Why You Should Carry a Cordless Angle Grinder on your Sailboat

Why You Need a Cordless Angle Grinder on Your Sailboat

Let’s talk safety! When beginning to prepare for cruising on your sailboat it is important to think about safety. We carry many safety items on board. The USCG and many other governments have some specific requirements, most items can be found at marine stores and chandleries, one however can not be and is usually overlooked: a cordless angle grinder.

If you ever have a situation at sea where your mast or standing rigging fail, it is very important to be able to safely remove it from the boat. The rig can damage the hull and be a safety risk to people, especially if there are rough conditions, when, of course it is most likely to fail.

Most carry on board some cable cutters and a hand-saw in their emergency tool kit. This is excellent, and we agree a must have. But….have you ever tried to actually cut through rigging, shackles, or a mast? It is tough.

If you need to remove the rigging, you will likely need to do it fast! That is where the cordless angle grinder comes into its own. Yes it is expensive, but when the mast or boom is possibly going to punch a hole in your hull, it is worth every penny. A good battery powered angle grinder with a metal or all purpose cutting disk will make quick work of almost anything you would possibly need to cut through on deck.

Why You Want a Cordless Angle Grinder On Your Boat

Ok, so we know a cordless angle grinder can improve your safety by jettisoning your rig in an emergency. That is a pretty extremum situation that is hard for most to envision and justify. But here are some other uses for your grinder that will make happy to have it on board.

  1. Fiberglass Repair – If you ever need to repair any fiberglass on your boat, you will have the proper tool start the repair properly.
  2. Polishing – you need to be careful when using one to polish with, but with the proper skill and pads you can quickly make your bright work shine, especially stainless steel. What would have taken you days will now only take you a few hours at most.
  3. DIY Boat Projects – Let’s face it, if you have a boat, you are always doing some project. If you need to cut or trim anything, with the proper disks you can make short work of it, especially popular stainless steel tube for dodgers and biminis.

Which Cordless Angle Grinder is Best For Sailing

Our favorite is the Milwaukee M18 Cordless 4 1/2″ Angle Grinder. It is very powerful, lightweight, has good battery life, and built a little tougher (in our opinion) than some of its competitors. If you look around and see what the professionals are using, you will see a lot of red in their power tool boxes. If the SHTF we want the best tool available for the job.

What Other Equipment Uses the Same Batteries

Now, as a side benefit to having our angle grinder, its charger, and batteries on board there are lots of other useful items we carry that use the same batteries. It is really nice to be able to carry tools that all use the same battery and charger, as space is a premium on board and keeping the boat as light as possible is important for sailing performance.

Vacuum – The Milwaukee M18 Cordless Vacuum is perhaps our favorite item on board which uses the M18 Lithium battery system. As you know, we sail with a dog on our boat, so a vacuum is a must. This shop vac can do much much more though. We use for cleaning, fiberglass work, removing that last bit of water from the bilge, and vacuum bagging clothing and even our spinnaker. It is really powerful and durable. This is one purchase we are over the moon with and is an on-board life changer.

Cordless Drill – A cordless drill is pretty much a must have on board. Of course, it’s main use is to drill holes, which you try to avoid as much as possible, but it will happen. We also use ours quite a bit with polishing pads, sanding disks, and even a drill based multi-purpose water/oil pump which is really handy.

Sander – We keep a random orbital sander on board. Inevitably you will need to paint something, and the most important part of painting is prep. A good sander makes short work of this. We use it for prepping vanish, fiberglass, and gelcoat. With the right pads, it can also be used for polishing paint and metal.

Orbiting Multi-Tool – If there is one tool we get out for almost every project, it is our orbital multi tool. We use it to cut wood and fiberglass, sand, scrape, vibrate, and more. It is extremely versatile and one that we never expected to use so much. We are glad we have it on our sailboat.

Impact Wrench – When you need to remove tough bolts that have been in place for years in a saltwater environment, and impact wrench allows you to do so without (hopefully) damaging the bolts head or breaking it. Our Favorite is the Milwaukee 2962-20 M18 18V Fuel 1/2″ Mid-torque Impact Wrench with Friction Ring

Power Winches – Well, we don’t use this, as we like the workout of manually cranking winches. But for those that need assistance in the winch cranking department, this tool can be really helpful. Care must be taken though in it’s use as it is extremely powerful. It can help you raise the mainsail, send a person up the rig, and simply for taking the boat and sheeting in a large genoa. Along with the angle drill, a special drill bit to fit your winch is also required. This setup is much less expensive though than purpose built marine tools for this use.

Which Brand Cordless Power Tools Are Best For Cruising

Before leaving land to go cruising for a long time and setting of to foreign ports, make sure you have all of the equipment you need. Sometimes the tools you want become hard to find in far away places. Voltage issues (220 vs 110) will also make it hard for USA visitors to find items they need in the EU, and vice versa. Having all of your tools use the same batteries and chargers is something we would have worked harder at before we left if we could. If you don’t choose Milwaukee, Bosch, Makita, and DeWalt are also reliable and fairly well supported worldwide.

Note: We do use these items on board and by you purchasing the items through the included links, it helps fuel our voyage, blog, and vlog, at no extra cost to you. We think it is a win/win. We help you by sharing our knowledge, mistakes, and victories. We test the products in the real world and let you know what we really think. In turn, you help keep us going! Fair winds and safe sailing!

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