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The Ship’s Logbook

Why buy a logbook when you can make the perfect item for less?

Location: Haines harbor
Wind: SSE 5-G15 knots
Temp: 51F

Over the years we’ve tried keeping our ship’s log in everything from fancy hard-bound yacht logs to plain old spiral notebooks. Some logs formats were better than others, but none seemed to offer exactly what we wanted.  And they were expensive.

The logbook’s home on the starboard side-shelf dictates the size and shape of the book.

With another cruise about to begin, we decided to build our own. The result looks good and it has features that are tailored to our needs.

We started by writing down some things our log needs to have it needs to:

  1. Look professional, with a dignified cover that identifies it as the log for CAMAI.
  2. Be in a landscape format (8-1/2 inches tall by 11 inches wide) so it will fit on the pilothouse side-table, the obvious home for the log.
  3. Be formatted as a dead-reckoning log with columns for waypoints, headings, distances, times, etc.; and have room for calculations so that we can review our work and follow up on any errors.
  4. Have a subdued format so we can write narrative-type entries when we choose.
  5. Contain basic information about CAMAI and the tender, so the information is easily at hand when we need it.  Especially useful is maintenance information such as filter numbers, serial numbers, and boat dimensions including mast height, draft and weight.  Other information that could be included is navigation formulas, liter to gallon conversion formulas, etc.
  6. Be spiral bound so the book can be folded back on itself, taking up half the side table space.

Our log layout.

We also considered what we didn’t need.  For example, some logs have pages specifically for radio logs, maintenance logs, guest books, and so on.  We prefer to keep a chronological written log that includes everything.  If guests come aboard, then we make a log entry titled “guests,” and invite them to sign in.  If we do maintenance, then we simply make a log entry titled “maintenance,” and so on.  Some information such as detailed maintenance information, or trip costs are better kept on the computer.

Once we decided how the book should look, we made a trip to the local stationery store for some heavy bond paper so that we could print both sides without the ink bleeding through.  We used a computer spreadsheet program to design and print all of the pages.

The back of each page provides space for calculations and notes.

The front and back covers are picture mat board, cut to the same size as the pages.  For the cover decoration, I cut a small window in the center of the front cover, and printed the title over a very subdued photo of CAMAI under sail.  Any number of creative treatments would make a nice front cover; we just used what was on hand.

For just a few dollars, Bev at King’s store punched the covers and pages, and added a piece of acetate to protect the front cover, putting it all together with a plastic spiral binding.

The entire book cost less than $10 in materials, at Haines prices, and took a half day to create.  And it will be with CAMAI for as long as we own her.

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