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 HammersLarge and smallTo persuade something to move. Use together to flatten propeller nicks like an anvil an sled.
ScrewdriversMulti-Head or Individual. Robertson (square) Philips (star), StraightTo tighten or loosen screws
Water Pump PliersLocking pliers, split joint pliersTo tighten or loosen large fittings and hoses
Wrench SetSpanner Set – open ended with ratchet on other end. Imperial and/or metricTo tighten and loosen nuts and bolts
Vice Grips To clamp tight and hold items like a third hand
PliersNeedle Nose & RegularTo hold, tighten or loosen small fittings, or other fittings
DrillBattery powered or hand powered, plus drill bits and screw bitsTo make holes and drive screws
Allen KeysKit with various sizesTo tighten or loosen Allen screws
Socket SetsImperial or Metric. With adjustable angle headTo tighten or loosen hard to reach nuts
Spark Plug SocketExtra deep socketTo fit spark plugs
Oil Can and/or spay lubricantLike WD40To lubricate and penetrate for loosening
Propeller Nut WrenchWith cotter pinsTo replace prop and/or sheer pins
Adjustable WrenchCrescent wrenchTo 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
AwlLike a heavy duty ice pickTo 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 cutterTo cut rope, line, hoses, zip ties, etc.
Meat Cord or Light Nylon CordCoilTo 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 BladesSmall or regular sizeTo 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 ChiselSharpTo 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 ToolTo replace broken or lost canvas fasteners
Can OpenerOld fashioned typeTo 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 WireDifferent colorsTo replace damaged wire
Connectors & Terminal connectors To join beared wires and to fasten wire ends to devices
Crimping ToolWith wire stripper and wire cutterTo cut wire and strip insulation. To squeeze connectors onto bare wire
Wire-wraps or Zip TiesVarious sizesTo support groups of wires and/or hoses
Multi meterMeasures voltage, amperage and ohms, etc.To test electrical circuits and diagnose problems
Tape/Rescue TapeLeak-fix tape, Silicone Self Fusing TapeTo temporarily seal leaks in hoses and pipes
Water Pipe and Plumbing Hose with connectorsVarious lengths of bothTo replace damaged pipe and hose
Hose ClampsVarious sizesTo 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 BungsTapered wooden dowelsTo seal damaged thru-hull fittings or hoses. Tie one to each thru-hull for fast plugging
Hose – 6” longWith Wooden plug clamped in one endTo 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, waterproofTo see in dark bilge, lockers and docking
Toothpicks & Popsicle Sticks To stop rattles, or apply glue
Telescoping Handle ToolsWith mirror, magnet and a clawTo find and retrieve dropped parts and tools from the bilge
Pail or Bucket5 gallonTo bail bilge leak in an emergency
Diving Mask & FlippersGood pair of lungsTo dive to cut line from prop
PhoneEveryone has oneTo access youTube “how to” videos
To photograph disassembly for easier re-assembly
Paper ClipsLargeOpen one up to clear small jams like spray cans
First Aid KitComplete w/BandaidsTo fix the fixer and the “oh shits”.
Cork Screw/Can openerBeverageTo celebrate after successful repair!


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