10 Essential Tools to Keep on Board Your Boat

What do you do when the latch that secures the lid on your livewell won’t lock and you just finished throwing a cast net for two hours so that you’d have enough bait for a day of fishing? Or, when you are boating around the lake with your family, and then realize that you left one of your drain plugs back at the dock?

These are two examples of situations when having the right tools on board can help save the day. While large boats will often require additional tools since they have more mechanical parts, the below is a good basic list of essential tools to use in a starter kit.

Pliers. Make sure you have a good pair of pliers on board that will resist corrosion and rust. Pliers can be used to take hooks out of fish, rig wire leaders, and they come in handy for minor repair tasks. Buy a pair that has built-in line cutters if possible.

Extra Drain Plugs. It’s always a good idea to keep extra drain plugs on board in case one gets lost, falls into the water, or is left behind at the dock.

Multi-Tool. Find a heavy duty multi-tool that is corrosion-resistant (keep in mind that even when tools are corrosion-resistant, they will last longer if you rinse them in a bucket of freshwater after each use). The extra tools that are included in many of the multi-tools on the market, such as files or scrapers, won’t be found in standard tool kits, but can be very useful on a boat.

Wrenches and Screwdrivers. It’s best to make sure that your took kit includes wrenches and screwdrivers. These can be used for basic fix-it tasks, such as replacing lights or fuse blocks. Many marine stores even sell tool kits in waterproof or floating boxes that are compact and convenient. 

Flashlight or Marine Light. You may not plan on being on your boat after sunset; however, you don’t always know what may happen to cause your plans to change. Always keep a working flashlight or marine light on board in the event that you need it for reading navigation markers and taking care of boat maintenance tasks.
Extra Flashlight Batteries and Spark Plugs. Always keep a set of back up batteries for your flashlight and spare spark plugs.

Duct Tape. Duct tape can be used in a pinch for temporary pipe repairs or to patch minor leaks.
Tie Wraps. Tie wraps are helpful in a number of situations, but they are most often used to hold wiring or hoses out of the way.

Scissors. A pair of utility scissors will come in handy for tasks such as trimming cable ties, cutting through rope or net, and for cutting natural baits.

Socket Set. Buy a portable socket set to keep on board for changing fuel filters or repairing hatch latches. An 11-piece socket set will work well for a smaller boat and won’t take up much storage space. 

Did you recently buy a boat and assemble your own essential boating tool kit? Are there other tools that you wouldn’t leave the dock without? Join the Take Me Fishing online boating and fishing community and let us know which other tools you always keep in your on board tool kit and why.

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Debbie Hanson

Debbie Hanson

Debbie Hanson is an outdoor writer, blogger, and avid angler who has written articles on fishing and boating for publications such as USA Today Hunt & Fish and Game & Fish Magazine. She is a member of the Florida Outdoor Writers Association. Visit her personal blog at shefishes2.com and follow her on Twitter at @shefishes2.