Easy Storage Drawers

No boat has enough organized storage space. Lots of catamarans have more “cabins” than the owners need, and so the owners turn one or more into storage areas. The problem is, how do you organize storage space that is essentially on a bed?

That was our problem with our starboard aft cabin. Located just behind the galley, it was the perfect location for storing food for longer trips. At first I just used a bunch of open bins, but I soon found that I tended to dump everything into the closest bins, not into the ones where they really belonged. The bins were also a pain since the watermaker was under the front of the bed, and the compartment had to be opened to run it thus necessitating moving the first row of bins.

I knew of several people who used stacking bins, but that struck me as a pain for things that I used every day. How many times would I stack and restack each day?

I wanted drawers, so that things would be easy to get to.

But —

  • We didn’t want another project – a couple hours, max.
  • It had to be lightweight – catamarans are very weight sensitive.
  • It had to be moveable in order to clean the raw water strainer for the engine and also service the watermaker (let alone if we ever had to replace the water tank).
  • It had to be able to be secured so that drawers wouldn’t slide open underway.
  • Budget friendly

Wood was out, from “project,” cost and weight standpoints, even if it could be made to be easily moved. There’s also the fact that while Dave and I can do many things, carpentry isn’t high on the list.

Plastic modular drawers seemed like the way to go. I’ve used Sterilite drawer units in the past and they’d held up well in high use (abuse?) areas. You can get them in various sizes and most are sid as multiples of the other sizes so that you can mix and match to get ones that fit in your space and for what you want to store in them.

You have to store the heaviest items in the bottom drawers. The ones that I bought have clips on the back so that the top drawers don’t tip when pulled out — if the drawers you buy don’t have these, you can simply cable-tie one level to the next.

I’ve been using the drawers now for over a year and love them. See photos below for how I secured them underway. (NOTE: I would not use these on a monohull unless in very protected waters.)

See all the sizes and combos on Amazon (you can also find them at most discount and big box stores – often not as large a selection, however):

Drawers are behind the watermaker access. I made webbing “belts” with quick clips so that the drawers won’t open underway (I leave them unclipped at anchor). Labels help!

An easy, lightweight and economical way to organize storage areas on a catamaran

The belt also makes it easy to move one section of drawers for access to the long-term storage (in bins) behind.

The belt also makes it easy to move one section of drawers for access to the long-term storage (in bins) behind.

There are other brands of modular drawer units — the big thing is to get ones that can stack together and that are sturdy enough for boat use. In general, I don’t like ones with woven drawers for food, because if one package or can gets a pinhole leak, the mess will NOT be contained. Woven or otherwise ventilated drawers, however, are great for clothing, towels and bedding. Some people like the fabric drawers, but I don’t as I find that they pick up mold and mildew and are almost impossible to clean (they usually can’t be washed).

I got the webbing and “side release buckles” on Amazon, too.

An easy, lightweight and economical way to organize storage areas on a catamaran

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  • Connie Smith
    Posted at 18 October 2016 Reply

    This idea worked great for me too!

  • Michele Dunn - Wind Spirit
    Posted at 18 October 2016 Reply

    Hi Carolyn,

    I’m curious why you don’t think these would be good for a monohull? I’ve been using the Sterility 3-drawer chest in our V-berth for about 8 months or so while on the hard and now in a slip. I use them mainly for clothes and I use another smaller set for office supplies and kind of a junk drawer. We will be headed to the Bahamas soon and I do plan to secure them, much like you have. What am I missing?

    I love having drawers rather than bins or tubs (way too much stacking/unstacking or moving them numerous times to get what you need). We only have a 30′ boat, so I need all the storage I can get. Thanks!

    • Carolyn Shearlock
      Posted at 19 October 2016 Reply

      I think you’d have to secure them to the hull itself and then secure the drawers so that they can’t open on a monohull, due to the much greater motion (we used to have a monohull). Things are much, much more likely to tip over on a mono. As long as you can secure them well enough, they could work.

  • Monika
    Posted at 18 October 2016 Reply

    I did the EXACT same thing in the starboard stateroom of our Endeavour trawler Cat. Down to the black webbing straps! Needed to organize the provisions (gluten and dairy free)!l for our ICW trip

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