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Storage on a Boat: Ways to Stay Organized on Your Boat

Whether you own a wake boat, a houseboat, a fishing boat, or anything in-between, being tidy on your boat is not optional because utilizing every inch of boat storage space is critical. Keeping your decks, your galley, your lockers, your cabins, and your bridge free from clutter is not only going to make you have a more enjoyable boating experience and enable you to find things when you need them, but it’s safer too. Clutter causes trip hazards as well as being dangerous when you can’t find a vital item needed for safety, navigation, or handling. Planning the storage for your boat is never quite as straightforward as it might seem, however, and it’s very different from storing items in your home.

Here we’ll take a look at how to plan your boat storage as well as reveal some of our best boat storage ideas and hacks. 




storage in the interior of the boat

This cabin is free of clutter because the owner took careful consideration of the available boat storage.


How to Plan Your Boat Storage

At first glance it might seem that your boat has a wonderful amount of storage. There are cupboards, shelves, and lockers everywhere, space under the sofas and seats, and in every conceivable corner. But how accessible is all this boat storage? Because of their compact designs, boats tend to have their storage areas tucked into recesses, underneath larger items and deep inside the hull, which can make access an issue, as well as dampness in some cases. While many of these areas are great for items you don’t use on a regular basis, what happens to all those things you do need often?

So the first step when planning your boat storage is to consider:

  1. How often you’ll need access to certain items.

  2. Which items need to be kept free from dirt, mold, and mildew.

  3. How easy it is to put things away and get them out.


deck storage compartments

Boat storage compartments in open decks often get moist or downright wet inside, but they can still be used to store items that won't be harmed by water, like boat cleaning supplies.


Making a plan for your boat storage is a really good idea as it allows you to take a step back and look at what equipment you’ve got and how much space you’ve got to put it in. From there you can plan additional storage needs.

Here are some ideas on making a plan for boat storage:


  • De-clutter your boat

The less stuff you have on board, the better. So sort out everything you have on your boat and get rid of things you don’t use. The way you use the boat will determine the amount of equipment you have, whether you’re living on your boat, long-term cruising, fishing, or just using it for day trips. 


  • Make a note of all the built-in storage

Go through the boat and list all the storage areas you have, noting which ones are the most accessible and their sizes. This will allow you to see where you can put additional storage afterwards.


  • Assign equipment to storage areas

Make a list of roughly what will go where. It doesn’t need to be an item-by-item list but should offer a general idea of what types of equipment can be stored in which area. You’ll want to take into account the fact that boats are wet, so some items will need to be stored in dry areas, while accessibility is also a key factor.


  • Create additional storage

Once you know roughly what will go where, you can then make those built-in spaces work better by creating additional storage. There are many ingenious ways to create it, which we will look at below, from containers to hanging baskets, and foldable items to racks and rails. And while you’re figuring out how to rearrange what’s in the cabin, be sure to read Tips on how to restore the interior of your boat.


boat storage

Everywhere from the cockpit to the cabin, boats have integrated storage cabinets and lockers.You can, however, expand your boat-storage options.


Boat Organization Tips

Storing things on a boat is vastly different from storing them in your house. At home, it’s common to space your belongings out, leave things decoratively on work tops or shelves, and have easy access to everything you own in cupboards, drawers, or furniture. On a boat, every corner, locker, or space is utilized and items have to be stored in a specific way.

Here are some things to consider when planning your boat storage:


  • Boats gets wet!

Damp is a major issue on boats and therefore even items stored inside a cabin have a high chance of getting moist at some point. When it comes to items such as clothes, electronics, charts, and bedding, be sure to keep them in watertight containers, plastic bins, or vacuum bags to keep water out. 


  • Things will move when you’re underway

It’s all very well to neatly store everything when you’re tied up in a tranquil marina, but as soon as the boat starts to move, so will everything on board. Prepare for a worst-case scenario, and make sure everything is well secured before each voyage, even if it looks calm. Ensure all cupboards have locks or latches to secure them when underway, and use bungee cords, ropes, or nets to secure anything that might roll around.


