Boat Maintenance Tip: Download User and Service Manuals

I’m going to start off the Favorite Tips category on the Women and Cruising blog with a small project that we’ve found very useful aboard Hale Kai:

Like most cruisers I am superstitious: I figure if I have the all the Users, Service and Technical Manuals for the equipment aboard our boat, I probably won’t need to use them! The problem is that most equipment is shipped with bare-bones users manuals these days. Marcie Lynn of Nine of Cups services a winchHowever, these same companies often offer the same Users Manual PLUS Service, Technical and Troubleshooting Manuals in Adobe PDF format for FREE download on their websites.

This is a great service for us cruisers who will be maintaining our boats far from service centers.

We can maintain a complete technical library for the equipment and software we have aboard, without bookcases full of printed manuals. Of course, we still carry any Users Manuals that came with our equipment, but we supplement this with manuals that we store on our computer’s hard disk.

And if you’ve ever bought used equipment without a manual, or bought a used boat and can’t find manuals for the gear that came with the boat, now you have a convenient way to get the missing manuals.

Kathy Parsons uses wifi aboardSo, when you have a good internet connection, download Users and Technical Manuals for the equipment aboard your boat.

We don’t print out the manuals, because that would largely defeat one of the key purposes: saving weight and space aboard.

We just call them up on the computer if we need them.

An added plus: you can use the Search feature in Acrobat to find what you want.

How to Find the Manuals for Your Equipment and Software:

Often, the easiest way is to select the SUPPORT or DOWNLOADS tab from the manufacturer’s website.

icom-downloads-databaseFor example, from the Icom Radio homepage, select the Supports tab. On the main support page, you will find an option labeled:

Product Documentation

Download instruction manuals, brochures and product documentation from our Download Database.

Download Database

Scroll down the Download Database page until you find your product number.

Another example:

Many of us have Freedom Inverter/Chargers and Link Battery Monitors from Xantrex.

Xantrex offers User Manuals plus all sorts of technical bulletins from their website.

Again, if you follow the Support tab on the Xantrex site, you will reach the Xantrex Product Support pages, where after entering your product, you can see all the relevant documents available for free download.

Most manuals are 1-10Meg in size, so it’s best to save this task for a time when you have a fast internet connection. When you download a manual, save it under a name that will identify it later when you are looking for it. (e.g., Name it “Link2000InstallationInstructions.pdf” rather than accept the cryptic “docserve.pdf”.)

andersen-winch-manual Whether you need a manual for your PYI Shaft Seal, your Maptech Offshore Navigator program, your Garmin GPS or Chartplotter, your Andersen winch, or your Spectra Watermaker (click on Technical Support), you will find manuals and troubleshooting bulletins online.

There ARE manufacturers (eg Frigoboat, KISS Wind Generator) who display their manuals directly on their web pages rather than in PDF form. Usually, you can still download these through one of several methods:

  • Save the webpages as a web archive
  • Save or print to a PDF file (This requires a full version of Acrobat, you can’t do it with the free Adobe Reader)
  • Copy and Paste what you want to your word processor

Jump drive Be sure to carry one or more jump drives with you. If you need a manual or technical bulletin and don’t have internet access on the boat, head into an internet cafe and download what you need to your jump drive. I’ve done it several times ….

Do you have a favorite tip to share?


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1 comment to Boat maintenance tip: Download user and service manuals

  • Great tip, Kathy. And being able to download those manuals from your computer onto a flash drive to share it with fellow cruisers having problems with their equipment is a great way to help out. Nancy & Burger Zapf of (the other) Hale Kai did just that for us when we were having outboard troubles in Fiji.

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