best books about sailboat racing

Published on March 21st, 2016 | by Editor

Top Picks: The Best Books for Sailboat Racers

Published on March 21st, 2016 by Editor -->

by Deborah Bennett Elfers I can be a little obsessive when it comes to racing sailboats, having read absolutely every sailboat racing book I could find. I’ve read some truly awful books, which did little more than make me even more confused than I was when I started, some rather good books, which made me realize how much I didn’t yet know, and a mere handful of really terrific books which catapulted my understanding of sailboat racing, and helped me to move up the fleet.

Here’s a list of the better books – most basic appearing first – with a brief review of each…

The Complete Sailor, David Seidman I’ve read this book from cover to cover, several times. There are so many little nuggets in here for the new sailor, but it’s also a handy reference guide for the more experienced. I use this book when teaching sailing, as it’s easily readable, and has some of the best basic sailing explanations I’ve seen anywhere.

Getting Started in Sailboat Racing, Adam Cort & Richard Stearns This book was my bible as I was first learning to race. I can’t tell you how many times I read it through, from cover to cover. I had started off with some other, more advanced books, but much of the information in those books was too complicated for a racing novice. This was the perfect introduction to sailboat racing for a newbie, with great graphics, and an easy-to-read format.

best books about sailboat racing

Winning in One-Designs, Dave Perry I think that this is one of the best guides to sailboat racing there is — it’s eminently readable, and organized so well that you can refer back to the appropriate sections when you’re trying to improve a particular weakness. You can use it like a “workbook”, as I did in my second season of racing, and I improved quite a lot by implementing the suggestions and techniques outlined in the book.

Start to Win, Eric Twiname This is a classic book, so well-regarded among sailboat racers that it was re-published 30 years after the author’s death. It is a clear, concise treatise on how to improve your racing. Easy to use, even for the more novice racer.

Sailing Smart: Winning Techniques, Tactics & Strategy, Buddy Melges & Charles Mason This book abounds with lessons on racing tactics and boat handling, sportsmanship, and is sprinkled liberally with the authors’ tales of races won (and lost). The book is clearly organized, and Melges’s personality shines through the pages. I’ve read this one again and again.

Sail, Race & Win: How to Develop a Winning Attitude – Eric Twiname This book is perhaps my favorite of all the books, in that Twiname teaches us how to self-coach, and explores the winning mindset – mirroring closely my own approach to improving my sailing, one learned from and adapted from many years of training as an opera singer.

Note : A few of these books are “old classics” so you will have to be careful to reference the current version of the Racing Rules of Sailing.

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best books about sailboat racing

32 Best Sailing Books For Current and Future Yachtsmen

Heading out on a sailing adventure? Need some inspiration away from the YouTube creators we often featured? Then you’re in the right place.

We have rounded up the best books for sailing enthusiasts. You’ll find highly respected books on racing, cruising and sailboat maintenance for your next adventure on the open seas!

1. Chapman Piloting & Seamanship 69th Edition

One of the best sailing books available, the Chapman Piloting & Seamanship 69th Edition is a comprehensive book with descriptions, illustrations, and pictures for every situation.

Whether the need is a guide for it all or looking for some tips, the book has an easy-to-use index that makes it simple to find information. 

2. The Complete Sailing Manual  

The Complete Sailing Manual by Steve Sleight is a detailed book written by sailors for sailors. 

It delves into the latest advancements in sailing, keeping the reader updated and ready to handle any situation.

3. Fifty Places to Sail Before You Die

Searching for a new, exciting place to sail can be exhausting. Chris Santella has an extensive list of options to bring back that exhilaration.

The handy guide gets inspiration by asking well-known sailors and athletes about their favorite places to sail.

4. The Ultimate Book of Everyday Knots  

Every sailor needs to know how to tie a good knot, and Geoffrey Budworth has a fantastic instruction tool to start.

This book has illustrations of common knots used in sailing and other sports, with directions to ensure every tie is a success.

5. Bargain Boats and Budget Cruising  

Sailing can be an expensive hobby, but it doesn’t have to be. Todd Duff has expert advice to keep the cost down.

This guide goes through the process of finding an economical boat and refitting it, so you can enjoy the water without breaking the bank.

6. Illustrated Sail & Rig Tuning  

Sometimes a picture can be just what’s needed, and Ivar Dedekam has detailed illustrations for everything relating to sailing.

This handy guide explains the necessities of sailing and the theories to get the most out of any boat.

7. The Alaska Cruise Handbook  

The wild waters of Alaska are a worthy goal for any sailor. With insights from Joe Upton, planning a journey through the Alaskan coast is more than practical.

Plan ports and explore the natural beauties of Alaska from the comfort of a personal sailboat.

8. The Sailing Bible

Jeremy Evans, Pat Manley, and Barrie Smith put together an extensive work covering the basics of sailing to niche activities like racing.

Even the most seasoned sailors can find something in one of the best sailing books around to enrich their knowledge, and beginners will feel ready to hit the water.

9. World Cruising Essentials  

Taking on a long voyage can seem like a daunting task. Jimmy Cornell’s World Cruising Essentials makes the trip doable. This happens to be my favorite book on this list!

Learn about everything to prepare for the cruise and get crucial tips for spending the days at sea.

10. Landfalls of Paradise  

Exploring the Pacific Islands can be a dreamy escape, and Earl R. Hinz’s writing makes it a carefree journey.

