There, you have just got a boat. A nice new hobby for the weekend and it is time to stock it out. It is time to get all that equipment and gear that you have read about in all the magazines and that you have dreamt about for so long. Time to fill that boat up with all the latest goodies and set sail into the unknown. Sail out and over the horizon, ready for all that may be placed in your way!
The engine has always been my greatest problem and I have this constant nightmare of breaking down whilst away from shore. The last thing that I want to do is to call for help and admit to everybody that I was not ready. Spanners, screwdrivers, engine tool kit and a few essential spares are of course a necessity but the Chain Block and the torque wrench, the hydraulic spanner and the ten-pound hammer? I am not so sure that I will ever really need them at sea.
What are you going to do with them? Lift the engine off the block and do a complete strip down whilst bobbing on the water? Let us look into this before we dive in and fill the boat up full to the brim with unessential items. Before we fill up the cabin drawers with tools of all shapes and sizes and electrical equipment that would stretch your power supply to its limits. It must be remembered that if the problem is a serious one then nine times out of ten you will not have the correct spare part anyway! So what do you really need before you make a storeroom out of every available space onboard?
Tools are essential and maybe the saving grace to any that lose their power at sea. Tools are required to unblock a fuel filter or cure a leaking pipe, but you are not going to be doing a complete overhaul so leave the 18Ē monkey wrench behind along with the engine lifting frame and the welding machine. Leave them safely at home in the garage and set sail with the minimum of required tools for essential repairs. Have in your boat enough tools to do the job and leave plenty of space for all the food and goodies that will make the trip into what you dreamt it would be like. Donít turn your boat into a nightmare with unnecessary tools falling out of cupboards and leaving oily stains everywhere, just have what you need and set sail happily. Donít have your friends and guests complaining of stubbed toes and bruises on the head as they work there way through the cupboards whilst searching for some food to eat!
The crucial point to remember about engine maintenance and repair is that it should all have been done before you left port. The engine and auxiliary equipment should be in a good condition and able to do the job it is meant to do before you take the last rope off the jetty. So any repairs and work should have been carried out before you even thought of stocking up for the trip. When you set sail you should have underneath you a boat ready and prepared for all occasions, one that you can trust in to do the job that it is required to do.
In many situations the amount of equipment that you carry does depend on the skills that you yourself possess. First of all, if you are not very good at engine overhauls then it is pointless to have the larger pieces of equipment anyway. If you are good at doing engine overhauls and have knowledge about what you are doing then you should not have set sail with a faulty engine in the first place. It is possible that you breakdown through no fault of your own but it is far better to have a good communication system to call for help and swallow your pride than to try and fix the engine yourself.
Essential items therefore consist of a set of spanners, a couple of hammers, a set of screwdrivers, and an adjustable wrench. One monkey wrench of a small size, filter removal strap for the Fuel filters and LO filters, hand crank handle if the engine is small, a spare set of batteries, some spare Lubricating Oil and some odds and ends of screws and nuts and bolts. Along with these items should be the engines tool kit, essential spares for the engine including a couple of injectors, fuel filter and LO filter inserts and anything else that the manufacturer recommends for that engine.
Leave behind the Chain Block, the large Monkey Wrench and the Hydraulic Spanners. Leave behind the spare heads and the spare crankshaft and all the spares that require the use of a chain block. Make sure before you leave that the engine is in top working condition and that you can trust in its ability to take you where you want to go without breaking down on the way. And finally make sure that your communication system is suitable and in a good working condition, so that if a problem does arise help is not far away.
There is no pride to think of when you breakdown. Safety is of a higher priority.
Ieuan Dolby, from Scotland is an Engineering Officer in the Merchant Navy. He has been travelling the world for 15yrs on an endless tour of cultural diversification. Currently based in Singapore he writes various articles for magazines and newspapers and is working on a marine glossary.