Keeping Track of Everything–part 3 …

Jeff Seigel, founder of ActiveCaptain, writes…

This series has generated a lot of interest so we’ll pick up the pace and continue with it. After today’s newsletter, there’ll be one more segment and then we’ll provide templates for all of the databases. We’ve been in contact with the HanDBase developers and they’ll host the templates on their own website so boaters everywhere can use them as a starting point.

If this is the first time you’re seeing this series, you might want to refer back to the index of newsletters to see the other segments.

All newsletters are archived here:


The most important database in the Keeping Track set is the Captain’s Log table.

This is the main log where all actions are recorded. Although there are about 10 different categories of items, most of the entries fall under two categories – destination travel and maintenance.

Here are all the fields we use in our Captain’s Log:

  • Date/Time – the date and time of the entry.
  • Category – a popup of categories. The categories we use are: Maintenance, Repair, Equipment, Misc, Boat Movement, Water, and a category for each "cruise" we’ve done. Equipment is the log for every new piece of equipment added to the boat. Boat Movement is when we’re moving the boat not associated with cruising. Water is when we’re tracking water usage.
  • Desc – a title description for the entry. For the cruising categories, this is the city, state where we arrived.
  • Location – this is a more descriptive entry of exactly where we arrived. It’s an ActiveCaptain marina or anchorage name in 99% of the cruise entries. This item is also filled out for maintenance and other log entries. It’s very valuable to know where particular projects were done. Here at Chesapeake, VA, we’re having our salon settee re-upholstered this week. We’ve record that as a maintenance item with a location of Atlantic Yacht Basin. This allows us to recall where we can get this type of work done in the future by looking back in the records.
  • Lat/Lon – the latitude/longitude. This is most often only recorded for destination entries.
  • HrsToday – this records the number of hours it took to arrive at a destination. Surprisingly, we often look back on this. It lets us know how long it has taken to go from one location to another over more than a decade of traveling along the waterways. It has been very valuable in fine tuning our planning.
  • Notes – this contains paragraphs of notes appropriate to the entry. It will contain the upholstering company we used in the example above, contact information, pricing, and our (hopefully positive) impressions. For cruising log entries, it details any issues we faced, weather encountered, and other things we’d like to remember about the destination. We often put the names of people we met or experiences we had at the location. These notes also end up as reminders for us when we write a review about a marina or anchorage.
  • EngHours – the hour meter reading of the engine hours. This gives backup timing on many of the entries. For the engine oil change maintenance entries we made last weekend, it’s an important record of the hours for that work. Whenever maintenance is done on our generator, this field is used for the generator engine hours (also done last weekend).
  • NMToday – a record of the nautical miles travelled for destination entries.

We’ve changed the fields collected for the Captain’s Log many times over the years but there hasn’t been a change in about 4 years.

This list of fields works for us. It’s probably a good starting point for others.


One more simple database to describe – the Fuel Log. This database logs every drop of fuel we have ever purchased for our boat. We always make entries when we fill all tanks.

This allows the database to provide a running gallons-per-hour tracking which gives us a view into possible issues with the engines.

The fields in the Fuel Log are:

  • Date/Time – when the fuel was purchased.
  • Location – where the fuel was purchased.
  • Gallons – how many gallons were purchased.
  • PerGallon – the cost per gallon paid (the first entry was 5/8/03 for $1.25 per gallon).
  • Total Cost – a calculated field we use to check the math of the charge given to us.
  • CurrentEngHrs – hour meter reading for the engines at the time of fuel purchase.
  • PrevEngHrs – hour meter reading for the engines at the previous fuel purchase.
  • CurrentGenHrs – hour meter reading for the generator at the time of fuel purchase.
  • PrevGenHrs – hour meter reading for the generator at the previous fuel purchase.
  • GPH – a computed field that takes all the hours fields and the number of gallons and computes the gallons-per-hour for this last fuel usage. It automatically removes the generator gallons used to give a better efficiency indication for just the main engines.
  • Notes – any notes we want to remember about the fuel purchase.

This has been a dry look at a few more of our databases used.

Next time, we’ll finish up with the Maintenance, Parts, Spares, and Engine Room Logs.



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