Top Ten Tools – Plus

boaters toolboxThanks to all boaters (power and sail) who sent in their lists of “Top Ten Tools”.

We had such a tremendous response, that we not only have a list of your Top Ten Tools, but a comprehensive list of all the tools that should be in every boaters toolbox.

Since there are many types of boats, the toolkit contents would vary; but the list we have compiled from all submissions is a great starting point. Most have sample uses.

Now that spring has arrived, it is a good time to assemble/collect tools for your boat’s toolbox. Why now? Collecting tools will help get you in the boating mood to prepare your boat for spring. It might even cure the “vessel separationitis”.

Here are your Top Ten Tools

  1. Screwdriver set
  2. Adjustable Wrench/Crescent Wrench
  3. Duct Tape or Gorilla Tape and Electrical Tape
  4. Knife
  5. Hammers
  6. Socket Set
  7. Crimping Tool
  8. Flashlight
  9. Pliers
  10. Vice Grips

There were many other tools recommended, but these are the Top Ten. The complete list is in the table below. Depending on your boat type and size, you may be wise to add a few more tools and supplies or reduce some items, that could be considered duplicate like wrenches and sockets and also tools too big or too small.

Once all the tools are laid out on your home work bench, size up and shop for the plastic or heavy canvas tool box, that you will need to hold everything. Plastic or canvas is lighter than metal and won’t rust. Keep in mind the space you have aboard to house this tool box. You may need to have two smaller boxes rather than one large—one for more commonly used tools and the other for less frequently used.

Be Preparedis the Boy Scout motto and that is exactly what my Scouter taught me. To this day, being prepared has saved me from many situations, that could have been complete disasters.

Being prepared with the right tools, can help you deal with problems faster and more confidently to get you and your precious boat up and going again.

toolbox boyDoug Dawson

Queen Scout

Boat Docking Expert


 Boater’s Toolbox – Sailors and Power Boaters

2 Hammers Large and small To persuade something to move. Use together to flatten propeller nicks like an anvil an sled.
Screwdrivers Multi-Head or Individual. Robertson (square) Philips (star), Straight To tighten or loosen screws
Water Pump Pliers Locking pliers, split joint pliers To tighten or loosen large fittings and hoses
Wrench Set Spanner Set – open ended with ratchet on other end. Imperial and/or metric To tighten and loosen nuts and bolts
Vice Grips   To clamp tight and hold items like a third hand
Pliers Needle Nose & Regular To hold, tighten or loosen small fittings, or other fittings
Drill Battery powered or hand powered, plus drill bits and screw bits To make holes and drive screws
Allen Keys Kit with various sizes To tighten or loosen Allen screws
Socket Sets Imperial or Metric. With adjustable angle head To tighten or loosen hard to reach nuts
Spark Plug Socket Extra deep socket To fit spark plugs
Oil Can and/or spay lubricant Like WD40 To lubricate and penetrate for loosening
Propeller Nut Wrench With cotter pins To replace prop and/or sheer pins
Adjustable Wrench Crescent wrench To loosen or tighten when too rushed to find correct sized wrench
Pipe Wrench or Large Adjustable or Large Specialty Wrench              To loosen or tighten stuffing box nuts
Crow Bar/Pry Bar   To move or lift heavy items
Awl Like a heavy duty ice pick To undo tight knots or to tighten round turnbuckles or to push a hole in canvas
Marlin Spike   To push apart strands of rope for splicing

To Cut, Hold and Seal

Sharp Blades/Multi Tool                                                                  like Swiss Army Knife, Hunting or fileting knife, box cutter To cut rope, line, hoses, zip ties, etc.
Meat Cord or Light Nylon Cord Coil To tie stuff and hang towels to dry, plus, plus
Duct Tape or Gorilla Tape   To secure anything to anything
Tape Measure   To determine length required
Pencil   To mark length or write notes
Marker   To permanently label stuff or mark off depths on anchor rode
Work Gloves   To protect hands
Hack Saw and Spare Blades Small or regular size To cut metal, plastic, rubber, F/G or wood
Twist Ties   To temporarily hold things in place
Clothes Pins   To temporarily hold things together or closed, separate clothes pin to create wooden wedges
Wood Chisel Sharp To cut material to fit
File and Rasp   To smoothen and fine tune material to fit and smooth sharp edges
Putty Knife   To spread sealant or scrape old sealant
Epoxy Putty   To seal fiberglass or plastic
Sand Paper   To smoothen or de-rust metal
Canvas Snap Kit & Locking Tool To replace broken or lost canvas fasteners
Can Opener Old fashioned type To puncture holes in tops of cans like oil and other lubricants.

Electrical & Plumbing

Electrical Tape                                                                    Black, red and white                                                                            To wrap wires and cables together, To label negative and positive battery cables
Insulated Wire Different colors To replace damaged wire
Connectors & Terminal connectors   To join beared wires and to fasten wire ends to devices
Crimping Tool With wire stripper and wire cutter To cut wire and strip insulation. To squeeze connectors onto bare wire
Wire-wraps or Zip Ties Various sizes To support groups of wires and/or hoses
Multi meter Measures voltage, amperage and ohms, etc. To test electrical circuits and diagnose problems
Tape/Rescue Tape Leak-fix tape, Silicone Self Fusing Tape To temporarily seal leaks in hoses and pipes
Water Pipe and Plumbing Hose with connectors Various lengths of both To replace damaged pipe and hose
Hose Clamps Various sizes To squeeze and hold hose ends to hard fittings
Lighter/Waterproof matches   To light a fire or to warm plastic pipe to stretch over fittings
Plugs or Bungs Tapered wooden dowels To seal damaged thru-hull fittings or hoses. Tie one to each thru-hull for fast plugging
Hose – 6” long With Wooden plug clamped in one end To push over leaking thru-hull with seized sea cock.

Spare Parts & Supplies
as per your boat and motor(s)

Motor Oil
Oil Filters
Hydraulic Fluid
Transmission fluid
Gear Lube
Coolant for Closed Cooling System
Spark Plugs
Water Pump hoses
Screws – assortment of stainless or brass
Nuts, Bolts, Washers – stainless steel
Sheer Pins – for outboard motor
Cotter Pins – stainless steel
Belts for power steering, alternator, etc
Cold Water (high efficiency) Soap – to wash oily bilge, tools, etc.
Absorbent Bilge Pads
Heavy Duty Hand Cleaner and rags
Silicone Sealer
Water Pump impellers – Motor, outdrive and water pressure pump
Fuel water separators
Garbage Bags/Plastic Shopping Bags
Inflatable Dinghy patch kit

Sail Only – Spare Parts and Supplies

Sail Repair Tape
Sailmaker’s Needle and Thread
Cotter Pins or Split Rings
Clevis Pins – Stainless Steel
Winch Handle
Jiffy Lube – silicone based to lubricate mast track
Track slides for boom and mast


Flashlights – LED  Several, waterproof To see in dark bilge, lockers and docking
Toothpicks & Popsicle Sticks   To stop rattles, or apply glue
Telescoping Handle Tools With mirror, magnet and a claw To find and retrieve dropped parts and tools from the bilge
Pail or Bucket 5 gallon To bail bilge leak in an emergency
Diving Mask & Flippers Good pair of lungs To dive to cut line from prop
Phone Everyone has one To access youTube “how to” videos
To photograph disassembly for easier re-assembly
Paper Clips Large Open one up to clear small jams like spray cans
First Aid Kit Complete w/Bandaids To fix the fixer and the “oh shits”.
Cork Screw/Can opener Beverage To celebrate after successful repair!


To download in pdf format, Click here



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