Going Spare – Part 1

I was once told, when I didn’t have whatever spare part I needed; “ I don’t understand why you don’t just go through the whole boat from bow to stern and then get a spare for everything that could break.”

That would have required us to tow a complete Tayana 58 behind us!

However many spares you carry, you can be sure the one spare you haven’t got is the one you need! A good inventory of spares can often make the difference between a successful cruise and a difficult one.

You don’t need to be able to fit all of the spares I recommend you carry, but having a replacement part on board will be the first part of the battle.

Often a part may need to be flown to you, which then involves customs. When I was in Bali, customs held a replacement jib I needed for 8 weeks in an effort to extort ‘duty’ from me, despite the fact that duty and VAT are not payable for a yacht or ship in transit.

Make sure you wrap and seal any mechanical or electrical items in a shrink wrap or zip-lock type bag and give it a good spray over with WD40 or similar before you seal it. Then put a tag or label on it saying what’s inside and put the date on it. That isn’t so you know when it’s out date, it’s so when you’re looking for other items you know when you put stuff in the locker! Then put a label on the locker door listing what is inside, if it’s cabinetry put the sticker on the inside of the door.

The next step is to add it to an inventory list, preferably one that categorizes spares by section, then put the date it was added. Make sure you note where you have hidden stored it.

You will be amazed how long it can take you to find the bit of kit you’ve stored in the ‘I’m sure I’ll remember where I’ve put this’ locker’ 

The extent of the spares you should carry can depend on where you are going to cruise and for how long, at least to some extent. If you are living aboard as you cruise, you might as well have all of the kit now, rather than later. So I’ve cut the spares inventory into two; disposables and replacement parts.

The first base with a spares kit is the disposables you carry.

On White Dragon, I have a small plastic tool/carry box for each of the following:


2x rolls of Gaffer/Duct tape 50mm

2x Gorilla patch and seal tape 100mm

2x rolls of amalgamating tape (check that the brand you chose does actually amalgamate, some don’t in my experience)

2x Plumbers tape, this is 40-50mm wide wet greased tape (useful to put around any leaky pipe as a temporary repair)

6x rolls of electrical tape

1x roll of double-sided tape (it’s useful to hold something in place while you secure it)

2x rolls of PTFE tape

2x rolls ‘blue’ masking tape (25mm)

Adhesives & sealants

2x Two-part epoxy glue (fast and slow setting)

2x Gorilla glue

2x Super Glue thin

2x Super Glue thick

2x Contact glue

1x PVA glue

2x packs Superfast two part epoxy putty, underwater

2x Tubes of Sikaflex 291i or similar marine sealant

2x Tubes of Silicon sealant


1x tub of Hi Heat Grease (lithium)

2x tubes of marine grease with applicator nozzles

1x tube of Silicon grease

General Items

Cable Ties
The inventor of cable ties should have a special place in every cruiser heart.

Keep all sizes and lengths on board and plenty of them.

Note: It’s a good idea to have different colour cable ties for colour coding pipes or cables, especially when disassembling something!

Bare Copper Wire
One small coil of bare copper wire 1mm or a bit thinner. This will be very useful to wrap around a tube or pipes if you can’t fit a jubilee clamp. Cinch up by twisting. You’ll find a hundred and one uses for this. Bonsai wire is ideal!

Jubilee Clamps
Box S/S only minimum 12 x of each size of all sizes from 10-30mm 6 x 35- 100mm. Check the size of the biggest flexible pipe onboard and make sure you’ve got some big enough to fit.

Box Assorted S/S self-tapping

Box of S/S nuts and bolts from 12 each x 5-8mm, 6 each x 10mm-12mm, I x 30mm

S/S threaded rod 8mm and 10mm + 6 nuts for each

Box of S/S assorted flat S/S and spring washers, various sizes to fit the bolts above.

Sprays & Oils

WD40 or equivalent.

Silicon spray.

Enamel Red spray paint; for marking the anchor chain.

Enamel White spray paint enamel.

Diesel 2lts + of in a can. This is to top up the racor type filler chamber when changing fuel filters.


Connectors 1 x box of assorted size male and female connections, check the type used on your boat.

Shrink sleeves 2 lengths (30cm) of shrink sleeves of say three diameters large medium and small.

Cable 3 or 4 5m coils of electrical cable, different diameters, single and double core

Sails & Rigging

Self-adhesive patches of different weight sailcloth. Long strips 2m x 20cm as well as a large piece 1m2

Sailmakers Palm
Used for pushing needles or bodkins through your work when doing very heavy weight stitching jobs on the sail.

Sailmakers thread, UV proof

Large sailmakers needle x6

2m UV proof 25mm wide webbing; to replace a clew or reefing cringle.

Super Glue (used to bind the thread if your sewing skills are less than perfect)

Drill Bits
Small 0.5 x 6 drill bits. Modern sailcloth is tough stuff to effect a cringle repair it will be unlikely you can push a needle through it, so I use a portable electric drill to make the holes. You’ll probably break a few.

Split pins box of S/S different lengths and sizes and a box of split rings of S/S split rings of different sizes

This is by no means an exhaustive list of disposables. It will vary depending on the peculiarities of your boat.

We would be delighted to hear your suggestions of spares and kit, please contact us at:


Part 2 in next months issue: Replacement Spare Parts

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