Our Boat

Caloosa Spirit

Catalina 42 mkII

A Place for Everything?

Our excitement was tempered only by our exhaustion. The long-awaited day when Jim and I could move aboard our Catalina 42 mkII, Caloosa Spirit, had finally arrived. One of the reasons we had chosen a Catalina 42 mkII (the 2-cabin model) as our retirement live-aboard boat was the copious storage built into the design. Over the five years that Caloosa Spirit was in charter service, we visited and cruised her for a week or two every six months. By the time we were ready to move aboard we were quite familiar with her various storage spaces.

We had sold our house and most of our possessions, because our new cruising life would require much less “stuff.” Still, there were certain things that we didn’t want to leave behind, so we boarded the plane for Tortola, British Virgin Islands, with mountains of luggage, including four Rubbermaid tubs and Jim’s tool box. When we unpacked the duffels and tubs, we quickly found a place for everything. Of course, in doing so we watched the copious storage spaces start to shrink. Several months later, once Caloosa Spirit’s end-of-charter refurbishment period was completed, we had another nine boxes of “stuff” shipped down from Indianapolis, where we had lived for over thirty years. Elated to finally have many of the things that would help make Caloosa Spirit home, I was then bewildered by what to do with it all. “Where are we going to put all this stuff??” I moaned. Then, after sailing Caloosa Spirit back to the U.S. six months later, we returned to Indianapolis, packed up our van with more of our worldly possessions, and lowered the water line another inch.

Clutter has always been a pet-peeve. For me, it’s neatness and order, not cleanliness, that’s next to godliness. So from the beginning I was determined that everything we would keep on board would be stowed somewhere out of sight. If a particular item couldn’t find a home, it wouldn’t stay on board. That was the idea, anyway. Generally speaking, we’ve managed to find a place for everything, and, at least some of the time, everything is in its place.

In our forward cabin Jim and I have divided up the drawers and lockers, much like the dresser and chest-of-drawers we had in our bedroom on land. Most of our clothing fits in their designated spaces, but when we needed warm clothing for our first winter on board, the drawers and lockers were already full. Time to get creative. I had read about a neat idea for stowage involving pillows. Before leaving Indy, I had found some decorator pillow patterns that matched our galley-ware. I sewed the pillows together, but left out the stuffing. Instead of closing the pillows completely, I stitched Velcro into one end, so that the pillows could be stuffed with sheets, towels, clothing, or whatever would fit. The Velcro closure allows me to take out what I need, and put it back at a later time. Three of the four pillows sit on our bed masking extra sheets, sweatshirts, and other heavy clothing.

When I finally was able to find a quilt bedspread that I liked, a pillow sham accompanied it. I first eschewed the sham, thinking that I didn’t have an extra pillow to put in it. Then I remembered that the sham could be useful for storage! Sure enough, the extra blankets that we needed to stay warm last winter now live in the pillow sham. The plastic packages with zippers that originally contained our quilt and mattress covers are also useful for storing extra sheets, blankets, and other bulky items. I keep them at the back of our aft cabin.

Towels also take up a lot of space. Fortunately, our boat has an extra cabinet in the forward head that functions as a linen closet for bath and hand towels. However, the galley, while it has sufficient cabinets, has no drawers. So dish towels and kitchen towels fill the fourth decorator pillow that sits in the main salon. To be sure, the storage decorator pillows should never be used for a pillow fight—unless you want to break someone’s nose!

Books filled two of the boxes of stuff that found their way onto Caloosa Spirit. I can’t imagine any boat that would have enough book shelves to accommodate all the books we brought with us. Certainly, ours didn’t. We did, however, have enough shelf space for them in our cabin. We just had to figure out how to keep them on the shelves. So Jim commissioned a carpenter at a boat yard to make long, removable rails to match the short, stationary ones in the salon. The rails work very efficiently at keeping everything in place while underway, and are easily removed to access the books and camera bags behind them.