This guide has updated charts and descriptions to help make any sailing through the Pacific Islands easy to plan and execute. 

11. The Voyager’s Handbook  

Extended trips are one of the most fulfilling ways to experience life on the open seas, and Beth Leonard has a handbook to achieve it. Another personal favorite!

It not only covers the essentials needed on the boat but explains practical tips for keeping boat life enjoyable.

12. The World’s Best Sailboats: Boxset Vol.1&2  

Ferenc Máté’s The World’s Best Sailboats has detailed pictures, illustrations, and descriptions of the finest boats in the world. Enjoy appreciating the fine craftsmanship while learning what makes certain boats excel.

This volume isn’t only fun to flick through as its information can be invaluable when selecting a boat.

13. The Big Book of Boat Canvas  

Customizing a boat can be a fun way to make the vessel feel like home. One option is canvas, and Karen Lipe is here to explain multiple sewing projects.

From practical objects like sail covers to interior cushions, the options are endless in this handbook.

14. Sailing: The Basics  

Newcomers will appreciate Dave Franzel’s book as it helps people get on the water and become sailors in no time. It follows his fundamental principle that time in the water is key to learning, so it gets through the essentials fast.

Get from the docks to the water in record time, and feel confident doing it.

15. The Blue Book of Sailing  

Adam Cort hopes to take the reader of any experience level and turn them into true sailing experts. Through simple lessons, it explains everything needed to sail.

Some basic knowledge of sailing can be necessary for reading, but anyone will benefit from the tips.

16. BoatSense: Lessons and Yarns from a Marine Writer’s Life Afloat  

Combining narrative and guidebook, the unique BoatSense: Lessons and Yarns from a Marine Writer’s Life Afloat gives realistic tips based on Doug Logan’s experience.

The true tales from this sailor aren’t just for fun, as they pleasantly explain crucial teachings that are usually exclusive to years of sailing.

17. The International Marine Book of Sailing  

The International Marine Book of Sailing by William Robinson is great for beginners looking to learn everything. 

This book has handy illustrations and other valuable insights neatly organized to get the reader ready to sail as soon as possible.

18. The Ashley Book of Knots  

This comprehensive book covers around 3,900 types of knots with brief descriptions, drawn guides, and other information. 

This manual not only covers basic knots but includes complex versions that can be used on the boat or to impress friends.

19. The Handbook Of Sailing  

For visual learners, Bob Bond has thousands of diagrams and color photos to explore the basic techniques of setting sail. 

The guidebook has helpful descriptions to accompany the pictures and assists the reader through any situation.

20. Sailing America  

See the beauties of the United States from coast to coast in this picture collection from Onne van der Wal. Enjoy the views from the sea without even sailing across thousands of miles.

Whether it’s for inspiration or to admire the expert photography, any sailor can appreciate the beautiful landscapes in this book.

21. The Annapolis Book of Seamanship  

Another comprehensive guide that covers everything from the basics to handling extreme conditions. John Rousmaniere is on hand to get the reader for any sailing situation.

This book progresses from the simplest tasks to the most challenging endeavors, with traditional techniques mixed with newer innovations.

22. Desirable and Undesirable Characteristics of the Offshore Yachts 

Searching for a sea-worthy vessel can be a challenging task, but Steven L. Davis aims to make it much easier.

This guidebook examines trends and other information to prepare the reader for the boat market. That data will be invaluable to understanding what to look for when choosing their own.

23. Sailing Is Fun!: A Beginners Manual For Young Sailors  

Kids looking to sail can learn the basics from Charles D. Dawson. His book uses only simple terms, making it easy for children to follow.

It stresses water safety to keep youngsters safe, and it’s an invaluable tool for anyone wanting to pass on sailing traditions.

24. The Best Used Boat Notebook  

A cost-effective way to get into sailing is through a used boat, and The Best Used Boat Notebook from John Kretschmer gives every tip needed. 

This detailed guide breaks down the specifics any potential boat owner should know.

25. The Cruising Guide to the Virgin Islands 

Explore the crystal waters of the Virgin Islands with help from Simon Scott’s experience. 

It also includes a handy chart that folds out to aid your plans for the sailing voyage.

26. Marina’s Best  

A significant portion of sailing is in marinas, and anyone hoping to manage their marina can get the knowledge necessary from Dr. Amos Raviv.

This work guides the reader through everything necessary to run a marina and ensures sailors understand the rules and regulations of marina use.

27. Crewing to Win

Racing sailboats is an intense sport, and it relies on crew teamwork. To build the best team, try reading Crewing to Win by Saskia Clark.

This handbook explains how to form a team, set goals, and keep things running smoothly out on the water.

28. Building Outrigger Sailing Canoes

Outrigger canoes are a unique and traditional form of sailing, often handmade by indigenous Hawaiians .

Building Outrigger Sailing Canoes by Gary Dierking helps explain the best way to create an outrigger canoe with contemporary methods.

29. Reeds Skipper’s Handbook  

Owning a small index of essential knowledge can be invaluable at sea, and Malcolm Pearson’s Reeds Skipper’s Handbook is just that.

This book is an indispensable guide for any experienced sailor, as it’s easy to reference and find exactly what you’re looking for.

30. The Best of Sail Trim  

This volume is a compilation of the best articles from SAIL magazine, collected for ease of access. Explore tips ranging from cruises to racing.

