A Boat Maintenance Schedule that Can't Fail

Posted by at 04:35PM - Comments: (2)

March 12, 2013

 A good friend messaged me a photo the other day, the first daffodils of the season nosing up through the soft loam along the walkway leading to her house. Beautiful. I could feel the first migraine of the season coming on. I blame it on The List. Correction: The Lists—To Do, To Buy, To Put Off for Another Day. This is the season of lists.

Regular maintenance of exterior wood finishes can save the hassle and headache of stripping and refinishing.

I’d like to believe that I’m as organized as some other people in this office—that as a boy, my room was spotless and organized, and my sock drawer meticulously ordered. But I’m not. So I’m turning to another oldie but goodie from the Practical Sailor Offshore Log files on the art of boat maintenance. Be sure to check out the full article “Offshore Log: Setting Up a Maintenance Program” before launching into your spring “To Do” list.

As PS Editor-at-Large Nick Nicholson describes, the most important step to reclaiming time lost to maintenance chores is organization—and the first step to getting organized is to write everything down.

“Rule number one of any maintenance program is simple: Never trust your memory. A written maintenance log is essential. It can be as basic as a hand-written notebook, or as sophisticated as a computer spreadsheet. There’s even proprietary computer software for creating maintenance logs. Whether sophisticated or simple, the basic requirements of any maintenance log are the same:

1. Divide jobs into categories.

2. Define the task.

3. Determine the service interval.

4. Note specialized tools or materials required.

5. Inventory consumable materials.

6. Record the date the job is actually done.”

In addition to my maintenance logbook, I keep a small pocket-sized notebook with me at all times. It lives on the dashboard of my truck or in my pocket. That way, I can immediately jot down what it is I need, or want, to buy as soon as it comes to mind. These notes are usually transferred to a more permanent list on the laptop, a list that grows and swells depending on the season. Today, we have a range of apps and calendar tools that make keeping a maintenance schedule easy, but for big boat projects, I still prefer a yellow legal pad.

There is something satisfying about scratching things off a list when they are done.

By the way, if you ever feel overwhelmed by all the work involved in a particular project and feel like you're getting nowhere, here's a secret an old salt once shared with me: Start out your list with a dozen things you’ve already done; then cross them off the list.

There’s always time to enjoy the daffodils.

If you’ve got a big project (or a bunch of small ones) for this spring, share them in the comment section below, and I’ll try to point you toward the archived articles that will help set you on the right track. Don’t forget that we’ve got a three-part ebook series on Marine Cleaners, covering everything from gelcoat restoration to combatting mildew, in our online bookstore.

Comments (2)

In reference to the statement "There's even proprietary computer software for creating maintenance logs", has PS looked at any of these, and can you provide a list?

Posted by: LARRY B | March 25, 2013 3:15 PM    Report this comment

Just 3 days after I purchased a Weems and Plath naintenance log and then spent 2 days in the engine room, because I lost track of too many items. Impeller, heat exchanger, belt, and hoses. I could have been worse but I learned. Good timing for your post to support my growth.

I just joined electronically as we live aboard, and have not had time to get into the archives. Any recommendations for designing and installing a new solar system from soup to nuts on our new arch.

Thanks, Barry Lyon s/v Gaiamar

Posted by: sailorman | March 14, 2013 9:15 PM    Report this comment


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