Going Spare – Part 2

As I said in Going Spare: Part 1, a lot depends on the age and type of yacht you have. If you have a relatively new yacht, you can expect to need fewer spares. That expectation however has to take account of the commitment of the crew to carry out daily, weekly and monthly checks. The diligence of the crew will directly relate to how easily these checks can be carried out, the keyword here is accessibility. If you have to move bunk cushions, take off panels and then crane your neck into a tight space just to see whatever is supposed to be checked, it’s unlikely to be checked properly, if at all.

That is why we will not build a Kraken of any size without a dedicated engine and equipment room.  I’ll cover my daily and monthly checklist next month.

In terms of the age of the vessel, it must be accepted that mechanical and electrical equipment on a yacht doesn’t last forever but whilst many people think, the more you use the equipment the sooner the equipment will wear out or break, the opposite is in fact true. The more equipment is used the longer it will last, as long as you carry out checks and servicing.

In all the yachts I have owned I have noticed a seven-year cycle when at least a semi refit of key equipment will need to be undertaken to keep everything running in tip-top condition. For a voyaging yacht, a commitment to trying to keep her in tip-top condition is the only mindset that works.

The next consideration is how far ‘off-grid’ will you be going?

Off-grid by my definition is a sliding scale. Entry-level off-grid is determined, these days, by coming up with nothing for a google search of your yachts generator service agents, and when you only have distant memories of yacht marinas! Mid ‘off grid’ will be if you’re fortunate enough to be able to locate a local mechanic that the locals use to fix tractors or the local ferry. Full off-grid is where there are no tractors or ferries, let alone someone to fix them.

The best designed and properly fitted out cruising yachts will have levels of redundancy in their key or vital equipment systems. These redundancy levels will turn a critical failure into an inconvenience.

In deepest darkest Papua New Guinea a nearby lightning strike in the bay I was anchored in took out both my Raymarine GPS plotters. The one below at the nav station still worked but without positioning, so we swapped it out with the one in the cockpit helm, so we had chart function. Then we taped a handheld Garmin GPS to the console and used that to generate a position and plotted a series of waypoints onto the chart screen of the Raymarine plotter.

One of my crew said he didn’t understand why I was so concerned about the accuracy of our position since he knew I had sailed many thousands of miles using charts and a sextant. I told him that the places one chooses to sail must be determined by the navigators’ ability to determine if they are sailing into undue risk to the vessel. I would never have dreamed of sailing into areas as poorly charted as PNG but at least with a GPS plotted track I could get myself out of trouble by turning around and retracing my track. It was laborious to keep updating the electronic chart with our waypoints but by doing that, and sometimes backing up and retracing our track, we successfully navigated through PNG for nearly three months. I now carry two handheld GPS, one of which is kept in a lead-lined box!

The third fallback plan to the scenario above is paper charts and a handheld GPS and the fourth is back to my sextant and head for the open ocean.

Think carefully about the spares you need to carry in context of where you’re going and for how long.

I’ve listed spares parts in two designations. Must have always, and might have if going off-grid, these are marked in red.

Main Engine

2x Oil filters – or more dependent on time in off-grid


2x Engine Fuel filters – or 4 or more if you’re off-grid and your vessel doesn’t have a fuel polishing system

3x Air filters
Note: Don’t try to wash these out in diesel. One of my crew did this on the generator of White Dragon and it caused pieces/particles of the filter to be sucked into the heads of the cylinders! Very expensive, but at least we save 10€ on a filter eh?

3x Sets of Engine anodes

3x Fan belts

4x Water pump impellers

1x Alternator

1x Starter motor 

1x Engine oil – enough for an oil change every three months subject to where you are going

1x Gearbox oil – enough for one change

5lts of engine coolant, concentrated

Complete spare set of whatever sensors there are on the engine


For the generator I recommend the same items listed above for the main engine but if you’re going off-grid I would also take a spare water pump and gaskets to fit.


1x Main rudder bearing

1x Stuffing gland material 12” (30 cm)

Hoses & pipes

Nowadays most engines have moulded hoses but unless you have every single one you can be sure you will not have the right one! It will be very expensive to carry every hose for your engine so check through your boat and buy one metre of every size you have onboard. Make sure every hose can fit inside each one so you can step down and create a hose that has differentials in diameters.


5-micron water filters + 5 more if going off-grid

Watermaker cleaning chemicals

Watermaker pickling chemicals

A full set of sensors, if your watermaker has them (for voyaging off-grid you need a water maker that does not have sensors. A Kraken Hydromaster for example)

Oil – to top up the hi-pressure pump, 1lt is sufficient for 5 years, or until service

Service set for watermaker high-pressure pump.


If you have cable steering you should carry a pair of replacement steering cables.

Drive Shaft

Spare shaft seal

Note: At Kraken, we fit a spare shaft seal on the prop shaft ready to be swapped out for the old one that has failed, since you cannot fit a new prop shaft seal without disengaging the shaft from the sigma drive or gearbox. This can be a lifesaver, so do it next time you
haul out.

Sail handling

2x Spare halyards

1x Spare reefing line

2x Spare genoa sheets

1x Rope for lashing. 6-8mm 25m


Other Ancillaries

2x Bilge pumps

1x Water pressure pump

6x Fuses (of each onboard)

6x Navigation light bulbs

Bulbs for cockpit lights/interior lights

As I said at the start, you will never have every part you need, but you should have the important parts that will hopefully avert disaster and at least minimize inconvenience.

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