My Cape Dory 30


Where to Stick It


"You can never be too rich (owning a boat usually takes care of that), too thin, or have too much storage on your boat."

[ Walt's Home Page]   [ Cape Dory Message Board ]   [ Tiburon Yacht Club]
Click most pictures for larger images

Yes, where to stick it?  That was the question when I purchased this otherwise ideal Cape Dory 30 flybridge powerboat, back in 1993.  Where to stick almost anything, because our new, handsome, salty and seaworthy vessel was sadly lacking in storage space.  But now, eight years later, we have plenty.

Here are the ways we expanded our storage, put forth in the hope that some Cape Dory 30, 33 and 36 powerboat owners will find an idea they can use.  Some might also work on the more popular Cape Dory 28' powerboats.  And who knows - even if you have a totally different boat, maybe these add-ins will inspire you to prowl around your boat and find some new storage space of your own.


1. Beneath the Settee

This do-it-yourself fix was a cinch.

The aft settee has a big storage space, with an access hatch beneath the cushions.  Cushions - plural - is the catch.  Because you have to remove both cushions to take the hatch out.  The corner seat cushion is tightly wedged underneath two seatback cushions.  And once the two cushions are out, you need to find a place to put them.

The fix: Just saw the hatch in half.  Now most of the storage space is easily reached with removal of only one cushion.

Next, a couple of simple additions on Golden Phoenix's first trip to the boatyard.

2. Up the Hatch

Lift out the engine room access hatch (grunt), and where do you put it?

I had the yard add a piano hinge on one end and a pneumatic lifter cylinder.  It's easier to lift and doesn't have to be put anywhere.

3. Dead Space Revived

This boat has quite a bit of dead space in dry, inaccessible places.  The long end of the settee, which lifts on hinges to provide top access to the port engine,  covers up many wasted cubic feet.

So I had the boatyard add a couple of simple hatches to provide access to this space.  The basket holds lots of little items, and can easily be pulled out to get at them.

When the engine is serviced, the stored items need to be moved.  But lifting the settee is complicated already, so this doesn't make it much worse.

That about exhausted the easy fixes.  Fortunately, my friend and fellow yacht club member Lon Woodrum, of Woodrum Marine, is a master shipwright.  He can make teak stand up and sing.  With his help, we kept right on finding more storage space.

4. Galley, Down

There's a lot of space under the sink and stove.  But it's not real usable.  The garbage can takes up a lot of it.  And it's hard to take advantage of all that height, since the bottom is the hull and it's hard to pile stuff up on top of the slant.

So we downsized the garbage can.  It's not shown, but it sits on that fold-out shelf and the top lip hooks under that cleat at the top of the door.  Then Lon added the shelf.  It goes back almost two feet to the left.  That's a huge increase in shelf space, and there's still plenty of room underneath to pile things.  It's a great spot for storing soda or beer - right next to the hull, which keeps it cool.

The shelf is only screwed down, not glued, to allow it to be removed for access to plumbing and the thru-hulls.  The cleats supporting the shelf are, of course, glued and screwed.

5. Galley, Up

Somehow, the galley counter turned into the medicine cabinet.  I guess the light is better there than in the head.  Whatever the reason, a huge collection of small objects slowly spread out across the counter like mold on week-old bread.

So Lon put a shelf in.  Not only did it increase the available space, but it kept all those little items accessible without spreading out.  (Well, a few objects are still crawling across the counter.  But it's better than it was.)

6. Berth of a Cubbyhole

High on the list of nearly inaccessible storage was the space under the island queen berth.  Except for some drawers at the foot of the berth, all the rest of the space underneath is only accessible through a small hatch, after removing the bedding and the mattress.  Not real practical.

Lon built a flat floor inside the berth, level with the cabin sole, and put sliding doors on either side of the pedestal.  I wired a light inside, on the footlight circuit, so we can even see what's in there.  The storage doesn't go too far forward, because it would be impossible to reach.  So there's still a little nearly inaccessible storage under the mattress.

7. A Pillar of Stuff

The rear of the flybridge is supported by two hollow pillars.  The starboard one is stuffed with wiring and electrical panels, and all the cables running to the flybridge.  The port side pillar is empty.  What a waste.

