Start Collecting

great-ideaYour boating season may seem like months away, but it’s not too soon to start collecting items that will make packing the boat much easier when your boating season starts.

I have hundreds of ideas and tips in First Mate 101, but I would like to share a few with you in this article.

Simplify your galley so you don’t become the galley slave!

Jam Jars

jam-ketchup-jarsMany restaurants serve jams with breakfast and quite often, they are in small jars with a variety of jams, marmalade, honey and peanut butter. After use, don’t leave the jars behind. Take them home and wash them for reuse on your boat. These little jars are the perfect size to fill with your favorite jam or spice or sauce for one meal aboard.

This way, you don’t have to take a whole jar of mayonnaise or jam or ketchup or whatever, when all you need is a little. It packs easier, and takes up less space in the cupboard or small frig or cooler.

Small Jars and Bottles

Save your empty spice jars and sauce jars. Even a small vanilla bottle is great for salad dressing for a meal aboard. The 1 1/2 oz liquor bottles you can buy in a liquor store or in the mini bar in your hotel room are perfect as spice bottles for the boat. Just wash, re-label and reuse.

tallfancyCollecting these small jars and plastic bottles now and over the next few months will make packing for outings on your boat much easier.

They tuck into the small cupboards, frig and cooler a lot easier than larger containers.

Just fill them from your kitchen size or bulk containers rather than shopping for a second one for the boat.

Plastic Grocery Bags

Many supermarkets and box stores are still using plastic grocery bags. Save them to reuse as garbage bags on the boat. After each shopping trip, roll them into sausages as I recommend in First Mate 101 and tie with a twist tie. Dozens of these “sausages” will fit in small spaces on the boat and in the car. You’ll be amazed at the number of uses you can come up with.

Our main use for them on our boat is for garbage. They are the perfect size and the handles hook easily to a door handle while you are preparing a meal. After the meal, they tie easily so that the garbage and smell are sealed thus reducing flies and wasps on board. You can squeeze out all the air to reduce the size of the bag and then place in a larger garbage bag elsewhere on the boat keeping your galley tidy and odor free.

They are small enough to fit a few in your pocket or purse and are great to carry with you when on a shopping excursion, walking the dog, collecting shells at the beach or swimming so you can bring home wet bathing suits, towels or sandy shoes. There are dozens more uses for these “sausages”.

Newspaper and Flyer Sleeves

If you have your newspapers or flyers delivered in those plastic sleeves, save them. They make excellent storage for rolled towels and small blankets allowing you to stand them in lockers or stack them on shelves like fire wood. It makes them easy to handle, keeps them clean, and you know which are unused. You can use the bags over and over again.

Product Wrap

green-garbage-bagWhen doing renovations around the house this spring, watch for products that are wrapped in plastic wrap. Quite often they are huge clear plastic sleeves (like boxes of laminated flooring). Just cut one end and slide off the plastic and you have a perfect sleeping bag or pillow cover. Even if you have rolled and tied your sleeping bag, the plastic protects it when transferring from the trunk to the cart to the boatn from dirt, water and rain. The clear plastic allows you to see the contents.

I never forget the story my friend told me years ago. They put everything in large green garbage bags like they’d been doing for years. This one day, however, the bag with the kids clothes went to the garbage bin and the bag with the garbage went to the boat. Now, I’m a believer in the clear bags!

Old Face Cloths and Hand Towels

Save your old worn out face cloths and hand towels. They make great rags for those dirty engine and bilge jobs. There is nothing worse than your handy man grabbing one of your good towels or dish cloths for those messy jobs!

When replacing your tired cotton sheets and pillow cases, save the old ones. Cut them into cleaning and polishing cloths the size you prefer and take them to the boat.

The more cotton content the better. They work to polish the vinyl windows, chrome rails and even fiberglass. They don’t leave lint because they are well worn and washed so many times and they are easy to use and reuse. Even if you have old cotton t-shirts, cut them into squares and use them as cleaning polishing cloths too.

old socksOdd Socks

I have a friend who takes the “odd” socks that show up in the laundry and uses them as cleaning cloths on the boat. They are great for getting spiders and webs too! Just slip your hand in like a mitt.

Old Toothbrushes


Don’t throw away old toothbrushes. Keep a few for the boat because they come in handy for hard to clean places like the bases of stanchions, around cleats, taps and corners.

Doug bent one for me close to the brush at 90 degrees. Now, I can simply insert it into my coffee pot (old fashioned kind that is great for the boat) and the brush is the right angle to clean the bottom.

bent toothbrushYou can even heat the toothbrush handle and bend it to the shape you need for your particular cleaning challenge.

They are also great for cleaning the spider nests out of your disconnected BBQ propane hose.


Many vegetables like Romaine Lettuce and Broccoli come secured with strong elastics that can be reused around cereal bags (if you don’t use zip lock bags) to keep the contents fresh and from spilling in the cupboard. Unlike boxes, the bag gets smaller after each meal, freeing up cupboard space.

Mesh Sleeves

When you buy more than one bottle or wine or liquore, save the mesh sleeve that they use to separate the bottles. Use it when transporting bottles to and from your boat to prevent breakage. I even use them in the boat cupboards to prevent the bottles hitting each other when in rough water.

Wine Corks

corksSave the corks from your wine bottles so you have a place for the kids to store their fish hooks. This will prevent fish hook injury and also, their fish hooks don’t get tangled with other stuff in the fishing box.

Mesh Onion Bags

Use your large mesh onion bags for keeping snorkels and masks and flippers together. They have a draw string so are easy to carry to and from the beach and are airy so no worries about moisture or mold. You can also use them to keep BBQ tools together in a cupboard or bilge.

More Ideas

No doubt, you will come up with many more ideas of collectibles over the spring that will simplify chores and enhance your boating experience this season. Please pass on your ideas so we can share them with other boaters in a future newsletter.

Happy collecting for happy boating. Checkout First Mate 101 to make your boating more enjoyable.

Brenda Dawson

FM Book wSpine

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