Organizing . . . and Reorganizing

I’ve come to the conclusion that I’ll never have my boat perfectly organized. And so I periodically find myself pulling everything out of a particular area and trying something new . . .

I get a lot of questions about what should go where . . . or “where do I even start?” . . . but the real answer is that you’ll probably periodically decide that something’s just not working and change it around.

On our first boat, at first we found ourselves doing major rearranging maybe once a month, as we discovered that the cubby that looked so perfect for all the tools was really a pain to get anything out of since you had to remove the companionway steps to access it. Or that it didn’t work to have the majority of my canned food under where Dave liked to sit while I was cooking. And so on. That first year was a straight-up learning curve!

I know that I’ve got a problem with how things are organized if things are never put back where they “go.” If a particular item is always left out or just piled on top of something else, it usually means that I’m using it frequently but don’t have it in a place that’s easy to get to. So it gets left on top. That’s a clue I need to find a better place for it.

If Band-Aids, antiseptic and so on keep ending up on the bathroom counter, and I don’t put them back in the big box of first aid supplies, maybe that means that it’s just too hard to get to for the “everyday” things. A small box under the medicine cabinet makes sense for the items we use all the time. A minor reorganization.

Why is it that I can't come up with the perfect organization plan for all our stuff? What makes me periodically reorganize it?

We’ve also learned that we tend to reorganize things by season of the year, or if we’re making a longer stay in a marina. In cold weather, jeans and fleeces get put in the easy-to-access drawers. When we’re out cruising, we rarely use the water hose but the bucket we use for rinsing the anchor chain stays at hand. In a marina, the opposite is true.

If we’re working on Barefoot Gal in a boat yard, things get organized totally differently . . . then things have to go back to their “on the water” homes before we launch again. And yes, I arrange them slightly differently than I did before, hoping to fix the problems I had last year.

When it’s just the two of us, we use the guest bed to make a lot of gear more accessible. But when we have a guest, we find other places to tuck that gear into.

In the galley, packaging can change from one place to another. When we cruised Mexico, in some areas all the wine was sold in bottles; 100 miles away it’d be mostly in boxes. And I’d have to store it in a different place. Ditto for products that were sold canned in one place and in Tetra packs the next time I provisioned.

I used to think that something was wrong with us that we couldn’t find the one “right” place for everything. But now I think that it’s a combination of what we’re doing at a given time and how our lives change over time. And so I periodically reorganize.

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20 Comments
  • Frances Liz Fernandez
    Posted at 27 October 2015 Reply

    Reorganizing makes me evaluate the inventory. As much as I want to keep “stuff” on board if its cute but we aren’t using it then its gotta go.

    • The Boat Galley
      Posted at 27 October 2015 Reply

      Yep! Got rid of a few items, although not much this time around.

  • Cory Nickerson
    Posted at 27 October 2015 Reply

    Can’t wait to see you all down this way again!

  • Becky Croston
    Posted at 27 October 2015 Reply

    Haha! — I need a map to “somewhere” –everything I can’t find in our boat is definitely there!

  • Nicola
    Posted at 27 October 2015 Reply

    Glad it’s not just me! I have learned so much in the last couple of years, but still so much more that I feel could/should be made easier!

  • michelle rene
    Posted at 04 November 2015 Reply

    Oh my I just ran across this while feeling desperate on how to organize and where to begin. Now I see why its a challenge, we havn’t set out yet, still on the dock refitting so the needs are different. I feel like we need to use the galley wall space, like building a spice rack to make room in other areas, but now I’m rethinking if it’s better to have spices in containers for freshness…

    • Carolyn Shearlock
      Posted at 04 November 2015 Reply

      I hear ya! All I can say is that whatever you do, you’ll almost certainly re-do several times as time goes on. I’ve learned to make my best stab at it and then when I see where the problems are — and manage to come up with a “new and hopefully improved” idea — I change it up. And then repeat.

  • Jim Allen
    Posted at 09 September 2016 Reply

    Welcome home

  • Louise Stanley
    Posted at 09 September 2016 Reply

    Just being normal!

  • David Lake
    Posted at 10 September 2016 Reply

    only one thing to say,…..get a bigger boat,……..ha ha ha ha

  • Sami Bolton
    Posted at 10 September 2016 Reply

    Baskets. More baskets.

  • Peg Dixon
    Posted at 10 September 2016 Reply

    I do this at home!! Can’t even imagine onboard..

  • Brittany Mcmanus
    Posted at 10 September 2016 Reply

    Richard Scott Howerton all the time

  • Frances Liz Fernandez
    Posted at 10 September 2016 Reply

    Thanks. Its clear I need to understand when I need to change things around.

  • Debbie Bowen Crawford
    Posted at 10 September 2016 Reply

    This is a weekly pain. I keep thinking this time it will work. Lol

  • Martin Henry
    Posted at 10 September 2016 Reply

    Steve Arvizu Zoraida Abresch

  • Debbie Bowen Crawford
    Posted at 10 September 2016 Reply

    This is what I am putting in every cubby, the slide to the back and have a track that slides over the tracks. Simply perfect solution and one time invesment. Twice the price on Amazon, this is everythingrubbermaid.com. The prior owner had installed 2 of these and I love them.

  • Judith Nelson Cruzan
    Posted at 10 September 2016 Reply

    I love your comment about an item that keeps ending up out of the place it should ‘go’ meaning that place isn’t working. Makes sense, time to find a new place.

  • Jeniffer Pentico
    Posted at 13 April 2017 Reply

    My husband and I live aboard our 45′ Hunter and I’m in organizing hell. I think everything should have a place but my husband doesn’t care what the boat looks like. With everything a mess I keep losing stuff – it’s like a black hole. I think my husband wants us to be a floating Harbor Freight by all the stuff he has purchased. He bought containers with cool compartments but guess what? He didn’t consider where they would be kept. If I sound miserable I’m sorry. I know I “signed up for this” but I’m truly unhappy surrounded by clutter.

    One comment was spot on when it comes to seasons and projects determining organization. I’m to the point now that I will just donate my winter clothes and buy new cheap clothes next winter. Crazy I know but jeans, sweaters, sweats, sweatshirts, etc all take up necessary real estate.

    Ok rant over ?

    • Carolyn Shearlock
      Posted at 13 April 2017 Reply

      Perhaps suggest going for a sail . . . things will have to be put away or they’ll go on the floor. Once the two of you see what doesn’t work, you can work to figure out places for everything.

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