Ship's Log: obligations and content


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Dick
Dick
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Log Books:        s/v Alchemy                Nov. 2021
On another Forum content stream, I mentioned, among other responses, writing up an interaction/incident in the Ship’s Log (SL). I am pretty disciplined in this regard, writing every day Alchemy is commissioned (by that I mean pretty much every day she is in the water and ready to go). I have a vague sense that this is required, and a stronger sense that it is required when in international travel. I also have sense that it is a legal document.
Casual observation indicates that many cruisers do not keep a daily log.
All that said, I do not have a clue as to the reality of any of the above, especially as it pertains to pleasure/recreational boaters. For recreational skippers: is there any legal obligation to keep a log? In home waters? In international waters? Is there any required content? If so, what? And how many of us keep a log and what is the content?
For my part, my head-set towards my SL is that it is a legal document: one I might turn to it for validation if the need arises.* The content is part passage notes: departure and arrival places, times etc., nm traveled by: sail, motor, combination; weather, etc. safety tests **and part journal: wildlife observations, scenery comments, etc. And I tend to write up anything unusual in detail.
My best, Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy
*For example, I returned to Alchemy to find damage to the bow. It was reported to me the name of the boat that hit her and that the skipper and boat had left the harbour after the incident with a scrape on her side. I documented the damage and the names of those observing the accident, their boat names and the names of the other vessels in the mooring field near at hand and the mooring the offending vessel had vacated and weather conditions. The damage to Alchemy was not worth the hassle of pursuing in the foreign country where I was a guest and did not speak the language. (I also did not wish to deal with a skipper who would walk away from clear damage he had caused.) One interest in writing up and documenting in my SL was to protect me in the future if the other boat decided that they would contend that I was the cause of their scrape. (As an unsettling and unfortunate note: in the close to 70 countries visited, it is my observation that if something is stolen or damaged, etc., look first to one’s fellow cruisers as responsible and not to locals.)
** Every season I find another boat to test range of VHF and AIS transmissions to ensure proper functioning of equipment and I log these efforts with details. We also log drills such as MOB and flooding and fire drills.

Daria Blackwell
Daria Blackwell
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Dick, as far as I know, small pleasure craft are not obligated to keep a log but strongly encouraged to do so. A log becomes especially valuable after an incident occurs. I do remember in my radio courses that there is a legal obligation to document radio contacts, especially distress messages. Under SOLAS chapter V a skipper of any vessel is legally required to complete a voyage plan when navigating outside port limits. It might be most convenient to keep your formal record of meeting this requirement in your logbook, including any safety checks completed prior to departure.

We keep meticulous notes in our logbook and make entries about once an hour while underway, noting time, conditions, GPS coordinates, sail plan, engine hours, vessels sighted, wildlife sighted, drills completed, inspections conducted, etc. It would enable us to reconstruct our voyage in detail afterwards. 

The logbook was especially helpful after our boat was struck by a fishing trawler while at anchor. We could prove we were not anchored in any restricted zone. And we had photos to prove we had our anchor ball up. That was the first question our insurers asked. There was never any question of liability afterwards.

Here is the RYA's position:https://www.rya.org.uk/knowledge/regulations/pleasure-craft/keeping-a-log 

Every country has its own set of legislative requirements. Here are Irelands:https://www.garda.ie/en/crime-prevention/community-engagement/code-of-practice-safe-operation-of-recreational-craft-2017.pdf

Vice Commodore, OCC 
Dick
Dick
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Daria Blackwell - 27 Nov 2021
Dick, as far as I know, small pleasure craft are not obligated to keep a log but strongly encouraged to do so. A log becomes especially valuable after an incident occurs. I do remember in my radio courses that there is a legal obligation to document radio contacts, especially distress messages. Under SOLAS chapter V a skipper of any vessel is legally required to complete a voyage plan when navigating outside port limits. It might be most convenient to keep your formal record of meeting this requirement in your logbook, including any safety checks completed prior to departure.

We keep meticulous notes in our logbook and make entries about once an hour while underway, noting time, conditions, GPS coordinates, sail plan, engine hours, vessels sighted, wildlife sighted, drills completed, inspections conducted, etc. It would enable us to reconstruct our voyage in detail afterwards. 

The logbook was especially helpful after our boat was struck by a fishing trawler while at anchor. We could prove we were not anchored in any restricted zone. And we had photos to prove we had our anchor ball up. That was the first question our insurers asked. There was never any question of liability afterwards.

Here is the RYA's position:https://www.rya.org.uk/knowledge/regulations/pleasure-craft/keeping-a-log 

Every country has its own set of legislative requirements. Here are Irelands:https://www.garda.ie/en/crime-prevention/community-engagement/code-of-practice-safe-operation-of-recreational-craft-2017.pdf

Hi Daria,
As always: appreciate your research. I know about the radio logs mentioned and did so for SSB for a short period until my activity level reached a point where I thought doing so ridiculous. That said, any emergency call would be logged. I keep a waterproof pencil and pad right next the radio in the companionway just for the purpose of writing quickly: we may only get one chance to write down a MAYDAY’S lat and lon and I know my memory is not up to the task.
What you say about SOLAS is in line with some other Solas regs: required of commercial and suggestions for pleasure.
It is nice when one’s discipline in documenting and doing the right thing is validated. It must have felt good to not be questioned when dealing with the insurance company.
My best, Dick

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