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One Tool Box Is Never Enough

If you’re planning a big job on your boat, you’re going to be using a number of tools and other items. You’ll be using stuff devoted to electrics—you know, like a multimeter, a terminal crimper, cable ties, a collection of spade, ring, and snap-plug connectors—and other things for fiberglass and its repair, like bottles of epoxy resin and hardener, acetone, woven roving and a passel of adhesives and caulking materials. And you’ll most likely need mechanical stuff like wrenches, sockets and screwdrivers.

You get the idea here, I’m sure.

tool boxes

Having the right tool for the job only works if you can find it.

Just recently I had the opportunity to visit a boat rehab project whose maestro had, over time, without any apparent premeditation on his part, mixed and marinated all the above-mentioned paraphernalia within his boat in the same way that a chef combines and tosses the ingredients of a salad in a giant mixing bowl. Indeed, a hanging locker on the guy’s boat was literally overflowing with a mélange of paint cans, wrenches, faucets, tubes of polysulfide adhesive, rubber gloves, and outdated operator’s manuals.

The result? As you’d imagine, the sizable and truly significant project the poor guy had embarked upon was suffering in two serious ways. First, just finding the appropriate tool or product was immensely time consuming for him—so he’d gotten way behind schedule and was beginning to feel some financial pressure due to his time and cost overruns. And then, a cloud of frustration was gathering over the guy’s head quite ominously, primarily because he was wearing himself out and driving himself crazy by having to constantly paw through his boat looking for an item he’d already had to hunt down a hundred times before.

Is there a fix for such a grim scenario? Yes, there is—multiple toolboxes, each labeled in precise accord with its contents. And heck, we’re not talking gold-plated equipment here. We’re talking relatively small, inexpensive, plastic boxes that are often seen on sale at the local hardware store, which you label with designations like “Electrics” and “Plumbing,” using a Sharpie.

A word to the wise, however. Before you run out and buy a bunch of plastic toolboxes or storage containers (with lids) and begin filling them—and indeed, before you even begin work on your big, boat-related project—sit down and clearly inventory all the tools and other paraphernalia you have on board. And then, with just as much calm and clarity, sort each item into the appropriate box and stow or stack all the boxes in some central, convenient location. Will doing all this cost you some extra time at the onset of your big project? Most certainly. But you’ll make it up in spades as things progress. And, with any luck, you’ll manage to accomplish what you set out to do without even coming close to driving yourself nuts.