What are the top 10 boat tools to keep on board?
In his song titled “Boats”, singer Kenny Chesney calls boats, “vessels of freedom, harbors of healing.” That sentiment is echoed by many boaters, as they connect with nature, relax with family and friends, and let the stresses of everyday life drift away.
But emergencies can and do happen. Don’t be caught drifting helplessly with a dead engine, or unable to summon help in a medical or other emergency. Be prepared and well-equipped with the tools needed to keep everyone on board, and your boat, safe on the water.
The Top 10 Tools Checklist
- Safety Gear
- Tool Kit
- Spare Prop and Prop Toolset
- Hoses, Cables, and Plugs
- Jumper/Booster Cables
- Battery Terminal Puller
- Voltage Meter
- Rechargeable Battery Pack
- Marine Fuel Stabilizer
- Spare Fuses and Bulbs
The S. Coast Guard requires certain safety equipment, and sets specific standards for that equipment, to be carried on vessels of any size. State regulations may vary, so check your state requirements. Federally regulated safety items include:
- Life jackets and flotation devices – All vessels must have one USCG approved life jacket or vest per person. Boats over 16’ must have one Type IV throwable floatation device. Check your state for regulations regarding children's life jackets.
- Fire extinguishers – Boats under 26’ must have at least one B-I Type CG approved hand portable fire extinguisher. Boats over 26’ have additional requirements.
- Bells and Whistles –Any boat under 40’ must have an efficient sound producing device such as a horn or whistle, and boats over 40’ are required to carry a bell and whistle.
- Visual Distress Signals – Boats less than 16’ must carry three approved night signals. Boats over 16’ must have three day and three night signals on board.
- The USCG also strongly recommends carrying a first aid kit, VHF radio, tool kit, and paddles on board. Check the official Boater’s Guide to the Federal Requirements for Recreational Boasts for additional information and safety tips.
Must haves include hose, tubing, and PVC cutter; ratchet/open-ended combination wrench set; vise-grip snap-crimping pliers; thread locker (or nail polish!); scissors and shears; adjustable face spanner wrench; screwdrivers; duct tape; and electrical tape.
Spare prop and prop toolset
Discover Boating recommends boaters with single engines carry a spare prop, an extra hub kit and a prop wrench on board. They also suggest a dive mask, snorkel, and fins to make repairs in cool or rough water safer and more comfortable.
Hoses, cables, and plugs
Keep extra fuel assembly, connector, and flushing hoses, as well as extra throttle and shift cables, on board. In case of emergency these can be changed out while on the water. And, in case of a breach in the hull, have an emergency plug, like TruPlug® on hand.
According to Power and Motor Yacht, this is an essential on-board tool. With the proper cables, “A dead or low generator battery can be boosted from the mains or house and vice versa, depending on location.”
Battery Terminal Puller
Another great suggestion from Power and Motor Yacht for dealing with battery issues. This tool makes it easy to loosen bolt and pull battery terminal off, even from terminals that are “just short of total mutilation.
Troubleshoot onboard electronics to ensure all are operating within normal parameters, and electrical systems are not overloading.
Weego Tour 5200 Rechargeable Battery Pack
Keep personal electronics charged for safety. This super-quick charging and recharging battery pack charges phones up to three times and smaller tablets up to one time. A high-quality lithium-ion battery offers 500 charging cycles. Includes a 12″ Micro USB cord.
Combats the effects of ethanol and makes fuel more friendly to boat engines. Helps prevent gasoline break-down during storage. Safe to use in all grades of gasoline and in all two- and four-cycle engines.
Finally, always have spare fuses and bulbs on board.
Many GPS units, fish finders, radios and other electrical devices use fuses. Check to see what you need and keep appropriate fuses on hand. The same goes for bulbs. While most newer boats use LED lights, many older boats still use bulbs. Always have a few spare bulbs on board.
Whether your boat is your home or your haven, keeping safety items and helpful tools on board will keep everyone safe and happy. And, just a note to friends and families – our newly available gift cards are the perfect way to treat your favorite boat lover this holiday season!
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