Boat Inventory

While we were cruising we found we needed to maintain some kind of inventory of all the stuff we stored in Callipygia's copious lockers. All the supplies, spare parts, etc., etc. Otherwise, in order to get something, we had to first remember which locker it was in, then hunt through assorted containers until we found the right one. This could be very frustrating and take a lot of time. With the inventory, it got much easier and then after a couple of years we could hold in our heads where most of the frequently used items were.

Our inventory system was pretty ad hoc until Pat's niece, Kath, and her partner Chris, visited for two weeks in December, 2001, while we were in Melbourne, FL, getting everything ready for going to the Bahamas. Kath is about as compulsive as Pat about organizing things, and she and Chris did a fantastic job of going through every locker and listing every last little item in a computer spreadsheet. About the only things which weren't individually inventoried were fasteners, clips, pencils, etc. These were kept in small plastic boxes or containers according to what kind of items they are, and then the boxes/containers were listed on the inventory.

  1. The Main Inventory listed the quantity, size, description, and type of each item on the boat (except as listed on other inventories described below), and gave the item's location. The Inventory was sorted by type of item (such as "plumbing", "tool", "engine", etc.) and within each type the items were sorted alphabetically by item name. For those items (such as lines, shackles, etc.) that had a size/length, the size/length went before the description for ease of reference. Spare parts had the manufacturer's part number listed beside their description.   Occasionally we couldn't remember what "type" an item we were looking for was categorized under, so we just powered up the laptop and searched for the item by name. Also, we re-sorted the spreadsheet by location so we also had a list of (for example) everything that was in Blue Bucket #2 in the engine room.
  2. On a separate spreadsheet we made a Drugstore Inventory which listed all first aid and medical items, showing where they were stored and expiration dates (for prescription drugs). This included an inventory of the First Aid Bag (supplies kept in a clear plastic camping DriBag, with a red tape Red Cross on each side.) A printed copy of this hung in the head.
  3. A a third spreadsheet was prepared for the Food Inventory. Rather than trying to keep track of edible items, which turned over so much, a shopping list was kept so that when something was used it was added to the shopping list for restocking. Periodically, in advance of a major passage, everything was re-inventoried prior to provisioning.
  4. A Line Inventory was created for the first hurricane season (in Luperón). This listed the length and diameter of every piece of available chain, line, cable, and rope on the boat and was kept in a clear plastic sleeve along with all other hurricane reference material in a wall pocket above the Nav Station.
  5. The Battery Inventory listed everything (and there were a lot of electrical gadgets) that used disposable batteries, such as AA, AAA, C, D, etc. Doing this inventory really helped us get a grip on how many spare batteries of each kind we need to keep on board--which put us in a position to sometimes help out other cruisers who were in a bind for lack of batteries. We were amazed (?horrified?) to find how many batteries we needed.
  6. The inventory of Charts and Cruising Guides grew slowly and relentlessly as we broadened our reach of cruising areas. We were reluctant to dispose of charts/guides of areas we'd been to, because--who knows--we might go back there. So generally, we kep them all.

It must be admitted that it was a huge effore to create the inventory in the first place, and probably wouldn't have been as well done without Kath and Chris's help. That said, having it saved an untold amount of frustration when we wanted to know (for example) "where does the 3/16" wrench live?" or "do we have any 5/16" dowell?".   A printed copy of each inventory was kept in a plastic sleeve in the lexan wall pocket (bought at an office supply store) above the Nav Station. We did a pretty good job of marking up this copy whenever anything changed--was added or used up.  We marked up changes on the inventory pages, and about twice a year the computer spreadsheet was updated from the markup and a new one printed out.   Because the inventory ran to about 20 pages (small print), a table of contents was created that showed the page number for each "type" category of item. This made it really easy to find any item on the list, quickly, and immediately learn where it was located.

For the most part stuff was stored by type of item, many times in plastic/tupperware boxes, or ziplock bags. Over time, lockers were reorganized, and sometimes items moved, so that eventually the most frequently used things, and emergency items, were in the places that were easiest to access, and the seldom-used items were in the more inaccessible spots. These changes, of course, had to be reflected in the inventory next time it is updated--but we thought it well worth the effort in terms of time saved searching for stuff, or money wasted by purchasing unneceessary duplicates of items we already had on board.

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

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