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Winter Homework

Creating a library of owner’s manuals and other stuff has real, hands-on advantages.
Do you really know where your manuals are?

Do you really know where your manuals are?

I'm a disorganized sort of guy, at least when it comes to most office-related stuff. One look at my desk and the average person would say, “I have no idea how this poor soul manages to drink his coffee in the morning, let alone do anything constructive during the rest of the day.” But hey, everything associated with my boat is special to me and so I deal with it differently. More to the point, I’ve got a phalanx of three-ring binders in my office methodically aligned and clearly labeled.

Collectively, these babies contain every printed word I possess vis-à-vis the Betty Jane II, way more stuff than I could comfortably carry on board. The one entitled “CD Basics” illustrates the general idea. It features the owner’s manual for the Cape Dory 28 Flybridge—that’s Betty—which I downloaded from a website dedicated to Cape Dory Yachts, a long defunct builder not to be confused with Cape Dory Cruisers and Catamarans, a more contemporary entity. It’s loaded with engineering and construction details, schematics for electrics, mechanicals and plumbing and specifications and maintenance advice that’s just about as useful today as it ever was back in the day.

Another folder contains all the surveys done on the boat over the years, including the one I paid for. Yet another contains all the information that’s relevant to a repower performed in the spring of 2004, complete with bills, descriptions of work performed and a comprehensive list of all the parts involved, including the new 240-hp Yanmar 4HL-STP itself. And yet another contains literature on each and every piece of ancillary equipment.

By now, I guess, you see what I’m driving at. Although it’s still not absolutely comprehensive at this point, the assemblage of manuals and other documentation concerning the Betty Jane II I have managed to put together over the past three years from websites, previous owners and a host of manufacturers is extensive, well organized and located in an easy-to-access spot. And more often than you’d think, this kind of thing has big-time advantages.

Not long ago, for example, while I was preparing to replace Betty’s cracked PVC spray rails, I fired up my little library so I could discover exactly how the original rails had been installed and what brand and type of adhesive had been used during the process. The info I came up with subsequently helped me to remove the old rails and correctly and safely install the new ones. Pretty sweet, eh?