From A Walk-In Closet to Just Bigger than a Breadbox

Steve and I moved on board in April 2014 while both of us were still working. As much as I would have liked to have thrown away my suits, blouses, skirts and high heels now that we were living the unconventional life aboard a sailboat, I needed to have closet space for all of my work clothes. It just would not have been appropriate to show up at my consulting jobs donning my favorite shorts, tank top and flip flops. But how was I going to make room for everything that was in my double walk-in closet in our home in Tampa? Where was I going to put everything- and still leave enough room for Steve’s professional attire too!

For the first few months, I was very frustrated whenever I had to prepare to travel. Clothes were stuffed into every orifice of every cabin on the boat from the v-birth, to the crew cabin to our master cabin. I couldn’t find what I needed, and then when I did find it, it smelled moldy or was too wrinkled to consider that an iron would do any good. Packing for a business trip took me days to pack and re-pack as well as making time to dry my alligator tears in between. We needed a solution!

The first step was to purge those things that I didn’t wear. The truth is that I was still holding onto suits from the 1990’s and even though they still fit me (barely), I did not wear them often enough to warrant them consuming precious closet space. Some decisions were easy to make- like disposing of my favorite turtle neck sweater with the spaghetti sauce stain on the front. But other decisions were a bit harder, like the blouse my grandmother bought me when we went shopping before my wedding. Sentimental value won out and I saved the blouse- but gladly tossed the turtleneck. I was able to purge several bags of clothes by either throwing them away or giving them to Goodwill. But shoes are another matter entirely as I happen to have an emotional attachment to every pair of shoes I own.

So the second step was to rethink how I stored my attire- especially my 34 pairs of shoes on board. Shoes were actually the easiest thing to stow after we found behind-the-door storage racks. We now have a behind-the-door shoe storage rack on our bathroom door and David’s cabin door which work perfectly. Organizing my clothes was harder to accomplish. Until Steve’s handywork was put into action.

Step three was to turn our hanging closet that is in our bedroom into one with pull out shelves. When using this as a hanging locker, I was barely able to fit 6 blouses, 6 dresses, and 6 pairs of dress pants into it. Then all of my shoes were mounded into a pile on the floor of the closet. Oh my poor shoes- how neglected they must have felt getting scuffed and rummaged through while I searched to find the matching sole. After removing the hanging bar, Steve then made shelves with sliding arms that would enable me to slide out the individual shelves.

4 sweat shirts are on the top shelf, 11 pairs of dress pants are on the second shelf, with three dresses, and two skirts. The third shelf is occupied by 38 blouses, and the bottom shelf contains numerous pairs of jeans and of course my favorite shorts. By adding slides to the drawers, I can easily pull out the shelves and find exactly what I am looking for within a few minutes. And my precious shoes are each in their own secure pocket behind our doors. Let’s not forget that this arrangement also makes life easier for Steve since the bathroom strainer is located under the bottom shelf in this closet. Now he just lifts out the whole bottom shelf to access the hole to clean the strainers.

Nothing makes me feel better than being organized! I know where everything is so I can easily locate exactly what I am looking for. My clothes look neatly pressed when I remove them from their shelf so I don’t worry about the disheveled look and I save precious time packing for my trips so I can spend more of my time with my family. It doesn’t get any better than that!

And when Steve finished this closet in our bedroom, he moved to the lifejacket locker next to the stairs in the companionway. We moved the life jackets to a new home and restaged all of my pots, pans, and storage containers with the same type of handy pull out shelving system. So now, not only is packing easier for me, I love how easy cooking is in the galley is. As Steve reminds me often, “A happy wife is a happy life.” But it is equally true that a happy spouse makes a happy house! Things are not always rosey on Take Me There, but being organized certainly helps to keep me smiling.