Got a shallow little compartment that's not used for much? Build a can pantry that's easy to access and easy to see immediately what you have!

Build a Can Pantry for Your Boat

Does your boat have a really shallow “locker” (using the term loosely) behind one or more of your settees? If so, use it to create a great can pantry!

This is another one of those “why didn’t I think of that?” ideas.  Aboard their liveaboard sailboat, Ever After, Sami and Barry Shreve created the can pantry shown in the photo.  The best thing about it, says Sami, “was being able to see and access cans at a glance.”  Although she pulled the settee back down totally for the photo, in everyday use she could just tip it forward a bit, see what she wanted and grab it.

One thing that immediately struck me was that it removed one step from my whole “putting away the provisions” routine:  labelling the can tops.  Not a monstrous task, I’ll admit, but one that added a half hour or so to the chore when we did a big provisioning run.

Got a shallow little compartment that's not used for much? Build a can pantry that's easy to access and easy to see immediately what you have!And I love that you can totally see what you have!  The close-up at right shows just how easy it is to find what you want, with all the cans in a single layer.

I kept my cans in a top-opening locker, with two layers.  So if what I wanted wasn’t in the top layer, I’d have to start pulling cans out to look underneath them until I found what I wanted.

Sami and Barry liked the system so well that on their current boat, a trawler named Deja Vu, they’re going to build a similar pantry this summer.

If you find that your cans roll a bit particularly as you take a few cans out, you can toss a few rolls of toilet paper onto the shelves, as Sami did.  Other options would be to glue foam to the settee back or putting a few rags between the cans and the back.

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27 Comments
  • Nita Knighton on Facebook
    Posted at 06 February 2012 Reply

    great idea, Thank You. . I am lucky enough to have a full pantry on the boat , it is next to the head. . .we have learned to multi-task.

  • Jill Glover
    Posted at 06 February 2012 Reply

    I currently own the boat, “Ever After” with the can pantry. My husband and I bought her from Sami last April. This was a selling point that caught my eye. One can never have enough storage on board. I love this as we can provision enough to last 6 weeks or more without overcrowding. There is also a storage near the table that I can store several bottles of wine that ride great when under sail.

  • Mid-Life Cruising!
    Posted at 06 February 2012 Reply

    Great idea! This year we’ll be getting “Nirvana” ready for cruising, and this is something we’ll have to add to the list. Thanks!

  • Mid-Life Cruising! on Facebook
    Posted at 06 February 2012 Reply

    Great idea!

  • California Delta Magazine on Facebook
    Posted at 06 February 2012 Reply

    That’s very cool. I have the perfect spot on my boat for a pantry. Thank You

  • Candy Ann Williams on Facebook
    Posted at 06 February 2012 Reply

    Such a neat idea…love it!!

  • DeeDee
    Posted at 06 February 2012 Reply

    AWESOME, just awesome!!!

  • Darien
    Posted at 06 February 2012 Reply

    This is a fantastic idea! Thank you so very much for sharing. The only question is that we have a catamaran. These types of boats are typically so sensitive to weight. I wonder how this same concept could be applied to both hulls using lighter weight shelves… Your site offers so much along the lines of galley tips/tricks and well, common sense boating tips. Thank you – you’re doing an OUTSTANDING job!

  • Darien Vaught on Facebook
    Posted at 06 February 2012 Reply

    Fabulous! Keep the ideas comingl you’re tips are invaluable!

  • Nita Knighton on Facebook
    Posted at 07 February 2012 Reply

    not sure what happened to the rest of my comment. . I Love all of your ideas and can’t wait to put many to use this Sailing Season

  • The Boat Galley on Facebook
    Posted at 07 February 2012 Reply

    Sometimes FB totally confounds me! Oh well . . . technology!

  • Brittany and Scott
    Posted at 08 February 2012 Reply

    Love love LOVE this!!!! Definitely stealing this idea!! Thanks Carolyn!!

  • Robert VanBurkleo on Facebook
    Posted at 23 February 2013 Reply

    Great idea! Since I am refitting the boat now I am going build a pantry and use the shelfreliance can rotation system. But I may also use the system you show here. Thanks! …. http://www.shelfreliance.com/all-products/frs-food-rotation-systems/the-cansolidator-series.html

  • Julie Sandler Lambert on Facebook
    Posted at 23 February 2013 Reply

    Ok, now it’s on the to do list! Great idea.

  • Louise Kennedy on Facebook
    Posted at 23 February 2013 Reply

    Wow! Love it! It’s on our wish list now!

  • Richard Van Voris
    Posted at 09 July 2013 Reply

    Brilliant concept! I am in the process of building my dream boat, a 32′ Jay Benford designed trawler style called a “Friday Island Ferry”. I have finished hull, decks and infrastructure and I am currenty starting on the galley and head fixtures as well as the ongoing electrical system. This idea for the cans behind the seating on the dinette is spot on; perfect for my project. I am so glad I saw it before I built the piece. Thanks again
    Richard Van Voris
    West Falmouth
    MA

  • Marsha Dickgieser
    Posted at 12 October 2013 Reply

    This is so awesome I can’t even begin!

    • The Boat Galley
      Posted at 12 October 2013 Reply

      Our boat had a spot this would have worked perfectly in . . . but did we think of such a thing?? Heck, no. But I love it — very glad Sami shared it!

  • Ken Arnold
    Posted at 12 October 2013 Reply

    I use the shallow soda can/bottle type racks (quasi Milk crates) in those lockers to keep things organized and use plastic wrap around the cans to keep the moisture off the labels. Tuna and similar size Ham cans wrapped 3-4 together then stacked.

  • Ellen Barrios
    Posted at 18 January 2014 Reply

    I LOVE THIS IDEA!! But…how do you secure this wonderful can pantry in the event of a knockdown?

    • Carolyn Shearlock
      Posted at 18 January 2014 Reply

      It’s in a shallow locker behind the settee, so it should already have hardware to secure it. But if not, you could use screws like you’d do to secure the floorboards but here, to secure the settee back to the compartment behind it. OR you could do a locking-type latch on it.

  • Sami Bolton
    Posted at 24 August 2014 Reply

    Its always so cool to see this! It was such an easy project, but my husband makes everything look easy!

    • The Boat Galley
      Posted at 25 August 2014 Reply

      Thanks so much for sharing it Sami! I think I may do a variation on the idea on our new boat, but have to wait until we’re on it and how the “real life” organizing goes!

  • Jan Bogart
    Posted at 25 August 2014 Reply

    we did that on our sailboat….now have loads of room under the settee on our trawler.

  • The Sea and Sailors
    Posted at 26 August 2014 Reply

    It is a very good idea!

  • Jan Bogart
    Posted at 17 July 2016 Reply

    My husband built a great one on our S&S sloop.

  • Colin Mombourquette
    Posted at 18 July 2016 Reply

    A great idea; it should work perfectly on my Alberg 29 sailboat.

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