Post By Eben:
Alright so, it has now been 5 ish years that we have considered a sailboat our home. We have had to return to Canada in that time to make money and have babies but we have considered ourselves live aboards throughout that time given that in our time away we have slept in countless friends homes and various hotels but never settled anywhere but on the boat. To give a brief history, we had another boat prior to this one that was a 33 ft French made boat called a “karate” made by CNSO out of France. With the first daughter learning to walk it was soon apparent that it might have been a touch small, given its 9 ft beam. It so happens that as that very realization set in, a Morgan 41 popped up out of nowhere in Georgetown as a fixer upper. I told myself I would never buy another boat without a proper working engine, but other than that I felt I could handle most any project. After seeing the glow in my wife’s eyes with the space the Morgan offered, and being a glutton for punishment, I said heck why not, and bought a boat with all of the bells and whistles. If by bells you mean rigging and whistles you mean a hull, then this boat had it all… And nothing else. There was not a single working system on what we now call “Necesse”. But there is something attractive to a guy like me when I see an empty hull or house and especially when the price is right. So needless to say we bought the engineless, lightless, waterless, bedless, batteryless, stove less, and on and on, boat and set forth on a reconstruction journey! There is so much more to that story which we will post later in regards to our crazy captain friend Joaquin Diaz and Richie sailing her back to Miami alongside our other boat, but for the sake of holding your interest I will jump ahead and delve into what I believe are mandatory items for a “work aboard” after spending 3++ years refitting our boat on a budget.
I just want to clarify something before I continue. I am from Alberta, Canada. Google it and tell me how close the nearest sailboat can be found. At 21 I bought my first boat with a good friend, Jordan Cutbill, and it was actually the first sailboat that I had ever set foot on. I am not an official captain or boat engineer, I did not grow up with or take any training for this knowledge set, and I have never paid anyone to work on my boat, minus the time I needed the engine piston sleeves repressed and the fuel pump rebuilt. And so often people ask where I learnt how to do this or that or tell me how they wish they could be as talented. Lets get something straight I am exactly like you. Likely even less knowledgeable. The one talent I have that I know you have too and need only develop, is my stubborn belief that I can learn to do anything. This is 2013, you don’t know how to rebuild a NASA rocket? YouTube does!!
Regardless of whether your boat is in tip top shape and you are a “live aboard”, or your boat is nothing but a shell and you are a “work aboard” there are certain tools that I would tell even the saltiest of salts to go pick up right now if he/she didn’t have them on board. And I have separated them into 3 categories with sub categories and some examples of there use. Category 1- essential tools/products. Category 2-money saving/making tools… Category 3-……… K. So there are 2 categories. Lets begin.
I will omit embellishing on your basic tools such as
|pliers with 90 degree|
– drill (love my tiny makita for 4 years now)
–sand paper (buy it in the states where it is cheaper)
–pb blaster (great on most all seized items or buy T9 if you have extra $)
-pliers (make sure you buy 1 long one with the end bent at 90 degrees)
– exacto knife (I love the little razors that fit on a fixed handle too)
Essential tools/ products (as in I mean it! Go get them tomorrow. None are ridiculously expensive and they will make your life so so so so so much easier)
-buy at least a gallon of the stuff before leaving it is necessary for cleaning 5200/4200 silicone, cleaning up epoxy, wood prior to oiling or varnish, basically anything that needs to be grease/oil free. NB it’s not cheap in the Bahamas. A quart will run around $20. I use it daily!
-(5200 vs 4200? 4200 is more flexible 5200 is more rigid, buy a few quick cure tubes of each and a few of the smaller toothpaste style ones cuz no matter what you try, they will cure in the tube once you open it. Again $40ish a tube in the Bahamas. Also “life seal”, not life caulk, is an amazing unshrinking silicone that I use for example when replacing the glass in a hatch.
-telflon based grease will deteriorate certain rubbers. I try and use silicone grease always if plastics are involved. Also dielectric grease is great for coating exposed electrical connections to avoid corrosion or even coating any stainless screws and such that end up against aluminum.
4- Battery impact drill
-I bought a Makita drill/driver set with a regular 18V drill and impact Drill and 2 batteries for $100ish at Home Depot on sale. The impact is the perfect tool for removing old screws and bolts that may have seized a little. I use it when I go up the mast to do work. Those SS screws are always seized into the aluminum mast. UGH
-how many easily accessible spots are on a boat? None! The extension is about 7 inches long and can do close to 90 degree turns. Accompany that with a mini sized battery operated drill such as my Makita and you can drill and screw almost anywhere. Picture of bendable drill
-Spatial concept is my gig but man do I use this tool a lot to get inner diameter and outer diameter on all the round things on a boat and man there are a lot.
