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What is a Maintenance Log and Why Is It Important To Keep One?

By The Ahoy! Crew
Published December 15, 2022

Sometimes, on land, our world seems filled to bursting with distractions that make it difficult to be honestly and truly present with ourselves, our family, and our immediate environment. Conversely, when I am on the water boating, being present is not a choice, it is a requirement, and I surrender myself to this wholeheartedly. The weather conditions, the sea state, the catch of the day: these experiences are what they are without any regard to whether they are as predicted or out of left field. They just are. They are the here and now on the water. The simple and beautiful present moment.

Now, let’s say you are on the water fully present with your surroundings and your motor stops running or overheats, you lose steerage or a piece of hardware breaks? Do you panic?  

Depending on the circumstances, possibly yes but hopefully not.

Ideally, you calmly yet rapidly and systematically trace the problem to the source. You troubleshoot and restore function or find a safe place to drop the hook and figure out what happened. Perhaps, you limp back into port, tie up or haul out. Eventually, you will find yourself in a safe place wondering why the failure occurred, how to fix it, and, more importantly, how to guard against such surprises in the future.  

The Boat Maintenance Log

The boat’s maintenance log can be a great resource for problem-solving and guarding against future problems at this very moment. A maintenance log is all about recording maintenance that has been done, what was used/replaced, when, and by whom. This log keeps track of the present and informs the future in a number of different ways that all benefit the boat, boat owner, and crew. 

  1. Keeping to a boat maintenance checklist on a routine basis and recording tasks in a log is definitively a good idea in the long run of a boat’s life.  Boats and all associated systems come with a set of maintenance requirements and recommendations that aim to keep your boat performing like new. Routine maintenance performed per the schedule set out in the logbook can stem problems that may be developing yet going unnoticed.  
  2. A maintenance log is an excellent tool for organizing and storing all the parts and to do’s of one’s boat maintenance checklist that are easy to forget, mix up, or get out of pace with.  
  3. A maintenance log is also useful when looking at the history and patterns they record. On a maintenance log one can see records of parts that are being serviced, replaced, or repaired more regularly than makes sense. This can be a cue for further investigation into the problem.  Perhaps this part replacement is not actually solving the problem that is causing failure. Or perhaps the part being serviced is not being serviced properly.  A log can help a boat owner see when something is not right or something more may be happening in their vessel.  
  4. A maintenance log is also a great place to store important information about boat parts. Make, models, serial numbers, cost and source information kept in the logbook make re-ordering a snap.    
  5. A thorough maintenance log gives a well maintained boat better resale value. Potential buyers/new owners can see care in this record keeping that speaks volumes. Further a well kept maintenance log sets the stage for a smooth transition of ownership which adds value to a sale. 
  6. A well kept maintenance log is indispensable in the event a boat owner needs to file a claim to their insurance company. Some insurance companies require claimants to share their log in order to demonstrate that the boat owner was following industry guidelines while owning and caring for their boat. This log is the proof showing that the claim is not stemming from negligence.

While there are clearly many good reasons to keep a maintenance log, a maintenance log is only as good as the information actually recorded within its pages. Include record keeping as part of your maintenance routine instead of an afterthought or a separate task and your maintenance log will be a great asset. Log information can be simply written in a notebook, or entered on a computer. Additionally, Logs are available for purchase online and at many marine supply stores.

Consider at a minimum recording dated information about performing the following regular use and maintenance tasks:

  • Fuel: usage, fuel grade, cost, refuel location
  • Filters (Oil, Fuel, and Water): check, change, replace, serial number, cost and source information
  • Oil: change, schedule, brand and grade used
  • Water Pump Impeller/s: inspection notes, date changed, serial number, cost, and source information
  • Pump/s (water, bilge, fuel): inspection notes, date changed, serial numbers, cost, and source information
  • Fluid (lubricants, coolant, fuel stabilizer): usage, brand, cost, and source information.
  • Belts and Hoses: Inspection and replacement date, cost, source
  • Running Gear (Propeller, strut, propeller shaft, seal, cutlass bearing) inspection, service, required adjustments/changes, size, cost, source
  • Electrical equipment including navigation lights: inspection notes, date changed, serial numbers, cost, and source information
  • Outboard motor: Inspection, service, required adjustments/changes
  • Spark Plugs: inspection, required adjustments/changes
  • Zincs: sizes, locations, date changed
  • Safety Equipment (including fire extinguisher/s, alarm/s, liferaft, EPIRB): inspection notes, date registered, resupplied, cost, and source information
  • Annual Insurance and/or moorage: cost, source, and coverage/location

The majority of boat owners take pride in their boats. They spend money and put countless hours of effort on and off the water properly maintaining, storing, and using their boat/s.   


Truly, the answer lies in each individual, but if I were to take a stab at it I would say it is because boaters share an unmatched clarity and presence in their best and even their worst moments on the water. Keeping a maintenance log is the quiet icing on this cake or the cherry on top. It is worth the extra effort.  

Take two steps forward in protecting your vessel: Start logging your maintenance and get a quote from Ahoy! today.  


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