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Saturday, October 10, 2020

A LOGICAL APPROACH TO MANAGING CRUISING INFORMATION

 This is an edited version of an article we wrote shortly to appear in Pacific PowerBoat magazine.

Covid-19 cruising update

No sooner had we mentioned New Zealand’s return to unrestricted cruising late July in PMB’s last issue than the new Auckland level 3 lock down commenced on 12 August, lasting until the 30th before going to level 2.5 and finally to level 1 on 7 October. This time around there was no room for confusion about boating under level 3 being not permitted and now with lock downs hopefully behind us and Spring here cruising can only get better.

In other covid news there are many cruisers in various Pacific island locations highly disappointed at not being able to come to New Zealand for the summer to avoid the cyclone season and a German crew who arrived illegally have been deported leaving the future status of their yacht unclear. I guess many of these crews assumed they would be allowed entry and didn’t think to make alternate arrangements. Obviously there is sympathy for these crews, but potentially arriving at various locations at different times could have represented a logistical nightmare for our authorities, although I guess their time at sea cruising here could have counted towards quarantine. Sympathy also for the various marine facilities and other businesses who normally benefit from the spends of these crews, reported by media as averaging $50k per vessel.

Managing cruising information

Cruising is all about maximising the enjoyment of our leisure time and the last thing we want to do out on the water is paperwork right? Absolutely, but consider these scenarios.

You call an electronics technician about a problem with your radar and he needs to know its serial number. You think it’s about time to get your engines serviced but can’t recall how many engine hours passed since the last one. You know you wrote down the weather forecast this morning, but where’s that piece of paper? You decide to sell your boat and need a comprehensive list of its features and onboard equipment. You’re in bed when your bilge pump alarm sounds – do you know how to access each seacock and through hull for inspection at night?

A simple Information Management System can easily answer these questions as well as making the operation of your vessel easier and enhancing its resale value. The elements of the system we’ve successfully used during nearly forty years cruising include an Operating Manual, a Logbook, a Daybook, a To Do List and a Receipts File.

Operating Manual: when we bought Rapport last year there was no Manual and the broker’s advertising sheet lacked detail and missed much of the equipment. Now we have a comprehensive Manual comprising about forty pages describing all equipment aboard and covering subjects such as safety equipment, location of seacocks and other through-hulls, location of electrical isolation switches, functions of circuit breakers, how equipment operates, service intervals and spare parts carried. A multitude of systems makes boats complex and it’s impossible to remember everything about them, so when we do a job for the first time (eg adjusting an alternator’s vee belt tension) we note procedures in the Manual to make it easier next time. After owning our previous vessel for 12 years we were still adding information during our last year, maintaining it on Microsoft Word and periodically printing an updated copy for easy referral.

Logbook: This is where we note information of lasting interest that you might look back on. For example with great friends Bill and Sue you cruised to Man O’ War bay and had an enjoyable afternoon ashore at the vineyard. The next day you crossed the Firth of Thames catching some nice snapper mid-way, anchored off Coromandel and all went up to the township in the dinghy for fish and chips, nearly getting caught out by the tide on the return trip. We note down engine hours each evening, but only mention weather in the Log if it’s unusual and memorable for example a still sunny day in the middle of winter or a wind shift that causes an uncomfortable night.. If you want to (and you’re brave enough to) keep a record of money spent on the boat, the back of the Logbook is ideal for this.

Daybook: We use this instead of writing information down on different scraps of paper that always seem to get lost. Information included is weather forecasts; route planning; fuel and water tank levels; refuelling details; engine oil pressure, water temperature and charging voltage; notes about maintenance and information about planned boat projects. For example we’re researching an improved bait and filleting station so we’ll do our internet research noting relevant points in the Daybook so our information is all in one place.

To Do List: I guess most boat owners would use such a list and it’s really self explanatory. A cruiser’s dream is to have nothing left on their To Do List.

Receipts File: Keep all your receipts together in date order for ease of reference. When you eventually sell your boat many prospective buyers would want to see this and it helps reassure them that you’ve used an organised approach to maintenance.

Using a system like this is not burdensome and on the contrary adds to the joy of cruising.



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