You can never have enough tools. You will never find every possible use for every
tool. You will always find a better tool. There is no such thing as the perfect tool.
article is geared towards a boat user more than a boat mechanic but
boaters come to mechanics for advice so this may help you give some
Boating entails a bit of Do-it-yourself to survive. I'm not referring to the cost
that drives us there as much as it is the necessity. The "use to repair ratio"
is somewhat less than an airplane but significantly higher than a modern automobile. From
a safety stand point, it is best to know more about your boat than the guy who would tow
I've seen a lot of lists and frankly most of them are not written from the view
point of a mechanic or a boater in need of the stuff on the list.
The only purpose to have tools onboard, is to service a malfunction that other wise
might leave you dead in the water. Understanding what the most likely situation would be,
by it's probability of occurrence, is the only way to become prepared. So with that
in mind, the first thing you should have on board is a contingency plan. What if I
hit a big rock, what if I suck a rope into my prop, what if I loose power to my dash
board, what if I seem to be out of fuel, what if I see a warning light on the dash, what
if I'm taking on water, what if I'm dead in the water and I need to do something quick...
are all things you should ask yourself before you leave the dock. Short of actually
being out of fuel, or breaking a drive shaft almost all other problems can be easy to
Learning where wires come from and go to, knowing what fuses do what and having
backups, installing a small reserve fuel tank, carrying a spare prop and the tools to
change it, using your dual battery system correctly, etc. are but a start to an uneventful
day of boating. Actually that is what this web sight is all about....
The way to start is to plan for the one thing you know the least about. Your
first purchase is the engine manual. Take it to the boat and try to use it.
I did say use it, not just read it. If this is not possible, stock up on flares....
For you see you can learn the rules of the road, all day long, but if your dead in the
water, the only one you need to know is how to use the VHF, in a courteous manner, while
Obviously, memorizing the entire manual isn't the idea here. But, learning how and what to
do if a certain failure occurs, by its probability of occurrence, is where to start Then
by doing some dry runs, similar to what would have to be done on the water, the situation
won't be so overpowering. The best example, is that some motors have to be lifted off of
their forward motor mount, to change the alternator belt. So, having a spare belt put in
place and tied to the side, before the old one goes out, wouldn't be a bad idea. Look your
engine over and look for things similar to that and try to plan for a repair at sea.
Next, all manuals have a trouble shooting flow chart of some sort. Look it over
because it usually covers the most frequent and obvious problems that could go wrong with
your motor. You should ask, yourself, if you could follow the suggested steps for a
certain problem, and where are the items that they suggest looking at. There are some
thing's you can't do at sea and you can't carry every spare part, but surprisingly enough,
most break downs at sea don't need a lot of parts. Often it's not the part itself
that failed as much as it is the connections from it, to something else.
One of the more
common problems experienced by boaters is clogged fuel filters.
Besides having spare filters on-board; make sure you have the tools to
change them. Also, carry a container to store the used ones in, to
prevent spillage. If you own a diesel then also know how to
bleed your fuel lines and the tools required to do so.
Besides the usual pliers, screwdrivers, adjustable wrench, vice-grips,
and stuff... the next suggestion isn't a tool as much as it should be a kit. This kit
should contain any and all items that would have to do with, the testing and repair of
your electrical system. You know, buy a cheap tool box, then stock it up with the fuses,
connectors, fuse holders, etc. that are already in use on your
boat. Add in electrical tape, wire, crimp connectors, wire stripper and or
crimper, wire cutter, 12 volt test light, several jumper wire sets with alligator clips on
the ends, and you'll be ready for the normal power outage.
Things vibrate loose, wire connectors overheat, fuses blow, and occasionally a main
power supply will go dead. It's not always easy to know how your boat is wired, since few
builders supply their buyers with a complete electrical blueprint, but again most problems
are simple ones. Fuse holders, switches, battery connections that are exposed to the
elements are always the most suspect. Don't always figure that a part failed, if
nothing else check some connections and... you know..... jiggle some wires or kick it...
Look your boat over. Does it have standard or metric fasteners? Most engines today
have a mix of both. Carrying a full set of sockets for both is silly, so check out what
sockets and wrenches you do need, and carry only what you need. Usually you'll
find things like alternators, power steering pumps, starters, dash board nuts, etc. that
could be either standard or metric.
I would like to note that there isn't much sense in carrying tools for jobs you don't plan
on doing, so don't just buy every tool or special tool, because you will never need, or
want to, let's say.. rebuild a trim motor out on the water.
If your interested in more tool and tips we have a section
geared more towards a mobile service person, but you will probably find some other good