I didn’t used to bring tools on the boat.
I always had a Leatherman, some duct tape, and a can of WD-40, which is kind of the MacGyver Mirepoix, but I didn’t have dedicated boat tools. If I needed to work on something, I’d bring the necessary tools from home—although what seemed necessary during the planning phase often proved inadequate once I was contorted upside down into some dark hatch with sweat running into my eyes, mildly bleeding, and swearing as if I were being paid by the word. I’d have to shimmy out and make a wild-eyed plea along the lines of “Jen, there is no tomorrow. If I don’t buy a [tool that I already own] before the store closes, we’re never going to sail.”
Eventually, I bought enough duplicates in this manner that it started to make sense to just get a tool bag and keep them on the boat.
Today is the vernal equinox, and I felt like I should be thinking about boat things, but given the “wintery mix” that’s going on out there, it’s not exactly bottom painting weather. Just to feel productive, I decided to pull everything out of my boat tool bag and give it a light coating of rust-inhibiting (I hope) lanolin.
I don’t make any claim that these are the best or remotely appropriate tools for a sailboat, but it’s what I happen to be carrying at the moment.
Roughly from left to right along the top row, I have:
- soft face hammer
- claw hammer: I’d like to upgrade this to a ball-peen at some point, since I rarely pull nails on the boat.
- pop rivet gun: Not to be confused with the marina’s “Big Daddy” rivet gun.
- LED flashlight
- wire strippers
- ratcheting wire crimper: Yeah, it’s from Harbor Freight, but it has the machined dies and still gets the Maine Sail Seal of Approval (with an asterisk for high variability.)
- ratchet set
- keyhole hack saw
- Loos Gauges: For ballparking rigging tension. I need to carry two because my boat has two different gauges of wire which happen to span the gauges.
- horrible stuffing box wrench: This thing is garbage. Does anyone make a nice one?
- soft tool bag: My Gorilla tape has a loop of paracord going through the roll, which is clipped to a carabiner on the bag.
- center punch: I have no idea why I have this in here?
- scratch awl: Used mostly for stabbing myself while looking for other tools.
- razor blade holder
- wrench set: metric and imperial
- mechanical pencils (2)
- hex bits
- Big honkin’ screwdriver
- assortment of normal screwdrivers: both flat and Phillips, various sizes
- offset screwdriver: very handy when you need to get to an obnoxious place
- hex driver
- crescent wrenches (2): I need two for adjusting the rig.
- Vise Grips: standard, needle nose, and Fuzzy Bunny-sized
- pliers: regular (AKA “plars”), needle nose
- Channellocks: one small, bobo; one large, genuine Channellock brand
Honorable Mention (i.e., not shown):
- Fluke 87 multimeter: I was tired of messing around with junk meters.
- full-sized standard hack saw
- oil filter wrench
- Extremely Large Channellocks: Jen only refers to these as “The Dinosaur.”
- Speedy Stitcher: Previously, uh, reviewed/set to poetry here.
- whipping twine
- stainless steel bailing wire
- ~20 pounds of stainless nuts, bolts, rigging parts, wire terminals, cotter pins, and assorted paraphernalia.
This is, of course, all subject to change the next time I find myself in a losing game of Twister somewhere under my engine in dire need of a muffler bearing wrench or whatever, but for now, this collection mostly keeps me from having to hammer in screws with a winch handle.
Please leave a comment if I’m missing anything obvious (or just to shower adulation.)
Now let’s get back to the more spring-like weather.