I’ll admit. I’m not a great do-it-yourselfer. I want to be… but I’m not. This is why I turn to others for help. I asked Julia, Lake Union Sea Ray’s Mobile Service Manager for some help on DIY topics. Her response… “Always keep a little tool box on the boat, as your vessel rocks back and forth so do all the hinges and screws on your boat so they will always need a little tightening!”
So I did some research and found a very helpful article “Essential Onboard Tools for Boaters” by Gary Reich of Boat Trader. Gary states that “If you’ve ever tried to make a repair onboard before—at sea or at the dock—you know it’s sort of like working on the house: you get started only to find out you don’t have a tool or part you need to do the job. On land it’s easy enough to run to the hardware store. When you’re a couple of miles away from shore it’s a different situation.”
It’s impossible to carry tools for every repair situation you might encounter in a boat, but it’s easy enough to assemble a reasonably small and versatile set of tools that can address a big percentage of common maintenance and repair problems on board, or at least keep you running and able to limp back to port. And the good news is that these basic tools should cost less than $200 or so.
Or if you’re like me and not a great Do-it-Yourselfer you could make things really easy and call Julia at 206-284-3800. She will send a mobile crew to your boat (on water or land) and fix the problem for you! However, this is a DIY article so please keep reading.
For tool stowage, some people prefer plastic tackle-type boxes but for many small-boat owners the best choice is a soft-sided tool bag that won’t damage the deck or woodwork, and that has pockets that make it easy to see and grab tools.
Here’s a list of helpful tools Gary and Julia recommend having on board.
Phillips Head Screwdrivers
Slotted Screwdrivers
Wire Strippers/Cutters/Crimpers
Electrical tape
Calipers/Fold Out Ruler/Tape Measure
Needle Nose Vise Grips/Vise Grips
Adjustable Wrenches
Universal Filter Wrench
Spark Plug Socket
Gorilla-brand tape
Allen/Hex Key Wrench
Utility Knife
One more thing, especially if you boat on salt water: Give your tools a good spray down with WD-40 or any other water-displacing lubricant at least once a season to keep corrosion at bay. Once you’ve let the lube soak in for a while, give each tool a thorough wipe-down with a rag and return it to the bag, and keep the bag as far away from the bilge as possible.