C&C 27 Association – Tools & Spare Parts

The following is published as a back-handed salute to a fellow (who shall remain nameless, but he knows who he is) who interrupted his summer cruise to rent a car and drive the 400-mile round trip from Kingston to Toronto and back because he had neither a spare impeller nor tools to install it. If you do find yourself in a situation like this, don't despair if the first inquiries are negative – ask farther afield; it's impossible to believe that a sailing town like Kingston couldn't provide an A4 impeller.

Tool Type Use
Allen keys Standard plus metric if required
Bolt cutters 18" (approx.) long Rigging failure (an offshore racing requirement)
Circuit analyzer basic circuit or additional GFI test Shore circuit safety tester (see below).
Drill bits 1/16" to 3/8" set It's fairly easy to borrow a drill, less so to borrow sharp drill bits – keep them greased and in a sealed box that keeps them from rattling together, which dulls them.
Feeler gauges Engine, shaft coupling
File 8"-10" fine-toothed flat  
Hacksaw & spare blade A damage control must – see discussion below.
Magnet Strong Fishing for favourite tools that have gone swimming.
Nut-driver 5/16" The size for a hose clamp – eases an otherwise frustrating task.
Pliers (adjustable) 2" Gripping larger objects (preferably not nuts and bolts – that's why you have wrenches).
Pliers (needle-nose) Gripping smaller objects
Multi-meter Digital Electrical testing
Receptacle tester   Tests receptacles for safe wiring – see note below.
Scissors Strong Toolbox scissors help you avoid "you're not cutting that with my good scissors" spousal conflicts.
Screwdrivers Phillips – large
Phillips #1
Phillips #2
Robertson #1
Robertson #2
Standard flat, large
Standard flat, small
Everything from opening paint to mixing drinks – can be used in a pinch to drive screws.
You need Robertson screwdrivers when working on C&C cabinetry. In the US, you can order Robertson drive bits from Lee Valley or buy "square drive" screwdrivers from Home Depot.
  Picquic Sixpac or Mariner The exception to a general condemnation of multi-tools of any type – this is a very handy multi-bit screwdriver that's easy to use, and whose bits are hard to lose.
Jeweller's flat and Phillips Electronics, sunglasses
Wire strippers, crimpers Electrical repair
Wrenches (Crescent® adjustable) 10" and/or 12" Proper tools for handling nuts & bolts
Socket & wrench set Standard plus metric if required for your engine Proper tools for handling nuts & bolts
Ratchet wrenches (optional) Standard plus metric if required Like a box wrench but they ratchet like a socket driver – wonderful in tight spaces.
Vise Grips® 10" A last resort – should be hidden from vandals who would round off every nut on the boat, given a chance.
Utility/matte knife Retractable blade preferred You wouldn't dare use that cute "sailor's knife" you got for Christmas, would you?

Recommended spare parts

The following constitute a reasonable selection of spares for running repairs.

- Bostik Blade-Cote (ex-Dri-Cote) is a Teflon-like lubricant for cutting tools that is apparently virtually indistinguishable from McLube, but about 1/4 the price. Use it for luff grooves, sail slides, etc.
- bolt, 3/8" x 3 1/2" for tiller-head
- bulbs for nav lights and interior lights
- copper washers to seal bleed valves on a diesel's fuel filters and fuel pump as they should be replaced every time they are unseated
- crimp connectors, butt and terminal type, 12 & 14 gauge wire
- drive belts for alternator, fresh water cooling pump
- duct tape
- electrical tape
- fuel filters, primary & secondary
- fuses appropriate for engine panel (especially the starter solenoid fuse, if fitted)
- fuses appropriate for DC panel (if used)
- gasket compound
- gaskets for water pump and carburetor
- heat-shrink tubing
- hose clamps (selection)
- ignition switch for Atomic 4 instrument panel (prone to failure as they age)
- impeller(s) for engine water pump(s)
- manuals/owner's guide for the engine, electronics, head and anything else you're carting around
- motor oil
- miscellaneous fasteners
- miscellaneous line
- miscellaneous wire (electrical and seizing)
- needle, sailmaker's palm and whipping twine
- penetrating oil
- rigging pins & rings
- sail tape
- shackles
- sealant
- spark plugs, points, condenser for Atomic 4
- starter switch for Atomic 4 instrument panel (prone to failure as they age)
- Teflon-based marine gel lubricant
- WD-40 or in the US only, 3M Spray Penetrant (Universal sailor's remedy: if it's supposed to move and it doesn't, WD-40 it; if it moves and it shouldn't, duct-tape it; finally, if it works, leave it alone.)
- wire ties (the nylon ones that lock into their other end, essentially unremovably) are tough, quick and easy to apply in a variety of situations, but remember they break down after a few months of sunlight.

...And two tool boxes – one to keep your tools in, one to keep your spares in. Plastic tool boxes (or Tupperware-style sealable tubs) are inexpensive and don't rust or scratch surfaces. If things are rattling around loose, they'll get damp, dirty or damaged. Ziploc freezer bags are ideal for things like filters or electrical parts that you particularly want to keep clean and dry.

