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Old 19-08-2020, 06:33   #1
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Reflections on Storing Your Stuff While Cruising

In 2009 I had recently retired, got rid of a lot of stuff, sold the house, and moved on board to be a full time live aboard cruiser. We had a wonderful time and terrific experiences, and not too much bad stuff happened. This post is not about our cruise. I retired from full time cruising after 8 years and then traveled by land for a few years. I have now bought a house and dropped anchor. I recently retrieved my stuff from storage and unpacked much of it. I was thinking that those of you about to go cruising might be interested in my stuff/storage experiences.

In the years before I went cruising I owned a big house and a lot of stuff. Somehow family artifacts all came my way, I had collectibles, furniture, etc. I had planned my whole life to someday live on a boat, so in the years before cruising I spent time down sizing. I sold a lot on Craigslist, eBay, gave stuff away and threw stuff away, donated, etc. It took about a full time year. I came down to a group of stuff that I thought I wanted to keep in storage while cruising. If we were going to pay to store this stuff I though that we ought to pack well. I bought plastic totes and wrapped things well and used rust and moisture control. I also made a detailed inventory of everything. Labeled totes thoroughly. We had both climate controlled and non climate controlled lockers. The lockers were near my sister so that she could help out if there was an issue, but there was little need.

In retrospect there area few things I’m sorry not to have now that I got rid of back then, but not too many such items. There were hundreds of judgment calls about this, most were right.

I kept a lot of books, but we switched to Kindals while sailing. Still puzzling what to do.

Got rid of 99% of furniture and glad of it, but consequently a big purchase upon returning.

I made some sound decisions at the time. I downsized collectibles. I had tools like band saw and table saw that I know I wanted after sailing, but reasoned they were inefficient to store and might degrade. I sold them. I think that was right and I just bought a table saw way better than the old one.

We spent time in the last year moving totes from our storage locker to the new house. When we opened the first tote, we said “What did we keep this junk for!” Right off the top, 5 to 10% of the stuff we had payed to store for ten years we got rid of. There may still be more to go. There were several problem categories:
Old technology, (VHS player)
Values changed in ten years and the value of items to me changed.
Kept too many of certain things
Some lack of coordination of what I packed and my wife packed.
Seemed like a good idea back at the time.

The detailed inventory proved to be incredibly valuable. My wife needed a document for an important reason. Amazingly, it was on the inventory and we were able to retrieve it from storage in about 20 minutes. Without the inventory we would have looked for days or weeks and maybe not found it.

The inventory allowed us to find a host of more mundane items over the year. It was worth it to us, but it was a lot of work both initially and ongoing. Storage proved to be more dynamic over the years than I expected. Visit the family for Christmas and bring a load home from the boat and into storage. Update the inventory. Get stuff from storage to go back to the boat. Rinse repeat.

The extra step of buying and using plastic totes and the careful packing payed off. We had very little damage after 10 years. I handful of totes broke from too much weight stacked on top. We had no water or insect intrusion and little rust.

Your mileage may vary
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Old 19-08-2020, 07:30   #2
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Re: Reflections on Storing Your Stuff While Cruising

Thanks Bill. Interesting thread. I guess we're in the middle of the "stuff" situation. We moved onto our boat in 2015, and like you, sold most of our land possessions.

Most of the big stuff went, but we did decide to keep some items. My partner wanted to keep enough basic kitchen things so we could set up home quickly should the need arise. There were some important papers and photos we kept (in plastic tote bins ). And she also was attached to a few emotional items (me, not so much ).

Instead of renting storage space we opted to purchase a small cargo trailer. We have friends who allowed us to park it on their small farm for free, so there's been no ongoing cost. At this point I can't really remember all the stuff we put in there, but I'm some of it will be useful if/when we move back to land full time.

In addition to the trailer of stuff, we've opted to keep our land vehicles: a small car and two small motorcycles. The latter had been stored at another friend's place up until this season when sailing season turned into a motorcycle season.

One thing that was/is important to us is to avoid any ongoing storage fees, which is why we opted for the cargo trailer. Personally, I would have avoided that as well, but it was necessary for my partner, so it became necessary for me.
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Old 19-08-2020, 09:23   #3
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Re: Reflections on Storing Your Stuff While Cruising

We have almost a reverse situation. When we left to go cruising we kept nothing that couldn't be put on the boat (and put away). We wanted no storage fees or concerns about "stuff back home". We sold or gave away just about all of it.

So for 25 years we sailed with everything left that we owned though occasionally we off loaded temporarily for one reason or another. Now we are based in Mexico, in a marina, and we HAVE A STORAGE LOCKER! We've accumulated so much stuff now that I seriously wonder if we could pack it all back on board if we decided to move.

Once in a while I pine for some of the things I had before, but not often. Mostly I'm just glad not to have it. About the only things we really treasure are photos and paper records, which we kept all this time, and which we are in the process of digitizing and then getting rid of.

("Freedom's just another word for nothin' left to lose", my cousin Kris. We believe that.)
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Old 19-08-2020, 09:31   #4
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Re: Reflections on Storing Your Stuff While Cruising

Good call on putting your things in plastic totes!

You’re correct that you make literally hundreds of judgment calls when deciding whether to keep or pitch stuff. All you can do is hope that most of them are right. Sounds like you did well overall.