Not any more.  Now it has all the little items that don't fit anywhere else.  (If you haven't figured it out by now, we're clutter people.  But at least we now have shelves for our clutter.)

8. Driving Miss Dory

The biggest drawback to Golden Phoenix was its lack of a lower helm station.  For several years I thought about how to install one, and how to get around the outrageous prices Volvo Penta wanted for engine instrument panels and wiring harnesses.  Eventually the local dealer found a way around the latter problem, and Lon Woodrum and I noodled out the design.

Originally, this was a cabinet (see photo left) with a counter top at the height of the fiddle rail on the right.  If Cape Dory had put in the factory helm option, it would have been a solid faced pedestal with a wheel on the face, the whole thing hinged at the sole to tilt back for service.

Well, after all our struggles to increase storage space, we weren't willing to give up the cabinet.  So Lon just dropped the doors five inches, and built the helm station in the top third of the space.  The instrument panels lift out, providing ample access to the wiring.

Lon built the instrument box on top of the head.  Unfortunately, there was no way to run wiring to the instruments - the head is right behind the helm station.  So Lon made a hollow triangular block of teak, about two inches square, to cover the cable run.  It sits inside the head, up against the aft bulkhead and overhead, and looks like it belongs there.

Behind the instrument box is a shelf that runs to the windshield.  It gets the radar and compass up where they can be seen, and makes a nice cubbyhole underneath for the charts.

9. Taking the Trip Out of the Trip

All this kept us pretty happy for a number of years.  But every time we provisioned up for a weekend cruise, somehow a couple of grocery bags wound up spending the weekend on the galley sole, right where they could be tripped over.  And in the past couple of years, we've been doing more long weekend and week-long cruises with the yacht club.  Something had to be done.  So last summer, we got Lon aboard Golden Phoenix, and prowled around in search of dead space.

Now, the one commodious piece of storage on the Cape Dory 30 is the hanging locker.  It's so large that we never really used more than half of it.  The dinghy's outboard lived there for years, though it was rarely used.

But the hanging locker backs right up against the galley.  So Lon built a huge cabinet into the locker (left), with a deceptively small access door in the galley (above right).

Again we made use of an L-shaped shelf.  Through the opening it is possible to fit two or three grocery bags - the ones we no longer trip over - onto the bottom shelf.  The center shelf goes deceptively far back to the left, just under the sidedeck.

The blocked left side of the hanging locker is ugly, of course.  But I think there's enough room to fit a mirror between it and the door.  If so, it could look like it was that way on purpose.

10. Shelving the Problem

Now that we could provision for a week, we wanted to get away from the other half of the "trip" problem.  We were living out of travel bags, which occupied the cabin's floor space, which there was not enough of to permit walking around the bags.  More trips.  What we needed were shelves we could unpack onto.

 So Lon built two shelves on each side of the cabin.  They provide plenty of room to hold a week's worth of shirts and dainties.  And they don't stick out enough to impede access to the berth.  With the assistance of some nice folding brass coathooks (top left in the picture, also in pictures below), and a cup hook under the bottom shelf to hang a laundry bag, the cabin became totally organized.

11. Nature Still Abhors a Vacuum.

Ah, but we still lusted for storage.  And there was still that big blank panel over the hanging locker.  I love my Cape Dory 30 FB, but I will never figure out what the person was thinking who designed the cabinetry.  With some trepidation - in case the designer actually had a reason for enclosing the space - we cut into the area above the locker.  Voila - empty it was!

So we used the leftover formica to line the raw fiberglass (learning in the process that formica can bend).  And Lon made this nifty door that sits open on a spring and just clears the light.  Did you notice how everything he makes has that look, like it was factory original?

The End (we hope)

So.  Now the boat's finished, right?  We sure hope so.  We figure to enjoy all the storage, and do more cruises on San Francisco Bay and up to the Sacramento Delta.  After all, we've used up all the dead space.  I think ....

P. S.: If you're in need of some more storage space yourself, and are in the San Francisco Bay Area, you might get lucky and wind up with some Lon Woodrum cabinetry aboard your boat.  Woodrum Marine is in the Sausalito phone book, or email