“It is only when you begin to clear out every locker and every cupboard and every draw[er] on board your vessel that you can begin to work effectively with it.” – Wise words from a Master Mariner.
If you are fortunate enough to be working on a yacht that was designed with enough storage space to hold all the amenities, necessities and provisions required for daily operations, you are a lucky crew indeed.
The stews have a full inventory of galley ware, small appliances, china, crystal and glassware, theme night costumes, table and bed linens and bathroom items to put away. Then there are the crew uniforms, cleaning products and toiletries. And don’t forget the space required to hold perishable and dry provisions for the next trip.
Now, most yachts have been designed to provide adequate basic storage space for the bulk of these items. But somehow, it seems like there is never quite enough room to hold everything – forcing crew get creative with the rest.
Where do you store 50 rolls of paper towels, for example? One clever sailboat chef places her paper towel rolls between her pots and pans. “It stops the pans from moving around when we are under way,” she says.
Alexi Blong, who has worked as a chef/stew on both sail and motor yachts for more than a decade, says, “I have to use the gun cupboard for dry stores. It’s just outside or the galley, so when I saw that space could be utilized there, I made the most of it.” Blong adds, “My last sailboat experience required ultimate organization on my part as the dry storage locker was in the owner’s cabin.”
Here are some other ways crew have found to get maximum efficiency out of minimum storage:
- Take heed of the “wise words” that start this article: Beginning with the interior, go through your inventory and check off items that have not been used since the start of the season – or even last season – and pitch them. Chances are you’ll find some cleaning chemicals and expired batteries that are better off being disposed of right away.
- Take glassware and table service items that are used infrequently, such as holiday ware, and put them in storage ashore, in order to free up space in the salon and pantry for the things you use more often. The money spent on maintaining a small storage unit in a port you visit regularly will be worth it.
- Galley storage constantly needs to be monitored, as food items require rotation and replacing. Do you really need 10 tins of baked beans in the dry store? Donate nine tins to a charity run. Do the same with all other non-perishable items not touched this season.
- Bulk stores, like cases of water, can pose a big problem if stored as is. One answer is to break the cases up and place the bottles under seating and beneath the beds in the guest cabins.
- When you bring guest toiletries on board, take them directly to the guest staterooms and distribute them all evenly to the bathroom cabinets. This will save you the space and time it takes essentially to store them twice – once in dry stowage and later when needed in the bathrooms.
- Crew storage areas like closets seem to attract excess towels and linens. Keep only one linen set and two towels per crewmember. This means laundering more often, but the space gained may be worth the trade-off.
- A big bag of polishing rags can take up a lot of space in an engine room or in a deck locker. Purchase a couple of zipper-lock vacuum bags to keep them in. They will lie flat and firm, at least until opened.
It is also a good point of seamanship to remember to distribute stowage weight evenly throughout the yacht.
With a little creativity, you can find stowage space in the most unlikely nooks and crannies aboard. But a word of warning to interior crew: Don’t try to reorganize the items in the wheelhouse. Everything that has a place there needs its place, exactly where it is.