People often ask how we live on the boat with our kids full-time and all get along. My answer is that the people are not the problem: It’s all the STUFF! We get along fine but finding places for all our things is a challenge every single day.
When we moved aboard, I reorganized every area of the boat. I needed the galley to be usable as my full-time kitchen. I needed the bathrooms to have first aid supplies and medicine as well as all the regular toiletries we use at home. I needed somewhere to store all our clothes, toys, books, school supplies and holiday decorations. If the boat was going to be our home, it needed to feel like home. And now that Ben works from the boat full-time, we have an added layer of “stuff” to contend with.
The areas of the boat I focused on originally were the galley cabinets, refrigerator and freezer, bathrooms, underbed storage, closets, storage furniture and dock boxes. When we first moved aboard in 2016, we kept a spreadsheet to track things that were under beds or packed away in closets and not easy to find. This included things like winter coats, toilet paper and paper towel rolls, tubes of toothpaste, etc. I suggest making whatever kind of list works for you, whether that’s a spreadsheet or a handwritten list.
Here are a few tips for each of the spaces:
Make sure everything fits well in your cabinets and drawers. For example, cereal boxes are too tall for our cabinets, so we pour all cereal into snap top containers that fit perfectly. We have also implemented other innovations, such as creating spice racks hung with adhesive inside our cabinets—no drilling or screws required.
Things move on a boat—these fridge/freezer containers keep everything in place when underway. (No more spilled and broken bottles of A-1!)
Much like in the galley, everything shifts when underway. Organize cabinets and medicine chests with small bins to keep items in place. In the shower, we use suction cup holders to keep shampoo bottles off the floor.
Bedrooms and Closets
Most beds have storage underneath, which is fantastic space if it’s easy to get to under the mattress. We use the space to store items we don’t need daily, such as extra toilet paper and paper towels. It is also great for holiday decorations, books you are finished reading, or spare parts you don’t need often, such as extra air filters. Drawers and cabinets built into the bedframe are also useful additional storage. We use ours for storing extra food, towels, off-season clothing and work equipment.
Closets are usually small. We have hanging clothes, and we also use packing cubes (one for packable down winter coats, one for raincoats, two for kids’ swimsuits), which we store in the bottom of the closets or on a shelf.
Command Hooks will hold just about anything—we use them to hang jackets and purses inside closets and extra towels in the bathrooms.
Do what works for you. We removed the high/lo coffee table and barrel chairs that came with the boat and bought furniture that worked for our family. We have kids and needed toy and game storage, so we purchased a coffee table that we can fill with toys which has lift off trays for easy access. We also replaced the barrel chairs with a storage bench filled with games and arts and crafts.
If you have space in your cockpit or on your bow, you may want to consider a dockbox. They make a great space to store exterior boat cleaning supplies, rags, brushes, kids’ scooters and anything else that will fit. They create extra seating space as well, and they are fun to decorate with stickers from all the places you have traveled!
Clutter makes me anxious! The storage and organization changes on our boat all the time. Most recently I tackled our girls’ bathroom cabinets by adding new bins for all their soaps, lotions and hair accessories. Additionally, I’m always adding a basket here and there to stash extra food or water bottles in, just to keep things contained. Questions? I’m always happy to field questions or bounce around ideas of what has worked for us.