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Vessel Maintenance Log - What it is & How to Manage it

Dimitris Tsapis
January 8, 2022
This article delves into the nuts and bolts of a vessel maintenance log and how to efficiently streamline your processes through software solutions.

To avoid unexpected surprises related to your vessel, it’s no secret that maintenance should be one of your top priorities. However, maintenance is includes a lot more than your regular checks, visual inspections and hasty examinations. 

Depending on the size and built of your yacht, there’s a significant number of tasks that need to be performed regularly to ensure its safety and performance. 

While maintenance mainly falls upon the engineer of the vessel, their ability to perform their tasks effectively affects the whole crew. This is why keeping a vessel maintenance log is crucial if you want your routine to be efficient and precise. 

In this article, we talk about the importance of a vessel maintenance log and give you a brief overview of its contents. To this end, we provide the main benefits of a vessel maintenance log and the main sections it should encompass. Finally, we look at some essential tools you can use to help you manage these tasks smoothly. 

UPDATE 13/10/2021: Check out the new boat maintenance log feature of Plan M8

What is a maintenance log book?

A vessel maintenance log book is a rather simple, albeit very useful document. It contains a list of all the actions that need to be taken in order to keep your boat in perfect condition. 

vessel maintenance log

The booklet offers a detailed overview of all of the equipment that needs to be maintained and help you track maintenance history. Additionally, it can include precise information on things like: 

  • materials and time needed for maintenance
  • spare parts and suppliers
  • the operator in charge of the maintenance of a particular piece of equipment 
  • Etc. 

Note that every vessel will usually come with its own maintenance log and the concept is important yet somewhat outdated. Let’s briefly go through the importance of a maintenance log before looking into more efficient, alternative solutions.

Why is keeping a boat maintenance log important?

Beyond the obvious benefits of staying organized and up to date with your maintenance, there are some additional advantages of keeping a precise vessel maintenance log. 

Save on upfront costs

Keeping a detailed vessel maintenance log will allow you to know exactly when to repair or replace old equipment. You will gather data regarding failure patterns, expenditure, and repairs. This will allow you to save up a lot of money in the long run. 

For instance, let’s say you have a piece of equipment that fails regularly. The maintenance vessel log will show you the pattern of breakdowns that needs your attention. It should allow you to opt for a new piece of equipment that will be more efficient and cost-friendly. Not to mention, the added warranty that would minimize maintenance costs even further. 

On the other hand, the absence of a log can also lead to a disorganised maintenance schedule and more breakdowns. In turn, your ship will be stuck in port, keeping your crew idle and wasting money instead of earning. 

Finally, the repairs themselves can be quite costly. Add up the overtime for repair technicians and urgent parts deliveries and it becomes clear how keeping a vessel maintenance log becomes a money-saver. 

Identify trend across equipment parts, brands, and components

Keeping a vessel maintenance log will help you clarify recurring trends related to equipment. You will be able to draw patterns across models, brands, and components. 

This, in turn, allows you to highlight the best course of action when it comes to durability, repairs, availability, etc. 

Adding to that, the more consistent your maintenance log records are, the more pertinent the data will be. This data will then be crucial for you to avoid any money-sinks, and to develop sustainable best-case scenarios for the equipment on board.  

Increase the safety of crew members

As we mentioned previously, keeping a detailed vessel maintenance log should result in fewer breakdowns. If your equipment is always kept in perfect working condition, it reduces the risks of accidents considerably. 

The log allows you to track your equipment’s health, ensuring a safer working environment for the most important resource - your crew. 

  1. Prevent problems regarding warranty claims

Yet another benefit of carefully documenting maintenance and repairs on your vessel equipment, is that warranty claim processes become much more streamlined. 

First, you can track all warranty information through a single document. Easily accessing this information is crucial to be able to think ahead. 

For instance, it can be extremely troublesome when you are counting on a warranty claim for an essential piece of equipment, only to discover that its warranty has expired. Worse, this usually happens once the part has broken down, causing unexpected costs. 

Moreover, keeping the exact dates and types of maintenance done on your equipment will help you easily determine your rights on warranty claims.  

Track the crew’s accountability of certain pieces of equipment

Keeping a log of maintenance checks will allow for better accountability of the crew members that maintain and operate with the equipment on board. 

Crew carelessness can be a major factor in equipment failure. Thankfully, the vessel maintenance log can help you detect these patterns. You can then monitor crew-members that show signs of negligence and act accordingly. 

