Build a Can Pantry for Your Boat

By Carolyn Shearlock © 2012 • all rights reserved

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!

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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  1. Nita Knighton on Facebook says:

    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.

  2. Jill Glover says:

    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.

  3. 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!

  4. Great idea!

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

  6. Candy Ann Williams on Facebook says:

    Such a neat idea…love it!!

  7. AWESOME, just awesome!!!

  8. 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!

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

  10. Nita Knighton on Facebook says:

    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

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

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

  13. 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! ….

  14. Julie Sandler Lambert on Facebook says:

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

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

  16. Richard Van Voris says:

    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

  17. This is so awesome I can’t even begin!

  18. Ken Arnold says:

    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.

  19. Ellen Barrios says:

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

    • 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.

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

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

  22. It is a very good idea!

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

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

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