Four people, two cats, 42 feet of boat, maybe 350 square feet of living space. Before moving aboard we comfortably filled a four bedroom house. We dumped, donated, and gave away possessions, we put some treasured favorites in storage, and looked at the pile of goods we felt we needed. Then we did it again. And again. Still too much stuff. It’s a good thing Goblin has so much storage space, though learning to use it well is going to take us some time.

Moving aboard involved filling every bag, basket, and crate readily at hand with our severely pared down possessions, driving an hour to the marina, loading it into a dock cart, pushing that along the dock, loading it onto Goblin, then emptying the bags, baskets, and crates out immediately so they could be brought back to the house and loaded again. Please note that putting away was nowhere in that list.

Now that we are aboard, it’s time to find a home for all the clothes, tools, books, and food. In a house, this is a reasonably logical, though time consuming and generally irritating activity. All your kitchen boxes go to the kitchen. You stare at your cabinets and drawers for a while, deciding which will work best for plates versus cups, pots versus canned goods, then you tuck everything away. You move on to your bedroom, clothes go in the dresser or hanging up, books on the bookshelf, etc.

And then there’s boat unpacking. Start with the idea that there are three silverware sized drawers in my kitchen and one cabinet with a sliding door that is about the size of an overgrown toaster oven. End of kitchen. On the other hand, if you pull off the cushions at the back of the couch I have two huge cubby holes almost two feet high and slightly more than a foot deep. We have cabinets along most of both sides of Goblin, each about 6-10 inches tall but not a single one has a level bottom and back. Level bottom sloped back, sloped bottom level back, sure, but not both. Everything is contoured to match the curve of the hull and take advantage of every possible inch so we have as much storage as possible, it’s just not of a shape I’m used to.

I pulled open one drawer and it turns out that behind the drawer face is only half a drawer. Hmm, not what I was expecting. Anyone know a good source of triangular boxes?

My unpacking involves a lot of rearranging. Put things into three cabinets, take everything out of two, swap them, lift the contents, put one more item on the bottom, repack, then stick a post it note on the door to remind yourself what you put in with the hope of being able to locate it later. I find myself switching between two unpacking modes. First, I have this type of item, books or art materials or cleaning supplies, where do I want to put it? When I get frustrated I switch into, I have this oddly shaped cabinet, what would make any sense to keep here? A combination of the two seems to help maintain sanity.

I know it will all fit, I’m amazed by Goblin’s ability to swallow everything we’ve loaded into her so far. I do see a number of trips to the container store in my future for some very strangely shaped boxes. If you visit and need some paper towels, just reach past the stove, remove all my plates and cups from the cabinet, lift he floor of it, and grab a roll. Sensible, right?