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Old 10-04-2013, 10:23 PM   #1
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Writing Your Boat's Operations Manual

The following quote is from this post on the Owners Manual thread. Rather than sidetrack that discussion, I started this new one.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Northern Spy View Post
It is a recommended guideline from ABYC T-24 (first edition in 1992) to have an owners manual for the boat. Newer boats and higher quality boats will typically have them.

I've been writing one for my boat, mainly for piece of mind if I loan, swap, or charter my boat in the future. Well, actually, because I am a tech manual geek, and it is fun to write.

NS, I'm in the middle of doing the same thing. I've got manuals for most of the components and electronics, but, until now, general system knowledge is not documented anywhere. With this manual, an experienced boater should be able to operate the boat systems. It will also include helpful facts for system maintenance. The individual component manuals provided by the manufacturer will be included in pockets within the Ops Manual binder. PDF versions of these manuals where available will be included in the digital version.

I've got roughs written for main chapters. I gave mine some thought and decided to go with chapters similar to an airplane manual, but generally arranged from bow to stern for easier reference. For example, the Bow section includes the windlass info, but the RW washdown system on the bow and stern is located in the plumbing section.

I'm curious how others have arranged their manuals. Here is how mine is set up:

Operations and Systems Manual

Specifications and Capacities
General
Propulsion
Perkins 4.236 Engines
Borg Warner CR-2 Transmissions
Fuel System
Props, Shafts and PSS Dripless Shaft Logs
Bow
Lewmar 1000 Windlass
Head
Helms and Electronics
Windshield Wiper
Steering Pumps
Garmin 128
Garmin 276C Chartplotter
Raytheon SL70 Radar
Ritchie Magnetic Compass
Simrad-Navico 5000 Autopilot
Furuno Fish Finder
Standard Horizon VHF Comm Radio
Icom M422 VHF Comm Radio
Laptop Chartplotter/GPS Receiver
Bennett Trim Tabs
FogMate Fog Horn
Electrical System
Electrical System Schematic
Circuit Breakers and Fuses
Anchor/running Lights
Pro Mariner 1230 30A Battery Smart Charger
Start and House Battery Banks and Selector Switches
Alternators
Yandina Combiner
Xantrex LinkPro Battery Monitor
Xantrex 1000W Inverter
Honda eu2000i Portable Generator
Plumbing
Jabsco Quiet Flush Head
Holding Tank Monitor
Shower
Freshwater System
Water Heater
Sinks and Faucets
Freshwater Tank Monitor
Thru Hull Discharges and Intakes
Raw Water Washdown
Fresh Water Washdown
Galley
Norcold 12V/110V built-in Refrigerator
Countertop 110V Refrigerator
Propane System
Safety
Storage
Controls
Oven/Stove
Microwave
Coffeemaker
Propane Grills
George Foreman Electric Grill
Salon
Indoor Lighting
HDTV
Stereo and Speakers
Portable Heaters
Portable fans
Portable Shop Vacuum
Storage
Tools
Electrical Tools and Supplies
Spare Parts
CO Monitor Systems
Cockpit Area
Cockpit LEDs
LED Spreader Fishing Lights
Solar Patio Lights
Lazarette Storage
Aft rail gate/Swimstep
Flybridge
Controls
Storage
Dinghy
Achilles 9.5 ft Inflatable
Honda 2HP Motor
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Old 10-05-2013, 01:33 AM   #2
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I have manufacturers' handbooks for major subsystems (engine, thruster, refrigerator, etcetera) as some schematics of the boat for the Coot, but the boat didn't come with its own manual. It took me several months to discover all the thru-hulls (last one: the sink drain). Contemplated making checklists for starting up, shutting down, and so on for the boat for one totally unfamiliar with it, but this seems like an overwhelming task.
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Old 10-05-2013, 08:19 AM   #3
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Great idea! Whether or not I will ever do such a thing I do not know, but it most certainly is a great idea. Routine maintenance takes a lot of time, and enjoying the boat takes a lot of time, but I am inspired to start something like that.

