Ship’s Log

Click image for a larger view

We keep a detailed ship’s log that records where we have been, what we have done, system state, and things we fix. Unlike commercial ship’s logs, that normally are hand-maintained and can’t be modified, ours is a bit primitive in that it’s just a Word document. We focus on it being easy to maintain rather than meeting commercial standards of non-updatability. 

An example ships log entry from this morning is show above (click image for a larger view). The core of each log entry is a short section showing depth, weather, and lat/long for both the departure location and the arrival location. Below this is a trip summary showing distance covered, average speed, maximum speed, hours on each engine, and other system summary data. All of this standard data that shows up in each log entry is produced by a program we wrote called BoatReporter.

On our boat a central software control systems collects nearly 200 data points on the boat system state and records it every 5 seconds in a MariaDB database.  This data base is used to produce reports like those of BoatReporter but it also is used to produce alarms, illuminate indicator lights, send email, and a portion of this database is updates to for the real time boat location data on the web site.

To keep the log simple, when we arrive at a new location we just fill in the location name and copy the BoatReporter program screen showing the last trip.  The only other data we have to hand-maintain is each fix, change, or maintenance operation on the boat gets an entry in after the trip summary. 

To alert us to when we need to do scheduled maintenance work, we use our MaintenanceLog spreadsheet.  When a work item is done, we mark it done in the spreadsheet and add an entry in our ships log.

This is a simple approach to a ship’s log, meets our needs, and since BoatReporter does all the work, allows us to record a lot of detail without doing any work by hand. It’s just a copy and paste.  We’ve considered updating the log to a programmatically-maintained database application, but we find what we currently have takes little time so we’ve never been motivated to make that change.


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