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Onboard Toolkit Essentials

Onboard Toolkit Essentials

When you are having a fun day out on the water, the last thing on your mind is doing boat repairs. But issues do pop up from time to time, even if you are rigorous about routine maintenance. As a result, vessels should not leave dock without having a well- stocked toolkit onboard for emergency situations.

Your onboard supplies do not need to take up a huge amount of space or blow the budget. But there are some general items you will want to have handy to help get you out of trouble if the need arises.

Jon Purcell, the owner and service manager of Mainstream Marine, tells us what items should be in every toolkit. Here are his top pieces to pack ASAP.

PLIERS – One of the most important things to put in your onboard supply box is a pair of pliers. “These are invaluable when it comes to tightening loose crimps, nuts that are starting to vibrate free, and handling a wide variety of other tasks,” says Jon.

Choose a pair with adjustable jaws so they are versatile and useful for many situations. A product with a built-in wire snipper is extra handy, too. It also pays to pay a little extra for pliers made out of non-corrosive, non-rusting compounds like a quality aluminium or stainless steel, since they will often be around moisture.

ADJUSTABLE WRENCH – A must is an adjustable wrench. “This allows you to tighten a multitude of fastener heads – nuts, bolts, etc. – in different sizes,” explains Jon. These are used regularly in conjunction with pliers, and necessary for many emergency repairs that involve things that bolt together. Most marine jobs can be completed using a medium-sized adjustable wrench, but you may want to also pop in a smaller one for more delicate tasks if you think

you might need it. Again, tools designed to resist corrosion are the best choice.

TAPE – Jon recommends that boaties stock their toolkit with a few types of tape. It will get you out of many “sticky” situations. For example, duct tape is an incredibly versatile product you are likely to use in a multitude of emergency and general situations, both for your boat and your trailer. It might even come to the rescue if you find a small hole that needs repairing before you get back to shore.

Electrical tape is helpful too. It is necessary for performing a task that duct tape cannot – namely, handling electrical repairs when out on the water. Electrical tape will assist you with fixing wires on your boat, as well as on your trailer if you notice a light is out, or there is some other electrical issue.

It also pays to pack some thread seal tape (or plumber’s tape or pipe tape, as it is also known) to give you a more secure seal around pipes when sorting out leaky fixtures. Moreover, having self-amalgamating tape, which is stronger, comes in handy for numerous waterproofing and insulating uses.

HAMMER – It may not be the first thing you think of, but a hammer is helpful when on boats, as it is not easily replaced with another tool. Jon explains, “It’s handy for helping to loosen seized components, like trailer and anchor winches, corroded fasteners, and other metal parts.”

CABLE TIES – Cable ties are something most homes have. They are also handy to have in your onboard toolkit. “Stock up on assorted sizes of these items as they can be used in all sorts of different situations,” notes Jon. For example, cable ties are great for securing cables, covers and hoses, and they can

serve as a replacement for lost clips, retainers or hooks. They can tidy up loose wiring and be temporary fasteners for all other things.

HOSE CLAMPS – Another product to pack before you leave shore, as Jon recommends, is a range of stainless steel, solid-band hose clamps. Have these with you in assorted sizes to use on bilge pump hoses and to stop leaks and punctures from causing trouble. Being stainless steel, you need not worry about corrosion either.

IMPORTANT EXTRAS – Jon also recommends a few other items to include in your toolkit:

  • Multi grips, to help you grip, hold, bend, crimp or clamp any size fitting
  • A 6.5 L oil extraction pump so you can change your engine oil and extract water from the bilge if needed
  • A filter strap to remove and refit oil and fuel filters
  • Wire cutters to snip and strip wires
  • A Stanley knife and snap-off blades to cut through various fittings, fixtures, ropes, and more

KEEP TOOLS SECURE – Of course, there is no point putting together a handy toolkit if you do not keep everything properly secure. Store your tools in a waterproof (not just water-resistant) toolbox, so products are less likely to rust. Pop smaller spare parts in zip-lock bags to keep them watertight and well organised. Make sure you store your toolbox in a safe, dry place on your boat where it will not move around and fall overboard or injure anyone with its weight.


By Kellie Byrnes


Need supplies for your toolkit? Mainstream Marine can help you stock up.


(Published in the October – December 2019 edition)