Handy Tools to Have on Your Boat

Your boat may be in tip-top condition, but before you leave the dock it is always a good idea to have some basic tools on board.

Hopefully, nothing will go wrong, but like safety equipment, it’s always better to have the equipment on board than not. Some simple tools might make the difference between a fun day being over way too early.  This isn’t a complete list of tools designed to cover every possible problem, these tools will just cover the most common complications. Start off with a robust, waterproof toolbox so that your tools stay dry and are all in one place.

What to have in your toolbox…

  1. A flashlight – invaluable for fixing things when it’s dark or finding out what’s going on in the bilge. Magnetic retrievers are perfect for getting screws or other metal items out of the bilge or other hard to reach places.
  2. Mirror on a stick – how many times have you wondered what is going on in a hard to reach area? A small mirror in your toolbox could be very useful.
  3. Pliers – if you have the room it could be handy to have more than one size.
  4. Hacksaw – a small hacksaw could be invaluable for cutting metal, wood or even fibreglass.
  5. Spare fuel filter – if your engine is spluttering the first thing you do is check there is fuel. After that, the next thing to do is change the oil filter.
  6. Spray lubricant – the most well-known brand is WD40 and it can be used for everything from releasing corroded, locked fasteners to spraying a protective film of lubricant on the engine. It’s also good for protecting your tools from rust.
  7. Sealant – a boating caulking compound is an easy and effective way to temporarily fix leaking deck fittings. There are some which will also cure underwater.
  8. Multi-tool – invest in a good quality multi-tool.  Check for robust pliers, screwdrivers, knife and saw.
  9. Range of cloths – keep some spare cloths on board that can be used for the messiest jobs. A few pairs of disposable gloves won’t go amiss.
  10. Oil-absorbent pads – if you have an oil leak you’ll be glad you can stop any oil going into the bilge.
  11. Wire strippers and crimping – you’ll be in a dire situation if you’re having to do a major re-wiring job out at sea, but for the occasional wiring problem, a set of wire cutters with a crimping tool and a few spare crimp connectors will suffice.
  12. A range of wrenches – wrenches are used for gripping, fastening, turning, tightening and loosening things like pipes, fittings, nuts and bolts. At the very least have on board the wrench that came with the engine. An adjustable wrench can also be useful.
  13. Hose clamps – it’s always a good idea to have a few spare and they take up very little room.
  14. Heavy-duty adhesive tape e.g. duct tape. It’s amazing how useful a bit of tape can be!
  15. Electricals – If you’re out at sea, your engine fails and all that’s needed is a new fuse you’re going to be having a bad day. Check your owners manual for the correctly sized fuses and always keep some spare. If you’ve got room then a basic multimeter will help you track down the electrical fault, tracing live circuits and testing the state of the battery.
  16. Screwdrivers and nutdrivers – keep on board at least a small selection of what’s most likely to be useful.

Every boat has its own special requirements. If you’re not sure what to have on board simply think of what most often seems to go wrong and what tools make the difference.

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