Damage control

A limited selection suitable for coastal/Great Lakes waters.

- wooden plugs for each seacock plus a mallet and seizing wire to secure plugs once they are in;
- epoxy-impregnated tape (from plumbing supply houses – will patch a leaking pipe or hose even when wet).

It's probably just as important to think seriously about dealing with emergencies as it is to have emergency gear. For instance, the cockpit drain hoses on a 27 are internally wire-wound and very tough, so they won't split easily, but if they did split and you couldn't close the seacock, you'd have to cut the hose away before you could put a plug in your seacock from inside. Remembering that you not only have to be able to reach the affected hose, you have to be able to apply sufficient force long enough to cut through. How would you do that?

Visualizing a problem and a solution is said to lead to a propensity to act when action is required, which helps avoid situations like this: a C&C 30 sank in Lake Ontario during the late seventies and the people on board nearly died of hypothermia. The owner, an experienced sailor, acknowledged that he panicked and never attempted to locate the source of the leak in the half-hour it took for the boat to sink.

Electrical testing

Most of us trust that our environment is safe, so we blithely tie up at a new club or marina and plug ourselves in, believing that the place is correctly wired. Usually it is, which is good because while a shock from 110V AC is unpleasant in normal circumstances, a 110V AC shock when you are wet or just standing in a puddle is often fatal.*

Circuit analyzer

There is a really simple tool that can tell you if an outlet is safely wired, so simple even a child can use it, with the rather daunting name of circuit analyser. You put it in the receptacle you want to test and if the right combination of lights goes on, the receptacle is correctly wired, hence safe to use. A picture on the tool shows all the combinations with their meanings, so you don't have to remember anything or read instructions. If you're plugging into a twist-lock 30A connector, you can test the circuit by plugging into a receptacle on your own boat.

Cost is under $10 in any hardware store, slightly more if you buy the type that tests the effectiveness of a Ground Fault Interrupter receptacle.

* Ocean Navigator magazine warns that, whether a club or marina has good electrics or not, you should never swim in it, due to the risk of shock. The warning was prompted by the drowning and near-drowning of two teenagers in 2011. Both boys were swimming in a marina and obviously there was stray current in the water that paralyzed one; the other was injured but managed to get far enough away to save himself. Counter-intuitively (at least to most of us) the danger is greatest in fresh water. Salt water is a uniformly good electrical path, so stray currents just go to ground. Fresh water is a lousy conductor, so electricity finds a better path through people. Zap, you're fried, paralyzed. Moreover, the person who jumps in to save you will be fried too. Don't jump in; throw a line or grab a dinghy.

The expert advice is, don't concern yourself with how good a marina or club is at managing its electrical service. Even if it may normally be a safe environment, all it takes is a new or visiting boat with faulty wiring and zap, you're in "hot" water. Don't swim anywhere (in marinas or clubs, or near dock walls) where boats are or may be plugged into shore power. There are too many variables to define what the danger zone is; go swim somewhere else.

How good should your tools be?

No one likes cheap tools – they damage your hands and the part you are working on, or they're just a pain to use, like adjustable wrenches that won't hold their setting. Multi-tools belong in your kitchen drawer (except the Picquic; see above in Screwdrivers). All-in-one too kits, usually sold in bulky and unwieldy 'convenient' plastic containers that lock each tool in place, generally contain tools that sailors don't need or don't contain the ones they want; you are probably better off picking and choosing your own selection. How good should they be? You don't need the best, just good enough, which is the mid-price range. Besides, experienced marine mechanics swear that top-quality tools like Snap-On have an uncanny affection for water, the deeper the better, not shared with such vigour by mid-price tools.

What's mid-price? One yacht-building company recommends Sears' brand tools as a quality target – these are good mid-price tools that often go on sale. Canadian Tire also sells comprehensive mid-price socket sets for C$70-$100 that are more than adequate for weekend mechanics. Their mid-price screwdrivers and wrenches are also good value. Canadian Tire premium mechanics' tools are very high quality. Canadian Tire often has tool sales, plus you get Canadian Tire money to misplace around the house.

When choosing tools for a serious maintenance job, or one that you will do on a regular basis, look seriously into pro-quality tools if you value your time. For instance, sanding bottom paint goes much more quickly if you use a powerful random-orbit sander like a Bosch, paired with a dust-extraction system. The sander will cost you at least $100, then there are the costs of the dust-extraction hose and a small shop vacuum, but the job will take half the time you'd need with some 'handyman'-quality sander, and your eyes and lungs won't get filled with crud (which will happen even with a good face-mask and goggles). Good tools also justify their price by lasting much, much longer than the handyman stuff if you look after them and don't let your friends leave them lying around in the rain.

You may feel that you don't know how to use some of the tools listed above, or that they are too expensive and "just for pros". Even if you can't adjust an engine, the kind fellow who actually knows something and is trying to help you can do a better job given the right tools. Also, many other jobs, such as snugging up stanchion or toe-rail bolts, are insanely difficult if not impossible in the confined spaces of a boat without the right tools, which in this case would be a socket set.

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