Owner’s Manual

I was just down at the shop getting the cabin soles of the boat ready for some varnish when for some reason I was reminded that I wanted to put something on this site about the owner’s manual.
          In 2004, WoodenBoat Magazine had a great article by John Waterhouse on creating an owner’s manual for your boat (issue 176). I had been toying with the idea for a while, not because we charter our boat, but because two families own her I thought it might be helpful for everyone on both coasts to have something that they could study in spare moments. For that reason, I wanted our owners manual to be long on illustrations and short on text.  I also figured that this was the quickest way for me to get it done too, because I prefer drawing to writing and like to draw boats in particular. The article in WoodenBoat was excellent and was all I needed to inspire me to get started.
          It was a good plan, but there were several flaws in my scheme that I did not perceive at the time. One was that since I wanted this to be something that was fun to look at (so that we would all actually use it) I did not allow for how long it would take me to create the drawings for the manual. Another is that essentially we are talking about writing a book, one for a very small reading audience, but a book all the same. Further, no mater how simplistic I try to make it, in order to be of any use as an owner’s manual, this is a document that has to provide detailed information about some sophisticated stuff. In short, it has proven to be a much larger undertaking than I had originally planned. My hope is that by the end of this spring I will have the Safety section, the systems section, the Storage section, completed, and the section on Operations at least begun. The irony here is that when I took on the restoration of our sloop I had a much better idea of what I was getting into than when I started the owner’s manual.
          If you ever decide to take on a project like this, be forewarned, it is a labor of love. If we did not have such long winters up here in the mountains I never would have gotten anywhere with it.

Page from the Safety section of the Owner's Manual


Page from our Owner's Manual



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