“Keep your receipts and invoices” is a phrase said all too often about any car, house or yacht, with the intention being bigger than what actually happens. Going back to the focus of our yachting enthusiastic readers, we mean that everyone who owns a yacht has the best intentions on day one to keep a meticulous ‘manual’ of everything to do with their yacht. From fuel receipts, to engine services, to the bill of sale, we look into what a good practice of record keeping is.
Log books have been synonymous with yachts and shipping years before technology has put gadgets into our hands. Watch officers had to plot their location on charts periodically, and back these up with headings, speeds and other remarkable bits of information in log books. These meant that they could keep on top of everything that has occurred in a vessel’s passage at the quick glance of a notebook, and if anything were to every go wrong, then a log book would certainly assist in backing up the facts that have occurred. This is an important lesson for yacht owners, who may sometimes be very relaxed about their log keeping. In the event of an insurance claim such as a grounding, the claims adjusters may ask for the log book to see if there was a genuine accident having occurred, or if there was any purposeful intent on trying to force an insurance claim. We recommend always completing the log book at the start and end of any passage, which may take as little as 2 minutes to complete, and at 6 hour intervals on longer passages.
Charts and means of navigation
Whilst navigation has become significantly easier over the years thanks to technology giving us electronic charts in the palms of our hands, it is important to always think of a backup. Paper charts are becoming a novelty, however it is important to include these in the standard ships equipment you would have in your chart table. In the event of an electrical outage onboard rendering your chart plotter unfunctional, or a satellite outage from GPS providers, you may find that a hand bearing compass and a pencil become your best ally for knowing where you are and keeping your yacht safe on passage.
Whilst this isn’t a fundamental law to have backup charts, it is seen as best practice and there have been cases where insurance companies have successfully denied claims for vessels being ‘unseaworthy’. Unseaworthiness would extend to not having and utilising all available means of navigation available to oneself, such as a paper charts. Therefore they are a must in our yacht inventory checklist.
You’ll need to state the value of your boat when you take out insurance, which might be difficult with older or more unusual vessels. When insuring a boat, it’s common to pay a marine surveyor to come out and value your craft so that you have this evidence for the insurer. Some insurers will insist on a valuation by a surveyor for boats over a certain age or of certain types before agreeing cover.
The following pages should then be split into subsections; Engines, Deck Hardware, Masts and Spars, safety equipment, etc.
Keeping a receipt is important, but may not be the best to keep onboard in case it gets wet or otherwise lost as a peril of the sea. We recommend keeping these receipts at home away from the vessel, and noting the receipt or invoice number along with the dates, work carried out and paid amounts in the log book.
The documents in existence here will vary depending on your locality. A boat navigating in US waters or purchased in the US will be accompanied by a US Coast Guard Bill of Sale and registration document. On the contrary, a vessel in the UK may only come with a Bill of Sale, as registering small vessels is not mandatory. We recommend that regardless of the voluntary regulations about registering a vessel, it is a prudent measure to register any vessel regardless. It may incur a fee of around £40 or $50, but is a good step towards ensuring that the relevant authorities are aware of your vessel ownership. In the event of your vessel being stolen, this registration will go a long way towards helping you justify your ownership to the insurance company. It may also help in contacting you after the vessel is recovered by the authorities.
With the looming implications of Brexit largely unknown, we recommend keeping a paper trail of the tax status of the vessel both onboard at all times, but also a copy at a safe place away from the vessel. This will help in identifying to any customs officials whether duty is to be paid or not, and may get you out of a pickle when travelling to cruising grounds where the jurisdiction is less than clear.
These are always important if you are on your yacht with friends, and an eventuality occurs where the emergency contact of an individual needs to be contacted. This could be for minor reasons such as having an allergic reaction, right the way through to only the worst that comes to mind. Make sure that you take note of all crew’s emergency contact details when they come onboard, as this can help you save vital minutes in accessing their phone and going through their contact list when events take a turn for the worse.
We are strong advocates for accurate and timely record keeping across all areas mentioned above, regardless whether it is for the safety of your crew, the safety of your vessel or for being able to justify and evidence a loss as being genuine to an insurance company.