The information in this book is easy and enjoyable to read while giving plenty of priceless tips.

31. Elvstrøm Explains the Racing Rules: 2021-2024 Rules  

Get into racing with this complete guide Elvstrøm Explains the Racing Rules: 2021-2024 Rules. Written by the Olympic sailor Paul Elvstrom, learn all the ins and outs to win first place.

This book has a quick reference guide for racing flags and ways to help plan the best course.

32. Maneuver and Dock Your Sailboat Under Power  

Docking a boat can be one of the most challenging tasks a sailor can undertake. Maneuver and Dock Your Sailboat Under Power by Grant Headifen prepares the reader for docking in any condition.

Feel confident sailing into the marina with one of the best sailing books focused on navigation, and never risk bumping into the docks again.


Home » Blog » Gear » 25 sailing books every sailor should read

25 sailing books every sailor should read

By Author Fiona McGlynn

Posted on Last updated: January 26, 2023


Whether you’re looking to do some armchair sailing during the off-season or stock up your floating library with sailing stories for summer cruising, these are the best sailing books for adventure and inspiration.

In this list, you’ll find books about sailing around the world, first-hand accounts of daring Antarctic adventures, true crime nautical thrillers, and meditative musings about life at sea. Be sure to let us know your favorite sailing books in the comments below.

If you’re looking for reference books on boat maintenance and how to sail, check out our post on the nautical books we’ll never go to sea without .

A quick note that this post contains affiliate links (so if you purchase through a link we’ll earn a small commission). All the opinions are our own.

Best books about sailing around the world

1. the long way – bernard moitessier.

This is the book that inspired us to buy a boat and go sailing! Bernard Moitessier was a French sailor who raced in the 1968 Golden Globe, the first single-handed around the world race.

He sails from England alone for several months and when it seems he is just about to win…(well, I won’t spoil it for you!). His account is a great adventure story and also a deep meditation on zen philosophy.

2. Sailing Alone Around the World – Joshua Slocum

Joshua Slocum’s  Sailing Alone Around the World  is a really interesting account of the first solo-circumnavigation. It would be an interesting account even if it were written today but is especially so due to the fact that the events he recounts take place prior to the 20th century.

In many ways, Slocum was the first cruiser and the trouble he gets himself into, the people he meets, and the places he goes are things to which we can all relate.

3. A World of My Own – Robin Knox-Johnston

Robin Knox-Johnston’s account of his non-stop solo-circumnavigation of the world. He presents a vivid and  vulnerable portrait of a sailor attempting to accomplish what most thought impossible.

It’s a testament to the ability of the human mind to overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles and heartening for fellow sailors who will encounter situations that put their own courage to the test. It’s a great read and details one of the most incredible feats of the modern era.

4. Dove – Robin Lee Graham

Dove is a book for those who dream of sailing around the world.

In 1965, 16-year-old Robin Lee Graham set off from California in 24-footer on a solo round-the-world voyage. After 5 years and 33,000 miles, he returns with a wife and daughter. His adventures in between are recounted in this best-selling book.

5. Gipsy Moth Circles The World – Francis Chichester

In August 1966, Francis Chichester set out from Plymouth on his 53-foot ketch “Gypsy Moth VI”. He would become the first person to make a one-stop round the world circumnavigation.

Chichester’s journey set records, earned him a knighthood, and fueled the ambition of the next generation of sailors, to become the first to sail around the world non-stop in the 1968 Golden Globe Race.

6. Maiden Voyage – Tania Aebi with Bernadette Brennan

At 18 years old, Tania Aebi was going nowhere, until her father presented her with an ultimatum: she could go to college or get a boat. She chose the latter and for the next two and a half years and 27,000 miles, she sailed the world with only her cat as a companion.

Sailing adventure books

7. an island to oneself – tom neale.

New Zealander, Tom Neale travels to Suwarrow, a remote South Pacific atoll, and spends 16 years living alone and off the land. If you’ve ever fantasized about living on a remote South Pacific Island, this book is for you.

8. Sailing & Mountain Exploration Books  – H.W. Tilman

Considered one of the greatest adventurers of our time, Tilman has sailed and climbed in some of the world’s most remote and environments. His sailing books are must-reads for those who dream of straying from the beaten path and sailing in high-latitudes.

best books about sailboat racing

9. Kon-Tiki: Across the Pacific in a Raft – Thor Heyerdahl

Kon-Tiki was the first book about sailing that I ever read.  And really it is more about adventuring than sailing. The sheer foolhardiness of building a balsa wood raft and sailing it 4000 miles from Peru to Tahiti is enough to pique the interest of any adventurous soul.

It’s fascinating to read the various ways that the four men on the raft handled the, at times, boring, stressful, exciting, and survival situations in which they were placed.

Sailing thriller books

10. and the sea will tell – vincent bugliosi.

In this terrifying true story, two couples sail to a remote Pacific atoll, but only one couple makes it off the Island alive. As told by the defense lawyer, Vincent Bugliosi (who also prosecuted Charles Manson), the investigation that follows is a riveting true-crime murder mystery.

And the Sea Will Tell reconstructs the events and recounts the trial that follows. The first half of the book is a real page-turner. The second half delves into technical aspects of the court case which makes for a less compelling read (unless perhaps you’re a lawyer!).

