It’s on the floor until we figure it out. I am using it as a step stool to get onto the v-berth. I bet the 2017 microwaves would crumple if used as such. I feel a bit sorry for this vintage machine, demoted without ceremony from a place of glory in the galley to the floor of what is, in fact, the rumpus room. What a blow. I should put it with the electric tea kettle we can’t use anymore now that we live at anchor. It’s a bit forlorn. They would be companions in their misery. If we were in the marina, we’d put these things on the free pile and they’d be adopted into new forever homes in 20 minutes. In Gig Harbor? Not so much.

We also have a large plastic spool left from the Samson rigging line Mike ordered. It’s a cool spool. I’m sure it’s dead useful for something but we have no place to store it. It would be a dandy aft anchor rode storage thingy. We could store 600 feet of anchor rode on that thing and then set it up to reel the line right out. But the gosh darn storage issue! So what do we do with it? Right now it’s on the aft deck taking up space and bothering me with its presence. I hear it sighing loudly back there, unhappy that it’s not being used for something. This is a spool with high self worth. It knows its own usefulness and resents being made to wait for something worthy to do. I cannot bring myself to throw it in the trash. It feels wrong.

This would be a useful item if only I could find a place for it.

Mike is not satisfied with the many kinds of electronics charging goo gahs that create visual clutter at the navigation area. He wants to take over the spice rack that lives by the companionway and turn that into a charging station. I’m ok with that. He can have it. My spices could never fit in that space anyway and I forget it’s even there.

I had a great storage solution for my sandals. Note that past tense verb: had. I used the spaces created by this ladder that hung on the wall in the aft cabin. This made a great place to store all my sandals. (I am not getting rid of any of them, in case you’re wondering. That’s a firm ‘no’.) Now that we’ve repaired the bulkhead and adjacent wall in that cabin, Mike doesn’t want to hang the ladder back up. He wants to get rid of it. I agree the ladder is completely useless except for the storage potential it offers. Trying to use this to get out of that hatch is an exersize in comedy, if not error. Ask me how I know. If we don’t put this so-called ‘ladder’ back, however, then where will I put my sandals? Come to that, how will we get rid of the ladder?

I have mixed feelings about getting rid of this ladder.

We own a lot of hats. I get tired of a) looking for the right one and b) seeing them laying around everywhere like children suffering from failure to launch. I’ve collected them all and put them in one of those nice plastic beach carriers I got at Shin Shin. I should have bought twice as many of those. Very useful items. All hats now live in the Shin Shin green plastic beach carry-all. Come to think of it, if I did have a few more of these nifty carriers, I’d be able to use one or two to organize the supplies from all the projects while we are in-progress with those. Bingo! A solution! Maybe a trip to Shin Shin will happen. I sure miss my car sometimes.

I wonder what space I would be willing to give up for an on-board washer/dryer? I think about this alot.

These heavy PVC totes are really great. I want to get more of these.

We have too many books and notebooks aboard the boat. We both have Kindles with hundreds of books on them, but still I cannot bring myself to give away more physical books. Also I like the way they look. Having a bookshelf makes the boat feel like a home. A couple of Kindles just doesn’t cut that mustard. I think these books are going to stay, but perhaps I can let go of some of the notebooks. Most of them are blank, in case I get a wild urge to write by hand. I actually do that, so, yeah, I probably will keep them all.

Your thoughts on these storage issues are, as usual, welcome. Also let us know if you need a vintage 1992 microwave. Works great.


18 thoughts on “Afternoon Ramblings: On Storage and Space

  1. I’m slowly going insane with how much clutter “the projects” are creating. Each project keeps leading to more projects, which leads to more tools, supplies, and destruction. If you see headlines about how some woman went postal on her boat, and threw everything overboard while screaming, you’ll know who it is. You are brave to post photos, no way could I do that. (Do you hear desperation speaking here?) I do get some satisfaction out of reading about how you get things accomplished though, keep up the good fight!

    • I will say this: I don’t know how you manage to sew all those big projects on a boat. Sewing makes a huge mess. It would make me crazy to try to accomplish that in the space i have, and I have a good amount of space for a boat! If it were not for Mike’s workshop, I would already be a little bit crazy. Don’t jump off your boat. The water up there it too cold. Just get off the boat for awhile. Today, I’m going to walk around in stores and look at how organized their shelves are! Should be a calming day for me.

  2. Keep the sandal sandal cubby. It’s perfect! It’s not a ladder anymore. It’s a sandal cubby. Not a fan of the Shin Shin carrier but if you are, they can hold a lot. Dump the black reel. Just do it. You’ll forget about it by tomorrow. Keep enough books to make the boat feel cozy. A room without books is cold and lifeless. We have no rooms without books even though we have two libraries. One notebook per person aboard is sufficient. If you need more, you’re going to find cool ones on your travels. Speaking of cool stuff you’ll find on your travels, I recommend a few extra Shin Shins!

    • You speak with wisdom, but I don’t know…I use notebooks for a lot of stuff. I’ll go through them and see what I can do. I agree that a room without books feels lifeless. Back at the house, there is a bookcase in every room. With books. I would like the Shin Shin carriers in a size smaller. Still, they are really useful on a boat. I originally bought one to hold snorkel gear. You can rinse it all with fresh water and not have to spread it out all over the place. See how I think well in advance? Then I discovered they make a useful place to put clothes we are currently wearing, since we wear the same thing every day pretty much. It’s always going to be a work in progress.

