Galen Jons, Fisheries Biologist
The beautiful weather we've been having lately has gotten a lot of boaters out on the water. Now that a few of our lakes have abundant water in them, people are getting out their boats that they may not have used in the last year. It's always a good idea to have a toolkit onboard, especially if your boat hasn't been wet in a while.
For those who don't have a toolkit, or need ideas for putting together a basic one, here are some tips. First, you'll need something to put all of these tools in. I recommend using a soft case or nylon duffel bag, as they are easier to store in the nooks and crannies of a boat as opposed to a large hard traditional toolbox. Also, you may want to consider storing the tools inside a waterproof plastic bag inside of the soft case, as this will help prevent rust. To further protect your tools, you may want to dress them with a light sheen of oil or petroleum jelly, especially if you ever go near saltwater.
As for tools, there are a few basic ones you should have in every
toolkit. Quality screwdrivers are usually a first pick; get a flat screwdriver
and one with a number two Philips head. If you have any really small or
really large screws that you may have to access in an emergency, you may
want to consider a non-standard screwdriver that will fit those sizes
of screws. Also check to see if you'll need an extra-long screwdriver,
which may come in handy around the engine or console. I prefer screwdrivers
with magnetized tips.
Pliers are also a common tool found in nearly every toolkit. You'll want a standard pliers for most gripping jobs, and a needle-nose pliers which can come in handy for gripping small items, such as cotter pins (sometimes found on prop shafts).
You'll also want to consider a socket set with a ratchet driver. You can often find socket sets for under $20 that will cover most of your needs. Be sure to check that you have sockets for spark plugs and one for the prop.
Duct tape and baling wire are two standard tools of many do-it-yourselfers. While baling wire probably won't have much application on a boat, duct tape can sure come in handy. If you don't have much room in your toolkit, you might consider the new "X-treme Duck Tape" that comes in small packages and is brightly colored.
Don't forget your flashlight, along with extra batteries. I prefer the small LED flashlights, as they have a much longer lifespan (batteries and bulb) than a typical incandescent flashlight. Even the small keychain-sized lights produce plenty of light to walk around at night (flashlights should not be used for boat navigation - use proper navigational lights and a spotlight for that). Sporting goods stores are starting to carry these keychain LED flashlights - look for one with a constant-on switch.
Other tools to consider are a locking pliers (Vise-Grip is one of
the best, in my experience), and a wide-mouth pliers, also known as a
channel-lock pliers or tongue-and-groove pliers. You may also want to
store a few shop towels in your toolkit. As your boating experience grows,
so will your toolkit. You'll find that with the right tools, many difficult
tasks become much easier.
Texas Parks and Wildlife Dept.
5325 N. 3rd
Abilene, TX 79603
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