Know anyone who has enough storage space aboard? Neither do I. During the refit of our Columbia 10.7, my wife, Pat, and I were constantly on the lookout for places we could convert into additional storage space. We were able to find a surprising number of such places, significantly expanding our storage space. We’ll go through the boat from stem to stern and identify some of those areas; maybe you’ll be able to do the same to your boat.
We are lucky enough to have a full set of drawings and manuals for our boat. One of the things we noticed on those drawings was that an inner forestay was a factory option. This required an additional bulkhead aft of the forward V-berth bulkhead. The partial bulkhead was only about 11” deep and was about 10” aft of the forward bulkhead. We installed this, even though we weren’t ready to add the inner forestay yet. This formed a storage locker 11” high by 10” deep and the width of the boat, accessed by two screw-in access plates.
The holding tank was installed under the V-berth, but there were two storage areas forward of the tank. These were difficult to get to; you had to lift the cushions and a large plywood piece out of the way to get at them. We replaced all the panels under the V-berth cushions with ½” MDO plywood covered with laminate. This allowed us to open up two additional storage areas on either side of the holding tank and two areas behind the existing drawers in the lower sides of the V-berth. Access plates were made to allow access to these areas.
The drawers themselves are still a matter of discussion. They are a very inefficient use of space and we may well pull them out and install shelves in their place.
The head, like the V-berth, was completely gutted and redone. The original head featured a large plastic clothes hamper in the vanity top. A small medicine cabinet was fitted with plywood partitions. All this was torn out, including the plastic clothes hamper. Before putting anything back, we bonded furring strips to the hull and installed foam insulation between the strips. This was all covered with quarter inch cedar; the kind sold for use as drawer linings and cedar closets. These were held in place with stainless steel screws and finish washers.
We strengthened the chainplate bulkheads and replaced the basic cabinetry. The space where the clothes hamper used to be was the first area redone. A plywood panel, again laminate covered, spanned the area between the hull side and the edge of the shower pan. The new macerator pump was installed under this plate along with all new hoses and piping.
The area above the new plate was turned into a storage area. We cut out an access hole through the side of the vanity panel. Since this was right next to the commode, we didn’t have room for an actual door to this area. Our solution to this problem was to install four wooden knobs and hang a curtain on a bungee cord loop. To access the storage areas just slide the curtain aside on the bungee cord. We made the opening large enough so a standard plastic crate could be slid in and out.
There were also two fixed panels that could be unscrewed to gain access to the hoses and Y-valve. We hinged these to allow easier access and to allow us to store items in zip lock bags in those areas.
The area where the old medicine cabinet partitions were was opened up back to the cedar lining on the hull, and a new, wider access door was built.
Additional storage solutions were the installation of a teak magazine rack and several different length towel bars.
We have an optional 28-gallon water tank under the port settee. Normally, this area is used for storage, but when they installed the tank, it took up most of the room. There was more additional space to the outside of the tank; so additional access panels were added.
The starboard settee also needed several more access panels added to make better use of existing storage spaces.
The nav station is on the starboard side facing forward. To the right of the foot well is a blank panel. We visited a sister ship and found that by cutting a door in the panel a “25 rum bottle” storage area could be added.
The usual complement of binoculars, horns and other storage bins and devices were added wherever room existed.
Aft of the nav station is the single quarterberth. We got a real surprise when we removed the overhead panels in this area. It made available all the unused space inside the cockpit coaming, about 14” high by 18” wide and 26” deep. We added several chart storage tubes as well as a storage locker, all accessible from the main cabin. The chart storage tubes were made from 4 inch square hollow plastic fence post material. Standard chart storage tubes slip right into these square tubes, keeping all our charts neat and organized. They were made removable so we could access the fasteners holding on deck cleats, stanchions and winches.
Along the hull side is a shelf. The area from this shelf to the overhead was converted into another electronic panel and additional storage cabinets.
At the aft end of the quarterberth, we opened up a door to the lazarette. This area is used for storage of engine spares, oil and other supplies.
Just behind the companionway steps and above the engine compartment was an unused area about 12” wide by 10” high and 26” deep. A door in the side of the quarterberth wall opened up this area.
We also replaced the panel below the quarterberth cushions. We opened up three more access panels to previously unused spaces below. The seacock for the engine-cooling intake is located in this space. We subdivided the compartment with another bulkhead, providing room for a dedicated engine starting battery, right next to the engine, as well as another storage area unhindered by a seacock
The area under the sink was also opened up for access to the area below. A new teak louvered door closes this area off. Outboard of the twin sinks was a storage area below which housed the alcohol tank for the old stove. Since we are converting to propane and already have two propane lockers molded into the cockpit, we removed the alcohol tank and converted the entire area to storage.
Behind the stove are another 3 teak drawers. We are in the process of removing these and converting this area to a more open and accessible storage area.
A final project, yet to be completed, will be to build an additional storage cupboard above and slightly forward of the sink island.
In addition, all the sliding black plastic access doors to all the storage areas are being replaced with new, louvered doors, allowing better access and air flow to the storage areas.
This is just a quick tour of Bryn Awel, but you can see we have added a significant amount of new storage space. All we need to do now is figure out how best to use it. Will it be “enough”? No, but we’re closer than we were!
Although you probably don’t own a Columbia 10.7, I hope this article and our projects will inspire you to begin searching for more space aboard your boat!