11. The Perfect Storm – Sebastian Junger

A real-life thriller, this book is likely to scare you out of ever leaving land, but it will also give you an appreciation of the sheer power of weather in the Atlantic Ocean.

Junger tells the story of the Perfect Storm, a record topping storm that hit the east coast of North America in the fall of 1991. It follows the accounts of the crews of the fishing boat, a sailboat, and the U.S. Coast Guard as they battle to survive the severe conditions.

12. Adrift: Seventy-six Days Lost at Sea – Steven Callahan

A staggering survival story written by Steven Callahan about 76 days spent in a life raft in the Atlantic Ocean.

Only six days out, Callahan’s small sloop capsizes and he’s left battling for survival in an inflatable raft. “Adrift” was on the New York Times bestseller list for more than thirty-six weeks when it first came out.

13. Godforsaken Sea – Derek Lundy

Godforsaken Sea  recounts the running of the 1996-97 Vendée Globe. On 3 November 1996, sixteen sailors set out to race around the world single-handed. Only six completed the course. The book explores what compels a sailor to go to sea why the Vendée Globe racers were willing to risk everything.

Sailing and cruising stories

14. the curve of time – m. wylie blanchet.

The story of a single mother in the 1920s with 3 children and a dog, exploring Vancouver Island’s inside passage.

In 1926 Muriel “Capi” Wylie Blanchet, a Vancouver Island resident, tragically lost her husband Geoffrey when he took their 25 ft cabin cruiser “Caprice” out on a solo camping trip and never returned. Rather than sell the boat, she took her three young children and dog on summer sojourns, exploring the pristine BC coast with nothing but her wits to rely on.

She documents her many adventures: piloting through whirlpools, run-ins with bears and cougars, climbing thousand-foot cliffs, and exploring abandoned First Nations villages. Her account is both inspiring and a reminder to slow down, appreciate the beauty of nature, and be present with those you love.

One of the few books to make our list of best sailing books that doesn’t take place on a sailboat!

15. Seraffyn’s European Adventure – Lin and Larry Pardey

Lin and Larry Pardey are living proof that you don’t need to be wealthy to see the world. They traveled for 26 years (covering the equivalent of 5 circumnavigations) in their home-built cutters, Seraffyn and Taleisin.

In Seraffyn’s European Adventure the young couple journey in their 24ft boat to the Baltic, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Germany. Without engine, electronics, or gadgetry these scrappy sailors accomplish remarkable things through sheer endurance and resourcefulness.

Their stories are as salty as it gets and their message is freedom: “Go small, go simple, go now.”

best books about sailboat racing

16. The Log from the Sea of Cortez – John Steinbeck

An account of the six-week scientific expedition made by John Steinbeck in 1940 with marine biologist Ed Ricketts, collecting marine specimens as they travel through the Sea of Cortez.

The book recounts bizarre sea creatures, funny anecdotes about the eccentric crew, and Steinbeck/Ricketts’ life philosophies. A good read if you’re planning to visit Mexico.

17. The Boat Who Wouldn’t Float – Farley Mowat

If you’ve ever cursed your boat, you’ll sympathize with the exasperated (but ever hopeful) Mowat in “The Boat Who Wouldn’t Float”.

Seeking adventure, Mowat hopes to buy a boat , a proud and seaworthy vessel, and roam the seven seas. Instead, he gets the worst boat ever and nearly goes mad trying to keep it from sinking.

best books about sailboat racing

18. Passage to Juneau – Jonathan Raban

Raban sails from Seattle to Juneau in a small boat, deftly describing the history of First Nations, Captain Vancouver, and life at sea as he travels up the coast.

More than just a travelogue, Raban recounts personal challenges: his relationship with his father, and being a good dad to his young daughter Julia. The Pacific Northwest history is absolutely fascinating and Raban is a deep and thoughtful soul who you can’t help but empathize with.

19. The Incredible Voyage – Tristan Jones

With wit and style, Tristan Jones tells the story of his 6-year voyage where he sailed a distance equal to twice the circumference of the world. His adventures include capsizing off the Cape of Good Hope, starving in the Amazon, and dodging snipers on the Red Sea.

best books about sailboat racing

20. Looking for a Ship – John McPhee

John McPhee, considered one of the pioneers of creative nonfiction, recounts a 42-day journey from Charleston down the Pacific coast of South America on one of the last American merchant ships, the S.S. Stella Lykes.

21. My Old Man and the Sea – David Hays, Daniel Hays

An account of an ambitious father-son project: build a boat and take on Cape Horn. With nothing more than a compass, sextant, and pet cat, the father and son duo are tested on an incredible voyage. Told in alternating sections by father and son.

Best Nautical Novels

best books about sailboat racing

22. Moby Dick – Herman Melville

No list of classic sailing novels would be complete without Moby Dick.

The story follows a whaler captain’s quest for revenge against the giant sperm whale, Moby Dick. Written by Herman Melville in 1851, it’s considered one of the “Great American Novels”.

23. The Old Man and the Sea – Ernest Hemingway

best books about sailboat racing

24. Master and Commander – Patrick O’Brian

Published in 1969, this nautical novel was the start of a 20-book series. Set at the turn of the 19th century, the story follows a young Jack Aubrey, who has recently been promoted to the rank of Master and Commander.

Sailing logbook

best books about sailboat racing

25. Sailing logbook

The best sailing stories are the ones you create!  Pick up one of these hardcover logbooks to record your nautical travels.

