Everything Has Its Place

Published in the February 2018 Issue March 2023 Feature Roy Sparks

I could say I wish I wasn’t like this to try and impress you, but I’d be lying. I love that my life is centered on being organized. I whole-heartedly subscribe to “everything has its place” and that especially includes the interior of my pontoon.

I’ve been on plenty of boats where looking under the seat is like a Christmas morning surprise to the owner who has no clue what he stored under there. I suppose it began on that first trip of the fresh boating season when towels, paddles, squirt guns, air pumps and bottles of sun block were randomly tossed under seats with no thought or logic to the placement for this owner. I guess you could say he’s lucky because he has zero stress over this and couldn’t care less where things are as long as they somehow found their way onboard.  

Now I’m not going to scare you with embellished stories about needing a first-aid kit, but only about being able to find the anchor because chaos followed an emergency when the unorganized boat failed to deliver in time. Rather, I’m going to plead to you from a hospitality standpoint. The reality is, unless you like making everyone stand up to “check under your seat” when trying to find the dock lines, I’d like to argue why making sure everything has its place is the only way to boat.

Too Organized?

Every work environment has “that guy” and in my office that guy is me. I’m the one with the clean desk with all the pens organized by color in my top drawer. There are marks on my carpet from chairs, tables and a coat rack in the corner so it’s easy to confirm everything is in its place when I walk through the door. A cluttered office or desk clutters my mind and I’m just not able to focus, but that’s a column topic for another day.

Somewhere in between my own crazy quarks and the guy who leaves wet towels in his storage compartment to rot because he forgot he put them there, is arguably where the average boater should be on this subject.

When you pull your boat out of its winter storage in a couple of months or for those year-round boaters when you get ready to do that major spring clean, I’d like to suggest you try getting a little organized to help kick off the boating season.


Start by taking inventory of everything you’d like to have on the boat, keeping in mind the heavier the gear the worse the performance. Your list should include two categories; items that should stay on the boat the entire summer and never come off and items like fresh towels and coolers that will constantly being taken on and off. Make sure the basic safety ones like a first-aid kit are on that list as well as plenty of life jackets of all sizes, a paddle, fire extinguisher, a throw cushion and anything else that may be required in your state to be onboard.


With my young kids, we’re all about the tubes so finding a home for them is a top priority. I don’t like taking up valuable space under the seats so that’s why I opted for an in-floor ski locker but a more traditional pop-up changing room/storage box would work too or on some models the room under a rear-facing lounger is another great spot. Our pull tubes stow nicely in the in-floor ski locker, but because it’s so big I would never store smaller items here too. This is why in a separate storage spot under a seat near the stern I group items together like the orange flag, air pump, ski rope, etc.


On my pontoon I carry extra tools, electrical tape and duct tape, and these items all have a designated storage spot next to my spare propeller and prop tool.

In the bow of the boat is where I store my fenders and everyone that comes onboard knows this. That way when I’m pulling into the dock, no one has to start searching under every seat to find them. This is also where I keep the docking lines because they go together and I see no reason why to separate them.

The large under seat storage space is reserved for life jackets. Not just the bare minimum, but plenty of extras just in case. When taking non-boating friends out we always make sure everyone has a comfortable life jacket that fits well, even if the adults choose to leave it stowed away.

Food & Beverage

Closely behind the most asked question, “Are we there yet?” is a question that every kid loves to ask, “Can I have a snack?” If where you keep your snack bag is constantly changing, you’re just confusing the kiddos onboard. I prefer the little cubby below our port chaise lounge that has its own side door. It needs to be the most accessible because it’s going to be accessed the most throughout the day. We keep our cooler under the helm for this same reason. Unless your boat has a designated cooler spot built-in, under the console seems to be best for keeping it from sliding around while you’re trying to toss kids off water tubes. 

Storage Hog

Another storage area on our boat is designated for squirt guns, buckets and sand toys but it’s important that you don’t fill every storage space onboard. Why? Because it’s human nature to bring too much with you when you boat and even though your tell your friends they just need to show up, they always come with bags of snacks, toys or whatever and I insist the walking area not be cluttered so I can walk freely across the a clean floor with nothing to trip over. Again, I know I’m a little quirky but if nothing else just be sure to leave your guests some space too.

So before you take armloads of boating essentials and start stuffing storage spaces this spring, take a moment to get organized. An organized ship is a smooth sailing ship and your passengers and crew will thank you. 

  • Like what you read?

    Want to know when we have important news, updates or interviews?

  • Join our newsletter today!

    Sign Up
You Might Also Be Interested In...

Send to your friends!




Plus, Dock 'n Dine - top places for boaters to grab a bite!

Click here to preview our JUNE 2023 issue

Already a subscriber? Please check your email for the latest full issue link.