Sailor’s Toolbox Essentials

sailors essentials toolbox tips by catamaran guru

A sailor’s toolbox is never small enough or big enough! The need to minimize the number of tools you need to save space balanced with having invaluable tools when you need them is a constant battle.

Especially if you are considering buying a boat owner tools for the holidays or a special occasion, our tips on sailor’s toolbox essentials can help make your gift useful. Or perhaps you are putting together your own wish list…well, wish away!

Sailor’s Essential Toolbox Contents

Your essential toolset should fit in a small tool bag. This boat owner’s toolbox is about the essentials for everyday use and life-saving (and lesser) emergencies. Generally the sailor’s essentials tools can be categorized into mechanical, electrical, sail repair, and supplies which is the list we put together below.

Mechanic’s Tools

  • 8 ratcheting box wrenches:
    • Two 7/16 inch
    • Two ½ inch
    • One 9/16 inch
    • One 7 mm
    • One 12 mm
    • One 13 mm
  • Crescent wrench
  • 2 vise grips, 1 needle nose and 1 standard
  • 2 hex wrench sets (metric and standard) – keep the most used ones in the bag and stow the others as these will often rust in the salty air so keep your full sets stowed away with WD-40 sprayed on them.
  • Pipe wrench
  • Filter wrench with adjustable chain – we have used this one more than we expected
  • Electricians (lineman’s) pliers with heavy-duty wire cutters
  • Box cutter with extra blades
  • Heavy-duty scissors
  • Ratcheting hose cutters which also cut PVC and heavy cables
  • Flexible shaft mechanic’s fingers and magnet on a telescoping handle (for getting dropped tools, nuts, etc. out of the bilges)
  • a foot of bicycle chain – Tip: the best way to get a line down the mast for pulling a new cable or halyard. At the top of the mast the chain will fit in a halyard block, then at the base of the mast you can use mechanical fingers or a magnet with telescoping handle to capture and pull the line through a tight feed.

Electrical Tools

Sail Repair Tools​

  • Needles
    • Heavy sailmaker needles
    • Household sewing needles
  • Thread
    • Goretex sewing thread – strong and UV resistant
    • Waxed dental floss – a good substitute for Goretex thread that holds a knot better
    • Heavy, polyester waxed whipping twine
  • Small scissors
  • Multi-tool sailing knife
  • Needle-nosed pliers – used with vise grips to pull thread through the tough sailcloth
  • Small vise grips
  • Fid set
  • Lighter

Supplies for Sailing Repairs

Once your essential boat owner’s tool bag is kitted out, remember to get a full set of spares for your vessel. We asked the Catamaran Guru team to give us a few suggestions of the essential spares that they carry onboard their own catamarans which we found to be vert useful. See the full list of essential boat spares here>>

  • Small kit of crimps, terminals, and heat-shrink tubing
  • Wire ties and stainless steel or monel seizing wire to keep pins in place on shackles
  • Plastic cable ties in a variety of sizes (consider the oversized ones for your tool collection as they come in handy!)
  • Small jar of stainless-fastener lubricant such as LanoCote
  • WD-40 lubricant (great cleaner, too!), keep a small can in your essentials toolbox to save space and a larger can elsewhere
  • Electrical tape
  • Rigging tape
  • Silicone caulk
  • Super glue
  • Epoxy
  • Blue Loctite threadlocker


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