Written by: Jon
Originally Published: December 1, 2019
Last Updated: November 20, 2020
When it comes to moving on to a boat, one the hardest things is downsizing and still having all the things that make life enjoyable. I mean, what is the use of moving on a boat if you can’t enjoy the way you live. But downsizing doesn’t mean having to give up everything to do it. If you have no idea about what it’s like to live on a boat, check out the blog post I wrote about the differences between life on land and life as a liveaboard. Here are 12 space saving items that you need to get that will free up space for other things.
Let’s face it, I’m a music junkie. I like my music loud and with feeling; that is loud enough that I can feel the bass. I used to have a pair of gigantic Cerwin Vega speakers that performed very well for many many years. When I moved onto the boat, I seriously missed being able to listen to my music in a way I could enjoy it. The boat came with a couple ratty speakers installed; however, they sounded like crap and one speaker would randomly go in and out.
I considered replacing the existing speakers with a pair of Cerwin Vega component speakers, but then what do I do above deck? I ultimately decided to go with the Bose Soundlink Revolve+ speakers; I was not disappointed. I absolutely live these speakers.
They are great below deck and are super portable. I also use them above deck which is great, especially when I am motoring. Additionally, I can take them to shore with me for days at the nearby hot tubs or beach going. They are Bluetooth compatible so am able to play music off my phone, computer, and link it with my projector for an in-boat movie theater experience.
When I originally posted this list, I didn’t own a set of Magna pans. I had borrowed a pan before and loved the idea of them. Since I posted this, I have bought a set and over all am not disappointed. I bought the stainless steel set.
I know that there is several other non-stick sets that also nest, but I am a fan of stainless steel. For one, I have never trusted what is in the non-stick coating. I also find cleaning anything that is burnt on comes off easier with stainless steel; mostly because you can scour it without destroying it. Yes, I can burn thing beyond coming off, even on “non stick” pans.
After using these pans for awhile now, the only drawback I see is you have to overly apply the oil if you don’t want your eggs or potatoes to stick when you cook. As noted, it cleans up easy, but it can be annoying. I just opt to use extra oil, if that doesn’t suite you, you can check out the non-stick option.
When I was living in my house, I had several slow cookers of difference sizes as well as a couple canners of different sizes. After moving on the boat, I brought 2 of my slow cookers and my big canner. These three items took up a ton of space. A few years ago, I purchased this canner/pressure cooker/slow cooker/browner; I absolutely love it.
I have never used pressure cooking before, but my first attempt sold me. I made Hawaiian pulled pork; It took only an hour and was amazing; I was sold, so was my stomach. I have also used it for its slow cooking, which is great. If I work late, it automatically goes into a warm cycle after the cooking time is expired. It is very versatile and I have had only one issue with over two years of use.
I have noticed that the power cord easily comes disconnected from the cooker if you move it. This has been the only issue I have had and it is easily solved by not moving the canner and being careful around the cord. If it were to go bad tomorrow, I would defiantly purchase a new one. It is big and takes up a bit of space, but I have used it for everything from canning to rice cooking; it has saved me space by doing the job of everything all in one.
When it comes to being a liveaboard, you have to fill the water tanks a lot. To fill the tanks you use dock water and fill the boat through a hose. Now, honestly I never died from drinking water through a garden hose, but hoses take up a lot of space. To complicate matters, you never know how much hose you will need to get to a water source. I know, you are looking at this and thinking, they make expanding hoses that take up less space. Yes, yes they do, but do they have a latex lining inside where as the Zero G hose has a BPA free lining. I’m sure that a expanding hose will take up a little less space, but I can easily put my 100’ of hose in the space that my 25’ hose goes into.
Collapsible Colander - Collapsible Measuring Cups - Collapsible Bowls
When it comes to boat life, the place you seem to run out of room the fastest is the galley (aka kitchen). If I had to guess, I would say my entire galley would fit into a hallway closet. With so little room, you will find out quickly what you need and what you don’t. When it comes to saving space, having collapsible everyday items is amazing. I was using a regular colander for a long time after I moved on the boat and it literally took up almost a whole cabinet.
I thought I was being smart by putting stuff in it, but then every time I used it (which is a lot as I do casseroles as lunch prep for the week) I had to take everything out of it. Then I would end up with stuff all over while I let it dry that night and have more to put away in the morning. This was such a great investment; however, you will note that the colander I link to is different from the one pictured.
I am ordering the one I linked to because it includes expanding handles which makes it easier to use as a single sailor. I followed up with collapsible measuring cups to replace my nesting cups. It’s a small amount of space savings, but every square inch counts in a small space. Additionally, while a boat is underway, like an airplane, items are known to shift. The nesting cups sometimes shift and you can’t open the drawer anymore. This is no longer an issue with the collapsible measuring cups.
