Boat Tool Bag Essentials: What Should You Have Inside?


And more importantly, do you know how to use it?

Even the simplest boat with no electrical system has things which can break and ruin your weekend. And a complex boat with refrigeration, air conditioning, and an engine? There are a fair number of things which can go wrong.

Preparing for breakdowns and repairs is a serious business for blue water cruisers, because sometimes you have things go wrong in remote and exotic places. Not only is help hard to find, but so are parts and even basic tools. Losing your generator on a remote atoll in the South Pacific means you also may lose a month’s worth of food, and have to sail hundreds of miles for parts and service.

But for the weekend and vacation sailor, priorities are a little different. Most times, breakdowns are annoying, they can spoil your fun, and they can get expensive to deal with away from home. And there’s nothing worse than a simple problem that ruins your trip that you could easily fix if you just had the right tool.

So…what do you need?

What you need on board for tools and spares is really set by two things. First, are the systems you have on your boat and how their failure impacts you. And second, your ability and need to make repairs on the spot. If you’re not mechanically inclined and don’t have the confidence to try to save the weekend, all the tools in the world won’t help you.

What would ruin your weekend?

Over years of coastal cruising, we’ve had many little things break which could spoil our time on the boat. Everything from broken propane solenoids to failed pumps. It’s important to understand what breakages effectively end your trip, versus those that simply are annoying to deal with.