As a surveying team, we often come across lockers that are often full of equipment, whether they be lifejackets, rafts, outboards or other bulky items. This can have two issues. The first is that, on the side of the owners, this makes for routine maintenance of the bilges incredibly difficult. Clean bilges are essential for the maintenance of safety equipment, especially bilge pumps that can get clogged if dirt and debris are allowed to gather. Therefore, a good routine, as you would in your own house, is to spring clean your bilge compartments. Are there items that you have not used for years. If this is the case, it is unlikely you will be requiring them. Create space and organise your storage so you can really maintain and service your own bilge cavity.
Secondly, and more from the surveying perspective, if a bilge is full of equipment, it is unlikely that a surveyor will have the time or strength to lift all of this to check the cavities. It is often included in the terms and conditions that surveyors will not be removing equipment which is packed. To get the very best out of your survey, it is essential that you remove items that will lead to a truncated report, leaving more questions or requiring further checks later down the line at your expense.
So a rule of thumb is that a clean and tidy bilge is a win win for both parties and helps ensure the general health of your vessel, up to and including the point of sale.