I was chatting with a friend yesterday about some of the places we’d visited this summer in the Bahamas and the Florida east coast. He asked, “How do you remember all this stuff for next year? Or to tell people like me? Where you could and couldn’t get fuel? The restaurants you liked? Where the snorkeling was good?”
Years ago, I kept a steno notepad where I wrote notes – and sometimes drew maps – on places we stayed. Now, it’s one section of our Ship’s Log. However you do it, it’s a wonderful reference for all the details of an anchorage, mooring field or marina.
Now, this isn’t our “official” travel log where we log our position, engine hours and temperature and other important information. That’s all a separate section of the Ship’s Log, as is our maintenance log and fuel log.
When we first started cruising – back in 2002 – we just wrote everything in one steno pad. In less than a year, we discovered that this was a really bad idea as it took forever to find any piece of info we needed. Recording things separately made it much easier!
If you’re just starting to cruise, get in the habit of recording pretty much everything that happens on board. Use checklists as you get underway and as you sail or motor to spot problems before they start. Keep track of the spares on board. Know when you got fuel or changed the oil.
There are all sorts of ways to do it – you can use steno notebooks like I used to, you can create paper forms and keep them in a notebook or you can get a printed logbook. Yes, The Boat Galley sells a 5-in-1 Ship’s Log on Amazon that is designed to keep your records easy to refer to, but I’ll admit it’s not the only way to keep your logs. The important thing is that you have to find a system that works for you.
At times, it seems like a pain to keep these records, but when you have questions, you’ll be so glad that you did!
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