Before you take your yacht out onto the open water, you’d better make sure that you’re equipped with absolutely everything you will need, from food and water supplies to tools. You never know when you’ll need a particular item or how far you’ll be from the nearest port when you do. The old boy scout’s dictum of “Always be prepared” applies here. As does the wisdom that says that it’s better to have something and not need it, than the other way around. So, with that in mind, you need to foresee potential needs and problems and provide for them, cross every ‘t’, dot every ‘i’, fill every bag and tick every box.
At the same time, you don’t want to over pack either. There is a delicate balancing act between taking what is really essential versus over packing. This is especially true when it comes to tools. Some people try to take their entire tool shed – just in case. We understand the sentiment. But, it’s a waste of valuable storage space. You need only a select list of absolutely necessary tools. What are these essentials, you ask? We’ve narrowed it down to a list of 13 truly indispensable tools. You could take a few more if you want, just as long as these 13 items are checked off and locked into your onboard toolbox before you set off. With these essential items in your toolkit, you should be prepared for pretty much every contingency at sea. Anyone that you can fix by yourself, that is.
13 Essential Items for Your Yacht’s Toolkit
A Full Set of Screwdrivers
Let’s start with the obvious one. Stock up with a complete set of screwdrivers with both flat- and Phillips-headed varieties of varying sizes. This should be the foundation of any toolkit, whether for yachting or the home, and it’s a great, basic starting point. If you have an electric screwdriver with interchangeable heads, make sure it’s charged and that you have the charger should you need it. If you’re thinking “Well, what kind of advice is that? Obviously, I am taking screwdrivers,” just beware of overlooking the obvious. Screwdriver sets have a tendency to get scattered and lost. Check your set, and make sure they’re all there. And don’t worry… the list will get a lot more specialized.
A Full Set of Wrenches
But first, one more obvious thing. Take along a full set of wrenches with both open and ratchet ends. These are incredibly useful in all kinds of situations.
A Battery Terminal Puller
If you ever experience battery issues – and they’re far from unlikely – you will be very glad you took one of these along. So often, you want to remove the battery, only to find that the terminals have been so mistreated and misshapen, you can’t even get at them properly, let alone loosen or tighten them. A terminal puller makes short work of this job, enabling you to quickly switch out a problematic battery.
Wire Cutter, Crimpers and Strippers
Electrical repairs will probably crop up at some point. Having the right tools at hand will save you time, get the job done, and prevent a lot of frustration. Don’t try to do these repairs with scissors and a kitchen knife. Proper crimpers, cutters, and strippers will likely be a lifesaver at some point.
There is a very strong chance you will need to do some kind of repair that will require you to cut either a hose or piping. It’s much better to do the job with this handy, purpose-made tool, rather than with a knife or hacksaw.
If there is even a hint of moisture on your windows or the interior of your hull or other fittings, you need to know about it. If you don’t already have a moisture meter, be sure to get one before you head out on your next trip. If you’ve never used one, get someone to show you how to before you leave. Then, get yourself really familiar with it. It’s a specialized piece of equipment and requires a little mastering, but it will be well worth the effort.
Canvas snaps are the quickest method to repair holes and tears in your canvas. Make sure you have a good supply of them, along with the vise-grip pliers you will need to apply them.
Various Adhesives and Caulks
Glues and caulks are essential to have on board your yacht, and you will need a variety of them for different uses. A good, strong, marine silicone caulk is the most important, allowing you to create watertight seals over cracks and gaps.
You should also have a thread locker glue to help keep nuts and bolts in place. There is often at least one screw that always seems to vibrate and start coming loose. A good thread locker will solve that problem.
Remember to also pack an all-purpose, waterproof super glue.
Emergency Repair Tape
Sometimes glue just doesn’t do the trick. Or, perhaps you may need to wrap something up in a hurry. That’s when you need a strong emergency repair tape. A self-bonding silicone rubber tape, for instance, which can be used on hoses.
Fasteners of All Types
Screws, nuts, bolts, cable ties, snaps, wire, hose clamps… And, of course, rope. You name it, you will probably need it. Check your supplies before you leave.
There are so many jobs scissors are needed for. And, ironically, it is the one tool that just never seems to be around when the need for it arises! Multi-purpose scissors and perhaps one or two other specialized shears are always worth adding to your toolbox.
Adjustable Face Spanner Wrench
This handy tool has multiple uses in accessing deck plates, sea-strainer caps, water filters, pumps, outboard motors, and water- and fuel caps. Many people try to make do with screwdrivers or wrenches. But, these are not the right tools for the job. And, usually, only do some damage to plates and caps. An adjustable face spanner wrench is a far more elegant tool – not to mention more effective.
Extra Spark Plugs and Fuses
However many spark plugs are required in your engine and onboard electrical applications, carry the same number spare. You most definitely will not regret bringing along an oversupply of these.
Don’t Skimp on Your Tools
We would strongly advise that you invest in the best tools you can find. You’ve already invested in your vessel, your satellite- and navigation systems, probably your entertainment as well. So, there’s really no need to cut corners now. Buy good quality tools and take care of them. The pay-off is that they will serve you for a long time to come.
The above is a fairly comprehensive list. But, it really represents only the essentials. There are a number of other items that you really don’t want to forget about. In addition to the 13 must-haves, here are some other basics that will come in handy:
- A hatchet,
- Jumper cables,
- A drill,
- A flashlight,
- Magnetic claw retrieval tools to grab those other tools and smaller items that you drop in the bilge, and
- Electrical tape.
Every skipper needs to be a handyman to a certain extent. You don’t necessarily have to be a professional level DIY master, but you should be able to handle the repairs and other essential tasks that you are likely to face at sea. If you’re a new boat owner and a recent convert to the world of ‘skipperdom’, and you don’t have a strong existing history of fixing things around the home, it’s advisable to accustom yourself to fixing, tightening, cutting, loosening, adjusting, testing, and so on, as soon as you can. Acquiring these necessary skills will put you one step ahead of the elements and the eternal laws of Murphy when you finally leave the harbor. Trust us, these are the skills you will need at one point or another.
The Siebert Yacht Management team collectively has decades of experience in sailing and boat maintenance, and we will be happy to advise you on the equipment, tips, and tricks you will need to run a tight ship on board your yacht. Don’t be afraid to ask next time you come in for a service or repair on your Sabre yacht.
Siebert is an authorized Sabre Yachts dealer and service provider, and we offer the most thorough and efficient work on their vessels anywhere in Florida. We also deal and service other vessels, as well as leading maritime brands such as Volvo Penta, Intellian, Garmin, and GHOST. Bring your yacht in for repairs or yard work, and let us check your toolkit while we’re at it.