Boating Tools and Supplies: The Essentials
If you want to get back to shore when you have a breakdown on the water, you better have a solid toolkit and onboard supplies to get you there.
When it comes to having a tool kit full of essentials, think about “going big or not going home”. Because the more tools you have onboard, the better the odds you'll have what you need to fix a problem. Besides the right tools, you’ll need some spare parts and supplies in your boat’s tool kit. Here’s our list of 10 essential tools and 10 essential spare supplies to carry onboard.
10 Essential Tools for Your Boat Tool Kit
1. Multi-tool. You’ll probably have all of the tools included in a multi-tool elsewhere in your toolkit, but a multi-tool fits in your pocket and comes in handy for unexpected emergencies.
2. Needle-nose pliers. They grip, pull, cut, and even undo smaller nuts and bolts in a pinch.
3. Screwdrivers. At the bare minimum you should have a flat-head and a Phillips screwdriver, or get a multi-head screwdriver.
4. Assorted wrenches. Include large and small adjustable wrenches, a spark plug wrench and a propeller nut wrench in your boat tool kit.
5. Allen key set. Makes sure the Allen key set matches the fastener sizes (metric or standard) in your outboard.
6. Stripper/crimper. Wire strippers and crimpers make electrical repairs much easier, and are great for making watertight electrical connections.
7. Ratchet and socket set. A small socket set going up to about 14mm or 9/16th inches should give you a suitable range of sockets.
8. Hacksaw. A hacksaw is designed to cut through metal, but can also cut through fiberglass and wood if necessary.
9. Cutters. Side cutters or sturdy kitchen shears will enable you to cut through cable ties, tangled fishing line, wires and hoses.
10. Headlamp. A headlamp is better than a flashlight because it leaves both your hands free, but you can also hold it like a flashlight.
10 Essential Spare Parts and Supplies for Your Boat Tool Kit
1. Spark plugs. You should change your engine’s spark plugs at least once a year, so always carry a spare set in your toolkit.
2. Fuses. Carry a selection of different size fuses, including a spare main fuse if your outboard has one.
3. Fuel filter. If you’re unlucky enough to get a bad batch of fuel, a spare fuel filter will be a lifesaver.
4. Hose clamps and length of hose. Carry spare hose clamps and lengths of hose in different sizes to make on-the-fly repairs.
5. Wire. A couple of yards of wire can be wrapped into a small coil, but will be invaluable if you need to replace a broken or shorting electrical circuit.
6. Electrical tape. Good for shielding wires, but can also be put to use for many other quick fixes.
7. Nuts, bolts and screws. Always have small sets of spare fasteners in various sizes readily available. Make sure they’re also made of stainless steel to prevent corrosion.
8. Water displacement lubricant. Acts as a penetrant to help loosen stubborn fasteners and as a spray to dry off electrical terminals.
9. Caulk/sealant. Marine caulk or sealant, particularly the kind that cures when wet, can temporarily plug leaks until you get back to the dock.
10. Permanent marker. Essential for labeling hoses, cables and spark plug leads. You can also mark oil filters and fuel filters with the dates you replaced them.
If you think carrying all these tools, spares and supplies is a bit much, keep in mind that they might make the difference between getting back home safely or being stranded on the water. Don't leave shore without them!