Looking for more great sailing stories? Check out our posts on sailing vlogs and sailing podcasts .

Do you have any suggestions for other inspirational sailing books? We’d love to get your recommendations – please leave them in the comment box below.

Fiona McGlynn

Fiona McGlynn is an award-winning boating writer who created Waterborne as a place to learn about living aboard and traveling the world by sailboat. She has written for boating magazines including BoatUS, SAIL, Cruising World, and Good Old Boat. She’s also a contributing editor at Good Old Boat and BoatUS Magazine. In 2017, Fiona and her husband completed a 3-year, 13,000-mile voyage from Vancouver to Mexico to Australia on their 35-foot sailboat.

Monday 1st of April 2019

Hi there! Great post, but my all time favorite is “South Sea Vagabonds” by John Wray!

Niah Vaughan

Saturday 16th of March 2019

The Loneliest Race by Paul Gelder. Is a must read.

Wednesday 27th of March 2019

Thanks Niah. I've been thinking about writing a post on sailing race books - there are some many good ones!

Michael Robertson

Friday 15th of March 2019

Overlooked on this list and many others is the great "The Water in Between" by Kevin Patterson.

Yes indeed - that's a great recommendation.

Jean Baillargeon

Hi Fiona n Robin, Hope you’re not missing the heat of the SP too too much. If I may suggest a few more books for your great list.

Anything by Moitessier of course, specially «Vagabond des mers du Sud» (telling of his learning to sail in Vietnam as a young man), and «Tamata et l’Alliance», (his last book written during his years living in French Polynesia) Quick english titles list here:

Anything about Éric Tabarly, there are one or two bios and he wrote one account of his winning the BOAC.

And my welsh mother in law would be very disappointed in me if I did not recommend Tristan Jones’ books. His are tall tales that sometimes strech believability, but they sure a great read. Typical welsh storyteller with a knack for spinning a good yarn with priceless tongue in cheek humour. Also of interest to handicapped sailors, Jones lost a leg to diabetes on one of his crossings, but kept sailing for many years afterwards.

These are great! Thank you Jean. Hope you're finding lots of time for reading on the boat in paradise :)

Darlene Kristi

You did miss a riveting true story, which won the National Outdoor Book Award for best book of the year! Journey of A Hope Merchant - from Apartheid to the Elite World of Solo Yacht Racing. by Neal Petersen

Wow this sounds fascinating! We'll check it out. Thanks Darlene.

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Top 15 Expert Sailing Books to Read in 2021

November 13, 2020 by Travis Turgeon Leave a Comment

View of a sailboat in front of a sunset from shore

With so many books on the market to prepare you for sailing, it can be hard to know where to start. In this guide, we provide a list of the most beneficial sailing books by category so that you can begin with exactly what you need. 

Click a Category to Jump Ahead

  • Inspiration
  • On-Board Reference
  • Field Guides
  • Fishing  
  • Medical  

Sailing Books for Beginners

Woman mimics the Titanic with her arms stretched out

The Craft of Sail, by Jan Adkins :

For those with little to no sailing experience, Jan Adkins introduces the world of sailing perfectly. Published in May of 1973, this book has held its worth over the years for good reason. Adkins clearly describes the basics of sailing physics using simple language and illustrations, making it the perfect book for learners of all ages. Although first-time sailors may find themselves spending several hours studying a single page, there is no better resource to learn the ropes thoroughly and clearly.

Wooden Boat Magazine still uses the book to teach its “Elements of Seamanship” course, which teaches first-time sailing to adults, making it a no-brainer for anyone learning to sail.

Sailing for Dummies, by J.J. and Peter Isler :

Sailing for dummies, like the rest of the “For Dummies” series, was written with the virgin sailor in mind. This book’s authors are sailing champions and experts on the water, in addition to having learned to navigate the seas since they were kids in California. At points during this book, you’ll feel like you’re learning skills that you shouldn’t have lived without for this long. The satisfaction you receive from something as simple as learning to read a compass is terrific.

From learning the different types of sailboats, to finally setting sail, Sailing for Dummies is a useful resource for any newbie sailor. Jumping out of your comfort zone has never been so easy. 

Plan to Sail Books

sailboat tied to a dock with a rope at the bow

World Cruising Routes, by Jimmy Cornell :

One of the most recommended sailing books of all time, World Cruising Routes covers over 1,000 different routes from every ocean on the globe. From the tropical waters of the South Pacific to the icy seas of the Arctic, this book will guide you surely through the process of planning your journey.

The eighth and newest edition of this cruising book is revised to acknowledge the effects of today’s changing climates and conditions of the sea. Learn how to navigate some of the most challenging waters and approach ports of entry around the world without feeling out of your element. With 64 pages, including colored maps and GPS images, this planning guide is both practical and enjoyable to read. 

Ocean Passages and Landfalls, by Rod Heikell and Andy O’Grady :

Another highly recommended world cruising handbook, filled with valuable information to make your way around the globe. As with “World Cruising Routes,” this book addresses changing climates, seasons, and the troubles of crossing some of the most challenging oceans to navigate.

One big difference between the two sailing books is the informal conversational tone that Heikell and O’Grady take on, giving it an authentic style missed in Jimmy Cornell’s book. The information included in this book is first-hand knowledge, priceless for planning a cruising journey. The outline of each section is perfect, especially for giving route descriptions and country-relevant information in each course. 

