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Date: 2 November 2013. 3x5 Cards.


Keeping track of product paperwork aboard a boat can be problematic unless you are inclined to be organized. In that regard I believe my system is quite adequate. Everyone should have a real log book, a record of the work done on your boat, maintenance schedules, etc. Yet it is the paperwork that comes with your wind generator, electric blanket, solar controller and such that can wind up in divergent spots -- and that is 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 would look for a bit better quality than mine (the corners are not watertight and the plastic is not the greatest either) however it works! Each item that has an owner's manual is in this one envelope. All are filed in alphabetical order so retrieving is simple.

When I 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 is of no interest nor use to me. Purchase receipts or dates are noted on the cover along with the length of warranty in *ink. Any time I speak with a representative of the company I note their names and usually the dates/outcome of our conversation.

*Ink: Receipts are often printed in ink that will fade. I copy the relevant information that I would need as Proof of Purchase in ink on the product paperwork.

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 aka 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 have 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 will then make another. I am not willing to pay $9 per foot at West, so with the price noted when I run across some of that wire I will know what's a good deal -- and more importantly: what is not a bargain!

  • 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 would use to make a pineapple-upside down cake) would do the same thing and be much nicer to look at, but was not 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 am ready should I be offered a ride to a store. If someone suggests hardware store I pull out the appropriate 3x5 card and my shopping list is ready. Ditto boat store, etc. When riding with someone I am always conscious of time. By having a list I do not have to dawdle, though goodness knows I do enjoy doing so, especially in thrift stores!

The Columbia Marine Exchange is a candy store for boaters. It is located in Portland, Oregon.

One of my notes says Lentils. Thus far the containers I use to grow my sprouts do not have a good place to grow where they cannot fall when waked by a boat. The note reminds me when in a thrift store to think about Lentils. Perhaps I will find just the right storage solution. I am certain there are projects you are considering. When out in the world (ashore, shopping) it is convenient to have a reference list of upcoming improvements.

For that purpose I suggest a stack of 3" by 5" cards. They fit into your pocket and are handy as reminders. I am certain 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 list to spark my imagination.

I do a lot of project pondering over a cup of coffee at my dinette...

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 am tempted to buy actually will fit!


Folks mistake this for efficiency...
it is simply my way of not forgetting important stuff.

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?

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