Living On A Boat Is A Lifestyle Change

The cruising lifestyle presents many challenges. Not the least of which is deciding what you need versus what you want to have with you. Moving  onto a boat from a house or apartment means letting go of things in favor of lifestyle.

When we decided to sell our house and move on to Mai Tai we weren’t aware of just how much of our stuff we’d have to get rid of. We sold what we could, gave away what friends wanted and stored what we couldn’t let go of.

Even then there was more stuff than we could find a place for. The search for more space began.

Finding More Storage Space

Finding more storage space was a process. The more time we spent on the boat the more hidden spaces we found. Some of them small. Some pretty substantial.

For example, while trying to service the vent line to the aft holding tank I had to take the back off the couch in the living area to access it. Lo-and-behold there was a ton of space.

All I had to do was make it easier to get stuff in and out of it. All it took was a skill saw borrowed from the marina office, a couple hinges and a drill and it was done. We had several cubic feet more space.

Under the companionway stairs was another good space for small things. Using water resistant containers allowed me to store some engine room things safely in the engine room.

Making Better Use Of Existing Storage

All closets and cabinets on a boat have two major problems. They are deep and usually odd shapes.

Adding in-cabinet lighting and using organizers really improves the utility of these spaces. The biggest complaint the first mate had was that she couldn’t see all areas in any of the storage spaces.


LED Light Fixture

Some of the spaces, like galley cabinets were relatively easy to light up. There are usually electric lines all through the galley that are easy to tap into.

In the smaller cabinets we used LED strip light fixtures with built-in switches. In the deeper cabinets we used LED strip lights cut to lengths appropriate for the space.

Strip Lights

Organizers And Containers

Much of the space available for storage on a boat is up against the hull. Shapes of the storage spaces makes using traditional organizers impossible. So, we had to be more creative.

The galley posed the biggest challenges. We are foodies at heart so we wanted more stuff than our little galley would accommodate. Pots and pans are stacked and lids are stacked in an open organizer. All of which had to be easily accessible so they are near the opening.

Stackable food storage containers with square or rectangular shapes and varying heights provide the most efficient use of space.

Stacks and Organizers

Containers with tight seals allow storage of food staples in areas that may be subject to moisture. Vacuum seal bags are great for compacting and protecting blankets and bulky items.


Tears were shed. Anxieties were high. Fear and doubt were ever present as we divested ourselves of most of our possessions in favor of a new, different and exciting lifestyle. After six years living on the water was it all worth it?

We can enthusiastically say . . . Yes!

The process of optimizing the use of space never ends. Finding better ways to organize things and better containers to store stuff evolves as you learn what you need in your new lifestyle.

Finding ways to improve the utility of storage spaces with things like lighting doesn’t have to be done all at once. Take your time and prioritize. Things will fall into place as you settle into your new lifestyle.

For more discussions on installing LED lighting related posts can be found here.