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Suddenly in Command: Spare Parts and Tools

This article was published in Winter 2020 Nor’Easter for TONE (Tartan Owners Northeast). For the rest of the series go here.

It’s 4:00pm and the last tender from Grand Cayman Island left the dock an hour ago. Everyone’s safely on board and we’re heading for Cozumel. As I prepare to get ready for dinner, I realize I lost my prescription reading glasses. I had been wearing my distance glasses; and thought I tucked my readers into their case. Nope! Now I’m stuck for the next three days unable to read or write anything.  Too late to go back and get them.  I remember wearing them to write postcards. That’s it. I have others at home, but they don’t do me any good on the yacht.

Two women I know lent me their readers. They didn’t work either. One pair kept falling off; too wide. Neither were strong enough.  I went the rest of the trip (three days) unable to read anything or write. The positive outcome was a topic for this article.  

Now is the perfect time to make a list of any repairs and updates necessary on your boat. Then take inventory of the spare parts and tools you have. Make sure you have:

  • Washers to stop leaks in the head, sinks, and fridge.
  • Bulbs – LEDs, navigation lights, flashlights, and inside cabin. LEDs last a long time. However, until they have fully run down, you don’t know they need replacing.
  • Batteries for flashlights, engines/power, radios, carbon monoxide detectors, and clocks.
  • Lines – dock, bow and stern, spring, sails, lazy jacks, and anchor.
  • Patch kit – sails and tender.
  • Mechanical fluids – oil, gas, propane, kerosene for cooking, lamps, and engines.
  • Tape – splicing, electrical, plastic for whipping, and adhesive.
  • Hoses – leaks in bilge; use T-connection and strainer.
  • Ditty bag – sailmaker’s needles and palm, sharp-nosed pliers, scissors, marlinespike, sharp knife, wax, tape, candles, matches, and electric rope cutter.
  • Miscellaneous – screws, nuts and bolts, plugs, cotter pins, nails, wire, cloth, clamps, zincs, and filters.

Wherever you get your parts and tools from, make sure they’re specifically for boats – not cars. And equal to what you are replacing. Especially for your fuel, electrical, and ventilation systems. Plus, your navigation lights. You also want to make sure they have a UL symbol, if warranted; for that added safety protection.

Keep (or start) an operations manual to log your repairs. Add an inventory page and photographs with labels pointing to each part. This helps with repairs, insurance claims and when it’s time to sell your boat.

Finally, if you wear glasses or contacts of any kind, make sure you bring an extra pair with you.  The last thing you need is to find yourself suddenly-in-command. Responsible to get everyone on board to a safe destination. And, unable to see where you are going. Unlike my trip, you may be sailing alone. No one else on board who can captain the boat for you. No one to help with repairs, navigate, read charts or any of the manuals.

Remember, boating season will be here before you know it. Start today!

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