The Deck Log

The Deck Log was the official record of Callipygia's travels. We developed the format based on that used when Pat (twice) completed the American Sailing Association's Advanced Coastal Cruising course with the Maryland School of Sailing and Seamanship. One of these training trips was a circumnavigation of the DelMarVa peninsula, and the other went from Norfolk, VA to Mystic, CT. The initial format of Callipygia's Deck Log was modelled on the format used in those courses, with modifications based on readings from various texts on seamanship. In January, 2003, in finalizing the Ship's Logs for this website, we reviewed what we were doing and made some further changes to facilitate the organization of log information so that it more easily yielded useful information for future passage planning. Four months later, the format was revised again so that was easier to complete and keep in the cockpit.

It should be noted that the Deck Log is the legal document of any ship's control, course, and actions in the event of an accident. We were amazed (?horrified) to discover that some cruisers maintain minimal, or no, Log - or for that matter any a record of their trips other than a few markings on some charts.

Table of Contents for this Article
     1. Log Format 2. Log Content 3. Trip Summaries


1. Log Format

The first few pages of Callipygia's Deck Log were reprints of the Power Squadron's Junior Navigation training manual on maintaining a log. Essentially, the dictum is to fill in the log every hour on the hour, while making additional entries whenever there is change of speed or course. Once the log had been entered, then the boat's position was marked on the chart. Having the log entries to refer back to is an essential safeguard in the event charting mistakes are made--as can easily happen when crew are tired. Also, we found that having the log to fill out helped whoever was on watch since it gave him/her a goal and something to do, especially at night when things might otherwise be a bit boring (we hoped). We found it invaluable to maintain this Log, especially when the trip was challenging and we got tired.

We experimented with various formats for the Deck Log. We started out with printed tables we made on the computer, and then bound in a spiral binding. Then we switched to a spiral notebook with hand drawn pages, in 3 sections. Eventually we settled on pages with a table printed on each side and stapled together so each page of the log was 2 pages across. We stapled together 12 of these pages at a time, and kept them, and a pen for writing, in a plastic sleeve to keep it dry in the cockpit. This worked well for us. We reduced the columns to those we felt were essentiall--we found that in earlier versions of the Log we had columns to fill out that we consistently ignored. We also maintained a separate set of stapled sheets of paper that we filled out, periodically, giving a summary of each daily trip information from the Log. This summary gave a quick picture of each passage, and in fact of each year's travels. As the stapled sets of log sheets were used up, they were clipped together with a big alligator clip and kept for reference purposes.


2. Log Content

The Day/Date was filled out at the top of every page, as well as the starting and ending location of the trip. The first line was completed at the time of departure, noting the engine hour reading in the Comments line. Subsquent lines were completed each hour, or if there was a change in course or speed. The following elements had columns on the left-hand page:

The right hand page had columns for the following elements:

On arrival at the end of a trip a final line of entries was made and the engine hour meter reading noted in the Comment line. On the next line were calculated the time underway, log distance, average boat speed, and engine hours. Also, the rhumb line distance was calculated, and the speed made good towards the destination. Below these calculations a line was drawn across both pages, closing the log for the passage.


3. Trip Summaries

This section was kept on separate (stapled) sheets of paper, with a table that ran across one page. It had a column for each item listed below. A line was completed for every day (midnight to midnight) we were on a passage. This section was not filled out until each passage is completed.

Although it took a bit of effort to do this, the real payoff from keeping a log were found on this page since it is the part that was most often referred to. It provided the essential statistics about our travels and boat performance. We could quickly look here to find out where we were, when. And, in this summary, at each year's end, we made a note of of annual nautical miles travelled, hours underway, and days in transit.


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Bill Dillon (KG4QFM)
Pat Watt (KG4QFQ)
This page was last modified on August 9, 2009

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