Spare Parts List
Your boat is your magic carpet to fishing adventures and family fun, but sometimes it feels like it will take a genie in a bottle to keep all of its systems functioning as they are intended. Preventative maintenance is the key, but as Murphy’s law will have it, some issues are still going to magically appear while you’re out trying to enjoy your investment.
We’ve all said it; “It worked last time” or “I just replaced that”. It can be frustrating to have issues out on the water, but being prepared with a variety of spare parts can help you “MacGyver it” to get through the day or help get you home. I know it is impossible to be prepared for every possible problem, but I would like to mention some parts that have saved my day in the past.
Duct tape and bailing wire is often joked about, but it may not be too far from the truth.
Duct tape has its many uses and is worth carrying. It has to be replaced or checked at times, lest it becomes a useless ball of sticky goo over time. Zip-ties of various sizes, including a few of the big, heavy-duty ones can be infinitely handy in many situations. The trailer U-bolt in the photo was the key to finishing out a trip in the Keys when the steering ram assembly broke free from the rudder shelf. We were on a big boat and had the benefit of carrying drills and such, but we proved how it could be a handy part to carry. A wide assortment of stainless bolts, screws, and washers are also key items to improvising a fix.
Stainless hose clamps are another essential must-have. They are not just for plumbing issues.
You can connect them end-to-end to create a very sturdy tie-down for moving parts that are not supposed to be moving. Of course, they are also essential for the plumbing fixes they were intended for, and I recommend carrying a wide assortment of them on any boat. Get a nut driver or ¼ inch socket wrench for them as this makes tightening them much better than the flat blade screwdriver that keeps slipping from the slot, while you hang by your toes in a hole using one hand by feel.
To complement your hose clamps for fixing plumbing issues, you should carry a variety of plumbing fittings and adapters that will allow you to plug, splice, and adapt to differing sizes of hose. Nylon adapters are not always the best for a permanent install, but they slide into hoses easily for a quick fix or patch. Carry spare hose of assorted sizes that you can splice into the boat’s common water systems. Hose cutters are also helpful and eliminate the dangers of cutting with a dull bait knife while you’re upside down in that same hole.
One item I consider a must have is the epoxy putty stick of various makes.
This two-part putty lasts uncured for long periods. If you need to patch a pinhole on a leaking part, or build-up material for any reason, you cut a piece of this putty, knead the two parts together, and form it for your required repair. It will bond wet and creates a rock-hard fix in 15 to 20 minutes. I have seen boats run for years using this patch without further issue. (not recommending that, just saying I’ve seen it). It really is amazing stuff and I would not leave shore without it. Various caulk like silicone and 5200 can come in handy, but the cure time is not conducive for a quick fix most of the time.
Of course, all of these things are in addition to a good, non-rusty tool kit with the basics. A few additional tools that have come in handy are a strap wrench, pipe wrench, mini-hacksaw or blades, and a vise-grip.
Don’t forget the extendable magnet on a wand to retrieve your tools from the center of the bilge after a healthy amount of explicatives.
Take care to oil your tools and keep them functioning, as a ball of rust only makes matters worse at these moments of creative repair.
Spare fluids are a must, so survey what all of the systems of your boat require. Steering fluid, oil, coolant, hydraulic or ATF for trim tabs, etc. Have a funnel to maximize the placement of your limited supply of fluid.
Spare parts for your engine and fuel system may be practical. Belts and impellers are two commonly needed parts that can be changed at sea if you have the tools required. Primer bulbs for fuel lines can go bad and fuel filters can clog so carry extras of each. A spare primer bulb and hose can be rigged to pump fluids around in a pinch.
Electrical issues can pop up at any time, so carry an assortment of fuses for all applications. Look at the fuses in use and buy the appropriate spares. Wire strippers/crimpers and an assortment of connector options can help bypass corroded connector plugs or broken wires. You don’t need heat shrink for the quick fix, but make yourself go back later and fix the connections right with heat shrink or you will be repairing it again. A voltage tester never hurts, when chasing electrical problems. A length of assorted wire and jumper cables is not a bad idea either.
If you take the time to assemble these items, keep them dry and usable, and remember that you have them, you can patch your vessel up to get home on your own in many cases. For those times that you cannot, I recommend the very economical towing insurance offered by name brand carriers. Just make sure they operate in your local waters.
Here is another must-have tool and tips to prevent rust. Bolt Cutter Tip