A few of the items to consider keeping onboard. Photos/New England Boating, Tom Richardson.

You can solve many boating problems with some of these items. Photos/New England Boating, Tom Richardson.

Here’s a list of 20 items to consider keeping aboard your vessel in case trouble arises on the water or at the ramp.

  1. Portable Jumpstarter: A jumpstarter doesn’t take up much room, and can save the day if your battery dies on the water. You can also play the hero if a fellow boater needs a jump. 
  2. Spare Gas Cap: Losing a gas cap overboard when refueling can be a major headache, especially if rain is forecast. Carry a spare and you’ll be covered.
  3. Spark Plugs: A set of spark plugs (properly gapped for your engine) can get you out of a jam on the water. Keep them in a vacuum-sealed bag to prevent corrosion.
  4. Spare bilge plugs.

    Spare bilge plugs.

    Spare Bilge Plug: Even if you only trailer your boat to the ramp once a season, keeping a spare bilge plug onboard could prevent a real hassle—or worse, should you discover the missing plug while underway.

  5. Heavy Monofilament: A 2’ length of 60- to 100-pound-test monofilament fishing line can be used to clear a clogged telltale port on an outboard if the engine overheats.
  6. Duct Tape: ‘Nuff said. This classic cure-all can be used to repair everything from leaky hoses to damaged hulls.
  7. Lightsticks: Green, red, and white lightsticks can be used as running lights if your existing lights fail. Secure them with….duct tape, of course! 
  8. WD-40: Like duct tape, a can of trusty WD-40 can solve many types of boating problems, from hard-to-loosen hardware to corroded electrical terminals.
  9. Portable Electric Bilge Pump: A portable, battery-powered bilge pump can keep you afloat if your onboard pump fails or is unable to keep up with an emergency leak. Just make sure the batteries are fresh. 
  10. Voltmeter: Useful for tracking down the source of electrical problems, starting with the battery. 
  11. Socket Wrench Set: Indispensable for changing spark plugs. Make sure you have the right socket to fit the plug, preferably with a rubber gasket to keep the plug from falling out as you remove or replace it. Depending on your engine, you may also need an extension to reach the plug.
  12. Fuel Hose Section: A 6” section of 3/8” diameter fuel hose is useful for gripping the end of a spark plug so it can be easily removed or reinstalled without damaging the threads.
  13. Wooden Bungs & Mallet: Available at marine-supply stores in a variety of sizes, conical wooden plugs can be used to fill circular voids caused by broken through-hull fittings or damaged hoses. The mallet is useful for hammering them into the opening. 
  14. Two-Part Epoxy Sticks: Can be used to repair a damaged kayak or canoe on the water, and cures in minutes. Mix the putty and catalyst together and apply with a tongue depressor to the damaged area. 
  15. Jumper Cables: Useful for getting a jumpstart on the water from a fellow boater. Can also be used to link your house and starting batteries for extra juice to crank the engine.
  16. Spare Kill Switch Clip: A backup kill switch clip can save the day if you lose, break or forget your primary clip. 
  17. Engine Pull-Cord (smaller engines only): Keep a pull-cord handy in case the primary pull cord on your outboard breaks, or if you need to start the engine manually due to a broken starter or dead battery.
  18. Engine Manual: Few boaters bother to keep their engine owner’s manual onboard, let alone read it, but it can help you diagnose and sometimes solve a problem on the water. Indeed, most include a “troubleshooting” section, as well as a number to call if you need to speak with a technician.
  19. Fuses: Modern engines often have a variety of fuses to protect their electrical systems. Carry spares in the proper sizes and you could have a simple fix.
  20. Large Screwdriver: Flathead and Phillips-head screwdrivers are useful for all kinds of repairs. Also, a large flathead driver can be used to open the relief-valve screw on the outboard trim/tilt motor if the engine becomes stuck in the raised position.
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