Organizing . . . and Reorganizing

By Carolyn Shearlock © 2015 • all rights reserved

Feel like you're always reorganizing the storage on the boat? It happens to us all. Here's why.

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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  1. 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.

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

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

  4. 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!

  5. 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…

    • 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.

  6. Welcome home

  7. Just being normal!

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

  9. Baskets. More baskets.

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

  11. Richard Scott Howerton all the time

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

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

  14. Steve Arvizu Zoraida Abresch

  15. 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 The prior owner had installed 2 of these and I love them.

  16. 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.

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