What Spares to Take Cruising?

If you’re planning to go cruising, you’re confronting the age old dilemna – what spares do we take?  Since our current spares inventory is less than what we left the US with originally, we tried to recall everything we had aboard & what we used.

Anchored off Glovers Reef Atoll, Belize

Anchored off Glovers Reef Atoll, Belize

Every boat and everyone’s list will be different, but click below for a free downloadable PDF file with our list.  Hopefully it will provide a thought starter when you’re compiling your own spares.

Prior to leaving the US (while cruising the coast between Annapolis and Southwest Florida) we didn’t keep any spares other than spare fuel filters, oil and oil filters and anything the prior owner had left aboard (which wasn’t much because he was a daysailer only).

Dismantling to Replace the Bearings on the KISS Wind Generator

Dismantling to Replace the Bearings on the KISS Wind Generator

When we decided to sail to the Western Caribbean, the challenge changed.  At the time, our trusty Nanni Kubota diesel was almost 20 years old.  Our diesel mechanic (a cruiser himself) advised us to take all the marinized parts for a diesel – his contention was that while the marinized parts may fail, the diesel is the Energizer Bunny personified, it just keeps on going.  Experience now tells us that was good advice, after going through several alternators, several salt water pumps, a thermostat, a couple exhaust elbows, and more.

Our theory was backups for every system.  That included spares as well as other types of backups.

Want to skip to the downloadable PDF? Click here!

Winterlude Spare Parts Inventory

For your own boat, when compiling your list, think Captain Ron.  “If it can go wrong, it WILL go wrong out there.

Ah, yep!  I recall one time standing in a well-stocked Ace Hardware store in Belize City, not really needing anything.  Both of us looked around in amazement (after being out of the US for a few months, we found we weren’t used to the amount of STUFF and bright lights in that store!).  Both of us chuckled and said — too bad we don’t know what’s going to go wrong next, we should stock up now. 🙂

Our trusty 30 hp 4 cyl Nanni Kubota diesel - note the extra racor water/fuel separator before the fuel filter and the vacuum gauge altering us that the filter needs changing.

Our trusty 30 hp 4 cyl Nanni Kubota diesel – note the extra racor water/fuel separator before the fuel filter and the vacuum gauge altering us that the filter needs changing.

Think through all your systems and think about ANYTHING that could break and what you would do if it did.  In some cases we stocked complete plug and play new – for example, the pressure water pumps and the Smart Regulator.  In other cases, we stocked components.

And don’t forget, to check for every tool that might be needed to dissasemble (or reassemble) something.  It’s amazing how much stuff needs a “special tool” – NavPods, etc.

Here are some examples, a more complete list is on the downloadable PDF

Diesel – filters filters filters, extra alternator, salt & fresh water pumps, injectors, exhaust elbow …. more

Outboard – pull strings, external inline fuel filter for hose, sparkplugs, extra propeller … and more

Honda 2000 – feet, carburetor parts, sparkplug, funnels to drain and “winterize” while we’re gone … more

Autopilots – spare parts as well as a full replacement for the Raytheon ST4000+, not known for reliability – we’re on our 3rd …

Pressurized Water

Spectra Watermaker

Solar/Wind Generator

Magma Grill

Raritan Head

Plus so much miscellaneous stuff, we lowered the waterline … again.  Extra shackles, connections of all kinds, spare line, spare electrical connections, different sizes of spare wire, spare hoses, LOTS of hose clamps in all sizes, plugs for our seacocks, on & on & on.

Anchored Behind the Reef, Belize

Anchored Behind the Reef, Belize

The key is to think through everything on your boat and make sure you can disassemble it to replace worn parts AND that you have the spares to replace anything you can imagine that might wear out.

One last thought … depending on where you’re cruising, it may not be possible to just have something overnighted in.  When we were cruising the Western Caribbean, it was simply not possible to receive overnight packages in the Rio Dulce (not sure about now, check before you go).  It was a BIG hassle getting anything is some of the supposed “duty free” zones – for example Roatan, Bay Islands.  Don’t assume you’ll be able to get something once it’s shipped and arrives.  We’ve had stuff held hostage for days over dollars – sometimes more than the value of the item.

Here’s the PDF again:  Winterlude Spare Parts Inventory.

Whatever spares you need … don’t panic.  I remember thinking — so what we have all these engine parts, we’re not diesel mechanics, we’ll never be able to diagnose or actually replace anything.  Not so, Nigel Calder’s books and other cruisers made it possible for us to fix most everything ourselves…. with a little help from our friends.

So what did I forget?  I know there’s something … or maybe multiple things.  Please leave comments and share!  Cheers!  Jan

Comments

  1. Very tough – start, the length of time your bottom paint is good is the time factor that the parts will last so there is a start…learn what the customs officers are like…some want a list of parts and EQ that are on board this will save you time, if parts are needed and need to be brought to the dock or shipped to you from out of country. Might have to pay a small charge to register the list, but it will save time, duty, VAT, and customs delay. change all inches to metric, having both, will save you time and money…Read “Passages South” for everything to include how to respect local styles and customs. OH Yes….MONEY – MONEY – MONEY did I say money?
    I have heard of running a 100 yards of stainless steel line with a floating hook to fish and it might just stop an outboard if someone is sneeking up on you or you can turn your vessel to make the line go to the propellers…you might even catch a fish?

    You have to know you limitations – see Redford in the sailboat movie of things wrong…

  2. Ha! This is me, “Whatever spares you need … don’t panic. I remember thinking — so what we have all these engine parts, we’re not diesel mechanics, we’ll never be able to diagnose or actually replace anything.” Are there particular Nigel Calder books you would recommend? Or all of them? 🙂

  3. The “spare parts” link under your “Autopilots” description above has me confused??? Are you selling Spare Parts Clocks with your “spares?” 😊

  4. I noticed that you have a Honda 2000. So do many other cruisers. On the advice, no, insistence of a cruising friend Virginia and I bought one too. We’re about to leave on a 2-year cruise to Mexico, FP and Hawaii. How do you store the generator? How do you hook it up to your electrical system? When do you use it?

    I wish you would tell all in a post. Or have you already and I missed it?

    We have 280 watts of new solar panels and a 90 amp alternator on our Perkins 4-108.

    Thanks. We really enjoy your blog and have followed it faithfully for the last 3 years while we’ve been rebuilding our 1971 Columbia 43. Now we’re finally ready to go!

    Brandon and Virginia Ford

  5. PS we also have your GREAT cook book and really enjoy it! Virginia used it today, in fact.

    • Thanks Brandon! Carolyn & I (along with the 2 Dave’s) had dinner together for Christmas. Writing the cookbook was our response to stuff we wished we had known when we went cruising. 🙂 Cheers! J

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