Years of experience have taught us to keep a good deck log on board our boat Oddly Enough. During ocean passages we update the details at the change of watch, with eight or ten entries during a 24-hour period – more if conditions are rapidly changing or if we are piloting near shore. The log pages take a lot of abuse, especially on dark wet nights, and I’ve often hankered for waterproof paper. The several waterproof notebooks on the market (e.g., Wet Notes) are small and inefficient; we would go through a single one in the space of a couple long runs.
On a recent visit to Armchair Sailor in Newport, R.I., I found a box of Rite in the Rain all-weather copier paper, which priced out to about 13 cents per 8 1/2-by-11 sheet of heavy bond paper. Since prepared logs rarely organize data the way I like, it was an opportunity to design my own page. Each entry has space for the date, time, barometer, latitude and longitude, course, speed and distance, wind, sea and cloud data, and empty lines for comments – dolphins at the bow, ships sighted, weather trends – things that sometimes prove more important than the standard data and, if not jotted down when noticed, may be lost.
My husband Tom used a spreadsheet program to draft the template on the computer, fitting eight entries onto a page running lengthwise. Our ink jet ink is not waterproof, so we had a copy shop print directly to the weatherproof paper with a Xerox-type copier and jacket 25 pages copied on both sides into a plastic binder and sturdy black cover.
J.L. Darling Corporation, which makes “Rite in the Rain” products, recommends writing with either a pencil or their special all-weather pen. I did a test page using a pencil, ballpoint pen and standard gel pen. Water beaded up nicely and the pencil wrote well even on wet paper. For those who heed the advice that a log becomes a legal document in case of accident, the ballpoint didn’t tear the paper, though the gel pen ran a bit. Jerry Darling, who founded the company, developed the product for the Pacific Northwest logging industry where paperwork came back from the field soggy and illegible. The paper is coated with a water-repellent “secret sauce” before being cut for notebooks and loose-leaf paper. The Web site www.riteintherain.com offers free forms for download and also a “dunk and doodle” sample for curious people to try. Also available via mail order marine book and chart services is an All-Weather Pocket Journal in two small sizes.
Ann Hoffner and her husband Tom Bailey recently sailed around the world in their Peterson 44. Hoffner learned to sail as a child and taught sailing for several years. She studies and writes about the weather and oceanography encountered on voyages using knowledge she gained in college when she designed a computer model of the basic circulation of the Gulf Stream.</em>