Low-Cost Root Cellar: Bury a Boat!

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This sailboat hull will make a secure root cellar when buried.
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From sailboat to root cellar.

My wife and I were brainstorming how to make a root cellar cheaply, and we of course started with all of the usual ideas that tend to be a bit costly. Then she said, “Boats are cheap these days; let’s bury a boat.” I looked at her and laughed, then thought about it and decided it just might work.

We both thought a sailboat 17 to 24 feet long would do the trick, given it would have a nice-sized cabin. At about that time, we found an empty and unfinished fiberglass sailboat hull for sale, and it was 29 feet long and 9 feet wide at the beam. After inquiring with the owner, we agreed on a price and hauled it to our place. Our neighbor was so intrigued with the idea that he came over with his backhoe and dug the hole, which ended up being more than 12 feet deep because of the keel depth.

We’ve had the sailboat in the ground for more than a year. The first winter (because we were still working on it), we only stored a 50-pound sack of baker-sized potatoes in the V berth (bow). Even after seven months, they were barely wrinkled and still really good to eat. The temperature in the bow went down to 36 degrees Fahrenheit last winter because I had not insulated any of the bulkheads or put on doors, which are in place now.

The cabin has three sections, so we turned the rear section into a guest bunkhouse. We use the middle section for canned goods, dry goods and apples, and the bow is being used for potatoes, onions and carrots.

So far we have only $700 into the root cellar, and have a dry, controlled temperature for our food storage.

Most importantly, one of our sailor neighbors came by to see what in the world we were doing. He told me we better name her, because it’s considered bad luck to launch a boat without a name. We christened her “Lady Cella,” which is now painted on the stern.

Don and Greta Sines
Toppenish, Washington

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