The important photos aren't necessarily the pretty ones. They're the ones that enable you to put something back together!

Taking the Important Pictures

That picture is one of the most important ones we’ve taken while cruising. Maybe not the prettiest, but important. It allowed us to hook the watermaker pump up correctly after removing and rebuilding it.

What you don’t see are the six other pictures I took that didn’t show the one thing that wasn’t clear from all our labels.

Over the years, we’ve learned several things about disassembling anything:

  • Take pictures before taking anything apart and as you’re going
  • Take lots and lots of pictures from different angles – you never know which will show exactly what you need
  • Take some close up and some further away – sometimes it turns out you need to see something adjacent to where  you’re working
  • Check the photos immediately (on a laptop if possible) to make sure they’re not blurry or have shadows that make it so you can’t see everything
  • Put the photos in some special folder so you can find them a week (or more) later when you need them. I have over 300 photos in a folder called “Important Boat Photos” with subfolders for each system.
  • Those photos have also helped when calling tech support. More than once I’ve had to email the photo to show them what was there previously or how a part has chanaged.
  • If the light is good, a cell phone can take good pictures. But where the light is low, it pays to get out the camera and use flash (the flash also helps reduce blurriness if you’re holding the camera/phone at a weird angle).
  • Use the highest resolution possible so that you can zoom in really close on an area if you need to.
  • Sometimes, a picture still just doesn’t show something and a sketch may help. Case in point: how the line for a 6-part purchase was run. I took numerous photos and checked them. Even pulling the blocks close together, it was hard to see the entire route. Back to the old sketch with numbers!

I also try to remember to take pictures when we figure out how to tie down something new or store something odd-shaped when it took us a while to get it right. I find we end up looking back at these a few times until we just know where/how it goes.

A good example was tying down our hookah on Que Tal. It only really fit well one way, but of course we’d forget. A quick look at a photo saved an hour or more of trying it every possible way . . . again!

Photos are also a good way to end “discussions” along the lines of “I don’t think that’s how we had it before . . .”

I'd like to know about...

Explore more

Want weekly tidbits of cruising information? Sign up for The Boat Galley's free weekly newsletter. You'll get the newest articles and podcasts as well as a few relevant older articles that you may have missed.

Do you find The Boat Galley useful? You can support the site when you buy from Amazon by using the links on this site or clicking below. No extra cost for you!

  • Wendy Larsen
    Posted at 09 December 2015 Reply

    We also use our cell phones to take pictures to get a look into those hard to see places when trouble shooting a problem.

  • John K
    Posted at 09 December 2015 Reply

    When taking cell phone pics of parts in tight dark corners turn on flashlight mode first & take pic that way, autofocus usually works much better.

  • Carolyn Brown Fuller
    Posted at 09 December 2015 Reply

    I wanted to look inside our water tanks to see how nasty they were. Put my Go Pro on a selfie stick and used the phone app to stream live. Worked like a charm.

  • Benjamin Shelley
    Posted at 09 December 2015 Reply


  • Becky Croston
    Posted at 09 December 2015 Reply

    Yep, those are the photos my husband is taking on our boat, in really tight ,awkward spaces… 🙁

  • Frances Liz Fernandez
    Posted at 10 December 2015 Reply

    good ideas

  • Cory Nickerson
    Posted at 05 October 2016 Reply

    This is a great idea I always think about just as I’m putting things back together.

  • Laure Simpson
    Posted at 05 October 2016 Reply

    Take photos for insurance purposes

    • The Boat Galley
      Posted at 05 October 2016 Reply

      Yes, that’s a reason too. Hope no one has a major loss, but there is always the possibility, no matter how well you prepare.

  • Bill DuPont
    Posted at 05 October 2016 Reply

    We are Lake Michigan sailors and thus we put the boat up for the winter. I take pictures of everything I take apart, or remove, for the winter. You think you can remember, but each year I stand there in the spring scratching my head wondering where this line or part goes.

  • Enid Bibby
    Posted at 04 June 2017 Reply

    Using the camera and torch on a selfie stick helps to take shots of all those places that are awkward to get to.

  • Paul
    Posted at 04 June 2017 Reply

    I’ve also found that if I can’t read a part number because it’s too small (even with my cheaters on) that I can take a picture and then zoom in and get a clear view of the number.

Post A Comment