How To Create your own Dive Logbook

Scuba Diving
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Just a few weeks ago I received my PADI Open Water Diver Certificate. I had so much fun while diving and enjoyed it so much, that I will keep going. My dive instructor recommended to me to get a dive logbook to log all my dives. He was straight up and told me to not necessarily get the one from PADI, as there is a lot of advertisement within the book.

Dive Log Single

A paper logbook is still a great way of tracking your dives. Even so, I will go digital as well, where I can download all the dive data directly from my dive computer. There are numerous websites and communities on the web as well, where you can log and share your dives. I joined quite a few of them just to see what they have to offer and to find like-minded people. My go-to diving log software will be Subsurface on my laptop and mobile devices.

An advantage of the paper logbook is that you can collect stamps and stickers from the different dive shops and tour operators. This is a fun way to stay engaged with the community and others.

Instead of buying an actual logbook I did some research and was looking to create my own DIY logbook. I found many different templates on the web. Some of them are specialized and geared more towards tech divers rather than recreational divers.

But if you are looking for a great template to start your own logbook use the ones from Pat Suwalski.

I think it’s the best logbook for the recreational diver and here some features:

  • metric and imperial
  • checkboxes for quick selections
  • fewer words, more icons
  • printable on Letter paper
  • fits 5.5″ binder
  • free of charge
  • dedicated area for a stamp or sticker

Download of Pat’s original. (I added the PDF’s Pat created below, just in case there are any issues with the ones stored on his website).

Single Dive Log Page

5.5″ x 8.5″

Double Dive Log Page

Letter 8.5″ x 11″

I also created a modified version, which adds a second page to the PDF. Why? This will allow you to print on both sides of a letter-sized paper if your printer supports this function. Otherwise, you would have to print one side first and then put the paper you just printed on back in the printer to have the other side printed as well.

Why you should print your own logbook

There is one big reason why you should print your own logbook, especially if you are serious about diving. First of all, printing it yourself is cheap. The only thing it costs you is paper and ink/cartridges for your printer. 

Depending on your binder, you can only print a few pages first to save space and “weight” before expanding your binder and filling it up with additional pages. Make sure you always have enough empty pages in your logbook, especially if you travel abroad. But again, worst case you can just print it on your hotel’s printer if you run out. Printing it yourself and putting it in a ring binder gives you the option to remove pages if you made a mistake. Well, it depends, if you print double-sided you have a 50-50 chance of your mistake having no effect at all or you have already a dive logged on the backside of the current page. 

However, the main reason for me is – consistency. My dive logs will always look the same, no matter what. If you buy a dive logbook and it’s full, your next one might be completely different. It could be a different size or the forms are just different or have fields you don’t need or missing some stuff you would like to log. For me, this version is perfect. I have enough space to add additional information and because of the usage of a ring binder, you can always add another page with even a more detailed description of the dive or print photos of your dive.

How to Print

Now you have a great template for a paper dive logbook but you still have to get it on paper. The cheapest solution and probably the most convenient way is to print it on regular print paper you find in your office or have at home.

However, if you want a better looking and feeling dive logbook consider printing on higher quality paper. I printed mine on HP Premium Presentation Laser Paper, 8 1/2 x 11, 32 Lb, Glossy.

The pack had 250 sheets which would equal 1000 logs in your dive log book. I doubt that you want a folder that big. The 250 sheet pack cost me about $18. If you started your dive certification with friends you can split the cost and everyone gets a logbook. This works even for bigger groups. For example, the PADI Refill Log Book costs about $15 and has 30 pages which let you log 60 dives only.

You can go also with soft-gloss paper or print directly on the smaller 5.5″ x 8.5″ paper. I prefer the laser printer as it “etches” the print into the paper while inkjet printers are just applying it to the surface. Of course, this depends all on what resources you have available at home or you could use at the office. I would print a test example on regular paper to make sure the alignment is perfect and if you do double-sided printing that the printer flips it along the right corner. Otherwise, the backside of your logbook page will be upside down.

I had an issue with one printer where the page wouldn’t be aligned right and so the middle line of the front and backside print was off. When I cut the paper in half, the pages wouldn’t look equal. Make sure you test everything first and check for alignment issues.

Final Touches

To cut your letter-sized papers in half you can go with different methods. Easiest and cheapest is to use scissors. You can also go to a print shop and ask if you cut use their paper cutter. They might let you use it for free or for a small fee. Try to combine it with a purchase you have to make or shipping something like in a FedEx store. I had a paper cutter in my office and it is super convenient. You can cut multiple pages at once and it is a nice, clean, and straight cut.

Now get a hole punch and you are done with your pages. Next, you would have to figure out what kind of binder you want to use. You can find cheap 5.5″ x 8.5″ binders at Office Depot and Staples. But you might want something fancier. There are binders that you can zip closed all the way around, which I would recommend. this protects your precious logbook and memories better from the environment.

Here some recommendations:

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Open Water Diving Certification in Key Largo

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