When we first “Sold Up and Sailed Off”, I parted with a lot of tools. Some clearly had no place on a sailboat, like the radial arm saw and drill press, but some were hard decisions. Just how much use would I get out of a router on a boat? The router and all the expensive bits I had collected over the years were reluctantly sold. I pared my tool set down to the bare minimum – maybe a couple hundred pounds of only the most “essential” tools.
As with most things, there are lots of differing philosophies as to how many tools one should have aboard. I met one cruiser who was crossing the Pacific with nothing more than a $39 K-Mart handyman tool set. I carry more tools than that on a long dinghy ride. On the other hand, I know a cruiser who converted a cabin into a workshop, complete with lathe, drill press and welding equipment. He's a single-hander – which is what I would probably become if I converted our forward cabin into a workshop.
Over the years, I have acquired enough tools beyond what we started with to measurably raise the water line. I have a rather large toolbox with tools just for keeping the boat running. I have lots of specialized tools that were purchased for a particular use, like the 15/16” deep well socket that fits the rear port side engine mount or the 28mm spanner that fits the nut on the front of the engine. I have tools for all of the various systems aboard – carpentry, carving, plumbing, electrical, electronic, refrigeration, metal working, fiberglass, engine repair, rigging, etc. Sometimes I acquire a new tool that is essential in making a repair. Most times it's cheaper to buy the tools to do a job than it is to hire a service technician.
A large number of my tools found their way out of their hiding places for the refrigeration redo. Three of the power tools in particular have really gotten a workout. The first is my Makita saber saw. It is one of the tools that was in the “essential” category and came with us when we first moved aboard. It has gotten a lot of use over the years and on this project especially.
The second most used tool on this project is my Ryobi Multi-tool. The cutting attachment was invaluable for removing the teak trim with minimal damage, and I used it for most of the demolition work. The sanding attachment also saw many hours of use in faring and shaping the new hatches and frames.
The third most used power tool is my router and laminate trimmer. That old router that I painfully parted with all those years ago, and which I thought would never get used aboard Nine of Cups, has been replaced. The new one is much smaller and more compact than the old one. It and the necessary attachments cost far less than the original, so replacing it wasn't actually all that painful.
One final comment about tools and I'll get back to work. Clamps – you can never have too many clamps.
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