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Old 03-31-2012
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What goes in your ship's log?

I was thinking that instead of the usual marine store logbooks which have columns for wind, crew, sail/motor combination and lots of lines for you to write, that I might do something different. I'm a much more visual person, and since I work in medicine, nobody can read my writing anyway, so here's what I was thinking.

In medicine, sometimes we use check box forms with small areas for free text under certain headings. There are often diagrams of a person where you can easily sketch physical findings. Anesthesiologists have graphs where they can mark vital signs with a quick stroke of a pen, and since it's done with a dot on an X and Y axis they can see trends forming.

I was thinking of creating a logbook with pre-printed forms with a sketch of the boat so that you could diagram you sail trim, or anything relevant, and graphs where you could plot wind speed, boat speed, barometer readings hourly and easily see a trend. Engine instrument readings could be recorded like vital signs. A blank compass rose could be provided for heading, another for wind direction. Printed on Rite in the Rain paper, it might be handy.

Below are a couple forms for example. Notice the vital sign trending on the Anesthesia record with check marks. I could see using that with wind and barometer. So, what do you record in your log? What should I put on the page?







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Last edited by MedSailor; 03-31-2012 at 11:30 PM.
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Old 04-01-2012
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Re: What goes in your ship's log?

We use something like what you describe. Its a page with preset entries for departure and arrival points and times, distance traveled, engine hours run, avg speed, weather & wind followed by half a page for an anecdotal description of the day. It ends with space to list guest and a running count of days, overnights and laydays for the calendar year.

It's an adaption of a logbook we used for several seasons - "Boater's Log & Journal". http://www.whitecap.ca/books/boaters-log-book-journal We also have separate pages for upgrades, maintenance and other items which we print and add as needed.

In addition we're trying to keep up with photo collages for each year or cruise.

I scanned a page: This what you had in mind?

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Old 04-01-2012
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Re: What goes in your ship's log?

My logbook now is a Microsoft Word document that I just make free form daily entries:

Feb 4, 2009
Bought 3 fenders at WM; $37

Or:

June 11, 2010
Temp: 70; Wind: SSW 10-12; Sunny w/ clouds after 17:00
Zippy the Wonder Pooch and I got out on the lake for 3 hours...

I like the idea of pre-printed forms to fill out, but what I've got is working for me. I can got back through it and get the info I might want (when did I buy that? Where did I go that day?) I should create a 'blank entry' for a day sail that has entries for all the data (from wind speed to engine hours) that will prompt me to record all the info. I've never logged engine hours (because I've always wanted my engine to die in the fiery pits of Hell) but I should start. Also battery voltage is something I should be tracking. (With the 18 it only powered the stereo; the 25 uses it to start the engine, so battery health is more important.)

The first page of the document is all the data for my boat, from serial number to air draft. The next two pages are basic setup/breakdown steps and the storage locations of most of my gear.
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Old 04-01-2012
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Re: What goes in your ship's log?

I use a regular inexpensive composition book for both the deck log and the maintenance log. The blank page allows me to free-form and include drawings if I want. Information I include in the deck log:

Date
Departure location
Destination
Amount of fuel at departure and arrival
Crew on board
Time of departure and arrival
Weather
Sea state using the Beaufort scale
Any mechanical issues (cross referenced with maintenance log)
Any other observances

If we're on a long trip every couple of hours I add an entry with the la and lo and any relevant information (weather changes, sea state changes, change of course, etc).

Also, with the new engine I'll start keeping track of engine hours and stuff.

Logs are not required on small recreational boats but they are nice to have for my personal reminiscence. Also, when we sell the boat a maintenance log is a plus for potential sales. In the event that I get into an accident, I want the log to be in the required format so that it can potentially be admissible as evidence, i.e., it can't be kept in a format in which it can be altered so it has to be in a notebook with bound sheets where you can't insert pages.
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Old 04-01-2012
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Re: What goes in your ship's log?

I really like the idea. Numerical entries are particularly subject to massive errors. When you plot the barometric pressure on a graph the errors become obvious and trends require no imagination at all. I could see all of the weather data recorded on one big chart. The abscissa would be date/time; the ordinate would be broken into parameter sections and values. There could be a barometer section with millibar subdivision, below that might be wind intensity, below that direction but entered with arrows and not numerical degrees. This whole paradigm could continue with other parameters such as drinking water levels, fuel levels, and so forth.

This would require some experimenting, but I think it will be much more useful and useable than just letters and numbers found in traditional logs.

Congratulations!
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Old 04-01-2012
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Re: What goes in your ship's log?

I use a journal book from office supply, and write few numbers. Only on long cruises are detailed reports made at change of watch. Mostly I write the weather and general course. The log is to remember sailing days, so I try to write my impressions and feelings. If I go ashore I make notes of that. If I see interesting vessels or wildlife, that too.
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Old 04-01-2012
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Re: What goes in your ship's log?

I bought a blank hard bound book. It's small, like 4x6. Pages are lined. Neat little expanding pocket on inside back cover. Elastic band keeps it closed.

My entries are more like diary entries. Comments about the sail, weather, how I'm feeling, what I did, what I need to do:

31Mar12 - No sailing today, winds too light. Motored all over the lake, putting 4 more "break in" hours on the new Tohatsu SailPro. Installed Tiller Clutch; what a great mod! I can leave the tiller for 15 minutes at a time now. Hoping for wind tomorrow. Sunny, 83.

