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Old 21-03-2017, 11:52   #1
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Location: London, ON Canada
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Looking for Boat Management Software (not apps)

I am currently looking for a piece of PC software to manage my boat. There are a number of apps and internet based programs out there and I can only find 2 dedicated pieces of Windows software for this purpose (Ship's Log and Yacht Manager). Both these pieces of software are a few years old and updates have not been performed in recent years.

Are there any other products that manage inventory, shopping list, trips, maintenance, expenses, and contacts?

Thank You
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Old 21-03-2017, 12:40   #2
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Re: Looking for Boat Management Software (not apps)

Hello Steve,

The Voyager's Handbook (Beth and Evans) is largely about management. I think it may be useful to you for targeting subjects to be handled by computer software and identifying what will work.

I have managed large and complex households for years (I am a Butler by trade) and in my training many years ago it was suggested strongly that master database software replace the traditional Butler's pantry book (a notebook and pencil).

During the training I met a Butler who had many more years than I managing entire estates with multiple households, jets, yachts, offices etc, and she simply said:

"If I need a spreadsheet for inventory, I use excel. If I need to manage money, I use quickbooks, If I need a checklist I write one in word, If I need to schedule something, I use a calendar. That master database stuff is a waste of time. If one thing goes wrong your dead in the water"

I use a Pantry book, and I write checklists with a pencil. If I were to develop a boat management system on the computer, I would use excel, word, and a calendar.

If you are organized before you involve a computer, your system is good. It is also very likely any Master Database software will impede and complicate a well organized system that is designed by you for you.

The butler I met also taught me when attending courses or conventions always use the computers they make available rather than your own because All technical issues are the responsibility of the institution, not you. We experienced monumental technical problems with the custom Master Database Software, and anytime a personal computer was involved, it was immediately declared the cause of the issue by tech support...

It was suggested the software could be used to manage the White House. I wouldn't use it to manage a dog house.

Just my 2 cents...
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Old 21-03-2017, 17:30   #3
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Re: Looking for Boat Management Software (not apps)

I may end up writing my own integrated database program as I am really not one for using paper records. A database is really just a group of spreadsheet like tables linked so as to reduce repetitive data entry like entering Lewmar and all the contact info for the company every time you enter a Lewmar item into the inventory. Instead you just enter it once and link each item to the source.
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Old 21-03-2017, 17:53   #4
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Re: Looking for Boat Management Software (not apps)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve O View Post
I may end up writing my own integrated database program as I am really not one for using paper records. A database is really just a group of spreadsheet like tables linked so as to reduce repetitive data entry like entering Lewmar and all the contact info for the company every time you enter a Lewmar item into the inventory. Instead you just enter it once and link each item to the source.
I have thought of doing that and at one time I was pretty proficient with MS Access. I designed and published a database for a high school that tracked student grades, financial obligations and such. There were 2,000 students and the entire staff used it. It could create letter to parents, reports, etc.

The problem with designing a boat management database is deciding what information should be tracked and how to relate the items to each other. In the database above, each student had an ID number so that was the key. What would be the key in a boat maintenance and inventory database?

Before the school app I did one for the school system's maintenance division. The problem I had there was getting the trades people to actually enter their time and materials properly. Garbage in, garbage out as they say. GIGO.

If the boater fails to enter inventory as it is brought onto the boat or as it is used, the data is worthless. I see this as a potential problem because the computer might not be on the boat or booted when these things happen.

Also, it's going to take a lot of time to develop an application and it doesn't seem worthwhile for a single boat unless you have a lot of spare time on your hands.

Here's an example of something that would be a bit difficult to program for: Your engine's oil change interval is one hundred hours or one year, whichever comes first. A good maintenance application will take both into account and warn you when an oil change is due. It will automatically reset for the next one.

That said, If I saw one I liked and it was relatively inexpensive, I would probably buy it and use it.

If you design one, let me know. Right now my inventory management is by eyeball and maintenance is by looking in a notebook for the last time it was done and adding the required hours to it.
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Old 21-03-2017, 18:13   #5
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Re: Looking for Boat Management Software (not apps)

I have heard excel is like the back end of a database, and that an expert can create a database with excel. I never really learned to use it enough to avoid a string of obscenities when it assumes I mean the date rather than a number.

An expert can write a database also, and some software allows you to customize a database anyway you want.

I have seen some very poorly written software. Actually a large amount of poorly written software. Come to think of it, the well written stuff is in the minority and usually for industrial platforms.

An example

At one home I cared for these custom databases were rampant, and even managing the housekeeping team was a challenge because they had developed an incredibly detailed ENORMOUS checklist data base, there were 12 volumes of hard copy and endless revisions. There was shock and dismay when I relieved several people of administrative employment, and simply made a list of things that needed to be cleaned and the order to do it in...with a pencil. The database for ordering household cleaning products and sundries was run by 3 people(!), and another who actually did the shopping full time.

