It is a rainy grey day here, the first week of 2020. I am listening to some SRV and looking forward to the new boating season. This coming season will be a new experience for us as we split boating time between Long Island and Lake Ontario, and maybe extend the season some by heading down to the Annapolis area.
Our 1999 30’ Pursuit is under wraps on the North Fork, ready to go. We now have a new 2020 21 Boston Whaler waiting for us on the South Fork, our first new boat. The Whaler is the boat that will be traveling about. My wife’s cousin grew up on the east end of Lake Ontario and has a cottage there still. Sometime this summer we will get the Whaler up there and start exploring some. I believe our first big trip there will be to the Thousand Island area, and Boldt Castle. Located in Alexandria Bay on the St. Lawrence River, the castle was started in 1900 by George C. Boldt of Waldorf Astoria Hotel fame. In 1904 his wife, Louise suddenly died and the project was abandoned. In 1977, after over 70 years of neglect, the castle was taken over by the Thousand Island Bridge Authority and it has been restored to its former glory and opened to the public.
I have hopes that my wife will enjoy operating the Whaler. When we are out on the Pursuit I always ask her if she would like to take the helm and most of the time she declines. She is a little intimidated by the Pursuit. Hopefully, the Whaler will be more to her liking.
After taking delivery in April, I will trailer the boat home to install my new electronics. Nothing complicated: a simple 9 inch MFD with a depth finder and transom mount transducer and a VHF radio. I still have not decided what or how to mount the antenna for the radio, but when the boat is here I can figure that out.
But all of this has me thinking, what tools will I need to install this gear, and what tools and spares should I carry in the tool box for the boat? Do you have a tool box on your boat, just in case? Even if you are not mechanically inclined, some simple tools can help you out of a jam, or maybe whoever comes to help you could use them on your boat.
I would start out with a small plastic tool box so it will not rust and stain wherever you store it. Stock it with a flashlight, electrical tape, some latex gloves, and some wire ties. Then add in both types of screw drivers (flat tip and Phillips), pliers and vise grips, an adjustable wrench, and a set of wrenches, metric and SAE depending on what you need. How about a pair of wire strippers/crimpers with some crimp on electrical fittings for small electrical repairs. Mechanical fingers, the kind that let you reach into tight spaces out of reach, are worth their weight in gold! Of course, there are many other additions for a tool box, and as time goes on you can add to yours as you find the need.
Over the 19 years of owning our boat I have put together a relatively small tool box with a mix of tools that enable me to take care of any small repairs while out on the water. I do carry a spare raw water pump impeller as well as drive belts, fuses and light bulbs, and a spare fuel injector. You never know when you might need to make a repair to get home. With the new boat coming, I have to put together another tool box anticipating what I may need.
Not that I have a problem supplying my own tools. My first real job, besides cutting grass one summer (I was 12 years old) at a family friend’s house to pay for my new Schwinn 10 speed, was the U.S. Coast Guard. There I was trained as an engineer on search and rescue boats. After boot camp, I was sent to Yorktown Virginia for Machinery Technician School, designated MK School. Throughout the Coast Guard, the joke is that the MK stands for “motor killer”! Knowing practically nothing about machinery, I learned a tremendous amount about the subject matter including welding, hydraulic systems, electrical systems, etc. My very first job when stationed at Governors Island? I spent a good part of that first, very hot summer at base industrial, removing bolts from about 10 old 40 foot steel boats that would be scrapped. I also helped to strip down to a bare hull and rebuild a couple of other steel 40s that were assigned to the boat pool. That was in 1975; these boats were built in the 50s and showed their age! You know how they knew when these boats had outlived their lifespan? When the deck force was scraping paint off the hull and the paint scraper went through it! Any tools I needed outside of my government issue tool box to help me accomplish these jobs I could check out from the tool room.
I left the service in 1978, taking my second real job as a diesel mechanic in College Point NY. I went out and purchased a nice set of tools from Sears that still serve me well to this day. In fact, I think they are of better quality than what I see available today. Over the years I have had a couple of other jobs requiring tools as well. Have you ever seen those giant doors that partition school gymnasiums? I worked for a man that repaired those one summer as I studied for my Captain's License. I worked for an oil spill clean-up company as both a mechanic and boat captain. Over time I added to my inventory of tools, and since retiring I still enjoy taking care of all the machinery we have: cars, boats, lawnmowers and our house. You can never have too many tools. But this year my family gave me a new tool box and I actually bought another one because I ran out of space to store them all.