I’m not sure how accurate they are at measuring things exactly, but really, who measures out everything on a recipe anymore anyway. The only issue I have ever had is some items I have had to ‘transfer’ into the measuring cup rather than scooping. A small inconvenience, but something I rarely even notice now. My next step is to get collapsible bowls; but this will wait till I get my nesting pots. If they all fit in the oven I will keep my stainless steel bowls, but it will be hard for me not to free up the space.
On boat there is 101 uses for buckets. You can use buckets for everything from washing your boat to doing dishes under way. The biggest problem with buckets is they take up a lot or room, even when stacked. Worse is when they are stacked, it can take an act of god to get them apart to actually be usable. On my must get, and thus must have, list is collapsible buckets. They collapse flat which makes them easy to store. This frees up a lot of space and makes having several buckets of different sizes easily accessible.
A little disclaimer, I am not recommending the projector I purchased. That said, I do recommend getting a projector. Now, I must admit this is a no brainer for me. When I was three years old I went to Star Wars in the theater, and since then, there hasn’t been a screen big enough or stereo loud enough to satisfy me. So, moving on a boat was adjustment. I spent two years watching movies on a laptop and eventually had to make a change. So I purchased a projector.
My biggest requirement was to be able to connect to my Bose speakers via Bluetooth. In today’s day and age you would think that wouldn’t be hard, but it was. I thought I found the perfect one, but after receiving it, not so much. The picture quality is substandard and the color is off. I’m glad it hooks to Bluetooth because the sound is unacceptable.
If I had to do it all over again, I would look into Vankyo model like my friend has; it is hands down 100% better than mine. On the down side, it has no Bluetooth capability. All in all, I my projector is smaller and, since I don’t watch many movies, the one I have is adequate for the limited use it gets.
Space Saving Hangers
One of the biggest limitations on a boat, other than the lack of space in the galley, is the lack of areas to store the things you wear. Most boats have one or two hanging closets, but this provides limited room to have much in them. Enter space saving hangers. Now I don’t have to many issues with lack of storage space for clothes, but then again, I’m a guy. I don’t want to turn off my female audience by generalizing, but women typically have at least twice as many clothes as men. So to accommodate for this, get space saving hangers, because cruising is much more fun if you can share the experience with someone.
I won’t provide a link here, there are several designs. To each is own here, I prefer a looser design to allow clothing to breath, but others want to pack them in as tight as possible.
Books take up a lot of space quickly. As much as I enjoy a book and the feel of the pages as I flip them, I really don’t have room for all the good books I want to keep. I broke down after a year on the boat and bought myself a Kindle. I am not going to lie, I don’t enjoy it as much as a book, but on the other hand, can now have several hundred books all in the same space.
The Kindle I purchased was the basic model, no back light, no frills, just as close to a book that an electronic device can get. I also purchased a cover to go with it that helps it seem more like a book. Hind sight being 20/20 the way it is, I should have bought this the day I moved aboard; I have learned to enjoy it almost as much as a real book. I don’t think they make my version anymore, but I saw they now have waterproof versions, check out the link. I will definitely be ordering an update on before I leave for my trip around the world. I can’t wait for my first ocean crossing; I’m sure I will enjoy it even more.
Regardless of what you do to free up space, eventually you run out. When this happens there is only one way to go, up. I used to not really know about getting gear hammocks, but I have sense been sold on the need for them. In the galley, in the saloon, in the berths, even in the head; there is no place they are not useful. I only have one at this point, and I currently have it taken down until I install more permanent hooks, but will be putting hammocks up anywhere I can in the near future.
Anyone who has ever been on a boat for more than a day trip knows the world of boat Tetris. This is where you have to unpack everything to get to the one thing you need and repack everything after you get there. This task is made much easier when everything is stored in bags that are easy to stack or stuff into the areas that they fit in. I have used totes for this in the past but have switched to using my reusable grocery bags. the only issue I have had with these is they get a little weaker each time they are washed, so if you find you need to wash your reusable bags a lot, I’d advise buying the thicker canvas bags..
Alright so I listed 13 space saving items, a bakers dozen. These are by no means all that is available, there are thousands more out there. When it comes to boat living or living in a small space, space is a luxury item. So why waste space by having things that you don’t need in them. Downsizing is all about getting rid of items you don’t need, but what about the things you do need. Look around, do some research, and buy things that save you space rather them eat it up. The more space you save, the more room you have for the one or two truly luxury items, or even better, your life has that much less clutter.