We all know that space is limited when storing gear and supplies onboard vessels. While the deck can hold necessities, moving about the boat becomes a challenge and results in trips and falls. Boat storage is also crucial for keeping items dry instead of becoming saturated with rain and spray from waves. Utilize these top six boat storage ideas when owning and operating a boat in both fresh and saltwater.

Why Is Boat Storage Important

When it comes to gear, boats require substantial items for both entertainment and to remain compliant with Coast Guard regulations. This means you are going to need lots of compartments to hold gear. In addition, when you are moving around on the water, gear can fly off the boat if it is not properly stowed.

All boat owners know that as soon as you purchase a boat, you will gain quite a few new friends. Boat storage becomes even more important when the friends and their families start coming out on your boat.

When guests climb onboard, be prepared for an onslaught of bags filled with towels, snacks, changes of clothes, and more. Day gear combined with stuffed storage lockers makes for a difficult situation when it comes to space. 

Proper organization will allow for both the necessities and personal belongings to be stowed away more conveniently than on the deck or other inconvenient places. 

Top 6 Boat Storage Ideas

Having spent my entire life on boats, I have seen storage ideas that work well and storage ideas that simply create a bigger headache for boat owners. Here are some of my favorite solutions that can really work for any size or type of boat.

1) T-Bag For T-Top Boats

A T-Bag for center consoles is designed to provide storage space beneath the top but above the operator’s head. The captain or driver can reach up and stow or pull items from the storage space. 

T-Bags are ideal for stowing life jackets, but the ample space allows for other large and bulky items. Be aware that objects within a T-Bag are subject to moisture intrusion. Never store cell phones or other electronic devices. Lastly, ensure that items contained inside do not begin to mold. Every once in a while, take a look at what you have stored in your T Top or T Bag; it will help keep the gear in much better condition.

When storing a boat for the winter, it can make sense to empty these storage compartments.

2) Below Deck Lockers

Below deck lockers are wishy-washy when it comes to storage. Understand that this space risks water inundation; therefore, dry goods must never be placed below deck lockers. However, the space that is provided here can be quite good as far as storing larger items.

The key is to be smart about what you are putting in the below deck lockers.

When a boat is designed to contain a below deck locker, the hatch is most frequently intended to store watersports equipment. Utilize the space to your advantage and stow waterskis, wakeboards, towlines, deflated tubes, and more. 

3) Below Seat Storage 

Whether you are looking for powerboat storage ideas or even sailboat storage ideas, there is generally the option for below-seat storage.

Below seat, storage is most frequently utilized to store life jackets. Life jackets are stowed in below-seat hatches because they are easy to access. Never store life-saving equipment in areas that are challenging to reach. 

In addition to life jackets, boaters utilize the extra space to place day bags, snacks, boat covers, and more when in operation. Sometimes having the gear close to you as you operate the boat can make it easier to remember and also easier to grab in the case of an emergency.

4) Sliding Drawers

While not all boats are equipped with sliding drawers, they are highly efficient for stowing boat gear. 

Sliding drawers are mounted in various places and are ideal for storing cleaning supplies such as squeegees, chamois, brushes, etc. If you have ever found yourself fishing around in a cubby for a small piece that fell from a tackle box, you may understand how important these sliding drawers are.

One of the best storage tips is to ensure that the drawers themselves are properly organized. Use plastic containers, zip ties, bags, anything you need to make sure you are maximizing the space in the sliding drawers.

Anglers utilize sliding drawers for easy access to fishing hooks, weights, lures, pliers, chum bags, bait nets, and other fishing gear. Most drawers are located in the stern section of the vessels where lines are cast. 

Lastly, when a boat is not equipped with a T-Top, consider storing life-saving flares in pull-out drawers. When it comes to flares, we recommend the Orion Flare Gun and flare package. 

5. Sun Pads and Consoles

Sun pads are incorporated in the design of the vast majority of cruising vessels. A sun pad allows a passenger to layout on a soft cushion while basking in the sun’s rays.

Consoles are the space beneath the steering wheel. The area is most frequently wide open but occasionally contains a toilet. 

Aft mounted sun pads allow for ample storage beneath. The space is generous, but we recommend permanently stowing the stern anchor in the hatch. Due to the depth and width, don’t hesitate to place day bags in the locker and pull the gear when necessary.

Similar to sun pad hatches, consoles offer identical storage space. Toss seat cushions in the console to avoid sun and weather damage when the boat is not in use. The console remains dry during use, so store personal belongings without concern. 

6) Bow Hatch

Most boats are equipped with an elevated hatch positioned centrally and just short of the bow. 

A bow hatch is designed to hold an anchor safely. Bow anchors must be easily accessible, and therefore the swinging door allows the operator or passenger to reach in and remove the anchor when necessary. 

It seems silly that we mention a deck hatch specifically designed for anchors; however, boaters fail to utilize the space for what it is intended. 

The forward and central anchor storage locker is intended for anchors. Never stack additional items in the space because this will present a challenge when dropping the pick. 

Lastly, always coil the line back in the anchor well neatly. Anchor line which has been haphazardly returned to the bow hatch will become knotted when deploying on future outings. 

How Do I Organize My Boat Storage

Although all of the gear that you carry on a boat will be different from the gear we have on ours, there are some basic products that you can be sure to have onboard to help with the best boat storage ideas. For instance, think about having. . .

  • Small bungee cords
  • Ziplock bags
  • Zip ties
  • Velco
  • Plastic Hooks

The primary purpose of organizing is to access the equipment needed without digging through items that are not relevant to the task at hand. The key here is to learn to optimize the storage space on the boat.

How To Optimize Storage Space On Your Boat

One of the simplest ways to optimize the storage space on your boat is to first determine if you are storing too much gear. Take a real hard look at the last time you actually did a deep clean of the entire boat. Here are a few things we recommend doing sooner rather than later to help optimize your storage space on your boat.

  • Do a really good clean out of all things you don’t need
  • Collapsible containers can save a ton of space
  • Floor storage can be great if used correctly
  • Vacuum bags can save tons of space
  • Is there room for shelves?
  • Become good at using hooks and bungee cords
  • Don’t get stuck thinking that boat storage supplies need to come from boat stores, check out home organization stores as well

Boat Storage Hacks

Boat storage ideas have more to do with staying organized and prepared than anything else. Sometimes a boat storage hack does not need to be something you purchase at the marine supply store. Through the years, we have seen boaters come up with some interesting ideas for boat storage.

These boat storage hacks can include anything from ways to store rope to shoes to important papers and more. Here are some of the best boat storage hacks that we have seen around. Let us know if you incorporate any of these into your boat organization system this year.

Are You Ready To Maximize Your Boat Storage Space

Finding the appropriate space to store your safety equipment, day trip essentials, fishing equipment, anchors, cushions, and more will help you remain organized and prevent clutter from gathering on the deck. Consider these top six boat storage ideas the next time you head out on the boat. The time spent reorganizing will be well worth the effort to save you and your passengers space to move about the vessel freely.