Preparation is key when you own a boat. The last thing you want is something to go wrong while out on the water without the necessary tools to fix it. Ensuring you have the right tools on your boat will help you get past sticky situations and prevent you from getting stranded.
We’re not talking about the basic tool box at your local marine retailer that often produces unsatisfactory results — we’re talking about the essentials often needed to make emergency or routine repairs when trouble comes knocking. Whether aboard a sportfish yacht, luxury motor yacht, center console, or any other type of boat, these are the best tools to keep on your boat.
These robust crimpers are designed to get electrical boat repairs done with precision and quality. Klein crimpers effortlessly cut insulation without scoring the wire. Don’t forget to pack terminal ends to go along with these tools.
Battery issues onboard? Keep a battery terminal puller on your boat for replacing worn or corroded terminals with ease.
Wrenches come in handy for several things onboard — replacing lights or fuse blocks, fastening and tightening loose bolts and nuts, installing watercraft fittings and fixtures, and more. Your set should include a variety of adjustable wrenches for those hard-to-reach places. Specific jobs may work better with an open-end wrench and socket wrench set, but having a six-, eight-, and 10-inch adjustable wrench is more than capable of completing a job and saving space. Additional tools such as a prop wrench, crescent wrench, vice grip, filter wrench, and a spark plug wrench are also convenient to keep in your boat tool kit.
Flatheads and Phillip screwdrivers are essential items to keep in your tool kit. While they are known to loosen or tighten objects, they can also double as a broken gearshift handle or a pry to open items such as a stubborn locker. Select a variety of lengths and sizes for your onboard toolbox. If you are trying to save space, opt for a multi-screwdriver that comes with a handle and replaceable heads. But, if you have the room aboard your boat, invest in a cordless screwdriver set for simplicity and ease — make sure you keep a charge or keep a backup battery onboard.
Pliers come in handy when fishing and for minor repairs on your boat. Relatively small, these tools can fit in a pouch for easy storage. We suggest getting a variety of self-adjusting pliers, arc-joint, locking, and needle-nose pliers for jobs of different sizes. Also, it is a good idea to invest in corrosion-resistant instruments to avoid replacing them every so often.
You would be surprised how many times tape can come in handy for temporary repairs onboard. Duct tape can temporarily fix leaks, colored electrical tape for loose wiring, Teflon tape to seal potable-water pipe fittings, and silicone rubber tape for radiator hose repairs. Thread locker, a liquid adhesive, is also a lifesaver for screws and nuts that constantly vibrate loose, leak, or corrode.
Although not the most manageable tool to stow away, a hacksaw makes cutting repairs like a wire-reinforced hose, rigging wire, metal tubing, threaded rod, and more fast and easy. While usually used to cut metal, this tool can also cut through fiberglass and wood. Keeping it in razor-sharp condition is recommended as a dull blade will do you no good.
As any boat owners know, vessels are notorious for having hard-to-reach spaces with limited visibility. A telescoping mirror works wonders, especially when fixing an issue in tight quarters. If you ever had to work with nuts and bolts, you understand how easy it is to drop them while repairing something. With a telescoping magnet, you can retrieve items such as bolts and screws often lost in the bilge quickly and easily.
You can’t fix what you can’t see, especially if your boat day unexpectedly turned into a night outing. An LED flashlight is necessary to keep on your boat — assisting in many different situations, especially in poorly lit spaces. Do you prefer to have your hands free for repairs? Opt for a LED headlight instead, or purchase both.
Not all boat issues arise above deck. Having a basic snorkel and mask in your tool kit will allow you to fix problems below the waterline. You will thank yourself for the clear vision in instances where you have to cut away a line from your propeller or tangled kelp on the keel.
Cable ties are cheap and easy to store and come in handy for many issues that may arise, such as managing loose wires or acting as a temporary fastener. Purchase an assortment of sizes and lengths to keep in your boat tool kit.