5 Easy Boat Storage Ideas

There isn’t a boat owner out there who hasn’t wished their boat had more storage space. From the required safety and maintenance gear we keep aboard, to gear for fishing, diving, and all the other things we use our boats for, it quickly adds up. While some boats certainly offer a lot more, and perhaps better thought out, storage solutions than others, there are a few clever boat storage ideas we’ve come across that will help you maximize your boat’s storage space. The focus of our storage ideas is to help you maximize space aboard your boat while providing ways to organize what you bring so that it’s easily accessible for use.

A sailboat in need of storage ideas to better organize the gear on the deck.
Storage space is often at a premium aboard sailboats

Square Buckets – Every boat has, or should have, a 5 gallon bucket aboard. It’s a ubiquitous accessory that can even be used as way to bail water in an emergency. For years we used traditional circular 5 gallon buckets and would store them in hatches aboard our boat. While there’s nothing wrong per-se with the traditional circular 5 gallon bucket, a square bucket has a lot of advantage. In the same space that I was barely able to cram two circular buckets I can now fit 4 square buckets. They keep things within the hatch orderly and when I need something within one I simply pull it out and access it. I recommend getting lids for them as well and writing what they contain in permanent marker on the lid.

Milk Crates – Milk crates are one of the most versatile storage ideas out there and work great aboard boats. They’re easy to pick up, you can quickly see what’s in them, and particularly important to boat owners, they can get wet allowing you to easily clean what’s in them. Milk crates work well on your boat’s deck as well as in hatches. For on deck storage a bungee cord can easily be used to secure them to the deck. And when you’re done for the day simply take the crate and its contents off the boat and rinse them off if needed.

T-Top Storage Bags – For center console style boats with t-tops, storage bags that attach under the t-top can be a great feature. Storage bags are easy to install and add storage to your boat in a place there wasn’t any before and that is for the most part fairly unobtrusive and out of the way. Storage bags are a great place to keep life jackets making them readily accessible to anyone at the helm and freeing up tons of space in hatches below deck where you used to keep them.

Shoe Storage Bags – These are one of the better storage ideas I’ve come across for my boat. A quality shoe storage bag that you can hang from somewhere protected, like the inside of your boat’s console can add a ton of easily accessible storage for little things. And the best part is they add storage to a vertical surface on your boat that you weren’t using before. While designed for shoes, they’re great for storing a multitude of small things – just avoid filling them with anything too heavy. Make sure to attach them well either with velcro or by hanging them from a sturdy point.

A vertical shoe storage bag that can hang from one of the interior surfaces on your boat providing tons of extra storage space. This one is available on Amazon.

Leave it behind – While not quite a boat storage idea, sometimes the best solution to a boat full of stuff is to sort through it, figure out what you’re likely to need or use, and leave the rest behind. Over the years our boats get filled up with stuff we used once and never thought about again, or worse bought expecting to use and never even used. It’s a good idea to go through your boat a couple times a season and figure out what all is aboard and just take off what you don’t think you’ll be using. If you’ve implemented some of the above storage solutions like milk crates and five gallon buckets, you can easily identify and remove things that you likely won’t use that trip. Boats, especially small boats, are particularly sensitive to weight. And while it may not seem like much removing a couple hundred pounds of stuff you’re not likely to use and only bringing it back aboard when necessary will significantly improve your boat’s speed and fuel economy. Or you can just fill that newfound space with stuff you will use.

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