How to store wine or liquor bottles and glasses -- or any other glass bottles -- on a boat? Here's a quick project that'll keep them safe!

Glass Storage

We originally built a “vertical wine rack” in a locker on Que Tal — then realized that it wasn’t just good for wine bottles, it was great for the wine glasses and spare stocks of anything in a glass bottle.  So we created another one in a plastic storage bin!

Admittedly, many people simply stick glass bottles in tube socks and then put them in lockers.  But we wanted something a little more secure and that didn’t have to be rearranged every time we removed one item and created space for things to shift.

As boat projects go, it’s pretty simple.  It took less than an hour after we had the supplies . . . and the supplies are available in most mid-sized towns and larger.

The first thing to do is figure out where you’re going to create the storage area — a locker or a plastic storage bin work equally well.  You won’t be making any permanent modifications to the locker/bin, so you can always change your mind.

How to store wine or liquor bottles and glasses -- or any other glass bottles -- on a boat? Here's a quick DIY project that'll keep them safe!Next, assemble your supplies.  You’ll need PVC, a saw to cut it, sandpaper or a file to smooth the edges, PVC glue (a few newspapers or a plastic bag to protect where you’re gluing will help too), a tape measure or yardstick and a marking pen or pencil.  If you’re building it in a plastic bin, you need that too.  Eventually, you’ll need some tube socks, too — some people like to use dark socks for red wine and white ones for white wine.

About the PVC — if you’re storing standard wine bottles, 4″ PVC works well.  For wine glasses or other bottles, either carefully measure before going to the store or take one with you.  Either thin or thick wall works, and it’s fine if it’s the kind with holes in it for French drains.  If you’re not real picky about the type and are willing to take a piece with a cracked end, you can often get the PVC VERY cheaply.  Since you’re going to be cutting it into short lengths, having to discard a bad section won’t be a problem.

Until you actually start cutting the PVC and dry-fitting it into place, it’s hard to know exactly how many tubes you’ll use, but you can guesstimate pretty well.  I was able to put seven 4″ tubes in a standard milk crate, and there are a few spaces where I can fit small bottles (hot sauce, vinegar) between the tubes in their own protected spots.

Cutting PVC — I made a great discovery about a saw that cuts PVC like a hot knife through butter as I was building the storage to photograph for this article.  It’s great for wood, too, and as far as Dave is concerned if he could have only one hand saw, this would be it.  Read more.

The Project — Figure out how long the tubes need to be — they don’t need to reach all the way to the top of the locker or storage How to store wine or liquor bottles and glasses -- or any other glass bottles -- on a boat? Here's a quick DIY project that'll keep them safe!compartment.  We made them about 10″ long the first time; the second time, we realized that 8″ would protect just as well.  With the shorter height, you can store some “lightweight soft stuff” around the tops of bottles (I put Ziplocs of tea bags and oatmeal packets here) to make use of the space.

Cut the PVC outside the boat.  It creates very itchy sawdust — if you’re like me, you’ll want to take a shower (or at least spray off) after you’ve done the cutting.

Dry fit them as you’re cutting so you know how many to make.  Sometimes by re-arranging the “honeycomb” you can get an extra one or two in.  You can also use more than one diameter PVC if you’re storing a variety of items.

Then smooth off the rough edges and wash down the PVC if needed (be sure to get the “sawdust” off).  Glue the pieces together where they touch.  While this isn’t strictly necessary if it’s a very tight fit, it will be far more stable in general.  There’s no need to glue the PVC into the locker or storage bin unless you’re not planning to use the whole space — but if you do glue it in, you’ll have to cut it to get it out (PVC glue is next to impossible to unbond).

Once the glue cures, the project is done and you can fill the tubes.  Put items first in socks for a bit of padding — for wine bottles, the socks are usually a little longer than the bottles and I just wrap the extra around the top a bit.  For wine glasses, I leave a bit of the sock “scrunched” around the stem and some extra stuck down in the top of the glass.

This also works quite well if you have a liquor locker — just make sure to correctly size the PVC for your choice of bottles, especially if they are oddly-shaped.

How to store wine or liquor bottles and glasses -- or any other glass bottles -- underway?  Here's a quick DIY project to keep them safe!

