We are internet
junkies. Virtually everything I know about sailing and maintaining a cruising boat came from sources I read on line. We do all of our gear research
online. We buy our parts
online. When we have a problem, the first thing I do is go to Google
inverter **** the bed site:cruisersforum.com
We do much of our research
on the places we want to visit online. Fellow cruisers' blogs are goldmines for anchorages
we need to visit.
Keeping track of all this when we're out there sans internet
is difficult at best. We found a really great solution that I thought I'd share with y'all.
Evernote is an online/offline/mobile note taking software
. The basic premise is you can upload notes from several different sources:
- free-form text
- clipping part of or a whole web page
- uploading a photo or PDF
- email to your specific Evernote address which upload the contents of the email
These notes can organized into notebooks and tagged for further dissemination. The data lives both on Evernote's servers and your local hard drive. It can also be stored on your mobile phone
. We use it for all sorts of things but here's how we use it for our cruising.
When I'm taking on a project
, more frequently than not, I don't know what I'm doing. I'll do a google
search, read a few articles which then lead to a few more which spider out into 20 or 30 different articles, blog posts and forum posts. I use Evernote's Chrome extension to snap up the relevant parts
of those posts and store them in Evernote for later consumption
when we're out in the boonies and have no access to the interwebs. Recently, I ran across an article on soft shackles made of dyneema
. Sounded interesting but I don't have time right now to delve into it. However, when we're anchored somewhere in the boonies with nothing to do, I can pull up the articles I found on soft shackles and take a crack at it.
When we realized we had to replace our existing windlass
, I researched several brands. I zeroed in on the Maxwell
line and downloaded the PDF manuals
of the models I was interested in. I uploaded those manuals
into a notebook called "Potential Gear". I called Maxwell
about some questions I had (and they were really responsive, BTW) and took notes about that conversation.
Once I settled into the project
, I created a task list. Like all boat projects, the more you hone in on a task, the more it decomposes into multiple tasks. I treat my tasks list like this, starting at the high level tasks and then breaking them out into smaller tasks. This helps me think through one piece at a time without getting bogged down in details. As a task gets done, it gets the strike through font (which is incredibly satisfying). I post-date my task lists so they always sort to the top of the list.
As part of that task list, I keep a shopping
list- because you've never done going to the chandlery
. This is especially handy having the Evernote client on my phone
so I can reference it in the store.
I also do alot of sketches for projects. Especially wiring
projects. Rather than try to keep track of all the sheets
of paper I scribble on, I take a photo
of the scribble and upload it to Evernote. Here's the cool part. In the photo captured in Evernote below, notice that the word "solenoid" is highlighted in yellow on the photo. This is because I did a search on the word "solenoid" and Evernote found this photo based on my sloppy hand written "solenoid". Cool, right?
I'm religious about keeping manuals for gear
on our boat. PDF manuals are also an important part of how I research new gear for our boat. Whenever I run across a PDF manual for gear I have already or are interested in buying
, I upload it into Evernote into our "Hello World" notebook (if we already own it) or the "Potential Gear" notebook (if we're thinking about owning it). We keep all the paper manuals for the gear we buy and that's what I'll use when I'm laying on top of the engine
covered in transmission oil
but having the electronic copies to research prior to tackling a problem has been pretty handy.
Whenever we buy something, we put the receipt into Evernote. If I get an email
receipt, I email
it to Evernote. If we get a PDF, I upload it. If we get a hard copy receipt, I run it through our Neat Receipts scanner into a PDF and upload it. This gives us an easy to access purchase history
of all the gear on our boat.
We also read a ton of cruising blogs, wishing we were out there again. When we run across destinations that we really need to go see, I use Chrome's Evernote extension to create a note from the blog entry. I then tag it with "destination" and a tag on the general area. Here's our notes on British Columbia
We've been using Evernote for about 10 months and paying for the service
for about six months. We've been really happy with it so far. It gives us all of the information we need at our fingertips. In the very likely event a computer gives up the ghost, no worries, our data is stored online and probably sync'd to the other laptop
we have on board and our mobile phones.
One thing we don't use Evernote for is data that has to be secure (SSN, credit card numbers, passport copies, etc). They have the ability to encrypt portions of text but until they harden up their service
more, we'll keep using Truecrypt to keep that data secure.
For you crusty salts who bristle at the idea of relying on a computer to manage a sailboat, Evernote is not in any critical path on this boat. In other words, if Evernote up and disappeared tomorrow, we could still navigate safely and maintain our boat properly. However, life is a hell of a lot better with it than without.
(For what it's worth - I have no affiliation with Evernote other than being a self-proclaimed advocate.)