Inspiring Sail Books

Boat rope neatly rolled on a sailboat at sunset

Fifty Places to Sail Before you Die, by Chris Santella :

Perhaps surprisingly one of the best ways to get inspired for a sailing trip is by first exploring the world’s locations through books. This book contains the most recommended sailing destinations from the best-known names in the sailing world. From professional adventurists to sailboat racing champions, this book is an absolute gem of recommendations.

While many readers will say that the descriptions are not as in-depth as they would like, it is certainly a good reference point to get you started. We suggest using it as a compass. Choose your direction, and follow up in detail on your own. One thing is for sure, the suggestions in this book will not steer you down the wrong path. 

The Strange Last Voyage of Donald Crowhurst, by Nicholas Tomalin :

In 1968, for the first time in history, an around-the-world solo yacht race was about to begin. One of the voyagers taking part in the race was Donald Crowhurst, an adventurous sailor from Britain. Approximately eight months after the beginning of the race, Donald’s boat was discovered adrift in the mid-Atlantic. The ship was intact, but Crowhurst was not aboard. Although the exact details are unknown, this book tells the believed events that led to his death during the race. While a sobering book regarding the dangers at sea, it inspires adventure and exploration for all. 

Get Real, Get Gone: How to Become a Modern Sea Gypsy and Sail Away, by Rick Page :

It’s common to think that only the wealthiest of us can hop a yacht and cruise the globe. While true that having that kind of money can help to sail luxuriously, this book helps redefine the idea of sailing entirely. Authors Rick and Jasna’s lifestyle is by no means ultra-luxurious; In fact, they are quite frugal. Filled with both practical and whimsical advice, this book is the perfect resource for the budget-conscious dreamer.

If you are held back by the idea that you need to have millions of dollars to cruise the world, pick up this book and give it a read. By the end, you’ll be on your way to planning an epic journey of your own. 

On-Board Reference Guides to Sailing

A man and his son on a sailboat wearing lifejackets

Boatowners Mechanical and Electrical Manual, by Nigel Calder :

Talk to any well-versed sailor, and they will recommend this book for onboard cruising. The amount of technical work that goes into owning a boat can be a sobering reality for many people, especially those who aren’t well-seasoned mechanics and electricians. However, this book is for those people, and the information included should be treated as gospel. The drawings and photographs included will guide you through every process, big or small, and help you overcome the technicalities of owning a sailboat. If it can break, this book will be there to help fix it. The money you will save on maintenance specialists alone will go unmatched. Trust us; it’s a must-have in your collection of cruising books.

The Morrow Guide to Knots: For Sailing, Fishing, Camping, Climbing, by Mario Bigon and Guido Regazzoni :

This book gives you step-by-step instructions, including illustrations to tie every knot you’ll need when out at sea. The photos included make it a breeze to understand, and when more than one rope or thread is required, the book is color-coded to make things simple. There are over 600 illustrations in the book, and it even includes a section on decorative knots for the bored and creative. From the Spanish bowline to the Swivelhitch, fear knot , this book has you covered. 

Sailing Field Guides

Humpback whales breaching clear blue water

National Audobon Society Guide to Marine Mammals of the World, by Randall R. Reeves :

With descriptions of every single species of marine mammal globally, there is nowhere this book won’t be useful. Written by a team of marine mammal experts, this book includes maps, illustrations, and photographs, covering over 120 marine species in detail. The images and descriptions in this book will make identifying a species in the wild easy and quick.

Reef Fish Identification, by Ned DeLoach and Paul Humann :

If you find yourself cruising through the waters of South Florida and the Caribbean, this is a must-have field guide. You will undoubtedly be spending plenty of time above coral reefs, and being able to identify the hundreds of immaculately bright reef fish is a treat. By knowing specific features, habitats, and behaviors of a species, you can actively search out your favorite fish or find new critters. Further, if you find yourself bitten or stung by one of the fluorescent fish, it will be nice to know what you’re dealing with. Look into the book after you go out diving or snorkeling, and learn the fish by memory. You’ll be a self-proclaimed biologist in no time. 

Fishing at Sail Books

Man fighting a fish at sea from a boat

Cruisers Handbook of Fishing, by Scott and Wendy Bannerot :

Written for those who have dedicated huge parts of their lives to cruising and fishing, this book is an excellent guide to catching, cleaning, and cooking fish from your liveaboard cruiser. While the book covers most of the world’s fishing environments, it covers fishing in tropical to mid-latitude waters best. Beyond fishing guides and techniques, this book also includes unique and delicious recipes to keep you and your crew on their culinary toes. Whether you are fishing from an anchor or in your dinghy, this book will become the bible to feeding yourself while living off the grid. 

Planning on a trip to the Caribbean? Make sure to read up on the fishing laws and regulations for your chosen destination. The last thing you want is to run into legal trouble during your holiday on the water.

Sailing cook books.

Grilled salmon with tartar and dill alongside vegetables freshly caught from a boat

The Boat Galley Cookbook: 800 Everyday Recipes and Essential Tips for Cooking Aboard, by Carolyn Shearlock :

The space is tight, the ingredients are limited, and you just caught a fish you’ve never even considered preparing before. The recipes and tips in this book are sure to help out any long-term cruiser in the galley, but especially the unseasoned, first-time liveaboard chefs. In some parts of the world, you may be surprised to find that chicken will come whole, fish will come uncleaned, and you’ll need bones for your broth. Making bread and yogurt can also be a daunting task with limited utensils and resources.

