Instead of trying to remember how everything works and the proper settings, why not just "make your mark?"

Making Your Mark

Do you remember how everything ran last year?  What was the “normal” output for the watermaker? How much did the solar panels typically put out? How long do you need to plug in the rechargeable vacuum cleaner? Where do you turn the oven knob for 350 degrees?

Even living on the boat full time, we didn’t always see little changes in how things ran . . . or remember the settings for things we used less frequently.  At first, we tried keeping notebooks and spreadsheets with the info.  To be honest, we often forgot to write things down so we sometimes didn’t catch a problem in the early stages.  It’s even worse if you’re not living on the boat full time.

Instead of trying to remember how everything works and the proper settings, why not just "make your mark?"Then Dave called on his background in industry — he worked in a steel mill for 37 years, working his way up from laborer to middle management.  Instead of having to look things up in a notebook, why not mark the item in question?

And so, armed with Sharpie waterproof felt markers, several colors of nail polish (white nail polish is great on dark surfaces), a bunch of cheap plastic tags and cable ties, we began marking everything in sight.

In additional to operational marks such as the watermaker control panel at the top of this article, we also marked direction of flow on hoses, charging times on items that didn’t have an automatic shutoff, filter change dates, EPIRB test dates, which gas jug was for the dinghy and which for the genernator . . . well, you get the picture.

Some markings enabled us to see that things were running correctly, some were there to make troubleshooting easier, some reminded us of scheduled “maintenance” and some simply made it easy to replicate settings (for example, my oven temperature knob didn’t have temps marked).

Result:  we caught a lot of problems quickly, stayed on top of maintenance, and didn’t wonder where we should set things at.

Best of all, it doesn’t take long to do and the supplies are cheap!

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  • Gloria Rooney
    Posted at 06 November 2012 Reply

    The prior owner of our 1978 Whitby 42 started marking lots of things onboard with permanent markers and we appreciate that knowledge and feel comfortable about adding our own “grafitti” to the mix. This is very helpful in emergencies and when looking for items not looked for or serviced at every day on a boat that has had three owners with lots of modifications and additions over the years.

  • Dan Thomas
    Posted at 16 July 2013 Reply

    Felt tip paint pen works well too.

  • Diane
    Posted at 15 May 2014 Reply

    We also use a “P-Touch” labeler (white tape with black letters) which you can buy at any office supply store. The small bottles of T-shirt paint from craft stores come in several colors and work great on anything textured, flexible or fabric. It does not chip or wear off easily.

    Posted at 16 March 2016 Reply

    Took the boat out to the getty and back just to see how she runs. Engine temperature wire has come loose. Be safe. Have a great year!

  • Florian Wolf
    Posted at 20 July 2017 Reply

    The “mud maps” of the previous owners in the engine room are especially helpful, as are the arrows on whatever kind of indicator telling us where ‘it has to be’. Even if you don’t label for yourself, you may be an angel for the next owner !

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