In the salon we had to find a place for our printer, and a way to keep the laptop computer stabilized. We use computerized navigation, so the computer must be useable underway. It also must be protected so that it doesn’t land on the sole in a seaway, thereby making our computerized navigation defunct. Horrors! I voted for some kind of tie-down arrangement on top of the navigation table, but Jim wanted a specialized mount on a swing-out arm made by RAM that would be attached to the side of the nav table. I didn’t like the image of such an unsightly contraption above the starboard settee, and I lobbied against the idea. But this was one time when Jim was right. (Actually, there are many times). I still don’t like how it looks or its uncomfortable height, but the laptop is very stable and protected, no matter what the conditions. Having once experienced the disruption to our lives when the computer screen needed repair, I’m content with any apparatus—unsightly or not—that will keep our computer up and running. The printer sits on a shelf that was built specifically to its dimensions, and is kept in place by a bungee cord. Jim plans to bolt it to the shelf eventually.

Speaking of the nav table, we use it more as a desk than a chart table. In it are stored paper clips, rubber bands, a stapler, envelopes, batteries, and other office supplies we once kept in a desk. Pens, sticky notes, and other small items are kept in suction-mounted cups just above the table. In keeping with its marine purpose, we also stow the portable GPS, hand-held compass, compass rose, and courtesy flags in the table.

As I mentioned, our galley has no drawers. It has a built-in pull-out for eating utensils, but again we had to get creative with the cooking utensils. When I found the dish set that I fell in love with several years ago, I also found several other items with the same design. (Remember the pillows?) One item was a utensil carrier. I wasn’t sure how I would use it on the boat, but I bought it anyway, just because it matched the dishes. It turned out that the carrier fits in a good location on the galley countertop, and it holds all the large cooking utensils that we’ll ever need. Smaller utensils live in another pull-out cabinet. On the outside of that cabinet we glued a small hook to hang pot holders. Not only are they handy, they also provide a decorator touch!

We’ve always felt that Catalina’s designers do an extraordinary job with usage of space. One of the crowning touches of the 42 mkII 2-cabin model is the galley pantry. Three pull-down doors hide separate spaces large enough for pots and pans, casseroles and bowls, staples and food-stuffs. The largest cabinet houses three pull-out baskets which hold most of our dry goods. Combined with the volume of stowage under the table settees and the sizable refrigerator and separate freezer, we can easily carry enough food for a two- or three-month cruise.

The other crowning glory in the storage department on our boat is what we refer to as “the garage”. Behind a door at the back of the galley under the cockpit, we store numerous plastic boxes containing spare parts, hardware, fasteners, varnish and sand paper, oil, fuel, and water-maker filters, various kinds of tape, electrical and plumbing supplies, projects yet to be done, and, of course, WD-40, 5200, and SuperLube spray & grease. The space to easily get to all these necessities is wonderful, but…everything on a boat is a compromise. All of the boxes of stuff sit on a shelf that covers—wait for it—the batteries! So, every time the batteries need some attention, all those boxes must be dragged out into the main salon. Actually, every time something is needed from one of the boxes in the back—such as the filters—they all end up in the salon. But at least everything in there has a place.

With all the splendid storage space we have, it’s easy to forget what is stowed where. When we made the month-long journey from the Virgins to Florida, I had provisioned for up to two months. As I gazed at all the canned and packaged goods waiting to be stowed, I quickly saw a nightmare in the making. I envisioned myself wondering, “Now where did I put the __?” on a daily basis. So I developed an inventory list on our computer that identified items, locations, and quantities. With a printed copy I can mark off items as they are used, making re-provisioning a simple matter. When Jim rummaged through all the plastic boxes looking for something for the umpteenth time, I decided it was time to make an inventory of those, as well. The detailed inventory lists of food and boat supplies have saved both of us hours of aggravation in locating a needed item. The time is much better spent with a sun-downer in hand.

So whatever became of those Rubbermaid tubs, you ask? We’re using two of them in a cockpit locker to stow seldom-used items, such as the water-maker pickling hoses, Jim’s mast climber, and our snorkel gear. One we gave away, and another is nested with one of the others. You just never know when it might come in handy. So far our storage situation on board is working well. The only thing that still sits in plain view is Jim’s tool box. I wish it had a different home than on the floor of the aft cabin, but, considering how often Jim has to get out tools to fix something, that’s the best we’ve been able to do. Now where is the flashlight that I was just using?

Posted Thursday June 3, 2004

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