Cruisers Forum

Join CruisersForum Today

Thread Tools Rate Thread Display Modes
Old 10-11-2012, 09:07   #1
Registered User

Join Date: Jul 2012
Location: Charleston SC
Boat: 2001 Catalina 400 MKII
Posts: 56
Send a message via MSN to CCR2580
Basic Hand Tools

Hey Guys and Gals just would like to know what basic hand tools you carry in your tool bag(s) when your either coastal/blue water sailing. Don't want to forget anything important! Thanks

CCR2580 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-11-2012, 09:27   #2
CF Adviser

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Aug 2009
Boat: Custom Van De Stadt 47 Samoa
Posts: 3,880
Re: Basic Hand Tools

here's an article I wrote on tools a couple years ago.

I would add to this a hack saw, battery drill and soft hammer

estarzinger is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-11-2012, 09:29   #3
Registered User
S/V Alchemy's Avatar

Join Date: May 2008
Location: Toronto
Boat: Custom 41' Steel Pilothouse Cutter
Posts: 4,705
Re: Basic Hand Tools

That's impossible to answer, because

a) our concepts of "basic" will likely differ;
b) the tools I would carry for coastal is predicated on (relatively) quick and easy access to shoreside service and mechanics/boat fixers. The tools I would carry for offshore are, by definition, not basic, as I have to fix everything myself, at least until I am "coastal" on the other side of the offshore passage;
c) There are some tools, like circlip pliers, that you may only use once or so every year or two. Nonetheless, if you've ever tried to change an impeller without them, you will realize leaving this particular tool ashore would be foolish bordering on negligent;
d) The very nature of the materials used in coastal vs. offshore may easily differ. An example: My freshwater "coastal" boat has a toolkit with a couple of nice forged hand tools, but also a load of expendable Chinese-made dollar-store crap that needs a wipe with Liquid Wrench on occasion in order to not seize with rust. On the other hand, if one of these tools goes into the drink, I don't sweat it.

By contrast, the toolchest I am developing for my anticipated salt-water passage has better-quality tools nestled into anti-corrosion-sprayed foam trays and the words "vanadium" and "drop forged" feature prominently. So do lanyards; these babies must stay aboard. It's like the scissor-type wire stripper you use to fix a lamp versus the double-crimper you use to expand a sub-panel. They aren't the same, but one will serve for a quick fix, and the other serves to do the job properly and long-term;

e) If you don't know how to use the tool, leave it behind.
Can't sleep? Read for fast relief. Can't read? Avoid, because it's just personal reviews of sea books.
S/V Alchemy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-11-2012, 09:40   #4
Registered User
S/V Alchemy's Avatar

Join Date: May 2008
Location: Toronto
Boat: Custom 41' Steel Pilothouse Cutter
Posts: 4,705
Re: Basic Hand Tools

Evans, having read your article, I concur and employ the idea of "main tool chest" and supplemental smallish bags for common jobs.

I have about four fishing tackle box-sized boxes aboard, plus the "main chest". The four plastic tackle boxes read "sailing", which has needles, sailor's palm, plenty of twine, waxed thread, seizing wire, anti-chafe leathers and spare hanks, slugs, and cotter pins and rings in all sizes. I'm adding the Lee Valley "Speedy Stitcher" to this as it's a great tool for small repair jobs.

Another box is called "electrical" and has a small soldering iron, paste, solder, heat-shrink, crimps, a crimper, electrical tape, small switches, fuses, fuse-holders and assorted lengths and gauges of tinned wire.

Another is "plumbing" and is full of barbs, Teflon tape, hose clamps, a flare tool, plugs, etc. A variety of hose lengths and types and copper pipe are kept elsewhere.

A small red metal toolbox contains pretty well what you describe in your toolbag. Multi-head screwdriver and a small 1/4 inch rachet with about six metric and SAE sockets and some other accessories work for most jobs.

I use the rubber mallet more than I would like to admit.
Can't sleep? Read for fast relief. Can't read? Avoid, because it's just personal reviews of sea books.
S/V Alchemy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-11-2012, 10:10   #5
Senior Cruiser
Cheechako's Avatar

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Skagit City, WA
Posts: 20,028
Re: Basic Hand Tools

Coastal... one of those Taiwan big tool sets with wrenches, sockets pliars hammer etc in a plastic case.
Off shore.... very long list, but: Battery drill, hacksaw, sabre saw, torque wrench, stuffing box tools, VOM, 120v drill, oil changer, alternator belt tension adjuster (whatever works on your engine) Speed socket in the hose clamp size. (5/16")? Electrical box with good crimper, dielectric grease, assortment of wire ends, fuses, universal fuse holders etc)
"I spent most of my money on Booze, Broads and Boats. The rest I wasted" - Elmore Leonard

