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Just for fun the other day, I ran a little poll on the Zero to Cruising Facebook page asking readers the question “what were the last three tools that you used on your boat?” Interestingly to me, several people listed a crescent wrench. It was interesting because I had just gotten finished using a big 15″ crescent wrench myself (to open a seized shackle — a different story altogether), but even more so because, while I do keep a few crescent wrenches of various sizes on the boat, I seldom ever use them. I tend to think of adjustable wrenches as tools to use when you don’t have a properly-sized box-end wrench (spanner for the Brits, or Grenadians). Given the number of crescent wrench responses, perhaps I am mistaken?

I love this socket set!

On the subject of tools, I’d like to say how much I love the socket set pictured here. I have a couple different socket sets on the boat but this one, manufactured in Germany, includes among other useful things, sockets up to 32mm! When we were in St. Maarten picking up our new tender I took note that the mechanic at Budget Marine was using this particular set. He told me how perfect it was for him so with that recommendation, we asked our friend Bas to source one for us. Thanks, Bas!

While most things on the boat are small (10mm seems to be a popular size), there is the odd item that is much larger, hence the need for big wrenches and sockets. I remember a particular cruiser going boat to boat in Cane Garden Bay asking to borrow a large socket because his boat’s prop was coming off. Only we had a socket large enough to help him (from the set pictured above). In this case, size did matter!


  1. Since I am sure someone will ask: BGS Technic, set #2296. The full line of their sets can be found on their web site, here:

    Hard to get in the US, although I believe they can be ordered on Amazon Germany. We bought our induction cooktop that way, and, since I don’t speak German, I muddled through the process using Google Translate. Once my order was placed, the folks in Germany communicated with me via email in perfect English.

  2. Yes! that is a lovely set. I have a similar one, but not as nice, and two others one of which is imperial sizes that I rarely need nowadays, but others keep on borrowing.

    Sockets and ring spanners have always been the first choices. Followed by open jaw spanners. Then the ever useful adjustables. However if you exert REAL force on an adjustable then the jaws tend to splay open and it is never as good again.

    Cheers. I’m glad to see you are enjoying posting again (tongue in cheek!)


  3. Yes, I agree about getting the correct sized wrench as the preferred choice over an adjustable. However, what I’ll sometimes find is that I’ll be going into a spot where I know I’ll need a wrench but not quite sure of the size until I get myself (often wedged) in there. So in preparation I’ll carry an adjustable and sometimes can go ahead and get the job done in ‘one take’.

    Another common scenario for me is when I’ll need opposing wrenches and the bolt head/nut are the same size in which case it’s faster to grab a fixed wrench + the adjustable for the other side.

    That’s a nice looking tool set you’ve got there!

  4. Hi Mike,

    I think I need a set. Can you tell me who make them? I will try to order via the web as I am not near a Budget Marine. Thanks

  5. Mike,
    What measures do you use to try and keep corrosion at bay with your tools and any other items (everything metal) functional. It seems like power tools would be especially hard to maintain in that environment.

    • I frequently spray or wipe down the tools with an anti corrosive (Corrosion X, for example). If they get rusty, as the above set did after getting splashed with salt water, I clean them first with something like Ospho.

  6. Definitely on my list. Right now I have a simple socket set but have found I need a more complete selection of metric sockets to service my Yanmar diesel.

    Check out my new sailing blog: Would love a link-back if you like it!

  7. I’m in the process of commissioning a new boat I’ll have in the spring. I like the set. My only question is the need for the star tools. I haven’t seen anyone mention that for boat tools before.

    • Intestingly the screws holding the end cap onto the boom on ZTC are star. I think I’ve seen them a couple of other times too althouigh I can’t recall specifically where.

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