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Five Pounds of S__t in a One Pound Bag

Where can it be?
Now let me see,
In locker A or locker B.
Perhaps it’s forward,
No, it’s aft!
I swear, I think
I’m going daft!

(Poem from one of the boating cookbooks belonging to our friend, Sandy Netting. It was she who first suggested to us a detailed storage inventory for the boat.)


It took four car-loads to transport all our “extra” stuff to the boat. The trick was to stow it, be able to retrieve it and to live easily among the hundreds of extra items we weren’t used to carrying aboard.

Though spacious for a 34-foot boat, Whistwind was not really designed with this kind of use in mind. Rather, it was intended to house a couple or small family for weekends and the occasional week on the water. There are too many berths and not enough closets and drawers.

So, we converted most of our hanging locker space to shelves. Hanging things waste space and they can actually wear out by rubbing on closet walls as the boat constantly rocks and rolls. The spaces under the settees were subdivided and fitted with plastic storage boxes and bins. Long shelves were subdivided with bins. The navigation station, now a desk, was fitted with compartments to house the laptop, cords and charts. The quarterberth, long since used as a storage locker, was refit with five large plastic storage bins. Then we questioned everything we normally carried and removed a few large items because they took up too much space and would likely not be used. Some spaces usually empty, like under and in front of the vee berth, were utilized.

Now we had to stow those four carloads of stuff into all those spaces. Priorities were to be able to find the stuff months after we’d forgotten where we’d stored it all, distributing the weight so that heavy stuff was low and balanced within the boat, putting things that were needed frequently on top and getting everything out of the way so the boat didn’t feel “crowded” while we relaxed down below.

We hope we solved the “finding it” with a computerized inventory. About 250 item descriptions and detailed locations (like quarterberth, bin 5) went into a spreadsheet covering something over 600 individual items. The list was sorted alphabetically by item and printed. (Yes, we carry a printer for the laptop.) There’s a space to indicate how many of each item we’ve pulled from inventory to help construct shopping lists when we need to resupply.

So far the storage works pretty well. We’ve been able to find stuff quickly, the boat doesn’t feel too crowded, we list (lean sideways) only a fraction of a degree and we’re only about 1½ inches lower in the water (mostly in the stern). The adage, “A place for everything and everything in its place,” is even more apropos than usual. You just can’t each have two projects “out” at once. Instantly, the boat feels crowded.

That, and, “Ya’ want to bring somethin’ new aboard? First, ya’ take something off!”