Animated Knots

Publisher Info

Ketchikan Yacht Club (KYC)
P.O. Box 6694
Ketchikan, Alaska 99901

Roger Maynard

The Ketchikan Yacht Club (KYC) is a domestic non-profit corporation, registered and licensed to do business in the State of Alaska. The Ketchikan Yacht Club blog is an information service for members and guests, and a public advertisement for the Ketchikan Yacht Club.

Boating and navigation information in this blog is published in good faith based on the best information available including local knowledge, but is not intended to replace authoritive sources. Mariners are cautioned to use all authoritive sources when planning trips or operating a boat.

The Ketchikan Yacht Club is organized as a social and recreation club under section 501(C)(7) of the U.S. Tax Code; contributions are not tax deductible.

Cruising | Maintenance | Navigation

Build Your Own Ship’s Log

A ship’s log adds to your boating experience in a number of ways. The logbook can serve as a navigation log, maintenance log, weather log, guest log, incident log, and a written narrative to record the day’s highlights for reading or reference at some future date.

The ship’s logbook is also a legal document in a court of law if you can testify that it is kept up on a timely basis, and entries are not erased or changed after the time they are made. A well-kept log is your best friend if you end up in a legal battle based on your boat operation or activities.

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 page layouts were better than others, but none seemed to offer exactly what we wanted.  And they were expensive.

The ship’s log lies open on the side shelf in the pilothouse.

With another cruise about to begin, we decided to design and 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 dinghy, 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.

The page layout allows flexibility

We also considered what we didn’t need.  For example, some logs have separate sections 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.  If your book is exposed to the weather, “Rite in Rain” paper is available in reams of 8 1/2 x 11. We used a computer spreadsheet program to design and print all of the pages.

The page backs have room for pertinent calculations, diagrams, etc.

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, the local office supply store will punch the covers and pages, add a piece of acetate to protect the front cover, and put it all together with a plastic spiral binding.

The entire book cost about $10 in materials, is perfectly laid out for our needs, and took a half day to create.  And it will be with CAMAI for as long as we own her.


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