Boat Details Document

By Carolyn Shearlock © 2014 • all rights reserved

A great idea from our first boat -- have all the details of your boat available without checking owners manuals or removing old parts.

One of the previous owners of Que Tal (our previous boat) was absolutely brilliant and created a master list of every single piece of equipment aboard the boat, together with whatever was the most recent bit of info about it — new (installed), rebuilt, tuned, whatever.

Part numbers, serial numbers and as many details as possible were all included — you can see it all on the PDF I’ve included at the bottom of this post.

Now, this didn’t eliminate our maintenance log for more detailed info on installations and maintenance procedures, I want to be clear on that.

Rather, this gave us a reference list of absolutely everything. Instead of having to pull out owner’s manuals whenever we needed basic information about gear, we could just refer to the sheet.

We kept a printed copy next to our log, and hand wrote updates as needed. Periodically I’d update the electronic version and reprint it. Obviously, the electronic version was on the computer, which was with us whenever we traveled back to the US — and this was invaluable for making sure we got the right parts when it suddenly hit us that we needed something more.

With Barefoot Gal, I save the document as a PDF and keep a copy on a smartphone, too — knowing that I’ll have it with me whenever I went to any store in case there were questions.

In addition to being extremely helpful while we owned her, this document was an important selling factor of the boat both when we bought her and when we sold her. Brokers spend a lot of time writing up the specs of a boat for the online listing . . . and still frequently miss gear or get things wrong (we could tell you about some doozies we encountered in buying Barefoot Gal).

With this, the broker could email the “Details” document to prospective purchasers who requested it, giving them a much more detailed list than just “Batteries: yes” as we saw on some listings. We felt that we really knew the boat before spending the time and money to see her (important when you’re looking at a boat that’s at a distance). I believe it was important to the purchaser when we sold it too.

Creating a similar document was one of the first things we did aboard Barefoot Gal. And I do mean “we” — doing it together helped both of us know our new boat a lot better. Some info will come from the owner’s manuals and some will come from examining the equipment itself. I’m going to add another column to the sheet, too — whether we do have the owner’s manual (for those that we don’t, I’ll try to find it online and download it).

We used the list from Que Tal as an outline for what all to include, sort of as a memory jogger. And yes, it was a huge job, and we are still adding to it. And creating the list caused us to create a second list of spares we needed to buy.

I’m publishing the list for Que Tal as it existed when we listed her for sale. For the current owners of the boat — she’s had two owners since us — no claims of what is currently on the boat. And this list is NOT an endorsement of any of the items listed or a statement of gear needed on a boat or anything. Much has changed in the five years since we sold her, plus this gear was specific to this boat in a specific cruising area. I’m sharing the list just to give you an idea of what all it encompassed. We added a great deal of info — both more gear and more details about it — as we went along, pretty much doubling the size of the document from when we bought the boat to when we sold it.

Knowing your boat is a huge stress reducer. I’ve written before about learning the boat systems with a new-to-you boat; inventorying the equipment is equally important in my opinion. It’s really tempting with a new boat to want to just get out and start using it, but taking a little time to learn it first can save a lot of stress on those shakedown trips.

If you don’t have a similar list for your boat, I encourage you to create one — this one was done in Word; I think the columns would be even simpler in a spreadsheet, but use what you’re comfortable with. It’s a great rainy day project and you’ll be surprised at how the time flies and at how much better you feel you know the boat as you do it.

If the document does not show below (some browsers have problems), click here to view.  Right-click this link to download

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  1. I have one (1) spare of everything with a spreadsheet of everything….Best time spent….

  2. I use Evernote and journal everything for the boat – packing lists, manuals, insurance policies, EVERYTHING. We started with a copy of the survey and went from there.

  3. We have a hand written log including diagrams of how we rewired including the color codes. We have used it several times.

  4. Terrific idea but a bit daunting, to start from scratch!

    • Start with the big stuff, and every time you work on something, add it to that list. The one that came with Que Tal only had about half as much on it, and we just added as we went along.

  5. We have a spreadsheet in Google docs with most of this info included. Not quite as extensive though. We keep a downloaded copy on the laptop for reference when we don’t have internet, but the online copy is great when we are out and need to remember just which kind of oil we need or other piece of pertinent info.

  6. I have a spreadsheet on google docs and a flash drive. Also ICE numbers. General personal info can be useful too.

  7. Sometbing for us to do when we get back to the boat and go through everything before we take off again

  8. We use an app on the iPad called eStorage by KiWi Objects. We keep an inventory of everything from spare parts to items in the freezer, equipment, and systems. You can take a picture of the item, make notes by date, set shortage limits, and much more. It’s invaluable on our boat, and we take it everywhere with us, cause it’s all on the iPad and backed up to iCloud. You can even have more than one database, say for a land based home inventory. It’s very easy to use and you can import lists you may already have in a spreadsheet.

  9. There’s a whole crate full of product manuals aboard the tall ship I worked on this last winter. The cover of each binder contains a document very similar to this.

  10. Maje Brennan says:

    This is absolutely brilliant, Carolyn! Thank you!

  11. Ana
    Here’s the Boat Galley page I told you about. 🙂

  12. Marty Crichlow, sv Brigadoon says:

    You never cease to amaze me with all the useful information that you publish. We are now looking at the boat detail listing. We have several spreadsheets listing pieces of the information you have combined into one useful listing.
    A question came up regarding your detail: what do you use for your “mold inhibiting liners” in lockers? That would be most useful here in the wet PNW!
    Thank you for all your hard work in publishing this website!

    • Thanks! Unfortunately, I don’t know what the material is called — previous owners installed it. It looks very much like burlap, only in a cream color. They installed it with spray-on glue. I’ve looked online several times and can’t find any fabric that says it inhibits mold, so I’m pretty clueless (I’ve been looking recently, since our new boat is in FL and there is lots of mildew here, too).

  13. I love your posts, Carolyn!

  14. Thanks Maje!

  15. This is awesome. We have something we made like this, but it’s not nearly as comprehensive… (adds to to-do list)

  16. We have just purchased our first boat and are living aboard in sunny CA. We are currently creating our detail list in Google Docs with info from the survey, and manuals that the previous owner has given us. This will prove to be an invaluable tool. Thanks so much for the suggestion!

  17. I got a 404 error on the pdf link.

  18. error 404 not found

  19. Looks like a great winter project.

  20. It downloaded fine for me. We kept a detailed maintenance and repair log for our previous boat (Over the Edge) which was like an added bonus to buyer eliminating a lot of guess work.

  21. Can’t download document. Could it be emailed? TY

  22. Awesome! Thanks yet again!!

  23. Google spreadsheets work great for us, don’t forget to use google drive so you have access to your work when you don’t have internet access.

  24. Wow! This is great… Made my ‘attempt’ look anemic! You have given us another get form idea.. Thanks!

  25. Beverley Lillian Davidge – like this post, if you haven’t already, and you will get all their posts.

  26. Best site for day to day boat life that there is!

  27. Thanks Pat Berry

  28. Charles Reynolds says:

    I rent my apartment and keep a similar document, detailing valuables, with org-mode. I keep this synced to a private repository at, along with some other important docs like doctor’s and lawyer’s phone numbers. I share it with my emergency contact people, attorney, and insurance agent. Because org-mode files are just text, I use very little data (and it’s fast!) when I sync while tethered via my phone __and__ it’s readable in any text editor, though I sometimes render it to HTML or PDF and keep those in the same repository.

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