I'm not a cruiser, just a weekend lake sailor, so I don't track in detail engine stuff, gas consumption, barometric pressure....things that would be important to someone living aboard and crossing large expanses of open ocean.
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Old 04-01-2012
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Re: What goes in your ship's log?

I have a hard bound calender that includes the little pictures of the sun , clouds, rain with temp. A page per day works great, As an addendum to daily and weekly, monthly maintenance I circle the date of the month at a glance for what has been done.
red circle is engine , blue circle is head/water system, green is any electronic item, black is rigging items, then i refer to the day page to see what I actually did to that section.
I also can pre plan a multi leg trip with waypoints in the journal and headings as backup.
Works for me, simple and effective.
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Old 04-01-2012
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Re: What goes in your ship's log?

The VITAL importance of a 'ships log' is for 'legal' issues such as if ever called into admiralty court its a WRITTEN document that validates your claims and can establish your degree of guilt or innocence! ... Quite different from a 'travel log'.

I use sewn-bound 'writing book' and all entries are in 'ink'. A WRITTEN log is your contemporaneous and valid WITNESS if ever called into court. We also keep a 'travel log'.
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Old 04-01-2012
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Re: What goes in your ship's log?

Thanks for all the input so far. I'm definitely going to experiment with this.

One comment that struck me was the need for a bound log so that pages could not be added. I can see how one would think that would make it more attractive as a legal document (and indeed it might) but on the other hand medical charts can easily have papers added and removed from them and they end up in court all the time. I've never heard of this being questioned before. I'll have to think about that aspect as having them bound would add some cost to an otherwise simple project.....

Faster, your log is partly what I had in mind. Some data is not amenable to graphs and pictures and for that data I would use fill in the blanks, but most of it I'd like to plot on the graphs. The graph makes referencing it in the future faster and quicker to enter more data while sailing.

What I really had in mind though is recording more of the data like the anesthesia record. On Faster's log there is a line for wind and speed. Imagine having an X and Y axis where you could put dots and arrows like the anesthesia record. Dots for boat speed, arrows for wind speed both plotted at 15/30/60min intervals over an X-axis of time. Notice on the record at 8:45 that the arrows start to dip down AND the dots start to rise? The arrows are systolic and diastolic BP and the dots are pulse. Being able to see that trend means the anesthesiologist knows that the patient is leaking too much and needs some fluids added (low BP and high pulse = less blood volume).

Imagine if you could see wind speed increasing on your graph, along with boat speed, followed by more increased wind speed and a DECREASE in boat speed. You might then free-hand on the graph that a reef was put in and you would see the wind speed stay the same but the boat speed increase 15min after the reef. You would have just demonstrated for yourself that reefing at THAT particular wind speed on YOUR boat caused you to gain speed. Might be useful info....

You can also have several different points of data on the Y axis with time on the X like the record above. At the bottom he has drawings for patient positioning for example and above the vitals he has things like how many liters of oxygen he is giving and a spot to put what drugs were given. This way as he changes the oxygen level he can see a trend in vitals. A drug (atropine) might be given (and notated on the graph at the correct time above) and you see a corresponding pulse increase.

You could have lots of fun info on the Y axis like "sailing angle to the wind", engine RPM for when you're motoring, barometer readings. Having it all on the SAME X-axis will reveal a lot about your trip I think. I'll try another example:

You're sailing along hard on the wind in very light air with main and jib but no mizzen (why I don't know, but you are. Maybe you're new to ketches...). You note boat speed and wind speed over time. You notate at the top left (in one of the blank spots)"mizzen hoisted" and on that line you put an "X" at 8:45. Now the wind arrows are staying the same over time but boat speed dots are increasing. You just learned that the mizzen helps you to weather. "strange I thought sloops were better to weather"

Above wind and boat speed you're writing in every 15min your angle to the wind 35deg, 35deg, 38deg. You think that maybe you're pinching (it is a ketch after all) and try 45deg. Since it's light air it takes a while to see the trend but after a couple more data points you see that your speed has increased at 45deg. You WERE pinching. Got a GPS? Plot VMG also.

Finally you get tired of going slow and fire up the engine but keep the rpm low to be fuel efficient. Rpms are noted at the top on the same graph and you continue to plot boat speed. You know that in 8kts of wind, at 45deg off the wind, you can achieve the same boat speed as motoring at 1500rpm (lets say 4 knots).

In the future when you're motoring on a windless day you see cats paws and note that the wind is now 8knots coming from the direction of your destination. From your prior experiment you can make an informed decision as to when to cut the engine and hoist the sails knowing that on your boat, with 8kts of wind you can expect to be able to sail at 4knots, 45deg off the wind.

I also think an outline of your hull with dots for masts drawn without booms would be helpful. Simmilar to the outline of the person on the triage card where you would draw on the wounds. On the boat outline you would be drawing a visual of anything different you did. You could quickly sketch 2 lines for how far out you have your two booms and draw camber in the sails for how much outhaul you have. If you do something goofy like rig a barberhauler you could quickly sketch it.

I would also have 2 pictures of engine gauges with a fill in blank for engine hours next to each. Draw a line on the gauge picture where the gauge needle is at the beginning of the day (and note hours) and draw a line where the gauge reads at the end of the day (and note the hours). Having the line drawn on the gauge with hours next to is will allow you to go back and see that needle really starts to plummet (for the same number of hours) on the bottom half of the tank. Good to know, since you have a "V" shaped tank that there are 30hrs at cruise between 1/2 and "F" but only 10hrs between 1/2 and "E".

Is this making sense? I know, a picture really would have helped the above description....

MedSailor
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