Cheechako is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-11-2012, 11:36   #6
Registered User
Lajos's Avatar

Join Date: Oct 2012
Posts: 131
I can never get over how much usefull info I can pick up on these forums... Thanks guys, I'll be joining the live aboard family soon!
Lajos is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-11-2012, 12:47   #7
Senior Cruiser
rebel heart's Avatar

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 6,190
Images: 3
Re: Basic Hand Tools

Depends a bit on the boat. I have tons of carpentry tools because of the wood on our boat. Stuff stuff beyond the normal "tool kit" that have been useful for me:

- real rigging knife with fid
- cobalt bits, full range
- spade bits (bosch)
- BIG channel locks. like 2' long handles. biggest home depot sells.
- portable clamp on vice. piece of wood that you can lock it onto.
- angle grinder with a flap wheel and thin (.068) cutting wheel
- leather gloves, 3m organic and particle filters with half face mask, eye goggles, LOTS of disposable nitrile gloves.
- 1/2" plug-in drill in addition to battery operated smaller version
- assortment of hole saws. buy them as you need them.
- japanese bear saw (small)
- fein multimaster
- calipers
- millwuakee heat gun

With the exception of the brutally large channel locks, most of the tools I have (especially socket wrench) are small. Or at least carry the smaller sizes in addition to the larger stuff. No benefit to having a tool if it won't fit in a workspace.
rebel heart is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-11-2012, 13:04   #8
Registered User

Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 147
Re: Basic Hand Tools

I have become a huge fan of the ratcheting box end wrenches. You may only get one ratchet a try, but they do work remarkably well in very tight places.
I've found you need at least 2 wrenches of the common sizes, for those bolts & nuts that may not be accessible with a socket.
A not to be missed item is PB Blaster, more than any other spray, though given the space there are a multitude of great lubes and corrosion fighters in spray cans.
I also find a 110 volt drill/driver a great back up for the battery ones, should it be a big job, if of course, you have an inverter or generator.
If space or finances restrict your tool box's contents, then measure for the important larger wrenches you might need and buy them individually.
My mainstay of MacGyver tools are a few different lengths of pipe to fit over seacock handles and wrench handles for leverage, the shorter ones for tight spots. You'd be amazed how just a few inches of extra leverage can make all the difference.
For offshore sailing, as mentioned above, you must have specific tools for specific jobs that are rarely used. I guess that's why most of us have a multitude of tool boxes. My main box, which goes with me on every delivery and vessel is getting a bit heavy to lug around at this age, is still with me after over 35 years. Buying high quality in this department is pretty important, but there are great tools out there that don't cost as much as their Snap On counterparts. Most are guaranteed for life, though that's of little value if you are thousands of miles from the dealer or point of purchase.
capta is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-11-2012, 13:31   #9
Registered User
TacomaSailor's Avatar

Join Date: Nov 2012
Location: Burnt Store Marina, SW Florida
Boat: Caliber 40
Posts: 1,149
Re: Basic Hand Tools


I converted the aft head into a workshop with a stainless 15"x40" work surface. While at sea the stainless work surface allows me to have a full size paper chart, folded in half, laid out for navigation. The shop has several lighting systems including spots and floods, and night lights. Under the work surface is a tray for all my navigation tools (compass, dividers, parallels, radar tracking board, protractors, calculator, grease pens, hand bearing compass, pens, pencils)

Under that is ball bearing tool chest with 6 drawers for small tools such as small sockets, nut drivers, awls, screwdrivers, files, torx drivers

Under the other side of the workbench is another tool chest with three big ball bearing drawers for big tools - complete set of 3/8" and 1/2" sockets, speed wrenches, big screwdrivers, dozens of pliers/visegrips, 5-ton hydraulic jack, multiple hack saws and specialized wood and metal saws, breaker bars, pry bars, impact drivers.

I also have L and T allen drivers for metric and english, Torx for 3/8" and 1/4" sockets, all kinds of screw driver (phillips and straight) for sockets and hand drivers. I have thread cleaners for metric and english and taps and dies for all common threads and hole sizes.

In the shop I also have two small bags full of adhesives, calipers, measures, knives, scissors, wire ties, and small tools ranging from jewlers screwdrivers, crescent and ignition wrenches.

Under the settee are two large bags of tools including open end and closed end wrenches up to 32 mm / 1.5", mauls, hammers, tack drivers, strap wrenches, pop riveters, pipe wrenches, pipe cutoffs. A third bag contains AC power tools, and of course I have a 19V battery drill, a 3V small electric screwdriver. And, all kinds of soldering stuff from delicate little diode tools to 30 watt AC soldering tools.

