Date: 6 October 2013. Organizing Your Tools.
Aboard Seaweed, like all other homes afloat having tools
available is important and having said items convenient to access makes
life ever so much simpler. Originally when I moved on board I had a
fool-proof storage system ready to go. Then, because that was not working well for me in practice I changed it. Much of
life when you're first aboard your home full time is spent moving things
so if you're not expecting it, well, every little thing can begin to seem
overwhelming. Life afloat isn't always like that however you'll need
patience at first for certain, and a large helping of humor always helps when stuff
isn't quite as you'd imagined!
Finding the right spot for your gear changes over time.
Expect to move things until you discover what works best for you aboard
My first advice to all boaters is to put
Yes, I know I'm fanatical about that and in a not too
distant future you'll see the advantages too. As I tucked my tools away I
was sure my stowage system was perfect. Alas my system had some blips and
was not nearly as practical as I'd thought in advance -- not even close.
And this is with 50+ years of family boat ownership so I thought I had it
all worked out. When you come aboard give yourself time and latitude to
get things right and know that eventually it will all be fine. As for self, smugness does not become me
'cause sure as shooting I do get my lessons in humility. And humor!
At the beginning of this journey (5.5 years into it now) I
used far more nuts and bolts and my screw driver/drill use was a constant
plus the jig saw was very handy. No doubt unless you've lucked into a boat
that's been a home, when you first move to your home you'll find storage
spots that seem so obvious though access to said locker space is either
difficult or impractical for daily use.
That's where my boat buddies aboard Freebird helped. Marsha
and Kenny (aka Muscles) became friends as we endeavored to make our homes
more comfortable. Theirs is a beamy Freedom30. In any event Muscles helped
me and above is one of the most useful cut-outs he created. It's in the
end of the bench seat that faces the companionway in the galley. That's
the forward bench and behind that locker door is my easily accessed tool
Like most (all?) boats with dinette seating, there's a
large lift out cover from the top into the space, but who wants to shift
cushions and pillows each time you want a screwdriver? The locker created
is dedicated to tools, my
Calder's Mechanical and Electrical Manual
along with paperwork. And it's perfection indeed.
From bottom to top, this is what I've got loaded in a tiny
24" wide locker space:
At the bottom in an old shoe box are my leftover and spare
plumbing supplies. At one time there were more but as the boat has come
together they have shrunk in size to the smallest box. As you can see in
front are a few ends of rolls of sand paper, some
Copper Coat Gasket Compound,
flat black paint
(for the window trims and stove*)
Chapman's on the left and
Calder's on the right. Note too the
brass spray nozzle
-- that kind lasts longest and stows easily in a small
*Aside re the stove and
Rustoleum paint: The stovetop on Seaweed was corroded and not too great looking and flat black was on hand so I painted
it. No, it's not perfect but does look a darn sight better and at some
point perhaps I'll run across another stove and replace mine. In the
meantime it works and that's most important to me.
Two more things about propane stoves: The ones for boats have two
burners in front and one in the back (generally) however the ones made for
RVs have the reverse: two burners in back and one in the front. Seaweed
came with the latter and frankly I like it better. Of course mine's not
gimbaled. Just something to think about if you have to buy a stove -- and
as a cook rather than a chef, I find two burners are quite sufficient! The
third in the front does fit nicely my
stove-top oven though so...!
This container, an old sweater box, has all the hand tools
that are used on occasion. Because I don't use them so often they are
lower in the stack. There is a lid so it nicely supports the next box,
which doesn't have a top but was free so obviously works well and is
within my budget. Yes, the safety goggles (those yellow things you can't
see through) are history but one thing that I'll always have aboard is
-- sitting right in front in the left corner. When you need it you had
better have some.
This level features many of tools when working with power.
wire strippers are great -- one
of my favorites and definitely a recommendation if you don't have a decent
pair. I've used mine for three years and though the cutter part is getting
nicked, they work very well. I don't loan these out so buy your own pair.
(mine at least) have had a hard life and need replacement though I've yet
to pick up a new set. For me having a small group that will work is better
than having a huge kit that can create the perfect size hole. Seaweed is a
boat, not a yacht! Still, it's the 1/4" bits that are used most frequently
and break fastest. I wish I'd been smart enough to pick up more of that
The most used tools are at the top of the stack. Note that
the Philips head screw driver is on the left and the Standard is on the
right. That's because P is before S in the alphabet and in the dark when
reaching in I know which is which. This simple formula is also
followed in the drawer with my next size smaller Philips and standard
screw drivers. Their handles match too so placement is important. I've
seen some who have only blue for Phillips and red handles for standard --
another system that works well.
Next to the tape measure is a
Crow Foot Wrench
-- a new-to-me tool that proved its worth when the keyway (square 5/16"
bronze, replaced with stainless) that holds my shaft to the transmission
sheared. There are two square-ended bolts that go into the coupling and
hold the shaft in place. That Crows foot fit on my 3/8" drive ratchet and
made it possible for me to tighten them down securely. I paid $10 for one
-- needed it, what can I say? Of course now I see sets available for not
One last handy-to-have (and I didn't when I started this
journey) item is a universal socket joint. Mine's above the crowfoot and
what it does is allow multiple twists in between your ratchet and socket.
On my boat that flexibility was crucial in tightening the bolts that hold
on the valve cover. Don't ask about how I know that -- it's ugly, and
Universal Joint Kit
is what I should have bought instead of the $10 I paid for the 1/4" drive,
and I'd would now have a 3/8" drive. 20/20 hindsight strikes again.
As you can see, everything fits nice and tidy into one
small 24" wide locker space. Of course every girl needs a
Mine's not the best, but it is inexpensive and works!
With everything put away I can sit back and enjoy
the day. Keeping tools tidy means they are always available at a
moments notice. Thanks to Kenny on Freebird I have a great location
for my tools that is easy to access and perhaps have given you an idea
for your own boat. Happy Cruising!
Are there any hand tools you wouldn't be without?
What nifty access points have you created to make storage easier?
In the Bilges,
Shooting Star ~
Previous Post ...
... Next Post ~
Tricks and Treats