There is a difference between what we carry and what we need. Most people carry too much weight and only use the bare minimum items that they deem necessary. The items listed in this article are the absolute bare essentials, without which you would be dead in the water as a marine engineer. So take heed because these things will make your day-to-day job more accessible, whether that means by catching more fish or carrying more weight on your back.
Items Every Marine Engineer Cannot Live Without:
A Sturdy Backpack
The bag should provide ample room for all of your work materials and be comfortable carrying for hours at a time while you fish or work around the boat.
A Waterproof Notebook
This is my daily journal. I write down everything from my thoughts to the speed of the boat and any observations about the weather patterns. A waterproof notebook can keep your thoughts organized and prevent you from losing valuable information that might be useful during an investigation or at sea.
A Channel Knife
This multi-use knife is excellent for cutting rope knots, cable, stray fishing line, and just about anything else you need cut on the spot. The channel knife also has a screwdriver on one end and a saw blade on another so that it can satisfy more than one purpose.
This item is a must in any marine engineer’s toolbox. Whether you’re in a total blackout or simply trying to change a light bulb in the engine room, you’ll always need a flashlight when working onboard. Of course, the type of flashlight you choose is up to you, but I recommend something from Fenix or Mag-Lite when it comes to reliability and durability.
A Standard Multi-Tool Knife
There are many different types of multi-tool knives, but all have pros and cons. Some have pliers, some have saws, and some have scissors. The most helpful tool for me is the plier option because I use it the most. Also, having both the pliers and knife on one instrument makes it more practical than carrying two different tools. The best multi-tool knives by Gerber are the MP600, MP700, MP800, and MP900. I carry around an MP600 because it is affordable but still reliable. These knives have pliers, a knife blade, screwdrivers, and sometimes even a saw included with them.
A High-Quality Compass
This tool is one of my favorites for day-to-day use. There are so many different compasses out there, so you can choose whichever one fits your needs best. I prefer a compass that has an easy-to-read dial and a mirror for easy reflection and aiming. The best compass out there is the Silva Ranger. It is very affordable and features a mirror, which will allow you to see your bearing and aim your bearings accordingly easily.
A Fishing Rod Holder
This is my personal favorite for storing my fishing rods. It keeps them organized, upright, and ready to be pulled at any time. The type of rod holder you choose is up to your needs, but I recommend something that has multiple slots for different types of rods. This way you won’t have to look for the right one if you have two or three rods on hand. The best rod holder out there is the Stearns Rod Holder System. It has a rubber grip making it easy on your hands when pulling the rod out of the holder. There are many different options with this holder but I prefer the Deluxe System, mainly because it has the most slots.
An LED Headlamp
This is my absolute favorite tool for working on the boat at night or in dark areas. It provides hands-free operation so you can work with both of your hands without having to hold any extra equipment. There are many different types of headlamps out there so choose one that is comfortable and also meets your needs. Quality, comfort, and ease of use are the main characteristics that I look for in a headlamp. The best headlamp by Fenix would be the HL60R. It’s very affordable, comfortable, lightweight, and very bright.
When it comes to maintenance and repairs, the tools you use will vary from situation to situation depending on what you’re repairing and where you’re repairing. Here is a list of the most commonly used tools:
- Basic Pliers: Phillips head and slot screwdrivers (flat and straight)
- Hex/Allen wrenches (specifically for different bolts)
- Torque wrench (for tightening down bolts after using the wrench above)
- Digital Calipers (for measuring bolt lengths and monitor them as they stretch over time.
- Plastic ruler for measuring lengths.
- Small file (to make adjustments on bolts after tightening down with a torque wrench)
- Multimeter (for checking wiring, battery voltages, fuse box connections, etc. )
- Wire cutters (to quickly cut wires)
- Soldering Iron (for soldering connections)
- Set of common sized replacement wires Grease Pencils/Chalk markers (to mark where to drill holes for running new wires. A set of basic drill bits for drilling holes in the boat.
- Some Electrical tape Electrical wire
- A wire stripper – for stripping the ends of wires before soldering or connecting them with wire nuts
- Plastic spade connectors – For easy wiring connections between the heavy-duty wire and light-duty wire, etc. Also can be used to connect the cable to cable clamps.
- Corrosion resistance wire ties – Easy way to quickly connect wires together, secure wires, etc. This is also the best way to secure wires, so they don’t move around during rough weather.
- Cable ties – For securing wires or cords to prevent them from twisting or moving around. Also can be used for securing cables to decking or other parts.
- Ring terminals are quick and easy to hook up the wiring (use off-set ring terminals), etc.
Having the above tools in your toolbox will save time during any operation.
There are other useful tools out there, but you will find that many of these tools can be used for different tasks at different times.
This is just an example list of basic tools that every owner should have on hand at all times. These items can be stored in a toolbox or drawer, while others like the fishing rod holder need to be stored in the rod locker to protect them from the elements. The type of storage toolbox you choose is up to you, but make sure it is water-resistant if it is placed outside.
It is important to be prepared for anything at any time. For example, you never know when you might have to make a repair or do some maintenance on the boat, so carrying around the proper tools will ensure that you are able to get the job done with ease.