In earlier days, I sailed on everything from 1950's vintage General Cargo ships (see below) through to what were, at the time, modern container ships. Maintenance of all these was at one end "in our heads" and the other "a well-documented plan created by others." The former never really worked out too well. As we head toward the launch of Vanguard, the thought lodged that we will need a system to keep tags on everything lest I loose my marbles in my approaching dotage.
Yacht Maintenance Management Software
The world has thankfully moved along since my seagoing days. A short while on Google revealed a dozen or so potential packages that would fit the bill of providing onboard documentation and maintenance systems and a web-based link to backup copies ashore. If you go down the route of a well-equipped explorer yacht for short-handed operation, you will need some help tracking equipment and maintenance. So, just what were we looking for:
A planned maintenance system for all equipment (that's the major ask)
An electronic repository for all installation and maintenance documentation, saves space
A list of all equipment fitted, what system, and which manufacturer?
Manufacturer or agency contact details
A system that could work independently of web communications but with a shore-based backup.
The three screen shots here show how Vanguard's equipment can be organized by Location, System or Equipment Family.
Private Yacht Maintenance Software
As suggested previously, there are many commercial systems available. We are not recommending any particular system but more a retelling of experiences with a single one. The system we eventually picked is Vessel Vanguard Pro from Baxter Marine. The name was a coincidence, by the way. It seems to have morphed from a similar aviation-based product. Baxter charges a modest yearly rental for support, I've tested that support, and it was helpful, especially in the early days (see link below). They have graciously allowed us unlimited time initially to populate the system while Vanguard is under construction. The yearly fee will start on commissioning.
The 6 screen shots below show how an owner can drill down from overarching vessel details and upcoming maintenance tasks through to specific equipment, equipment details, down through maintenance and operation documentation.
With a little effort, we mostly get what we want, and after a few weeks of amateur fumbling, the system has provided robust and easy-to-use. The software suggests an initial system configuration, which you can modify to suit your needs. Their library of manufacturers has proven a helpful timesaver. However, with any open-access platform, it tends to get messy with multiple entries of similar names separated by typos or locations.
One part of the offer I particularly liked was their initial pre-loading of equipment from our growing spreadsheet. In these modern times, almost every manual is available for download from the web. It's pretty mind-numbing work, and I was grateful to share the pain. Once up and running, there is a growing sense of ownership of the data as minor updates and amendments fill out the blanks. "Little things...little minds". We have yet to load fully and integrate warranty, maintenance, and excess inventories, but that can wait until the commissioning of our Vanguard.
Maintaining the system is a lot easier than the initial set up. Kind of handy as you get out as much as you put in on an ongoing basis. So as long as run times are updated regularly you will have planned maintenance tasks scheduled ongoing. You'll also get transparency in the form of maintenance and event history going back to the launch date. You also get an audit trail of manually entered or autogenerated logs for all the system features.
So at least that's one potential headache replaced with a process and a system that anyone on the crew can operate and that takes up practically zero space in its operation.
Deke Kennison firstname.lastname@example.org
Vessel Vanguard Pro
I miss my days on that general cargo ship. MV Donga, Elder Dempster Line. Pretty old and broken; fix the Weir steam boiler pump with a crowbar, light the boiler with a flaming rag, and duck for the blowback. Open faced DC switchboards, 4-cylinder opposed piston B&W main engine. Freetown West African crew, dodgy food, Tenants canned beer, and great shipmates.
Acknowledgement to Rene Beauchamp, shipspotting.com
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