Log Book for Recreational Navigators.

There is no legal requirement for recreational boats to keep an up-to-date log book.

However, there are numerous, excellent reasons for keeping one.

One of the problems for the weekend sailor is that most of the 'off the shelf' logbooks are more suitable for long distance cruising, so they are rarely motivated to keep their logs up to date.

Reasons for keeping a log.

Although there is no legal requirement of the small boat skipper to keep a log, should there ever be a problem, then a written record of your trip will be of invaluable and will simplify the process of providing an account of events to the authorities or your insurance company

Hopefully that will never be an issue for any of us.

However, where keeping a log book can be rewarding as a valuable record of events;

  • It is also critical to safety and navigation as it encourages you to keep track of where you are and where you’re going.
  • With this record, should your GPS fail, the log books will be invaluable for navigation purposes.
  • Content should also include weather conditions, barometric pressure, course, speed, distance traveled and events such as anchoring or docking at a harbor or port.
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  • A record of previous trips can also work as a cruising guide when re-visiting an area.
  • For that reason a record of places visited is almost as good as local knowledge, and could include, as well as navigation information such useful items as names and telephone numbers radio frequencies etc.
  • Your own observations on landmarks, shoals, harbor entrances, etc or even such things as that excellent restraint ashore, will be useful on any return trip.
  • And just the process of writing down an observation, such as the time it took to return to your home port, will help impress it on your memory for next time.
  • On top of this, the log book is just a very enjoyable way to keep track of your journey.
  • The log book could also include boat performance and maintenance information.
  • It is also an excellent place to keep other boat data such as length, beam, draft, vertical clearance, as well as capacities for all of the onboard tanks, fuel, water etc.
  • Not only will it be interesting to look back on previous passages but having that record could improve the resale value of the boat.



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The design layout for your logbook.

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Naigators Log Book There are quite a number of commercially published logbooks on sale aimed at the leisure sailor.

Unfortunately many of these are based on the formal Ship's Log type which requires meticulous recording of data, and they are bound and have numbered pages and are really more suitable for long cruises.

Very few are suitable for weekend sailors and as a result rarely get used, which is a shame.

Everyone’s boating is different and so why not design your own system which is geared to your own needs and boat, and is versatile enough to cover the different types of sailing that you do.

This could be kept in a file folder which could also hold passage plans, pilotage plans and all your other boating information all in one place.

If you base it on the A4 format you will find something to suit you needs among the host of ring binders, plastic sleeves, etc in you local stationary store.

And using this size, as well as designing your own pages you will be able to include computer printouts of weather and tide information, there is so much available on the net it would be a shame not to be able to include it.

The only problem with the majority of printers is that the ink is not waterproof, hence the use of the plastic sleeves, they aren’t fool proof but will help.

If you want to make up some proformas to use regularly, photocopying them should overcome this.

One of the advantages of creating your own layout and design using a ring binder is that you can vary the style to suit you and your style of sailing.

It can be adapted to use for a day sail, an extended cruise or even just a day doing maintenance.

To start with you might want to design a layout based on the traditional type of log book, then adapt it using your imagination to fit with your type of sailing.

I like to have a new page to cover the navigation for a days trip on the right hand side and on the left an adjustable amount of space to write notes, some times that might be only a couple of lines, sometimes a couple of pages.

Some people like to add sketches and photographs.

On the navigation page I like to have a heading showing the where the trip is from and towards which destination.

Then space below for recording the date, time (whether in UT or local time), weather conditions, course (showing whether it is magnetic or true), estimated speed, position, and I like to include the barometer reading even if it is only a day sail.

For long passages you might also want somewhere to keep track of the amount of drinking water left in the tanks, fuel, batteries state, engine hours etc.

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And perhaps somewhere to note the names of crew members and guests.

It is surprising too, how keeping records can help in problem solving. I know someone who was worried about the varying amount of water in his bilges.

Some times there would be quite a lot other times nothing.

It wasn’t until he started keeping a record that he was able to tie the rise in bilge water level to the times when he filled his fresh water tanks.

A maintenance log will also help keep track of those jobs.

When did you last grease you stern tube or check the seacocks?

All it needs is a list of jobs with columns next to it with space to quickly write in the date.

Remember this is your personal log book unlike a ‘Ships Log’ it isn’t a legal document, so use it to suit you.

Use your imagination to create something you will enjoy keeping up to date.

Someday who knows it could become the latest publishing sensation

If you want a truly unique Log Book have a look at the designs by Claudia Myatt available from Starfish Books.


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Electronic Log Books.

"Setting the course, keeping the dead reckoning up to date, and fixing the position by observations of the celestial bodies, call for nothing more than simple arithmetic, a little geometry, and some dexterity in handling a sextant."
 (Eric Hiscock)

The paper log books traditionally used by commercial ships are gradually being replaced with electronic logs or E log books.

Their point is to make the keeping of the log more formal.

However, this means that they are set up to rule out precisely the advantages the paper log book has for the small boat owner.


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