We got rid of 99% of our items and have less than six plastic totes stored in a relative’s attic. Mostly sentimental stuff (undoubtedly more sentimental to me than Mr. cthoops) - some photos that I didn’t have time to properly go through and scan, our wedding rings, china from my parent’s marriage (and yes, we used it as our everyday dishes when we lived on land), that kind of thing. We figured we can always buy more furniture.
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Old 19-08-2020, 10:12   #5
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Re: Reflections on Storing Your Stuff While Cruising

We've gone through three downsizing exercises. We have nothing in storage. I occasionally miss some of the things we sold, but get by without them. After living on the boat for three years our concept of what we need has been very much reduced. We do miss having a vegetable garden and canning our own produce. But, in Grenada we have so many farmers' markets. In the US Virgin Islands, not so much.

We talk about future plans and think about a truck and a trailer. Perhaps some land in the country. We have friends in Virginia who have all that and a deep water dock. That might be something that could work for us. The future will take care of itself.

Cheers, RickG
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Old 20-08-2020, 08:59   #6
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Re: Reflections on Storing Your Stuff While Cruising

When we sold our boat in the BVI we shipped a load of stuff home. When it arrived we wondered why we had paid to ship about 50% of it , when we would never use it again. Still got a load of rope in the garden shed. It has been there for many years.
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Old 20-08-2020, 09:06   #7
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Re: Reflections on Storing Your Stuff While Cruising

We've been in planning stages for the last 5 years. During that time, we would do a 'purge' every 6 months (You can only spend time in the attic in the Spring and the fall). You collect a lot of 'stuff' in 28 years and we knew it would be overwhleming to do it all at once.

When the tie came to actually sell the house and move, we purged so much from the attic and basement I lost count of the trips to the dump and Goodwill. We bought a place in Florida.

Once we started unpacking, we were still thinking "Why he hell did we keep this"? Even most of the furniture didn't work in the new place. Hindsight being 20/20, we would have goten rid of everything and bought new. The old furniture and most of the stuff just didn't work. Even pictures and decorations just didn't work in the new space.

For the cost of 10 years of storage, you can buy all new stuff that works with the new space.
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Old 20-08-2020, 09:09   #8
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Re: Reflections on Storing Your Stuff While Cruising

When we were in Seattle last time we shipped a box of large framed paintings home, but when we got back to the boat and they arrived, we didn't know what to do with them. I talked various relatives into taking them.
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Old 20-08-2020, 09:09   #9
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Re: Reflections on Storing Your Stuff While Cruising

I'm SO glad I kept a lot of stuff. Sure I kept some stuff I didn't need, but I got rid of some I shouldn't have. Ugh.
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Old 20-08-2020, 09:40   #10
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Re: Reflections on Storing Your Stuff While Cruising

We kept our house back East and rented it out so as part of the rental agreement we kept our stuff in about a third of the basement area. We rented to a friend so he's fine with that. That was 2014. Honestly, I can't remember what I stored, but I'm sure it's probably photographs and family memorabilia, and one-of-a-kind stuff I can't just go online and replace.

Now because we live aboard in the north with (shudder) long winters, I'm thinking we need a storage unit. Winter clothing and heavy blankets take up so much space that during the summer, the aft cabin looks like a thrift shop somewhere in the Arctic. The summer clothing takes up almost no room to store.

We just bought a little slide on camper for the diesel truck and hopefully we'll be somewhere warm and light this winter. If that works, I'm tossing the winter clothing and doubling up on flip flops.
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Old 20-08-2020, 15:49   #11
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Re: Reflections on Storing Your Stuff While Cruising

Now that we have moved off our boat we no longer have the ability to cruise away from hurricane season or move to a best protected place; however, if we ever decide to evacuate our Florida apartment with an approaching cat 3 or + hurricane, we could each walk to our car with a single "carry on" sized roller-bag and not suffer a loss. We've always cherished the freedom of non-ownership. Not owning a lot of stuff made our 45 years living aboard our sailboat an easy joyful life.
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Old 20-08-2020, 17:09   #12
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Re: Reflections on Storing Your Stuff While Cruising

Quote:
Originally Posted by wingssail View Post
("Freedom's just another word for nothin' left to lose")

Yep, great stuff from Janis Joplin!
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Old 20-08-2020, 17:31   #13
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Re: Reflections on Storing Your Stuff While Cruising

Quote:
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Yep, great stuff from Janis Joplin!
Yes, Bill O, Janis Joplin did a great cover of that song, "Me and Bobby McGee". Whenever I think of that song, I think of her voice and her doing it. but my cousin Kris Kristofferson wrote it.
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Old 20-08-2020, 17:34   #14
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Re: Reflections on Storing Your Stuff While Cruising

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Yes, Bill O, Janis Joplin did a great cover of that song, "Me and Bobby McGee". Whenever I think of that song, I think of her voice and her doing it. but my cousin Kris Kristofferson wrote it.

Ahhh, thus the reference to Kris. Didn't know you were so connected.
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Old 22-08-2020, 19:29   #15
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Re: Reflections on Storing Your Stuff While Cruising

I had rented my house out but retained one of the three garages for my personals. I was even able to stow a few pieces of my favorite furniture. When I returned after 3 years it wasn't hard getting back into things.
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