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Posted by on May 29, 2011 in Boat Equipment, UK, US |

A Basic Boat Box

Keeping important paperwork and tools secure and dry in a small boat is always a challenge.

There are some problems in boating whose solutions are always imperfect. We can never get them exactly right – we can only gradually improve upon them. And that’s part of the fun. For me, one of these problems has been how to keep necessary paperwork and a few tools in a small open motorboat, in my case an ancient 13-foot Boston Whaler with tiller steering and one plank thwart. The items need to be dry, secure, and available. They also need to be replaceable, because small boats bounce around and get swamped and lie alongside docks where occasionally people take things.

Boat papers, a couple of important tools, some wire ties, a small bottle of bug repellent, and a rescue whistle go into the Plano box, which hides under the anchor rode in the open well in the bow.

Boat papers, a couple of important tools, some wire ties, a small bottle of bug repellent, and a rescue whistle go into the Plano box, which stows under the anchor rode in the open bow well.

I’ve tried all sorts of bags and boxes, including boxes that could be sat on or lashed to the underside of the thwart. But for the past few years I’ve buckled the PFDs under the thwart and reduced the other items that need to be carried to the bare minimum: the boat registration, laminated in plastic, and color photocopies of all the boating licenses for the members of my family, also laminated in plastic. A four-way screwdriver. A small adjustable wrench. A few wire ties. A small bottle of bug repellent. A flashlight. That’s it. (I’m never without my belt multitool, so that automatically takes care of pliers, saw, file, and bottle/can openers.)

The storage box itself is another issue. So far I’ve never met a toolbox that could live in the open and not leak. Tupperware-type boxes work pretty well, but they don’t like being sat or stepped on. I’ve gone the other route, too, using cheap restaurant take-out boxes with sealable lids. They work OK for a while, but eventually crack.

The laminated documents wrap around the flashlight and the screwdriver handle. In a rainstorm or rough weather, there’s room for a cell phone.

The laminated documents wrap around the flashlight and the screwdriver handle. In a rainstorm or rough weather, there’s room for a cell phone.

This season I’m trying out a new candidate, a Plano 1450 GS Waterproof case, which seems sturdy without being quite as bombproof as the boxes from Pelican Products. If I were carrying electronics or really valuable things, I might go with the bulkier and more expensive Pelican box. In this case, no need. The Plano box is small, tough, watertight, and buoyant.  It will hide under the anchor rode in the open well in the bow of the Whaler.

At Boats.com we’re on the lookout for good ideas and solutions to little challenges like this. Feel free to weigh in with your boatbox ideas in the Comments section.

—Doug Logan

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