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Date: 2 November 2013. 3x5 Cards.


Keeping track of your paperwork aboard a boat can be problematic if you're not inclined to be organized and in that regard I think my system is pretty doggone good. Everyone should have a real log book, a record of the work done on your boat, maintenance schedules, etc. Yet it's the paperwork that comes with your wind generator, electric blanket, solar controller and such that can wind up in divergent spots -- and that's to be avoided. My system is simple:

Years ago at a Target I discovered their $1 section by the front entrance and found fancy file folders. Frankly I'd look for a bit better quality than mine (the corners are not watertight and the plastic isn't the greatest either) but it works! Each item that has an owner's manual is in this one envelope, filed in alphabetical order so retrieving is simple.

When I've had my sewing machine (girls, I've got a Singer Featherweight!!! -- although I threw it out of tension again) repaired (she's a 1937 so a bit rough around the edges) the receipt goes into the file. Bilge pump paperwork and proof of purchase are together too. 

A lot of the owner's manuals now have multiple languages and I simply take out my scissors and eliminate the foreign stuff. It's of no interest nor use to me. Purchase receipts or dates are noted on the cover along with the length of warranty. Any time I speak with a representative of the company I note their names and usually the dates/outcome of our conversation.

Still, the most useful paper I carry are my 3"x5" index cards:



Each 3x5 card has one topic... and yes, items do
overlap so some things will be on multiple cards.

  • Food stuffs or grocery store items

  • Dollar Store - for instance, canned clams are almost the same quality as the $1.75 per can variety at the grocery store, along with puzzle books for relaxation with that first cup of caffeine... that sort of thing.

  • Hardware store (auto parts or Home Depot) - list includes sockets, terminal rings and such

  • Marine Toy Store (aka West Marine, etc.) for wishing!

  • Marine consignment shop - things I want but not enough to pay Defender prices for. For instance, I've got a 30 amp and 15 amp plugs and rather than buy another adaptor plug (I have one) I'm seeking a 6" piece of 10 gauge shielded 3-strand yellow cord. I'll make another -- but I'm not willing to pay $9 per foot at West, so with the price noted when I run across some of that wire I'll know what's a good deal -- and more importantly: what is not!

  • The List - this is for thrift store shopping. For instance I had been using a piece of tin foil folded over as a wind shield for the burner while cooking. I knew that the outer edge part of a spring form pan (such as you'd use to make a pineapple-upside down cake) would do the same thing and be much nicer to look at, but wasn't going to pay retail for something like that. Eventually, for 99 cents I found just what I wanted:


Teapot with wind shield in place.



By keeping a set of cards with me at all times I'm ready should I be offered a ride to a store. If someone suggests hardware store I pull out the appropriate 3x5 card and I'm ready. Ditto boat store, etc. And when riding with someone I'm always conscious of time. By having a list I don't have to dawdle, though goodness knows I do enjoy doing so, especially in thrift stores!

One of my notes says Lentils. Thus far the containers I use to grow my sprouts do not have a good place where they can't fall when waked by a boat. The note reminds me when in a thrift store to think about Lentils and perhaps I'll find just the right storage solution. I'm sure there are projects you're considering and when out in the world (ashore, shopping) it's nice to have a reference list.

For that purpose I suggest a stack of 3x5's. They fit into your pocket and are handy reminders. I'm sure there are those that enjoy their smart phones and such, but for me an old-fashioned hand-written list is so much better. I can cross out items as acquired, add things that interest me, and my notes are a great reminder.

In addition I have a couple pages of 1/4" quad-square paper. On those sheets I have every measurement for the boat. I can tell you the dimensions of each window, the distance between the bench seats of my dinette, how tall the dinette is, the width of the seats, the distance from the pilothouse to my bunk, how large the floor is where I shower... basically, everything! When out and about I can refer to these pages and it assists me in making sure what I'm tempted to buy actually will fit!

Folks mistake this for efficiency...
it's just my way of not forgetting important stuff.

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What do you use as reminders for things you'd like for your boat?
Is there a better compact (waterproof) container for paperwork than my file folder?


2013, 2018, 2020

Categories: Organizing, Recommendations

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