November 16, 2015: In the electronic age, you might think we wouldn’t have much paper to deal with on MOKEN. You would be wrong.
Of course, we do keep as much stuff as possible on our laptops. There are spreadsheets of parts and spares, copies of many of MOKEN’s operating manuals, our provisions list and medical kit list, and the maintenance log. And thousands of photos. We are also busy developing assorted checklists and schedules.
But we still have masses of paper. Invoices, receipts, hard copies of manuals, ship blueprints, wiring diagrams and the like. For much of the first couple of years on MOKEN, all this paper was partially organized, but I had difficulty finding anything. New papers tended to get tossed on the small desk in the corner of the salon, where they remained for ages looking unsightly and threatening to topple onto the floor whenever Nukaat decided the desk was the perfect perch for an afternoon snooze.
Receipts were eventually dumped into a giant file folder. If I ever needed to find something, I had to root through hundreds of the things. A big plastic file box held manuals and assorted odds and ends but still involved a lot of searching. Ship’s documents were scattered in a multitude of locations. Business cards were tossed into a drawer. It was time to get organized.
First up, I tackled the big plastic file box. I dumped everything out and sorted it all into somewhat related piles. I ended up with eight categories: Appliances & Home Electronics; Deck & Safety; Navigation & Communications; Power & Fuel; Sports Gear; Steering; Tools; and Water, Air & Lights. These like minded items then went into multi coloured document pouches with labels on the front of each clearly identifying the contents. Admittedly, there are a few manuals that don’t quite fit my categories but it works well for the most part. Everything went back in the box. And it all fits. Just.
Engine manuals, however, are a category all unto themselves. Being that there are so many of the things, and they are books in and of themselves, they are located in the bookshelves.
In this mass of papers, I came across one envelope containing all of the original documents that came with our boat from the Seahorse factory in China. In addition to the Builder’s Certificate and Manufacturer’s Statement of Origin (two documents we may be asked for when travelling into new countries), there were blueprints, certifications and test reports from the construction period, and assorted wiring and plumbing diagrams.
These were reorganized into a presentation folder in plastic page protectors. A table of contents at the front helps locate the right document quickly.
Next up, I created a binder for clearing MOKEN (and us) in and out of countries once we start cruising in earnest. I did some online research to see what it should contain and borrowed ideas from a number of other cruisers’ blogs. Here’s what I came up with:
- M/V MOKEN: Builder’s Certification; Manufacturer’s Statement of Origin; Bill of Sale; Transport Canada Certificate of Registry; MOKEN Specifications.
- DINGHY, LIFE RAFT & SAFETY GEAR: Dinghy Certificate of Origin and receipt; Life Raft information (this will be added once we replace our existing life raft, which is not currently documented and hasn’t been recertified in who knows how long); Safety Gear (a list of safety gear to be added once it has been prepared).
- SURVEY: Copy of most recent marine survey, often required for insurance purposes.
- INSURANCE & INVENTORY: Copy of current Certificate of Insurance and schedule, often required by marinas. I’d eventually like to include a copy of our inventory of equipment in case of an insurance claim but this is currently kept electronically.
- LICENSES & PERMITS: Industry Canada Radio License; Station Details; EPIRB Registration Details; Subic Bay Cruising Permit.
- CREW, CHRIS: Copies of personal items like birth certificate, passport, driver’s license, diving certifications, pleasure craft operator card and radio license, and an updated boating resume.
- CREW, SANDRA: Same as for Chris above plus a copy of our marriage certificate.
- CREW, NUKAAT: Pet passport, microchip details, vaccination certificates and documents pertaining to importation.
- GUEST INFO: If guests join us when we travel to new countries, we’ll include copies of their passports and other pertinent information.
- EMERGENCY CONTACTS: Names and contact information for our immediate family members, Nukaat’s veterinarian and the company that looks after MOKEN whenever we are away.
I’m sure this will evolve over time as we learn what else should be included.
Business cards were another matter. The stack of cards kept growing, threatening to outgrow the desk drawer. Finding one was tedious. Now they are neatly arranged in a business card binder, which I picked up last summer in Canada, and categorized by country. It seemed the simplest way.
Invoices & Receipts
Finally, I took the reams and reams of invoices and receipts and sorted them alphabetically by vendor and placed everything into an accordion file folder. Admittedly, many of our receipts for things that we purchased online were never printed and are sitting on either Chris’ or my laptop. Maybe we’ll eventually get around to rectifying that one day.
Organization has already reaped benefits. Now, whatever document we need to find is at our fingertips. Everything has a defined place, so paper doesn’t pile up on the desk for so long, looking messy and stressing me out. The small file drawer in the desk isn’t crammed so full anymore and now only contains files unrelated to MOKEN.
Ship shape. That’s the goal. We are slowly getting there, but I think it’s going to be an ongoing process.