Tools for Cruising Boats Sailing Around the World


Last Updated on May 15, 2021 by Amy

One of the things David and I love about cruising is being out in remote locations, away from cities and towns.  During our world circumnavigation, 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 onboard our sailboat to get the projects done, both improving our boat and making repairs to critical systems. While a lot of them aren’t specific sailing tools, sailboat maintenance is more than your rigging.

While this is a list of what we think are the best tools for a sailboat, 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 it would be a good addition.

Tool Bag v Storage

We divide most of our tools into two places, the tool bag and the 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 Sailing Tool Bag

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.

Sailing Tool Bag Contents

The most basic tools for cruising boats to have on hand.

Kept right next to the tool bag are a clamp meter and one of our top favorite things on the boat, period: kneeling pads.

Tools in Storage

A variety of tools every cruising boat should have.
Tool sets for cruising boats.
Tools for cruising boats.

Miscellaneous Tools for Sailing Boats

  • Fid set kept with spare lines, a very important sailing tool
  • Chamois kept in the main salon cabinet as we use them all the time
  • Fuel filter  and siphon kept in the engine room

What We Don’t Have

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.

More Sailing Tool Stuff!

There are a few more things we use here and there.  Absolutely all of the best tools for sailing boats are in this post and even more are in our Out Chasing Stars Amazon Storefront.

Did we miss any?  Let us know!

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  1. I don’t see a grinder … unless you are using the drill w grinding heads? Also … don’t see any fiberglass rollers; not counting those, … or just using paint roller? Asking cuz I am trying to figure out what kind of “glass/epoxy” tool kit to carry …

    1. Hi Gwynne! The dremel has grinding attachments that we have found very helpful. I didn’t include consumable type-items in here such as chemicals or rollers. Total Boat and West Systems have some great epoxy kits.

  2. Thanks, this is a super helpful post. You can bet I will be making any of our purchases from your Amazon store. One question, not sure if Starry Horizon’s has snaps on her cushions but if so, what do you use to replace them as they fail. Thanks

    1. Glad you found the post helpful! We do not have snaps on our cushions. The interior cushions have Velcro and the exterior have straps and… I’m not sure how to describe it!!

  3. Great list! I guess sika isn’t a tool, but pretty much usable everywhere. We also have a couple of vice clamps onboard.

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