Captain's Tips

What's In Your Boating Toolbox?


The success of a project aboard your boat depends on a combination of understanding the systems and working with the right boating tools. So a good place to begin our first Smart Boater column will be in the boating toolbox. Having the right tools aboard could mean the difference between going boating or staying tied to the pier on a beautiful summer day or the difference between repairing something and getting back underway or calling the tow boat.Beyond the basics of proper wrenches and screwdrivers sized for your boat that every toolbox should contain, there are a handful of specialty items or not-so-common tools that could make a project easier or safer to perform. Here are a few boating tools that I have found to be quite useful.


On more than one occasion I've wished for an extra set of hands to hold a part while drilling a hole or cutting something with a saw. Most boats don't have enough room for a work bench and vise, but the PanaVise can suction down to any smooth surface and holds with a surprising amount of force. It then stows neatly out of the way when not in use.


When taking apart a pump or any other object on the boat I seem to have a hard time keeping up with the nuts and bolts during disassembly and reassembly. This handy tray with two strong magnets on the bottom not only magnetically holds your loose parts and tools within the tray, it also holds itself securely in place to any ferrous metal item.


When I do drop a nut or bolt, it invariably falls into the most recessed area of the bilge where I can't reach them. The magnetic tool retriever and the spring loaded flexible retractable jaw device allows me to retrieve those parts. Not only does this keep me from having to make a run to the hardware or marine store, it also keeps loose parts from remaining loose in the bilge where they could damage a bilge pump when it's needed the most.


Boats are full of very confined spaces, many of which you need to see behind or under in order to determine the source of a problem or leak. A mirror on an extendable arm is a valuable tool for peering into those tight spaces.


These are great for removing O-rings and seals on components. They are also great for cleaning the groves on threaded parts for smooth reassembly. They too can be used for retrieving a very small part from within something. You will find countless uses for them.


Like these modified needle nose pliers for extracting an impeller. Impeller pullers are wonderful, but that assumes you have the room in front of a pump to use the impeller puller. It is not uncommon to find pumps facing other components where you are working from the side to extract the impeller with a poor angle to exert any force. These handy pliers will easily reach in from the side and with a piece of brass or similar soft metal between the pump and the pliers give you great leverage to extract an impeller.


It's inevitable, it's going to happen, you're going to break off a bolt or screw in something and without a set of screw extractors and drill, you're not getting it out. A broken bolt could prevent reassembly of a part and make the difference between getting underway or not.


Typically you think of safety glasses to keep debris out of your eyes when cutting or drilling, which you certainly could be doing on your boat, but I wear safety glasses mostly for fluids. Between engine oil, engine coolant, diesel fuel and hydraulic fluid, there are a lot of opportunities for fluids to splash into your eyes. Make safety glasses an important part of your boating toolbox.What else would you add to your boating toolbox? Let us know!

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