– Should be called the angel grinder. It’s the regular saw of the sailing world. I probably use this tool the most of all. Get a bunch of cutting wheels. It’s the only way to cut through fiberglass if you ask me. Pick up a respirator though, oh and maybe grab a pair of leather cloves too.
|this was from not wearing leather gloves|
8- Dremel Set
-Home Depot sells a 3in1 dremel set and man does it get used over here. The router one is great for fine work and the side saw is the best for cutting into fiberglass or wood or anything if you have to go straight in. Like adding an outlet somewhere.
9- Hole saw set (to attach to the drill)
-they’re not cheap but you gotta get at least a small set up to 1”1/2 ish. OH! There is also the adjustable hole saw that I use a ton. Buy a small file though so you can sharpen it up after some use.
-I LOVE IT. 101 uses for this bad boy. I tried a few others but I’d stick with this one. Heat up fused metal so separate em, perfect for melting holes with one of the tips through fabric to put on snaps. Melting the end of rope to stop fraying.
11- Channel Locks
12- Rivet Gun
-you can buy the smaller ones for cheap at any hardware store and I picked up big bad boy ones online for $30 ish too. I went to American nuts and bolts in Miami and bought 2 sizes of rivets in Stainless and Aluminum and that has been sufficient. #68 ½ inch long and #48 ½ inch long
13- Tap and Die Set
-these can get real expensive if you go high end hardened steel. I would love that but again I bought a mid quality set online and has been just fine. Be sure to buy cutting oil too though or you will go through them like butter. Remember when tapping something. Lots of oil, slow, and every ¾ turn or so turn back a quarter turn to allow the cut metal into the grooves of the tap or die.
-Princess auto sells cheap organizers like in my picture. Buy a bunch and dedicate one to screws, one to bolts, one to electrical and so on. And anytime you remove a screw or nut or bolt in good condition, keep it. It will save you a trip to the hardware store for that one little screw you lost or something.
15- Brass Hammer
-heavy and strong but the brass will dent before most metals so its great for separating seized metal or for big end lugs on wire along with the crimp tool that doesn’t cost $300. And for banging snaps on to material if you didn’t buy a snap and Gromet gun.
-Most snap and Grommet sets come with a manual system that you can use with a brass hammer but the gun is so much easier, cleaner, and more versatile.
17- West system/ biaxial glass mat
-Best epoxy EVER. Get at least a gallon of the epoxy and the quart of the hardener (the slow hardener if you are staying in the tropics, the fast hardener was too fast for me in the heat), buy the squeeze pumps for hassle free mixing. Get biaxial mat fiberglass and you can make anything! Also grab their “how to” book, and I keep 404 low density fairing additive for finishing work and the 407 high density aditive to make adhesive paste.
-you inevitably mung up an old screw head while trying to remove it in an awkward spot. Definetley has a extractor set onboard. You will have to take a cobalt or titanium bit, drill into the head of the screw a little, and then the extractor bites into the hole as you turn counter clockwise.
19- Electrical supplies
-we will save this for another blog but hands down look up Pacer marine in ft. Lauderdale and all your electrical needs will be cut in half at least. Great products and easy quick shipping.
Money Saving/ Making Tools
-If you have never sewn, START. The sowing part is easy, the machine does it. Ha. It’s the construction that takes a bit of practice but I swear this was likely the best tool I ever bought for the boat. It will pay for itself if you let it. Not only can you do your own indoor and outdoor cushions, bimini, dodger, bedding, wind scoops etc and likely save enough money to buy 7 machines, but you can also help repair fellow cruiser’s sails, your own sails, and get your money back for it in a few little sail repairs. I will do another blog entry strictly devoted to sewing, but trust me, I have met many people with many different machines. None stack up to the sailrite LSZ-1, which is the walking foot and Zig Zag model.
2- Hypalon repair kit. 2 Part Glue
-I will do another Blog on this topic because I got the chance to spend a few hours with some hypalon technicians in ft. Lauderdale and there is a process to making it work that requires some explanation, which is why most peoples’ dinghies are still leaking after they try to repair them. But if you know the process you are a hero abroad when someone pops a hole and wasn’t prepared to fix it.
Those aren’t all the tools I think everyone should have but I think everyone should have all those tools. I would love to answer any questions in regards to any of the tools I have listed and I am a decent penny pincher so if you want to know where I found what for the cheapest send me a message and I’ll hit ya back. So now that we have some of our tools I’ll tell ya a few things I’ve learnt how to do with them in another blog.
Over eezer and Out.