SV Seamlessly anchored by Treasure Cay, Bahamas

In this blog post, we will share our opinion on which tools are a must-have on any boat if you’re planning on cruising. We will also share tools that have come in handy but might not be an absolute requirement. We have all of these tools onboard, so don’t think this is some wishlist. And we also have a list of tools that we’d like to have but don’t have.

This post will be updated and expanded over time, with more details, links, and pictures.

Must-Have Tools

Here is our prioritized list of tools we believe you must have on your boat. With these tools, you should be able to tackle most jobs.

  1. Wrench sets (metric & imperial)
  2. Ratchet with deep and shallow sockets (metric & imperial)
  3. Screwdrivers (Philips & Slot)
  4. Adjustable wrench (or two)
  5. Mirror
  6. Multimeter
  7. Razor blades
  8. Side cutters
  9. Channel locks
  10. Rubber mallet
  11. Measuring tape
  12. Caliper
  13. Allan keys (metric and imperial)
  14. Impeller puller

Very-Helpful Tools

We have all of these tools onboard Patience, and they get used relatively frequently. Over the years we’ve owned a boat, we have come to realize that in most cases, buying the tools for a specific job is much cheaper than hiring a technician to do the work.

  • Impact driver
  • Drill set
  • Heat gun
  • Dremel
  • Soldering iron
  • Hose clamp tools
  • Torque wrench
  • Butane Torch
  • Gear pullers
  • Rope cutter
  • Miniature screwdriver set
  • Pry bars
  • C-clip pliers
  • Fid set
  • Laser Measuring Tool

Very-Helpful Tools

Last (and least) are the tools we would like to have onboard someday, but we either don’t have enough space or don’t have a continuous use for them.

  • Air compressor

Wrench Sets

Having both metric and imperial wrenches onboard is an absolute must. Amazon is an excellent place to get a set or Harbor Freight if you are in the United States. We recommend getting two of each because many jobs require holding a nut while loosening or tightening a bolt at the same time. We have some wrenches with ratchet ends, but they break much easier. So, if you do get wrenches with ratcheting closed ends, don’t apply as much force to them as you would to regular wrenches. [Wrench Set on Amazon]

wrenches and tools

Ratchet with Deep and Shallow Sockets

We have several different ratchets onboard, most of them have a 3/8 mounting point size (aka drive size), but we do have some 1/2 inch drive ratchets and sockets. If you’re in the United States, Harbor Freight will probably be the best option for a ratchet and socket set, but Amazon also has some good sets. Having both deep and shallow sockets is essential. For example, some bolts might be preventing you from getting a shallow socket on a nut, and you’ll need a deep socket. Sometimes there isn’t enough space for a deep socket, and a shallow socket fits (if it doesn’t, maybe a wrench will fit). Make sure you have an extension or two as well. [Ratchet and Sockets on Amazon]

ratchet and sockets


Screwdrivers are things that we don’t have enough of, but somehow, we’ve gotten by with what we have. We would get a screwdriver set and call it a day if we didn’t already have some. As with most other tools, a variety of sizes are ideal. For those lucky ducklings in the United States, Harbor Freight is a great option to get screwdrivers or, of course, on Amazon. We’ve found that having screwdrivers with magnetic tips isn’t of much help because most stainless screws are not magnetic, so save your money on screwdrivers [Stainless Steel Screwdriver set on Amazon]


Having a good multimeter is a must. When electronics stop working, after checking the breaker, the multimeter comes out. We had several less-expensive multimeters before getting this Flir CM275 multimeter, but they fell short. This doesn’t mean you have to buy an expensive multimeter — if you can find one that works for you. Fluke also makes great multimeters. We don’t have experience with Fluke but check them out. When selecting a multimeter, we recommend you get one that can measure DC amperage to a value that lets you measure anything on your boat. For us, that is 100A DC from our 24V battery charger, and the Flir CM275 can measure up to 600A DC. [Our Multimeter on Amazon]

multimeter measuring amps

The Most Not-Required-But-Awesome Tool

And the most not-required-but-awesome tool onboard is our CNC machine. If you’re interested in a desktop CNC, we have a Nomad 3 from Carbide 3D onboard. We use it mostly to make parts using King Starboard, things like mounting bases, adapter plates, and brackets.