Developing a well thought out and proper stowage plan is an important element for the cruising sailor. Heavy items need to be low in the boat. Easily accessible lockers need to be put to good use for most often needed items, spares need to be well organized and easy to find. Food storage should be set up so anyone can easily grab a snack without the chef's involvement and so the chef can cook underway without opening up too many lockers. A few common tools such as screwdrivers, pliers adjustable wrench and knife should be handy on deck without needing to go below and open the entire tool bin.
On a cruising boat every locker will eventually be filled up and probably most of the spare berths as well. It is best to sit down first and come up with a total plan rather than do it piecemeal as many boats do. This is especially important if you are converting a weekend boat with half its lockers filled to a liveaboard boat.
For offshore safety every locker on the boat needs a positive catch. On Ventana we installed latches in all the cabin sole plates and on the refrigerator lid. We installed eyelets on the sides and bottoms of the settee frames so we can run lashings back and forth to hold the seat backs and bottoms in place which will in turn keep everything in the lockers below and behind them stowed. Bookshelves have similar eyelets to hold things down in the event of a knockdown.
We use The Cap'n computer database program to keep track of our stores. Every drawer, locker and bin on the boat is numbered and its contents cataloged. We have not gone so far as writing the numbers on the bin lids but we do have the architects line drawing of the boat with the locker numbers drawn in. The computer program can be sorted by item alphabetically, by locker contents or by category such as safety, spares, food, tools, etc. It will also keep track of such things as how many of each filter are on hand.
Our overall plan uses the forward cabin drawers and bins for clothes and personal items. A second bookshelf we added in this cabin contains a roll of charts for the current area. One of the two deep lockers below the cabin sole carries about 8-10 cases of beer or sodas. The other forward sole bin holds up to 6 months of canned foods and is our primary pantry. In the main cabin the three most easily accessible seat bins on the port side hold tools; dry foods such as pasta, rice flour, mixes etc; and one of our 8D batteries. Two of the lower outboard bins hold heavy less used items such as boat and engine spares while the third has a second 8D battery. The upper level settee backs hold owners manuals, booze, videos, etc. The heavy tools, batteries and spare parts are all low in the boat and on port which helps to counteract the starboard list created by the stores under the berth and heavy gear in the lazarette on starboard aft. Our starboard side storage includes lighter weight plumbing spares, charts and guide books. The aft berth is storage for our folding mountain bikes and a piano keyboard. Underneath this berth are infrequently used items or winter clothes. A hole was cut in the aft cabin overhead to access the area under the cockpit coaming for storage of long items such as spear guns, charts, etc. Click here to see photos.
The lazarette while large is also the only industrial type storage on the boat so its efficient use is essential. We have shelves and dividers to help with some organization here. The forward part of our lazarette has a refrigerator compressor and motor as well as the autopilot brain box. A divider partitions the motor belt from the other gear including 3 scuba tanks, spare lumber bits, paints and varnishes, scuba gear, hoses and electrical cords, Baja filter, buckets and snorkel gear. The autopilot ram arm sits on a shelf at the back of this locker.
Forward Anchor Locker
We have also put our anchor locker to good use without compromising our ability to easily set and retrieve anchors. We find that if we use over 150' of scope we often need to knock down the chain once as it comes aboard so we leave a space open so we can reach in and push the pile of chain over. This locker has large line hangers installed on each side. Here we store a spare 3rd anchor and rode, extra long lines, spare wire stay, bag of coiled hoses of various sizes, two handy life jackets, a large bag of spare scuba gear and 4 large fenders. Putting these bulky but light fenders here has freed a great deal of lazarette space.
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