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Old 10-05-2013, 08:29 AM   #4
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I wrote a manual for my boat (for my kids actually) but instead of a list of things, it is an operators manual. How to operate everything, engine, battery switches, winch, dinghy tackle, fuel valves, filling tanks, propane system, pumps, alarms, refer, and so on.
A stranger should be able to step aboard with this "manual" and set off on a safe passage.
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Old 10-05-2013, 08:41 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brooksie View Post
I wrote a manual for my boat (for my kids actually) but instead of a list of things, it is an operators manual. How to operate everything, engine, battery switches, winch, dinghy tackle, fuel valves, filling tanks, propane system, pumps, alarms, refer, and so on.
A stranger should be able to step aboard with this "manual" and set off on a safe passage.
That sounds much like what I had in mind also, except that mine would be also along the lines of "what to do if . . ." Just for one example, when my hydraulic steering failed (because I had gotten air in the line) it took me a while (new-to-me boat) to straighten it out. So an explanation of how to bleed the system, with pictures ("a picture is worth a thousand words.") would be the type of thing to be included in the manual.

John
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Old 10-05-2013, 09:08 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FlyWright View Post
I'm curious how others have arranged their manuals. Here is how mine is set up:
Al, I'm a little confused. Although your list is impressive, is it really an "Operations Manual" much like a car has? Are all the entries subtitles with following explanations as to how to actually operate the equipment?

I like the idea of making a "list" but to my way of thinking, it mainly serves as an inventory list and not a "how to operate the equipment" list.

If I'm dead wrong (and lately I have been) and your intent is to actually write a "how to" operations manual, I can't imagine taking on that task!

As you know, I live in literalville and when I see something titled as "Operations & Systems", by reading it, I expect to know how to operate the equipment. Is that your intent?
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Old 10-05-2013, 09:22 AM   #7
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Getting just a tad off the subject (but it is still connected), if I want pictures in my manual (which I do), does anyone know the technique which would be used to modify a digital image? I'll give an example of what I mean. On a digital picture I would like to have a line drawn pointing to a certain screw, to specify which one I am talking about. I feel sure there is software available to do such a thing, but not being all that computer savvy I am not sure what it would be.

John
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Old 10-05-2013, 09:38 AM   #8
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There is a fill in the blank book that works well.

I was hoping they would come out with a software version but haven’t seen it yet.

The International Marine Boat Manager:
Your Vessel's Custom Handbook of Operating and Service Procedures

by Nick Ellison, Bob Payne
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Old 10-05-2013, 10:14 AM   #9
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We have two file boxs that has the original manuals for most major items on the boat. I also have copies by the electonic for quick reference as we do not use them often enough. I have writen how to start stop the engines and to switch from dock power to boat and back. The files are about two feet thick.
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Old 10-05-2013, 10:32 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jwnall View Post
Getting just a tad off the subject (but it is still connected), if I want pictures in my manual (which I do), does anyone know the technique which would be used to modify a digital image? I'll give an example of what I mean. On a digital picture I would like to have a line drawn pointing to a certain screw, to specify which one I am talking about. I feel sure there is software available to do such a thing, but not being all that computer savvy I am not sure what it would be.

John
If you are using Microsoft Windows then an easy application to use for adding arrows, text etc. to pictures is "Windows Paint".
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Old 10-05-2013, 10:48 AM   #11
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FlyWright...You are probably already doing this but if not, you may want add a "Troubleshooting Guide" section for some "Mission Critical" systems as well. Of course, the manufactures manuals which you are including probably already have one...but if you have time, you could take some of the critical systems individual manuals troubleshooting guides and compile them in a separate section so a user could find and refer to them quickly and not have to look through each individual manual, especially if time was of the essence...
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Old 10-05-2013, 10:58 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jwnall View Post
On a digital picture I would like to have a line drawn pointing to a certain screw, to specify which one I am talking about. I feel sure there is software available to do such a thing, but not being all that computer savvy I am not sure what it would be.

