The big challenge of getting settled into a new boat is figuring out the storage — what should go where and how to make the seemingly endless piles of stuff fit into a space smaller than a Manhattan apartment.
Even a well-designed 40-foot sailboat involves space trade-offs, which we learned all about last weekend as we moved aboard our Passport 40, Meridian, for the summer. We started with the easy part: the galley, which is big and wonderful and easily absorbed everything we’d brought from home.
All our dishes, plates and mixing bowls fit in one cupboard — no more hauling them out from a bin under the sink like we did on the previous boat. The galley also has a luxurious number of drawers (five); one holds cutlery, while another houses a sizeable collection of utensils that previously lived in a detested wicker basket I had to haul out any time I cooked.
A smaller drawer in the new galley was put to use to store some of the 40-plus jars of spices that wouldn’t fit on the lovely teak spice rack above the fridge, where 18 of my most-used spices are now lined up (in alphabetical order, of course). By the way, if you’re ever looking for smoked paprika, nigella seeds or some other less common spice, I might just have it aboard.
The fridge will take a little figuring out. It has both top and front access, which is nice, but it’s also about half the size of the one on our Island Packet 38, which was so voluminous that the previous owner would literally get inside to clean it. I loved that fridge; I never had to worry about storing leftovers or the reams of produce I typically buy. But it was also a massive energy suck, which made it a little impractical for the extended cruising we hope to do.
The boat’s single head has a medicine cabinet that holds most of the items we use daily, and there’s also a sizeable cabinet above the sink that can fit towels and some other things. We recently got a pair of quick-dry Sea to Summit DryLite Towels, which are microfiber, dry incredibly quickly and fold up to a compact size. Added bonus: they have a snap loop so you can attach them to a lifeline or bimini frame to dry in the sun. (Thanks for the tip, Aaron and Nicole!)
We like the towels enough that we plan to get an extra set for guests. Admittedly, using one feels like drying yourself with a chamois and can’t at all compare with a fluffy cotton towel, but hey, this isn’t the Hilton.
After we finished with the galley and head, we tackled our clothes and shoes. That’s when things got a little interesting. The Passport 40 comes in two basic layouts: a pullman berth with a forward head but no shower stall, and a v-berth with a head just aft that has a separate shower stall. We love the pullman berth, but since we considered the shower stall a must-have (it’s one of the reasons we decided to sell our IP, which had two heads but no shower stall), we gave up some of the clothing storage that comes with the pullman version.
Our boat has three hanging lockers, but they don’t have shelves in them; the only two drawers are in the aft cabin, so we decided to use those for gloves, hats and cold-weather items. Our previous boat had three holds under the sole in the main stateroom that were ideal for storing bags and shoes; aside from the wretched moldy shoes incident, they worked brilliantly. But there are no such spaces in the Passport.
So on Saturday, I stood before piles of pants, tops, socks and underwear stacked on the v-berth and wondered how in the world they would all fit. Ultimately, the shallow cupboards on each side of the bunk became modified sock and underwear drawers, and the open compartments just aft of them, one on each side, now hold rows of folded pants and tops.
Now you all know that Marty’s a Calvin Klein boxer briefs kind of guy. I’m not going to post a photo of my undie cupboard, but will just say that if you live on a boat, thongs are a very good thing.
Clothing that we’d normally put in drawers, like sweaters and hoodies and jeans, are now hung up in the hanging lockers, and a cupboard next to the starboard settee is the temporary home for our shoes until we figure out somewhere better to put them. And that cupboard above the new shoe locker that we thought would make a perfect liquor cabinet – it’s now storing bags instead.
All the clothes that didn’t fit into the v-berth cabin or the hanging lockers are in cloth storage cubes made by Mountainsmith. We first learned of them on the Estrellita 5.10b blog and they are perfect for storing clothes on a boat. They zip closed, can fit in many odd-shaped boat spaces and if you take them with you when doing laundry, you can fold and put away your clothes at the same time. They are one of our favorite boat items.
We’re storing them in the two deep holds at the head of our v-berth, which makes it easy to pull them out and rotate our clothes when we need to.
As for the rest of the boat, it doesn’t come close to the IP in deep storage. But that also came at a price, which was the IP’s much higher freeboard, which we didn’t like.
Nonetheless, by the end of the weekend we’d found a place for everything we brought onboard, even the bins and random items we’d stuck in the aft cabin for the time being. There will probably be additional storage challenges at some point, but it will all work out somehow. It always does.