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One of the things David and I love about cruising is being out in remote locations, away from cities and towns. For the last four years, we’ve been able to go to some amazing places like the Lau group of Fiji and the Ha’apai group of Tonga. This also means we’re away from professional repairmen, chandleries, and Amazon Prime shipping. Therefore, we have to be fairly self-sufficient. Part of this is having a well-stocked selection of tools for cruising onboard our boat to get the projects done, both improving our boat and making repairs to critical systems.
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While this is a list of what we think are the best tools for a cruising boat, it is by no means an exhaustive list of what you should have on your boat. Every boat is different, and your boat will have different needs from ours. Also, some of our tools are relatively old as some of them belonged to my dad. We’ve linked to the best looking, highest rated tools on Amazon for this list. Additionally, some items may have made their way into the bag for a special project recently, and who knows if we will use them again. Some we’ve never used, but we bought them because we borrowed a tool from someone else and thought t would be a good addition.
Most of our tools are narrowed down into two places, the tool bag and a storage underneath our couch in the main cabin. The tool bag is easily accessible and contains the most common tools we use around the boat. Items kept under the couch tend to be bigger project tools.
The tool bag itself is a soft-sided bag with lots of pockets and solid handles. We’re very pleased with the size, as it’s easy enough to carry and hold the most critical items.
- Ratcheting screwdriver with double drive and 30 bits
- Two putty knives
- Stubby screwdriver set
- Phillips and flat head screwdriver set
- 8″ extra large screwdriver
- Vise-grip locking pliers
- Metric AND SAE hex key sets
- Slip joint, long nose, and diagonal pliers
- Butane torch
- Adjustable wrench set
- 4″ adjustable wrench good for fitting in tight spaces
- Metric and imperial tape measure
- Vise-grip long nose locking pliers
- Paint can opener
- Two utility knives and spare blades
- Plastic putty knives
- Assorted zip ties
- Thread seal tape
- Electrical tape
- Super Glue
- Loctite Blue Strength
- Loctite Red Threadlocker
- Silicone grease
- Tactical knife
- Outlet tester
- Sharpie markers
- Waxed whipping twine in black and white with a needle
- Flexible screwdriver extension
- Paint scraper
- Paper towels
What are the ones we use the most often?
- Hacksaw with extra blades
- Ryobi Multi Tool with extra attachments
- Ryobi Power Drill with accessories and extra batteries
- Impeller puller
- Duct tape
- 15″ adjustable wrench
- Rubber mallet
- Pipe wrench 10″
- AC Voltage detector
- Lighted mechanical pick-up tool
- Lighted and magnetic pick-up tool
- Strap wrench
- Gear oil pump (specific to our outboard)
- Fixed wrench sets for metric and SAE
- Socket wrench set
- Dremel rotary tool
- File & rasp set
- Variety set of stainless steel screw, bolts, washers, and nuts
- Drill bits
- Hole saw kit
- Screw extractor set
- Screwdriver bit set
- Torque wrench 1/2″
- Torque wrench 1/4″
- Fish tape
- Blind rivets
- Soldering gun with a rope cutter attachment
- Kill a Watt electricity usage monitor
- West Marine stainless steel rigging kit with cotter pins, outer rings, and clevis pins
- Rivet assortment pack
- Wet or dry sandpaper
- Pry bar
- Soldering iron kit
- Coax cable toolkit
- Pipe cutter
- Rivet gun
- Heat shrink tubing set
- Heat shrink wire connector set
- Universal boat motor flusher
- Fid set kept with spare lines
- Chamois kept in the main salon cabinet as we use them all the time
- Fuel filter and siphon kept in the engine room
When we first left home we had a sander/polisher onboard. Firstly, we had trouble powering this tool. Even when we did our DIY bottom job, we’d rather have someone else do the sanding. It’s the nastiest part of a bottom job. Polishing is something, with our new boat, we’ve only done every haul out, so we’ve paid someone to polish our topside.
There are a few more things we use here and there. Absolutely all of the best tools for cruising boats are in this post and even more are in our Out Chasing Stars Amazon Storefront.
Did we miss any? Let us know!