Proper care and preventive maintenance on your boat will eliminate many emergency repairs. It is the nature of boats, however, to break down when you least want them to. Being innovative in your approach to repairs is essential.

A few, well suited hand tools such as wrenches, screwdrivers, a hammer, vise-grips and pliers should be in your tool kit. Many marine stores sell tool kits in water-proof, floating boxes that are small, compact and convenient. You should also have a selection of basic spare parts. These should include belts, spark plugs, points, assorted hoses, fuel filters, impellers, etc.

When making repairs do not stand up in your boat. The wake of a passing boat while you are disabled and not paying attention could cause you to go overboard.

The following are some examples of emergency repairs:

  • If your engine stalls, start from the obvious and work toward the more complicated solution.
    • Do you have fuel?
    • Have you run aground?
    • Has the propeller fouled with line?
    • Is the engine overheated due to no water flow?
  • Should you have a broken drive belt and not have a spare, you can fashion one temporarily from some small line, the draw string from a bathing suit or a pair of ladies hose. Tie the ends together tightly with a square knot.
  • If you are losing engine oil, find the leak, catch the oil in a container and continue to pour back into the engine until you can fix the leak.
  • You can repair a broken hose or pipe with rags or a tee shirt tied tightly with a line or a belt. (Or duct tape may work.)
  • If you are taking on water, first find the source. You should carry on board assorted sizes of tapered wooden plugs or bungs. If the water is coming from a through-hull opening or small hole, use the appropriate plug to jam into the opening. If the hole is large, use pillows, clothing, or blankets to stuff the damaged area.