And... I have two vises

And... the stainless workbench removes from the shop and can be mounted in the cockpit - it has braces under it that are angled just perfectly that it wedges between the two sides of the cockpit to make an unmoveable surface for mounting the vise.

Did I mention I love tools and am a pretty good mechanic? All my tools travel with me where ever Mirador goes. I have done a lot of work on a lot of boats all the way from Cape Scott at the north end of Vancouver Island to Zijuatenejo in SW Mexico.

The shop and most of the tools have been on board for over 15 years and show NO sign of corrosion or rust.

Here is a link to photos and more info about our shop: Shop

The toilet in the shop is still functional as is the sink and shower when I remove the work bench.

I wouldn't leave the dock without my tools.
TacomaSailor is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-11-2012, 13:37   #10
Registered User

Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: W Carib
Boat: Wildcat 35, Hobie 33
Posts: 8,830
Re: Basic Hand Tools

Originally Posted by rebel heart View Post
Depends a bit on the boat...
To a large extent I agree, while there are many common tools which are applicable to any boat, you will find yourself customizing your tool inventory to fit the boat.

For example, I used to have a monohull and nice big spanner wrenches for the stuffing box. Now I have a cat with sail drives. No need for these wrenches (and they take up a lot of space in the box) so they went to another cruiser some years ago.

Each season I go through my boxes to clean, organize, and decide what I no longer need (or need to add). The inventory has been pretty stable for quite a few years now.

As suggested by others, I also have several boxes with different categories of tools. This makes it easier to find what you need and to stow the boxes.
belizesailor is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-11-2012, 14:07   #11
Registered User
Celestialsailor's Avatar

Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: In Mexico, working on the boat
Boat: Hallberg Rassy 35. and 14ft.Whitehall pulling skiff.
Posts: 8,018
Images: 5
Re: Basic Hand Tools

I tend to go over-board a little on tool. I can tell you that I'm up to about 100 lbs now. Here are 2 tools I made. One is to press the drive flange off the drive shaft. Try doing that with a hammer in a tight space. The other is a prop puller. In an anchorage or at the dock, I'm a popular guy.
Attached Thumbnails
Click image for larger version

Name:	New ideas 002.jpg
Views:	135
Size:	171.6 KB
ID:	49540   Click image for larger version

Name:	New ideas 003.jpg
Views:	133
Size:	176.4 KB
ID:	49541  

"Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming: Wow - what a ride!"
Celestialsailor is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-11-2012, 14:52   #12
Writing Full-Time Since 2014
thinwater's Avatar

Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: Deale, MD
Boat: PDQ Altair, 32/34
Posts: 4,805
Re: Basic Hand Tools

Celestial Sailor hit on an important point: While you might be able to beg or buy many tools in any harbor, if you lose or forget something, there may be some boat-specific tools that you need to have.

* Oil change pump and any specific adapters. Oil changes come up more often than you think, particularly on the ICW. I keep a little kit in a maid's tote.

* Pullers. I have a compact rig for pulling outboard lower units. Must have to service water pump.

* Some fuel filters require 2 wrenches in tandem (mine), both the correct sizes. One can be a chain wrench, the other must be a strap wrench (tight space).

So read the manuals and ask around.

Also, more consumables (fiberglass, sealants, tape, wire both copper and SS, cable ties, parachute cord, hose, screw assortments, washers, ...) than folks have hinted at.
Gear Testing--Engineering--Sailing
Writing full-time since 2014
thinwater is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-11-2012, 11:41   #13
Registered User

Join Date: Jul 2012
Location: Charleston SC
Boat: 2001 Catalina 400 MKII
Posts: 56
Send a message via MSN to CCR2580
Re: Basic Hand Tools

Guys thanks for all your information it is priceless! I certainly have all the information to fill my various tool bags. I found your information very enlightening and I'm sure my other readers did also. Thanks to each of you!
CCR2580 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-12-2012, 11:50   #14
Registered User
jared's Avatar

Join Date: Nov 2012
Posts: 20
I was kinda thinking that metric sets would be used more in the international world. But it looks like this thread suggests having both. I just assumed buying parts abroad would be metric. Is it cause most people here buy their equipment state side and its usually SAE?
jared is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-12-2012, 12:00   #15
Registered User

Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: Kemah, TX
Boat: Moody 42
Posts: 235
Re: Basic Hand Tools

I don't think anyone has said Multi Meter yet. The other most used tool on my boat is a rechargeable LED work/flash light.

Sailorman375 is offline   Reply With Quote

Thread Tools
Display Modes Rate This Thread
Rate This Thread:

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off

Copyright 2002- Social Knowledge, LLC All Rights Reserved.

All times are GMT -7. The time now is 16:32.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2018, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
Social Knowledge Networks
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2018, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

ShowCase vBulletin Plugins by Drive Thru Online, Inc.