28 February 2010

Optimizing Space and Storage

With two people living aboard a 34' sailboat, space is at a premium. Imagine sleeping, cooking, and doing everything else you would do in a normal apartment, but in the space of a small bedroom. For a yard, you have a space about 34'x8' and even that space is comprised of varying levels, angles, and contains all sorts of obstructions. There's just not a whole lot of room, to say the least. So, here we'll share a few modifications that were made during the refit to enable more useful, and just some general storage tricks we use to optimize what we have.

In the V-berth is a pair of storage bins. Once upon a time, the bin pictured here was actually a pair of drawers. Each drawer was about big enough to stow a pair of socks, or a half-dozen field mice. There was actually more wasted space around the drawers than there was in them. So, we fixed it. Now in their place is a top-loading bin, with a horizontal divider built in between. The divider is simply two 1/4" pieces of luan resting on cleats. The drawer fronts were removed and placed on hinges to allow access from the front if the berth is made up in bed form.

I've had a few people ask me where we keep our clothes, after seeing the hanging closet's miniscule size. Well, they are in fact ALL in there. One of the refit projects was to retrofit the closet with shelves, which netted us a HUGE gain in usable storage. To any boaters out there who are looking for the solution, let me tell you this: shelves beat out hangers any day. As seen in the picture, one half of the closet was converted. Space that once could hold about 12 hanging items (tightly packed) now holds our entire wardrobes, including shoes. LED touch lights are installed to make finding things at least slightly easier. Also added was a small shelf along the contour of the hull at the back of the hanging section that would otherwise just be open space.

Long items can be problematic to store on a boat. Rarely do we have a compartment with the length required to store long items. One of our solutions to this was to add tall stakes to a narrow but long shelf tucked under the nav station.

Even items that you wouldn't normally think of as being hard to store become a problem when your space is so limited. Some things that you would never notice tucked into the back of your closet can become impossibly hard to find a place for. One such example would be Darcy's canvases (for painting). The biggest one is 24"x24," which fits absolutely nowhere on the boat, and thusly floated around the cabin for a few weeks. We finally found a large, flat spot to store them: the overhead.

And of course, we have the almost always present net hammock above the settee. This holds a vast amount of snack foods, and tends to accumulate daily essentials like hats and gloves, green suspenders and pub signs. Seen under the hammock is the settee berth lee cloth, also being used in hammock form.

And, that's it for now. As an update, we're still trying to leave. Again. Since our tides here are wind driven, we're waiting for a south wind to blow the water in enough to bump our way out. Unfortunately, several gorgeous weather windows have passed with us sitting in the mud at the bottom of the canal.

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