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What is a Lazarette?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 23, 2024
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A lazarette is a compartment on a boat which is used to store a variety of items. The size and location of the lazarette vary, depending on the craft and when it was built. Smaller craft generally lack a lazarette because there is no room for such a compartment, although a sea chest may be used much like a lazarette to hold supplies which may be necessary during a sailing trip.

This compartment is generally located in the stern or rear of the ship, and sometimes immediately behind the area which houses the navigation center of the ship. Lazarettes are found belowdecks, and they may be accessible with a hatch from the deck of the ship, or it may be necessary to descend below the deck and get to the lazarette through a door. On smaller craft, the lazarette may be no more than a large locker, while on large ones, it can be a big room.

The type of equipment stored in the compartment can vary. It usually contains any equipment which may be useful to people working on deck, including equipment spares, tools for repair, and so forth. It can also include safety equipment, and on larger craft, a space to perform work and repairs, such as a workbench. Different types of sailing crews may store various items in the lazarette, and have their own methods of organizing to ensure that they will be able to find things when they need them.

Shipbuilders can accommodate custom requests for the lazarette if they receive them during the planning phases of the build. People can specify cabinetry, spaces for benches, mode of access, and other things to ensure that their storage space will work well for their needs. People ordering a custom boat for the first time may find it helpful to tour similar boats to get a feel for how they are organized and constructed, taking special notes of features they like and dislike so that they can discuss them with the company building their craft.

For those who are interested in word origins, the story behind this boating term is a bit intriguing. The term “lazarette” appears to be closely related to “lazaretto,” which refers to a quarantine facility or holding place. “Lazaretto” is derived from “Lazarus,” a figure from the Bible who is famously associated with a miracle said to have been performed by Christ, in which Lazarus was raised from the dead.

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Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a WikiMotors researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By Tomislav — On Sep 08, 2011

Many people use a lazarette's storage space for life jackets and such personal flotation devices, and I just read the best tip, as I have seen this happen before and thought it would be a good one for people who are looking for what to do with their lazarette.

The tip was to add some vents to your lazarette if you do decide to put your personal flotation devices in there, this way you prevent icky mold from growing, which I think we can all agree it is easier to prevent mold versus clean mold!

By zeak4hands — On Sep 08, 2011

@amsden2000 - I remember that episode of Psych.

You know, it might be possible to add a lazarette. They aren't exactly a complicated thing. If your dad's boat if wooden, it would be a really easy to build one into the deck. If you do build a lazarette into your deck -- make sure the darn thing is sealed good. The first one I built leaked into the hull – yikes.

If not, you could always just bolt the locker you have down to the deck to keep it from sliding. Sometimes lockers are better, especially since you can clean them out easier.

By amsden2000 — On Sep 07, 2011

I remember an episode of the TV show "Psych" where the two main characters got locked in a lazarette. They were hiding on board the smugger's boat to figure out a crime. The lazarette they were hiding in was pretty small so they had to sit uncomfortably close – which was hilarious.

I can definitely see how it would be handy to have a place to store everything you aren't using. My dad's boat doesn't have a lazarette -- we just have a big locker sitting on deck to store stuff in. It's not very big and it slides a little whenever it's stormy.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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