Which Tools to Carry on a Boat

Repairs and maintenance work is best done in marinas or ports. For bigger endeavors, try to find a suitable workshop. However, sometimes damages occur at sea. This is when you find out how important it is to carry a basic toolkit. In this brief article, I try to give you a checklist of the essential tool kit.

Every time you go sailing beyond a day, you should carry a small selection of tools for basic repairs. The following checklist will give tools of rather general use; in addition, you should also go through your boat and figure out which specific tools you will need, for example, for your engine.

Store your tools in an appropriate box. Custom-made plastic toolboxes provide small compartments that will allow you to store and sort tools as well as screws, nuts and other small items that you might be of use for repairs. If you sail a large cruiser, you might want to have a tool belt, since they conveniently allow you to carry a number of tools without occupying your hands.

Checklist: Tools to Bring

1.) Spanners: Try to get an adjustable one, or a variety that should match with the needs of you boat

2.) Wire cutter, bold cutters, metal saw

3.) Manuals: Your engine, boat, plumbing, ventilation or whatever else your yacht holds in terms of technical gimmicks will most likely come with a manual. Store it with you toolkit and keep both handy aboard.

4.) Wrenches

5.) Drill: Manual ones are lighter, sufficient for small repairs and more reliable. You can also get one with exchangeable heads. If you prefer a power drill, bring batteries and check it before departure.

6.) Small saws with spare blades

7.) Duct tape

8.) Hammer and nails

9.) Torch or headlamp with appropriate batteries; check before departure. A headlamp can be convenient for other applications than repairs. There are several models available in camping stores online as well as in the real World.

10.) Epoxy resin kits for emergency repairs, especially if you sail a GRP boat

11.) Screwdrivers, screws, nuts

12.) A multi-functional tool for all the things you didn’t expect (such as Leatherman tools or a Swiss Army Knife – remember MacGyver?).

13.) Canvas repair kit with small pieces of canvas, needles and string

14.) Socket Set

15.) “How to” literature for people who are not terribly gifted with repairs (such as myself)

16.) Superglue and tucker for the very desperate situations

17.) Spare parts for specific devices – in particular for those for which you won’t find replacement abroad very easily and that are crucial for survival. This might include parts for the engine, sails and other power-generating systems. Communication tools and buoyancy are other candidates.

18.) Replacement units: If you plan to sail for a very long time to very underdeveloped regions, you might want to consider bringing replacement units for sensitive pieces of gear. This means in particular electronic systems such as communication, navigation and positioning systems.

Of course a basic toolkit like this is not sufficient for sustainable repairs. If possible, you should always do repairs in a port or marina with a more specialized toolkit. The checklist given above is meant to be nothing but a guideline for tools that should help you with very basic repairs.

If you sail a cruiser that is spacious and you aim for destinations with very basic repair facilities, you should think about getting a workbench aboard. This will allow you to fix parts you want to work on and dedicate more proficient techniques to your repair efforts.

Further Reading

Back to "gear"

Guide to boat maintenance: Hull, Deck and Rigging, Interiors

DMOZ on boat repair services

DMOZ leads to Sailboat parts and accessories