  • Keep things accessible

We’ve talked a lot about accessibility, but it really does play a key role in successful boat storage. Safety equipment, for example, can’t be tucked away deep in a locker or under the bed. Neither can tools or items you might need for quick repairs. A good rule of thumb is to try and store things you’ll use on deck and things you might use at the helm, engine space, cabins, or galley in their respective areas. When it comes to tucking things away in less accessible storage areas, consider putting items such as spare bedding or bulk food items there. Vacuum storage bags and bins are excellent for long-term storage. 


  • Only keep what you need in the galley

Keep small amounts of cooking staples such as flour, rice, and other dry goods in smaller containers, and store bulk packets somewhere less accessible. It’ll keep your galley tidy and leave more space for other things. Hanging rails, magnetic strips for metal utensils, or baskets are also great space savers in the galley. 


boat kitchen with storage

Accessing storage on a boat can be tough and may change with the situation. Getting under those settee cushions, for example, will be easy when the boat is empty. But when people are sitting around the table chatting, not so much. 


8 of the Top Storage Ideas for Boats

When it comes to boat storage you need to get creative to create additional usable spaces.

Here are some of our favorite storage ideas you can use on your boat:


  1. Rope Organizer: We’ve talked a lot about interior storage, but it’s important to keep decks clear, too. It gives you more space to enjoy your boat and it’s also safer. Lines and ropes can be trip hazards and look messy so invest in some rope organizers, which allow you to coil the lines into handy bags that hang on the rails. 

  2. Straps: In the same way that lines and ropes need to be kept tidy, power cords and hoses can also get tangled if not stored properly. Purchase some inexpensive, durable, marine-grade straps to keep everything neat and accessible. 

  3. Helm Organizer:  When you’re at the helm, it’s vital to have everything you need close to hand, and helm organizers are just the thing to help you do it. They have pockets and come in varying sizes, can be hung on the back of a door, and will accommodate everything you might need from your sunglasses to your keys, phone, and water bottle. 

  4. Magnetic Strips: Knives and metal utensils don’t need to fill up valuable drawer space if you install a magnetic strip on the wall for them. This creates storage out of thin air, and nothing will fall over when underway. 

  5. Door Hanger: Every conceivable space can be turned into some sort of storage on a boat and the backs of the doors are no exception. A simple hook can be used for coats, foul weather gear, or sweaters, but go a step further with a hanging organizer, complete with pockets.

  6. Collapsible Items: Everything from your colander to a stool, laundry bag, or drying racks should be collapsible to save on space when not in use. 

  7. Dry Bags: With damp and moisture always an issue on boats, investing in some waterproof dry bags of varying sizes is a good idea. Use them to store items on deck that will get the wettest, or for taking things to and from your boat. If dropped in the water they are watertight, they’ll float, and they’ll save your belongings. Made from extremely strong waterproof materials, they come in sizes from handy tiny ones perfect for your keys, phone, and wallet, to huge ones for pillows and bedsheets.

  8. Racks, racks and more racks: When you’ve exhausted all the cupboards and lockers, it’s time to get creative and that’s where wall space comes into the equation. Small racks, especially in the galley or head compartment, can handle lots of bottles, jars, condiments, or toiletries, and keep them from moving around underway. 


boat seat storage

Many boats have storage inside of or under the cockpit seats.


Final Thoughts

Keep in mind that a boat of any size is going to have a limited amount of storage space. Luckily, there are many creative storage options that can help you make the best use of the space you have. Here at Rightboat.com we’re passionate about all things boating. Not only do we have the largest collection of new and used boats for sale all over the world, but we want to help you enjoy your boat to its fullest too. Check out our guides to boat ownership for ideas, help and inspiration. 


Written By: Samantha Wilson

Samantha Wilson has spent her entire life on and around boats, from tiny sailing dinghies all the way up to superyachts. She writes for many boating and yachting publications, top charter agencies, and some of the largest travel businesses in the industry, combining her knowledge and passion of boating, travel and writing to create topical, useful and engaging content.

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