Furthermore, ensuring everyone knows that you keep these types of records will encourage the crew to be more careful with the equipment. 

And finally, the operators that are in charge of maintaining the equipment are equally held accountable for their work. This should ensure that the maintenance is always done up to the standards set up by the captain

Increase the resale value of your equipment (and vessel)

Record-keeping helps you prove that the equipment has been properly taken care of during the time it was used on the vessel. 

This can have a great impact on the decision of a second-hand buyer. The records paint a clear picture of the attention the previous owner has given to a certain asset. It boosts the buyer’s confidence that the equipment is in perfect condition and that it will serve them well. 

As such, equipment with maintenance records retains a much higher value than equipment with no vessel maintenance log. 

Create specialized maintenance programs

The equipment on your yacht undergoes widely different various working conditions and types of usages. Your vessel maintenance log will allow you to separate your maintenance programs into routine checkups and more detailed ones. 

Thanks to the log, you can cross-reference data such as part suppliers, repairmen, and technicians. You can then create specific maintenance programs for each type of equipment. 

For instance, it can help you set up routine lifeboat equipment list checkups on shorter intervals and in-depth engine and hull checks for your lifeboats on a 6-month basis. 

Main elements of a yacht maintenance log

Generally speaking, vessel maintenance logs have two main sections, that can contain different types of information: 

General equipment information

This section contains the information needed to identify the piece of equipment that needs your attention. This includes: 

  • The name of the equipment. 
  • Type of equipment. 
  • Model and manufacturer. 
  • Serial number. 
  • Location on the vessel. 
  • Crew members responsible for the equipment. 

In addition to this basic information, you can add some additional pertinent data such as: 

  • Date of purchase. 
  • Purchase price. 
  • Warranty duration and/or expiry date. 
  • Spare parts in stock. 

Maintenance calendar

The second, and equally important section of your vessel maintenance log will be your maintenance calendar. In this part, you will record crucial data such as: 

  • The description of the maintenance. 
  • The scheduled maintenance date.  
  • Crew-members involved in the maintenance. 
  • Eventual external technicians, service providers, and/or part suppliers.  
vessel maintenance log calendar

Boat maintenance checklist 

Providing you with a complete checklist of all the tasks that need to be carried out on a vessel could be a bit of an overreach. However, this short checklist should give you a good idea of what to expect when planning your boat maintenance. 

  • Engine - check for corrosion, cracked hoses, leaks, etc. 
  • Propeller - critical for performance and fuel economy, the propeller will need a thorough check before every launch. 
  • Battery - must be checked frequently as it can be subject to corrosion. 
  • Electrical lines - deteriorating electricals can be a fire hazard. Check out this article for additional information on yachts’ electrical systems
  • Oil - staying on schedule with oil checks is a determining factor in avoiding critical engine failures. 
  • Other fluids - steering fluids, coolants need to be checked periodically to ensure smooth sailing. 
  • Hull - check frequently for cracks and blisters and avoid costly leaks. 

Check out the video below for a visual representation of a boat maintenance checkup. 

As you may be able to tell, maintenance is as important as it is chaotic. Organizing task history into regular notebooks and excel sheets can quickly lead to an overwhelming amount of data that can confuse both the captain and the engineer. 

Aside from that, you will often have to make smaller notes and highlights about your tasks, which makes record-keeping even more complex.

Thankfully, there is a solution!

PlanM8 - boat maintenance log book software

At PlanM8 we offer the ultimate solution when it comes to your vessel maintenance and record-keeping.  

vessel maintenance software

Our app allows you to easily plan your maintenance schedule and easily cross-reference your equipment with suppliers. The entire process becomes simpler, reducing your running costs and the time spent on maintenance processes. 

Using it is simple and intuitive - components can be added to your database and then used to create specific maintenance tasks in your calendar. 

yacht maintenance log book

Become an early PlanM8 adopter; try the app now

Wrapping up

In this article, we established the importance of a detailed vessel maintenance log and provided a list of major benefits of holding one, including: 

  • Saving you time and money.
  • Identifying maintenance trends.
  • Increasing safety.
  • Streamlining warranty claims.
  • Tracking the crew’s accountability.
  • Increasing equipment resale value.
  • Creating maintenance programs.

All in all, the benefits of holding a vessel maintenance log are quite compelling. Furthermore, software solutions make this previously tedious task easy to incorporate into your daily routine. So if you aren’t already keeping a maintenance logbook, there are no practical reasons to not start one immediately.