Knowing Where Stuff Is

By Carolyn Shearlock © 2015 • all rights reserved

Too much stuff in too small a space leads to putting things in weird places and then not remembering where. How we finally got a handle on knowing where things are.

One of the questions that I always get asked is how do you know where stuff is on the boat?

And it was one of our big problems when we began cruising on our first boat, particularly with provisions.

I had some milk boxes under the floor boards near the galley, some behind the settee and still others behind my baking supplies under the nav station. Juice boxes were under the settee, behind the settee and in the shower sump (we always showered on deck with a Sunshower). Canned goods were in a locker in the galley, under two settees and under the bed.

I may not have known where it all was, but we sure weren’t going to starve!

When we first moved aboard, I assigned each locker/storage space a number and used a spreadsheet to list what was where. That was a total failure as I didn’t update the spreadsheet as I moved things to make it more convenient.

And then I wouldn’t remember what I had and I’d buy more and put it in still another place . . . or sometimes, put it where I’d stashed the same thing before and then forgotten about it.

There had to be a better way!

It finally hit me. For coastal cruising, there was no reason to carry so many provisions. A three week supply of food was sufficient. I didn’t need three months worth.

And with that, suddenly there was plenty of room in logical places for our food. No more juice boxes in the bathroom or spaghetti rolled in charts. My whole supply of something could be together.

Okay, I’ll admit, when we went into areas where I knew certain items were hard to find, I might take extra – but only of the things that I knew I wouldn’t be able to get.

The bottom line is that people everywhere eat. Unless you’re going to an area without people, or to a place where they get limited supplies such as some remote islands, you’ll be able to get more food. Most places have toilet paper, too.

If you’re going offshore, sure, you’ll need more provisions. And if you’re heading to a new country or a remote area, you want to consult cruising guides and/or people who have recently been there (Facebook groups for various cruising grounds are good for this) to see what things may be hard to get and lay in a bit of an extra stock of those items.

In general, though, I’ve found that carrying less makes boat life a lot easier. And while food provisions are the biggest thing we’ve cut back on, we also realized that for most places we go, we don’t need a dozen watermaker prefilters (a couple will suffice) or three gallons of oil for the diesel (one, sometimes two, will do).

The boat is lighter (all that stuff adds up), handles better, moves faster . . . and we just know where stuff is since we don’t have it stuffed in weird or multiple places any longer!

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Comments

  1. Isn’t it amazing how easy it is to “lose” stuff in such a small space?! Bilge bait, lost overboard, or buried under a pile of other stuff in a locker…???

  2. Food is not the problem – some times I just can not see the stuff that is right in front of me. Clothes under clothes. Light is the solution

  3. Now if only my husband would take this same approach with tools. ;).

  4. Our standard line about losing stuff is “Well, it can’t be more than a few feet way… or gone forever.”

  5. I spent two weeks making a loose leaf binder into an inventory. Designating an id # for each space then listing it with contents and then again an alphabetized list with location. I liked this better than the downloaded spread sheet because by writing it twice I had imprinted it in my memory and also, it’s easier to carry a binder around than a laptop. I know it’s dinosaur thinking, but this has been working like a charm for about 3 months.
    Merry Christmas all!

  6. Try Whats on my boat. An App. Excellent

  7. We learned this lesson also. I had canned goods that were expiring before we could eat them. It is true. People eat everywhere. And it’s fun to shop locally.

  8. Did you add any storage to your boat? Sometimes when we are looking at potential boats to buy I look at the galley area and think, how would I even store a weeks worth of food in here??

    • One cabin — just aft of the galley — is pretty much a pantry now, and the “guest” cabin has a bunch of stuff sotred in it whenever there isn’t a guest (which is most of the time). On our previous boat, the quarterberth was used for storage. And on both boats, we turned some hanging storage areas into shelved.

  9. I know where the food is, but I spent about 2 days looking for some stuff that I have now decided has walked off the boat by itself.
    This on 29′, and I’ve been living on board for over 2 yrs … *hangs head in shame*

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