Taking raw, simple ingredients and turning them into full-blown authentic dishes inspired by cuisines worldwide is easy with this onboard treasure of a book. Don’t fool yourself; you will find a use for this book guaranteed. 

Sailing Books for Families

A family enjoying their time on the bow of the boat

Voyaging with Kids: A Guide to Family Life Afloat, by Behan Gifford, Sara Dawn Johnson, and Michael Robertson :

This is a touchy topic, nobody will understand that better than a family trying to prepare for life at sea. “It’s not safe” “What about school?” “You won’t ever have time for yourselves.”

These are all understandable concerns, but they are hurdles to overcome with the right planning and preparation. The nice thing about this book is the personal experience it offers.

The authors have successfully navigated this road and interviewed dozens of other families who took the same path. Normalcy is what you make it, and in reality, you won’t need to keep up with the Joneses out at sea. From choosing the right cruiser for your family and their needs to preparing a suitable education outline, this guide to family life afloat is the perfect preparation companion to get you moving in the right direction.

At-Sea Medical Sailing Books

A sailing first aid kit laid out on a table

Your Offshore Doctor: A Manual of Medical Self-Sufficiency at Sea, by Michael Beilan :

As a doctor who is also an experienced sailor, Dr. Beilan constructed a fantastic guide for staying healthy and managing sickness at sea. Far from the nearest hospital or clinic, you are your own physician on the open water. You don’t need to be a doctor by training, though.

Beyond advised fitness routines and general treatments, this book will provide anything and everything from dosages of the most common medications to treating Malaria symptoms. There is even a dedicated chapter to procedures with illustrations and explanations in case of severe emergency. Need help preparing a medical kit? This book covers it. 

Need even more inspiration? Check out this post by Discover Boating to see what their Top 10 sailing books – everything from historical non-fiction to fiction.

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Best Sailing Books

Set sail on a literary voyage with these top sailing books, featuring narratives full of adventure, technical know-how, and the allure of the sea. they have been charted based on their recommendations by seasoned sailors and leading nautical publications..

Best Sailing Books

Books for Sailors: Navigating the World of Sailing Literature

  • Books for Sailors: Navigating the World of Sailing Literature


Sailing is a timeless pursuit that has captured the imagination of adventurers and seafarers throughout history. Whether you're an experienced sailor or simply fascinated by the nautical world, there's no better way to immerse yourself in the joys and challenges of sailing than through books. In this article, we will explore a selection of must-read books for sailors, ranging from practical guides to thrilling tales of seafaring exploits. So, grab a life jacket and join us as we navigate through the pages of these captivating sailing books.

Books for Sailors: Discovering Literary Gems

1. "the annapolis book of seamanship" by john rousmaniere.

Considered a classic in the sailing world, "The Annapolis Book of Seamanship" serves as an authoritative guide for sailors of all levels. It covers a wide range of topics, including navigation, boat handling, safety procedures, and more. With detailed illustrations and comprehensive explanations, this book is an invaluable resource for honing your sailing skills and knowledge.

2. "A Voyage for Madmen" by Peter Nichols

"A Voyage for Madmen" recounts the gripping true story of the first solo nonstop around-the-world yacht race. Follow the journeys of nine daring sailors as they set out on a treacherous adventure that tests their resilience and determination. This captivating book combines elements of history, adventure, and human spirit, making it a compelling read for any sailing enthusiast.

3. "Heavy Weather Sailing" by Peter Bruce

For sailors who dare to face the elements, "Heavy Weather Sailing" provides essential insights and strategies for navigating stormy seas. Authored by experienced offshore sailors, this book offers practical advice on handling extreme weather conditions, boat preparation, and crew safety. It is a valuable resource for those seeking to build confidence in challenging sailing situations.

4. "Sailing Alone Around the World" by Joshua Slocum

Embark on a remarkable solo adventure with "Sailing Alone Around the World." Joshua Slocum's captivating memoir chronicles his historic solo circumnavigation of the globe aboard the sloop Spray. This extraordinary tale of determination, exploration, and encounters with diverse cultures will transport you to a bygone era of sailing and inspire your own seafaring dreams.

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5. "The Complete Sailor" by David Seidman

"The Complete Sailor" is an essential guide for both novice and experienced sailors alike. Covering a wide range of topics, including boat handling, sail trim, navigation, and safety, this book is a comprehensive resource for mastering the art of sailing. With clear explanations and helpful illustrations, it's a valuable companion for sailors at any stage of their journey.

6. "Two Years Before the Mast" by Richard Henry Dana Jr.

"Two Years Before the Mast" is a captivating memoir that offers a vivid portrayal of life at sea during the 19th century. Written by Richard Henry Dana Jr., this book recounts his experiences as a common sailor on a merchant ship traveling along the California coast. It provides a fascinating glimpse into the challenges, hardships, and camaraderie of a sailor's life.

7. "The Racing Rules of Sailing" by World Sailing

For those interested in competitive sailing, "The Racing Rules of Sailing" is an indispensable guide. Published by World Sailing, this book outlines the official rules and regulations for sailboat racing. Whether you're a participant or a spectator, understanding these rules will enhance your appreciation and enjoyment of the sport.

