Husky drawersHR

Depending on how you use your boat, whether it is up and down the Intracoastal waterway, coastal cruising, or ocean passaging, an appropriate number of spare parts should always be carried in the event of equipment failure. If you are on the ICW, or even coast-hopping, you will probably be able to get spares as needed for nearly anything, from the nearest marine supplier or even delivered on the internet. Ocean cruising is very different, and I have sometimes thought I needed another boat-full of spares towed behind.

Huskey boxesStowing larger items is not so much of a problem on my schooner Britannia, with its 14' foot beam, because there are lots of lockers and drawers to accommodate everything from a spare alternator, a large engine starter, and all the other things a large cruising boat might need as replacement for a breakdown. I kept a multitude of fasteners, nuts and bolts, and other small items in multi-compartment plastic boxes. They are available from most hardware stores and made in all sorts of shapes and sizes, most with adjustable dividers to accommodate nearly any size item. I had five of these for small parts and fasteners in both imperial and metric, including 6" inch-long rigging screws, along with all the other things that I never threw away, and which tend to accumulate. The heaviest of these was 15 lbs and I kept them all in the same place behind a saloon seat, piled one on top of the other. It therefore always seemed that the one I wanted was always on the bottom of the pile. The combined weight of all the boxes was a whopping 59 lbs!

A pull-out drawer system used in garage workshops would have been ideal, but these are designed for tools, wrenches, screwdrivers, etc., and much bigger than my available space. Eventually, I found what I had searched for, with a two-drawer small parts organizer system from Husky.

Each of these units has two 18" inch wide drawers that can be added to by locking a second or third unit on top of each other to make a stack of any number of drawers. The inside dividers can also be adjusted to form different-sized compartments. I bought two of these from the Home Depot for $45.00 each

The drawers are on roller-bearing sliders that are easy to pull out, even when completely loaded with steel fasteners. Better still, the drawers can be locked shut, so they won't slide open when the boat heels. The outside dimensions of each two-drawer unit is 7⅜" inches high x 21" inches long x 12" inches deep. There are 16 interior compartments in each drawer, 4" Long x 2" Wide x 2" Deep.

Husky cutoutI decided to install them behind the seats where the original loose boxes had been kept, that just meant widening the opening a little. I then screwed a wooden batten along the inside for the front of the opening for the drawers to sit on, and supported the back with a block of wood. The front was then fastened with self-tapping screws through the wooden front panel into the plastic frame of the drawers. I didn't lose any real storage space by fitting them in the same space as the boxes either, because I never stored anything on top of the boxes, except the other boxes, and the parts are now much easier to find.

I removed the locking levers on one side of the drawers to make it easier to fit the units, and the other side still locks them securely. I modified the original plywood front panel so it would fit over the front of the drawers and when the seat back is clipped in place the drawers cannot be seen.

After the screw holes had been filled and all exposed wood painted white the installation was finished. There was now only one other thing to do – transfer the hundreds of small parts into the new drawers.

Husky dividersSome of the compartments still needed subdividing for smaller items, so I cut the divider slots out of one of the old boxes, then fitted a divider into the slot to make it stand upright inside a compartment. All this took as long as installing the drawers. and the bottom drawer carries all 15 lbs., of the heavier fasteners, but it still opens effortlessly on its roller gliders.

The finished project is a vast improvement on all the heavy boxes I used to manhandle. Now, if I need anything in the drawers I just remove the seat back, unlatch the lock, the pull the drawer out and pick whatever I need, then lock them until next time. Anyone sitting on the seat would never know that hundreds of screws and boating bits are stored directly behind where they are sitting.

Stowing spare parts all over the boat is one thing, but remembering where they all are is another. Many times it had taken me longer to find something than to fit it. So I devised a method of quickly locating anything and everything, that has saved me lots of time and frustration. If you have similar problems finding things, go to "Get organized," it will be worth it.

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