John
MS Word will do more or less every thing you want or need to make a manual. It will automatically generate a table of contents based on heading type. You can insert and annotate pictures as well. Go buy a student version of Microsoft Office, for a hundred and some odd bucks and it will have every thing you need. You can download templates which will make it easier or you can search and find a manual you like on the web (try searching for "boat operating manual filetype:doc)

Adobe Pro will allow you to mark up electronic versions of the existing electronic or scanned equipment manuals. It's expensive.

I'll let others insert the scoffing MS, Apple superiority complex argument below.
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Old 10-05-2013, 11:00 AM   #13
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[QUOTE=SeaHorse II;
As you know, I live in literalville and when I see something titled as "Operations & Systems", by reading it, I expect to know how to operate the equipment. Is that your intent?[/QUOTE]

FlyWright, Being a literalist as well, based on your description of what you are producing, it sounds more like a "Systems Operation and Maintenance Manual" AKA "Systems O&M"...
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Old 10-05-2013, 11:14 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Northern Spy View Post
MS Word will do more or less every thing you want or need to make a manual. It will automatically generate a table of contents based on heading type. You can insert and annotate pictures as well. Go buy a student version of Microsoft Office, for a hundred and some odd bucks and it will have every thing you need. You can download templates which will make it easier or you can search and find a manual you like on the web (try searching for "boat operating manual filetype:doc)

Adobe Pro will allow you to mark up electronic versions of the existing electronic or scanned equipment manuals. It's expensive.

I'll let others insert the scoffing MS, Apple superiority complex argument below.
Windows Paint is free and comes with all versions of Windows, if you are using a computer with Windows...you already have it...if you are using XP go to the "Start" button..."All Programs"..."Accessories"...look down the list and Voila...there is paint... Northern Spy is correct that Microsoft Word,which come in MS Office, would be a great help in writing the manual...but most computers already have MS Word/Office pre-loaded as well...
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Old 10-05-2013, 01:08 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Irdiverdan View Post
Windows Paint is free and comes with all versions of Windows, if you are using a computer with Windows...you already have it...if you are using XP go to the "Start" button..."All Programs"..."Accessories"...look down the list and Voila...there is paint... Northern Spy is correct that Microsoft Word,which come in MS Office, would be a great help in writing the manual...but most computers already have MS Word/Office pre-loaded as well...
Anyone that needs a little more capability than 'Paint' can download a free upgrade called Paint.net. It can be downloaded for free from here:

Paint.NET - Free Software for Digital Photo Editing

Like paint but has more features. There is documentation here:

Paint.NET Documentation
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Old 10-05-2013, 02:23 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bluto View Post
Anyone that needs a little more capability than 'Paint' can download a free upgrade called Paint.net. It can be downloaded for free from here:

Paint.NET - Free Software for Digital Photo Editing

Like paint but has more features. There is documentation here:

Paint.NET Documentation
You are correct that for those who want to do more extensive photo editing there are innumerable Photo Editing software available from free to the expensive Adobe Photoshop...but since John mentioned he was not all that computer savvy and he just wants to add some arrows and other simple type edits I figure MS word and MS paint, which he probably already has on his computer, would suffice....
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Old 10-05-2013, 02:35 PM   #17
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I have found having all the model numbers, serial numbers, filter numbers and automotive alternatives highly worthwhile. I keep a list on my phone so I can order the correct parts.

My manuals are in a plastic hanging folder storage box. About 2 ft thick.

Nigel Calders book is a good substitute for reinventing the wheel.

"A where is it located?" chart is helpful for others.
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Old 10-05-2013, 02:36 PM   #18
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I'll shut up now...
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Old 10-05-2013, 03:06 PM   #19
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You could always start a "manual" on the vessel by using your survey.
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Old 10-05-2013, 06:31 PM   #20
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My boat (Bayliner 4788) is a popular charter vessel here in the PNW. I have downloaded three different manuals for the boat and am in the process of using the best from each to make my manual. It' sheen very interesting to read three different perspectives on the same boat.
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