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Offshore sailing: The right tools for maintenance and repairs Articles

Offshore sailing: The right tools for maintenance and repairs

It’s an almost immutable law of offshore sailing that if and when something breaks, it will be at night, in rough weather, and the one thing you don’t have the correct spare for. Preparation is everything regarding offshore sailing maintenance and repairs; anticipating what could go wrong and what tools and spares will be needed is a significant part of doing this well.

Here, in the latest article of our offshore series, we look at the content of the spares and toolkits we carry on the Rubicon 3 spares kits. Due to the remote nature and extended timescale of our passages, our tools and spares are particularly comprehensive.

Remember, having the right tools on board is the difference between a straightforward 15-minute fix and potentially disabling your boat and getting into real danger. Having a 1/2″ spanner available can be the difference.

wrenches

Comprehensive Tool Kit

A rusty bag of random tools is unacceptable despite being common on many sailboats. Make sure, at a minimum, you have the following:

  1. Hammer: Both rubber and club
  2. Screwdriver Set: This should include a variety of sizes and types, such as flathead, Phillips, and Torx drivers.
  3. Pliers: Various types, including needle-nose, slip-joint, and locking pliers.
  4. Wrench Set: Combination wrenches in various sizes for tightening and loosening bolts. You’ll need two of each size.
  5. Adjustable Wrench: Useful for a variety of bolt sizes.
  6. Socket Set: A set of sockets with a ratchet handle for handling different sizes of nuts and bolts.
  7. Allen Wrenches (Hex Keys): Make sure you haven’t lost the small ones
  8. Utility Knife: For cutting a range of materials.
  9. Tape Measure: Essential for measuring parts.
  10. Calipers: The only way to measure precise sizes
  11. Flashlight and Headlamp: Essential for working in poorly lit areas.
  12. Drill (Cordless or Corded): Along with a set of drill bits for various materials.
  13. Hacksaw: For cutting metal, plastic, and wood.
  14. Safety Glasses: To protect your eyes during work.

multimeter

Electrical tool kit

One of the most common issues at sea is electrical. Most are easily diagnosed and fixed, but you must have a basic understanding and an adequate tool kit.

  1. Multimeter: For measuring voltage, current, and resistance. A digital multimeter is essential for any electrical work.
  2. Wire Strippers: Used to remove the insulation from electric wires without damaging the wire.
  3. Crimping Tools: For crimping connectors onto wires.
  4. Range of crimps: Selection of red, blue, and yellow crimps. Crimps should be ring, butt, and glove types. Use crimps with heat shrink built on.
  5. Wago connectors: Gte a good selection and make sure they can be used on multi-strand wire
  6. AC Voltage Tester: A non-contact AC voltage tester can be used to quickly check for the presence of voltage in a wire or device.
  7. Circuit Testing Plug: For checking the integrity of your AC plugs and circuits
  8. Electrical Tape: Insulating tape for covering wire joints and other electrical connections.
  9. Cable Ties: For organizing and securing wires and cables.
  10. Labeling Machine: To label wires and circuits for easy identification.
  11. Spare wire: Bring a spare battery cable and a roll of wire about 14AWG for general fixes

socket set

Rigging tool kit

Include essential rigging items like spare shackles, rigging screws, and clevis pins, as well as a shackle key. A hot knife for cutting rope is a great addition

Winch Service kit

To include pawls and springs at a minimum. Needs marine grease, light oil, and a toothbrush. We print off and laminate diagrams of the winches and put them in the kit.

5200 marine sealant

Sealants and Adhesives for Marine Use

High-quality marine sealant and epoxy resin are vital for waterproof repairs. The correct sealant and underwater resin can prevent a disaster, whether a minor deck leak or a significant hull breach.

Plumbing spares and tools

A selection of appropriately sized hoses and hose clamps will be a lifesaver for dealing with unexpected leaks or plumbing failures. We carry a spare sanitation hose for when the inevitable block happens and can’t be fixed at sea. Pump service kits are crucial. We also carry a spare tap unit and a plumber’s wrench to remove and refit it.

Critical Engine Spare Parts

Carry spares like belts, impellers, fuel filters, and oil filters. Engine issues can escalate quickly offshore, so having these spares can be a game-changer.

Bilge Pump Service Kit

Since bilge pumps are essential for managing water ingress, a repair kit with spares tailored to your pump model is necessary.

Spare pumps

On top of all the service kits, we carry a spare freshwater pump, bilge pump, and grey water pump, along with switches for each.

Cutting tools

Carry a hacksaw and spare blades, a utility knife and spare blades, a pipe cutter, and a hydraulic rig cutter.

Illumination

Waterproof flashlights, headlamps, and spare batteries are crucial, especially when repairs are needed at night or in low-light conditions.

Duct Tape and Zip Ties

The value of duct tape and zip ties in temporary repairs or securing equipment cannot be overstated.

Spare Line and Rigging Tape

Carry a selection of spare lines for running rigging repairs and rigging tape for temporary fixes to rigging components.

sail repair kit

Comprehensive Sail Repair Kit

Include sail tape, needles, thread, and spare sail cloth for more extensive on-the-go repairs. This is particularly important for long passages where sail integrity is crucial, and there may not be a local loft on arrival. If you are heading offshore for an extended passage or period, you may want to invest in new sails before you leave.

Corrosion Inhibitors

Saltwater is harsh on metal components. Having corrosion inhibitors and lubricants will extend the life of these parts and your yacht in general.

16. Spare Electronics: Consider carrying spare essential electronics. We carry a spare depth sounder and some spare NMEA cable and try to have as much redundancy as possible in all our systems

17. Watermaker Spares: If your boat is equipped with a watermaker, having a basic repair kit and spare filters is essential, especially for extended voyages.

20. Spares Inventory and Manuals: Maintain a detailed inventory of all spares and tools, along with manuals for equipment. This organization can save precious time during repairs.

Expanding Your Skillset

Equally important as having a comprehensive kit is the knowledge and ability to use these tools effectively. Investing time in learning basic repair skills, attending workshops, and familiarizing yourself with your vessel’s specific systems will significantly enhance your self-sufficiency at sea. To help with this, Rubicon 3 run courses in marine electricaloutboard repair and service, and even celestial navigation.

Conclusion

A well thought out, comprehensive offshore sailing toolkit and spares kit is crucial to your safety and self-reliance when cruising offshore. By ensuring your vessel is well-equipped with these essential items, you can face the unpredictability of the open ocean with confidence. Remember, the ocean rewards the prepared!

Who we are

Blueco Holdings Ltd, t/a Rubicon 3 Adventure
20 – 22 Wenlock Road, London, N1 7GU

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