Picture Perfect Boat with the Marie Kondo Method

Picture Perfect Boat with the Marie Kondo Method

January is here, kickstarting post Christmas house tidying and decluttering. With the launch of the Marie Kondo’s Netflix series, the talk of decluttering seems to be everywhere. Those that haven’t tried to declutter before have been inspired. There are countless books, articles and now a Netflix series on decluttering your home, but you need to take it a step further and declutter your boat!

We all purchase boats to go out and relax on the water, go for just a daysail or for an extended cruise. Boats are where we spend our leisure time, …so they should spark relaxation and fun! After owning a boat for a while things can start to accumulate on your boat. All those receipts for fuel or moorage, the fishing licenses from over the years, fun accessories you’ve brought down to the boat such as a hammock or beach mats, to clothing.  We’ve all been to the boat shows where boats are all pretty and staged, giving off the ‘just come and have fun’ vibe. …we can then all think about being on someones boat with stuff everywhere, not really bringing that same fun boat show vibe.

Boats are our cottages , and just like cottages are decorated and organized, so should our boats. Over the years I’ve met many people who bring their old camping gear to their boat to cook with, or old blankets from the house. If the boats are our cottages why? If boats are our happy place, shouldn’t we tidy it and have it filled with things that spark joy for our leisure time? If your old camping plates spark joy from old memories great, but if you’re just using them because they were handy but you don’t really like them don’t use them!

As we’re getting ready for spring cruising now’s the time to Marie Kondo your boat. Marie Kondo has 6 basic rules of tidying:

  1. Commit yourself to tidying up.
  2. Imagine your ideal lifestyle.
  3. Finish discarding first.
  4. Tidy by category, not by location.
  5. Follow the right order.
  6. Ask yourself if it sparks joy.

We’ve all been there when we’ve just arrived at the boat with two weeks worth of cruising supplies, everything is dumped into the boat and stuff is everywhere. But once you take the time and put everything nicely away, the main cabin that was filled with bags has disappeared. It does range, but boats have a large amount of storage if things are stored neatly. Marie Kondo believes that a lot of storage issues can go away if things are neatly put away. Visualize the boat you want to spend time on and keep that in front of mind as you tidy your boat. There’s lots of inspiration online to organize your boat, such as the Windtraveler.


Boat galley’s aren’t big, so maximizing the use of space is critical. Thought goes into each item before it’s allowed in my galley. Multipurpose tools are a great space saver, providing more space for things you enjoy. It’s each to their own what sparks joy, from a lime zester for gin and tonics, to a french press for coffee. Storage for recycling can be a problem on the boat, you want it handy but out of the way. so you don’t have to look at at. Marie Kondo reminds us that having a home for everything is important, everything must have a place to go. You just want a home for everything that isn’t your counter so when you go to make dinner you have space to do so.

Spare Parts and Tools

While a typical person off the street might not ‘spark joy’ from a spare alternator belt or a spare fuel filter, but boaters do. I may not ‘spark joy’ from storing five, but when I’m out on a boat trip and realize we need to change the alternator belt, I can’t tell you how happy I am that we have a spare belt on board. From a boaters perspective there are the obvious things that need to stay on the boat in case of mechanical or sailing challenges, but there’s a lot of stuff on the boat that probably doesn’t need to stay on the boat.


At home folding my clothes the Marie Condo method freed up space in my drawers, and then thinking of what ‘sparks joy’ created even more space by getting rid of old clothes I didn’t love. It seems there’s never enough space on the boat for clothes. Between foul weather gear, warm underlays, sweatshirts to sock, there never seems to be enough space. …but are the clothes folded, do I like all the clothes I have on the boat???

I like to keep clothes on the boat at all times, reducing the amount I need to pack for a weekend cruise, or those ad hoc trips to the boat that last longer than planned.  While keeping clothes on the boat at all times is great, Marie Kondo’s method has made me rethink about what I have on the boat. Do I actually like the clothes I’m storing and are they helping me in those times of need where I need clothes, ….or has it just turned into storage? Look at the clothes on your boat and go through the questions of: do I like it? and since storage is tight is keeping this on the boat the best use of the space?

Cockpit Lockers

Cockpit locker storage is super handy. It’s a great place to store fenders and lines for docking, but the skies the limit deepening on how big your lockers are. One of our lockers you can easily stand in, making it sometimes the big locker of surprises! What item fell to the bottom that you haven’t seen in years, and what are you storing there and never use. While it’s important to have dock chairs for cruising meet ups, take an inventory of what you actually have in your cockpit lockers and if it doesn’t ‘spark joy’ then get it off the boat. Hopefully by storing only what sparks joy you’ll make more space!

Whether you’re preparing for a winter weekend cruise, or for the spring season, get your boats ready to support your fun time on the boat!

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