The automotive department was horrific, 22 cars, and 3 in mid restoration with each restoration having its own project manager, budget, team, and of course Database. To get the oil changed I needed to fire up a computer, and log in to the server, query the database, and acquire approval for funding from the budget manager... The funny thing was, with all of this administrative horsepower and overhead, somebody still had to go to the car and look at the odometer to determine if an oil change was needed. All the computers and telephones and secretaries in the world cant actually change the oil in the car, and when I was done with them, I changed the oil myself in several cars, shitcanned decades of computer based management, and fired several unnecessary people. Frankly, the cars received much better car with the new system because we checked the cars, not the computer.

The maintenance department had 8 separate file cabinets, and 6 separate computers, and you guessed it, several databases developed by the brain trust previous estate management team, 6 full time maintenance men, and an inventory that took more space by a level of 3 than there was living space for the principal and his family. First thing I let 5 guys go, combined files in an organized way, deleted all database and software management structures, and put all electronic data files on a single searchable computer. What a mess. The vendors were not pleased to find out they were being held accountable to someone, and the computer contact list was discarded in favor of a basic phone book, suddenly costs dropped on parts and service in all sectors.

The family and staff were hardcore pack rats. Rather than deal with the stuff, they acquired a warehouse, and...Guess what! placed the personal property into a software management database. I'm not making this up. boxes were numbered, access was restricted, confidentiality and security reigned, for stuff that should have been sold at a garage sale. The amount of computers, software and administrative team members to run a simple household was ridiculous. The worst part was, if something was moved in reality, and someone did not register it in virtual reality on the database, the item was lost forever. So after a decade or so, nothing was where the computer thought it was. nobody could find anything in the warehouse. It became a voyage of discovery, and took serious manpower anytime we looked for anything because "it could be onsite, or at the warehouse..."

Sorry, got on a rant there. must have missed my meds. where is that schedule? gotta check the med schedule software...
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Old 21-03-2017, 18:27   #6
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Re: Looking for Boat Management Software (not apps)

I work with data for a living. Lots of data. Expensive purchased data. Terabytes (a lot) of data. I have worked with computers for 40+ years. I am a high tech guy.
For a database of any kind to be useful consistent accurate data entry is a must.
I would never be able to keep up with the data entry discipline required for a yacht/boat system. It's not my thing. If you can, great!
I understand electronics and computers from the software to the solder.
I am utterly confident that complex systems (like computers) will fail from time to time. That's OK and normal.

I use a maintenance log and a logbook with pencil and paper. Binders with paper manuals.

For me that's the highly reliable way to go. They still fail, but only with water or fire for the most part.

Don't get me wrong. I have spent time looking at the commercial offerings and thought about rolling my own. Just not my choice.
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Old 21-03-2017, 19:22   #7
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Re: Looking for Boat Management Software (not apps)

This is tickling a memory of a system I saw advertised...somewhere. Maybe it was a crowdfunded concept? It was based on RFID tags, which you applied to all check-listed equipment. I don't remember if the system was sensitive enough to detect which locker an item was in, but it could determine whether it was on board or not. An error message would pop up if an item that was supposed to be there was missing.

Actually, I think it may have been marketed for camera bags (i.e. collections of small high-value items.)

I made a go of using Apple's word-processing and spreadsheet software to make log-book forms. (They've introduced consumer-level databases several times, but they always get discontinued due to lack of use.) For a while they were far superior to Microshaft products at layout and adding media (photos, sketches, linked tables, etc.) And Numbers can be tricked into acting like a relational database in some ways. But they've seriously downgraded everything to make it more tablet-like. Most of my templates (I have a lot for business) are broken in the current OS. One beauty of that system though, was that documents could be effortlessly mirrored in the cloud, so work I did on the boat could be consulted or cleaned up from home. And of course, that requires a dedicated device be always present on the boat.


It's pretty much the same conundrum we find with laboratory notebooks. The software solutions aren't as reliable as a good old paper notebook, but seem to offer great promise. On the other hand, we increasingly encounter data (photos, videos, sound files, large datasets) that can't reasonably be written into a notebook. I still don't know any facile way to paste the GPS track of a day-sail into a logbook, except maybe a screenshot.
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Old 21-03-2017, 19:55   #8
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Re: Looking for Boat Management Software (not apps)

Thanks for that reminder of largish files and media.
I use paper and notebooks and binders. BUT I make extensive use of Dropbox. I keep photos, scans of insurance policies, spreadsheets, PDF manuals, Moonbeam's documentation certificate and much muck more there. I use google Drive documents for spreadsheets to track larger projects.

I pretended I was a Luddite in my last post but in reality I am not.

Where I really want local self sufficiency I use paper. If it's complex and involves heavy shoreside interaction the cloudish based solutions are great. I can use my phone, my laptop with wifi or a public cafe computer.
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Old Yesterday, 09:53   #9
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Re: Looking for Boat Management Software (not apps)

Hello! I see that the topic is not new, but suddenly for someone our information will be useful. Good boat management software - https://www.managemart.com/boat-cleaning-software you can create an efficient route that will be profitable for your business. Customer addresses can always be at your fingertips. It is possible to plan routes for employees.
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