10 Clever Small-Space Storage Hacks I Use While Living on a Sailboat

published Jul 18, 2023
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Many people think living aboard a sailboat is like a permanent vacation. Sometimes it is; the scenery is gorgeous and waking up on the water is the perfect start to the day. However, when I moved aboard, the biggest hurdle to overcome was figuring out storage. I was eager to make sailboat life as comfortable as life on land. Being creative allowed me to have what I needed without sacrificing anything. 

Here are 10 storage hacks I employ while living on a sailboat that can work for anyone living in a small space.

1. Limit the Guest List 

Due to space constraints, my husband and I prefer entertaining no more than two guests at a time so we have four full place settings. There’s no need for extra dishes, glasses, or silverware we’re not going to use.

2. Ditch Single-Use Plastic Bags

Reusable silicone storage bags are great for small pantry items like tea and candy. They’re waterproof, so they’re also perfect for leftovers, including liquids. Because they lay flat, they take up less space in the refrigerator and the cabinet. 

Credit: TJ Butler

3. Hammocks Free Up Counter and Cabinet Space

With a small refrigerator and limited cabinet space, it’s essential to use vertical storage. I store produce and grab-and-go snacks in hammocks hung from the ceiling where they’re in easy reach. 

4. Save Space by Storing Boxed Foods in Bags

I transfer pasta, crackers, and other dry boxed foods into storage bags so they lie flat in the cabinet, adding the box’s label or directions if necessary. The bags can be stored in a bin or stacked on a shelf. 

Credit: TJ Butler

5. Consider a Smaller Trash Can

Our bathroom-sized trash can is attached to the inside of a kitchen cabinet door. Trash cans tend to have a large footprint and our floor space is limited. 

6. T-Shirt Dividers Save Drawer Space

My husband’s side has particularly shallow drawers that are great for socks and boxers, but not much else. I bought a set of plastic trays specially designed to keep folded shirts organized and wrinkle-free. Their stacking design helps rotate clothing, and their footprint is only as large as a folded T-shirt. 

Credit: TJ Butler

7. Use Baskets and Bins to Store Clothing on Shelves

Unlike my husband, I don’t have drawers. Small items like lingerie, socks, and tights are kept in rectangular baskets inside a cabinet, as are gym clothes, pajamas, and other items that don’t hang in the closet. With space at a premium, I had to measure the shelves and scour the internet for bins and baskets in the shelf’s exact dimensions. Seasonal accessories and scarves fit neatly in hammocks. 

8. Organize Your Closet With Slim Hangers 

I maximized my 2.5 inches of closet space with slim hangers. Using a small washer on each hanger, I can hook five items together to take advantage of the vertical space. For pants, I use rectangular hangers made to fold pants over, and for skirts, similar hangers with clips. 

Credit: TJ Butler

9. Consolidate Home Office Supplies

Pens, tape, a stapler, Post-It notes, and other home office supplies all fit into an adorable, sturdy crate that clementines originally came in. When I saw it in the grocery store, I knew it would come in handy (the clementines were a bonus). 

10. Rethink Your Jewelry Storage

My jewelry collection is pared down to the items I most frequently wear. I store them in a plastic bin with a locking lid, commonly used for art supplies or beads. The movable dividers allow for large and small jewelry sizes, and its design is slim enough to store sideways next to my books. 

Small-space living became easier when I removed the clutter, and I was honest with myself about what I did and didn’t need. With a few creative ideas, almost anyone can neaten their environment, become more organized, and surround themselves with the things that truly matter.