  3. My only thought is about the ladder (that’s not entirely true — clutter drives me nuts and is a constant battle). I don’t remember if you have a separate hatch overt your berth or not, but the ladder would come in handy for escaping in the event of a fire. It’s something I always think about because a young couple getting ready to take their boat out had their dinghy secured over the hatch in the v-berth where they were sleeping. A fire broke out and they weren’t able to get out. They died. I don’t remember the details but it was a few years ago in Everett or Bellingham.

    • We do have a hatch in that cabin. The hatch opens into the cockpit. Actually that cabin has three exits due to the boat’s layout. We think this ladder is a poor excuse for an emergency exit considering it is attached to a non-structural wall. One time I tried to use it and I was afraid the thing was going to rip off the wall. I never made it up to the hatch. In an emergency, we believe it would be close to useless. That’s a horrible story, though. Very, very sad.

  4. It’s a never-ending battle on our boat. Stuff is always piled everywhere in the saloon. Probably isn’t helped by the fact that we don’t use the saloon currently (too hot – we’re either in the cockpit or aft cabin), so there’s no real motivation to find a better way to store stuff. Sigh.

  5. Projects are projects and there’s only so much you can do about the clutter they generate. It’s a different issue with the rest of it. I don’t think you’ve got a storage problem, I think you’ve got a stuff problem. As in too much of it and an unwillingness to get ruthless and ditch it. I think you’re still in a “house” mindset and need to get in a boat mindset. If something doesn’t have a defined use, get rid of it (e.g. the spool). If something does have a defined and essential use, keep it but get rid of the backups to the backups for it (e.g. sandals). Sorry for the tough love but someone’s got to say it!

      • When we lived in the house, I was WAY more guilty of this, especially when it came to art projects. When we began to prepare to live aboard, I amended my ways, even though it was sometimes painful. And STILL there are things I know I have and can’t find. It’s a work in progress.

        • By the way, after reading your post I went to one of my storage cupboards, you know the cupboard you put everything in to hide it away pretending you have it under control, and threw away about 60% of it.

          We are all guilty:-(

    • Ah, I think I gave you the wrong impression. The spool is gone. It was more a ‘how do we get rid of this’ issue, although I did have to pause and remind myself that we really do not need a spool to keep our rode. And it really was a cool thing with lots of uses. I hope someone else picks it up and recycles it. Living at anchor, it’s not as easy to get rid of big things like that because where do you throw them out? It’s an interesting problem I did not predict. Your cries of getting rid of the sandals, however, fall on deaf ears. I had a place for them. I will have another place if that one is not replaced. The tree of sandals gets pruned as they wear out, get lost, get ruined,etc. I’m already down one pair due to the boatyard. I’ve been advised by more than one woman sailor to keep them if at all possible. And yet, I know hardly any male sailors who have more than one or two pair. Hmmm.

  6. I’ll probably get spat at, stomped on and thrown out for my comments but let share anyway. I’ve worked in aviation maintenance and that’s one big ongoing project, but there is no space to get it wrong.
    Everything has its place, and if it dosn’t have a place it probably shouldn’ t be there in the first place. It’s easy to say I’ll leave it there thinking I’ll need it tomorrow to use again. Things change and it dosen’t get used then becomes another piece of clutter. Instead of putting it down put it away. When you need it next you will know exactly where it is.
    Saffy The Pook in their earlier comments has it right when they said “If something doesn’t have a defined use, get rid of it (e.g. the spool).”
    Good luck with with your storage 🙂

    • Oh, no, Roy, we never spit, stomp or throw things on our blog except if we are paying homage to whatever gods of the day need it. Certainly never in terms of readers! I do get your point about keeping things ‘just in case’. Sometimes it’s hard to decide on those. We have backups to backups for certain systems, but all those pieces have a place. Don’t worry. The spool is gone. We solved the problem of getting rid of it by taking it to the house to throw away. I probably should have fleshed this idea out more in the post, but getting rid of large items like that isn’t as easy when you live at anchor. We are at the mercy of the city garbage cans, which are too small to fit a large spool into. Same with that useless ladder. We’ll come up with a solution for that, too. We are very fortunate on Galapagos that we have really good stowage aboard!

  7. I feel your pain. The clutter gets to both of us. Soon you will have a routine and it will be much less. I have such a hard time with the shoe thing. I need summer shoes at home; but I need them on the boat too. It’s a constant shuffle back and forth. It seems like I never have the right shoes in the right place.

    We bought our boat two summers ago in Florida. We knew when we bought it that it was a “fixer upper”. For months it seemed that there was always a box (boxes) of stuff at home or on the boat. This spring stuff arrived weekly from Amazon, Wholesale Marine, West Marine and Defender. The inbound trickle and the outbound cash has finally slowed down. The boat is looking much less cluttered. And this past weekend we rearranged storage. Again.

    In 14 days we leave for our much anticipated summer vacation. Sixteen days of Great Lakes boating. I think we are just about ready.

    • See, I knew someone would understand the shoe issue. My problem is that I have sensitive feet. I need good arch support and I need to not wear the same shoes every day. I have a hard time finding shoes that are the right amount of support to keep from being in pain. I am resigned to rearranging storage constantly. It is what it is. I mostly have a zenlike approach to it. I remember the feeling of anticipating the summer cruise! Have a wonderful time.

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