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  • Bruce
    Posted at 27 July 2012 Reply

    Something my wife of happy memory made some decades ago was a hanging wine rack made from macrame. It had four small loops that the necks of the wine bottles went into and above them were four larger loops that fit the diameter of the wine bottle itself. The bottles rested in a slightly neck down position to keep the corks wet and insure that they would not slide out accidentally. The bottom terminated in a basket containing a corkscrew and other stuff. The top was a steel ring that went into a hook in the ceiling. For a boat it might be useful to secure the bottom to the deck to reduce swing. It was decorative and useful and would likely work on a catamaran – not sure about a monohull. But cheap and easy to make, and would fold up for storage if not needed.

  • Dave
    Posted at 03 May 2013 Reply

    I wonder if putting some insulation/cushion inside the tubes would keep you from needing to put the bottles in socks. I think I’ll do this project for my van (I don’t have a boat) and maybe adding foam weather stripping would work.

    I’m enjoying your website – thank you! I started on Thermos cooking but now I’ve been all over the site. Nicely done!

  • Christine Bailey
    Posted at 20 November 2013 Reply

    What a great idea! Thank you!!

  • Angie Morales
    Posted at 21 November 2013 Reply

    I have used the socks to cushion our wine bottles and then pack them in our cooler-minus the ice of course. Then when we need a bottle simply slip off the sock and a clean bottle of wine is at hand.

  • Sue
    Posted at 20 November 2013 Reply

    I use stubby holders around wine glasses. They hang from a hanging glasses rack with pegs over the ends when we go to sea. The glasses have to be the right size – and shape – wine-tasting glasses are perfect. I like the tube idea. Our bottles of sauces,, oil etc are in a crate with solid floor so if there is a spillage it doesn’t get into everything. I try and get plastic where I can and then refill packs. The take up less room and weight when provisioning too. I haven’t had a breakage in there yet even with glass bottles and I intersperse them with the plastics so there is no clinking, but there is always the fear… and we have been in some pretty ordinary conditions.

  • Sailor Cherry
    Posted at 20 November 2013 Reply

    Great post! Although, there is something fun about finding a random wine glass nestled in your underwear drawer! Thanks for the step by step, adding it to the list.

  • Elly Smith
    Posted at 21 November 2013 Reply

    We have used socks for years on board for our glass and non-glass glasses, as it also helps prevent scratches. They are simply stored in a cupboard and nothing moves or gets broken.

  • Jennifer Davis
    Posted at 21 November 2013 Reply

    Great article, thanks for sharing. I love vintage & antique items & found an old milk crate on eBay for $35. It’s marked 1947 Sunshine Dairy Farms, Bronx New York. It is my onboard minibar, looks & works great but when underway I quickly stuff some bubble wrap between the bottles to play it safe. It sits snuggly behind the companionway stairs & doesn’t budge. Only needs to be moved when I check the engine which is underneath.

    • Carolyn Shearlock
      Posted at 21 November 2013 Reply

      I love the idea of a mini-bar in a milk crate!

    • The Boat Galley
      Posted at 21 November 2013 Reply

      That is so cool looking!

    • Jennifer Davis
      Posted at 21 November 2013 Reply

      Thanks so much, now it’s full of bottles. I hide a small colored LED light at the bottom & it makes all the bottles glow at night. Silly little touch but it looks completely awesome.

    • The Boat Galley
      Posted at 21 November 2013 Reply

      Oooh, even better!

  • Maria Cullum
    Posted at 15 October 2014 Reply

    Thank you, will definitely do this.

  • Anne Ellingsen
    Posted at 15 September 2017 Reply

    I like it

  • Marianna Akaczonek
    Posted at 16 September 2017 Reply

    I use stubbie coolers for storage of any glass containers works a treat and takes up no room.

  • Val Arden
    Posted at 05 December 2017 Reply

    I always keep onboard an extra roll or two of the spongey shelf liner. I can zigzag it around a case of wine laid flat in a deep cupboard and nothing clinks. While I try to alternate plastic jars with glass ones –as someone mentioned earlier, in the shelf-food locker — I also rely on the sponge cloth to tuck into any problem areas. And a roll of sponge cloth is a perfect wedge for the wall-mounted TV when underway. I only keep one highball glass onboard, the rest are the BPA free plastic type, so protecting that is no great effort.

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