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Safe at Sea: The small boat tool box

By Staff | Dec 5, 2018

Predicting just what tool you will wish you had aboard your boat and just which part you have on hand seems to be an art this writer has never perfected. Only the most experienced among us seem to have the knowledge and, perhaps, mechanical aptitude to know what needs to be stowed on board, ready to fix most anything. Now, admitting my own inadequacy, I set forth offering some advice as to what tools and material will likely be helpful while afloat.

A tool box, of course, is a container. Thought should be given, before purchase of a tool box, to how it will be used and what will be in it. For instance, your tools should stow in a place on board where they will be accessible and will remain dry. It should not be so large as to take space the first mate needs for some of her most important goodies, either. Sometimes using specialized containers helps limit the size of what gets stashed in a tool box. For instance, a first aid kit and the requisite distress flares should really be stored apart from tools, but maybe in a similar location or cabinet. Such a place may be a good spot for rags, paper towels and cleaning or lubricating supplies.

Once you have settled on the place where you hope to stow your basic onboard tools, consider the size of the container, the construction hopefully being of rust-proof and water-proof design, and how goods inside may be organized. I can find the big stuff in my tool box, but what a time consuming challenge it is to find a small bolt or tool! Next week I plan to get better organized, maybe.

Now, for a beginning handy tool box, I can suggest some tools and material. First, a roll of that very important duct tape, and you should enclose it in a zip seal bag. A roll of electrical tape is also recommended. I carry a Swiss Army knife with many handy type attached instruments. I have also found a very sharp hunting or filet type knife in a sheath to be important, especially if you ever need to cut a mooring line. An adjustable wrench and a vise grip pliers seems like handy additions, along with good-sized pliers. My most recent tool acquisition was a basic set of five common size open end/box wrenches. A couple good quality flat screwdrivers and a couple good phillips head screwdrivers seem important. I have a hammer, but don’t recall ever having a use for that particular tool. I have an extra key to open the fuel and water deck inlet caps, as I remember that opener does not float and if your only one is lost overboard, you will be pleased at having a spare!

Further consideration should be to small parts stashed inside the tool box in small part size containers. These small parts may be fuses appropriate to your boat’s electrical system, stainless steel nuts, bolts, washers, screws, and even a shear pin for my side thrusters. I have also found that small, thin bungee cords and plastic cable ties are useful when I need to secure something somewhere on or in the boat. A small flashlight may also prove to be helpful, but I have found the batteries need to be fresh!

I make no guarantee that this first hardware store acquisition will suffice for all your boating needs, but it might come close to bailing you out of a difficult challenge when you least expect a problem. Good Florida water boating this winter to you.

Bob Eidsvold is a member of America’s Boating Club of Sanibel-Captiva. For more information, contact 239-985-9472 or Commander@SanibelCaptivaSPS.org or visit online at sancapboating.club.