Are you a compulsive note-taker or a goldfish live-for-the-moment type of sailor? Do you take written notes of every trip and every bit of maintenance? If so, do you use a bound journal? Loose-leaf notebook? Software package of some sort?
And what data do you record for each trip?
I have to admit that my note-taking has not lived up to my prior ambitions. Being a Twenty-First Century Digital Boy, I figured that I would keep the log electronically. But it turns out that I don't always take the laptop to the boat every time I go. Ideally, the log would live permanently on the boat but also be copied in "the cloud" so that I could access it from home or wherever.
What is actually happening is that I scrawl notes on an engineering pad on the chart table, then take the pages home with me to transcribe or use in the shop. Now I have quite a little collection of pages of drawings and measurements that I used for building things, but they live in a notebook back home in the shop. And a word-processing document with sporadic journal entries, but not much formal structure. And lists of things to bring next time on my phone. And digital photos stored on my desktop computer.
It seems like the right combination of hardware and software to bring all this together is always just out of reach. I had been working on a solution using "Bento" database that would work on both the laptop and the phone or iPad. Just now, I popped over to their home page to see if there are any new capabilities that might be useful, and found the message, "FileMaker stopped offering Bento on September 30, 2013. FileMaker no longer offers the Bento consumer products." AARRGH!!! This of course is another danger of putting too much effort into software-based solutions. Sooner or later, the software needed to read the data always goes away. So chalk up another requirement: must have a universal file type.