So what are you waiting for? Take a look at our range of charter boats and head to some of our favourite  sailing destinations.

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Books for sailors: our pick of the best new releases

  • Julia Jones
  • April 21, 2022

Yachting Monthly literary contributor Julia Jones reviews all the latest new releases to pick the best books for sailors this summer

Books for sailors - a sailor reading a kindle on the deck of a boat

Credit: Getty

Looking for inspiration for your holiday reading list?

From solo sailing adventures to practical seamanship , here are the best books for sailors to read over the summer.

The Temptress Voyages

The Temptress Voyages - new releases

Edward Allcard’s first two books Single-Handed Voyage (1950) and Temptress Returns (1951) chronicle his pioneering voyages both ways across the Atlantic .

He bought the elderly 34’ yawl Temptress as an antidote to postwar malaise, then set out to put himself and his yacht to the test.

He began his 81-day single-handed crossing to New York in May 1949, spending hours at the tiller or hove-to.

This arduous existence represented freedom.

He felt regret as well as triumph when he reached America, then regret when he was eventually obliged to leave.

The return voyage almost cost his life but later, when he was joined by Otilia the stowaway, he also discovered friendship.

These two volumes of struggle and self-discovery are classics of their time.

The Temptress Voyages by Edward Allcard, Lodestar, £12

Buy The Temptress Voyages at Amazon (UK)

Buy The Temptress Voyages at Foyles (UK)

Old Man Sailing

Old Man Sailing Book JAcket

Old Man Sailing has become a word-of-mouth bestseller among sailing titles.

In March 2020 John Passmore was content on his Rival 32 Samsara , the wrong side of the Lowestoft Harbour bridge.

Three months lockdown was imminent. He shifted his berth within the hour.

Then, after some careful provisioning he moved to the Walton Backwaters to complete preparations, observe quarantine and pick a weather window before leaving for the Azores northabout Shetland.

When he returned, six weeks and 3,629 miles later, his action had caught the public imagination.

Passmore, a former journalist, is an accomplished writer able to shape his anecdotes and remain wryly entertaining as well as thought-provoking throughout.

These qualities will ensure Old Man Sailing continues to be read long after lockdown has faded from memory.

Old Man Sailing by John Passmore, Samsara Press, £10.24

Buy Old Man Sailing at Amazon (UK)

Buy Old Man Sailing at Amazon (US)

Buy Old Man Sailing at Audible

Addicted to More Adventure

Addicted to more adventure by Bob Shepton Book Jacket

A new collection of Bob Shepton’s adventures is an immediate pleasure.

Perhaps, as he’s a chaplain by trade, it’s not surprising that there is also a message: ‘Risk is good, enjoy it’.

Ellen Massey Leonard’s afterword spells out the essential connection between risk and joy. ‘Bob has found joy throughout his life in climbing unclimbed cliffs […] and in reaching some of the world’s most remote wildernesses under sail.’

In many of the voyages described here his role is to help others achieve similar experiences.

As well as leading a west-east return through the North-West passage, he acts as a delivery skipper and a sailing master and conveys other, younger, mountaineers to make those thrilling first ascents that are now beyond his reach.

Addicted to More Adventure by Bob Shepton, Amazon, £15

Buy Addicted to More Adventure at Amazon (UK)

Buy Addicted to More Adventure at Amazon (US)

Buy Addicted to More Adventure at Waterstones (UK)

A River in Borneo

A River in Borneo book jacket

Richard Woodman insists that this is his last novel and it’s one of his best, which is why it has been included in our books for sailors list.

A River in Borneo is set in the Malaysian and Indonesian waters he explored as a junior officer in the 1960s Merchant Navy.

The sailing scenes are pure delight as Captain Harry Kirton handles his elderly brigantine as if she were a yacht.

The central action is set in the mid 19th century and Kirton must learn to navigate the sensitivities of different ethnic groups within his crew with the same skill that he negotiates the intricate island passages between the Sulu and Celebes Seas.

Moulded by pain, Kirton is one of Woodman’s most psychologically interesting characters. If this is Woodman’s swansong, it’s a good way to go.

A River in Borneo by Richard Woodman, McBooks Press, £21.95

Buy A River in Borneo at Amazon (UK)

Buy A River in Borneo at Amazon (US)

Buy A River in Borneo at Waterstones (UK)

The Sea is not made of Water

The Sea is not made of water book jacket

This is a book with the wow factor.

It’s an astonishingly wide-ranging tour-de-force which finally reaches the assertion that the sea ‘is a world to come alongside, to be-with in ways that go beyond the predatory’.

Whilst most sailors will have little trouble with this concept, Nicolson works his way towards it from a coast-based perspective.

Although he does sail out towards Lismore Lighthouse in the Sound of Mull, in a 16ft wooden lugger, his interest is in observation of the inter-tidal rocks, weeds, creatures and legends.

Writing on tides he highlights the Newtonian theory that what we experience is not the sea being pulled about the surface of the earth, but the turning of the earth under the surface covering of the sea – a concept both awe-inspiring and giddying.

The Sea is not made of Water by Adam Nicolson, Harper Collins, £20

Buy The Sea is not made of Water at Amazon (UK)

Buy The Sea is not made of Water at Amazon (US)

Buy The Sea is not made of Water at Waterstones (UK)

Buy The Sea is not made of Water at Audible

Continues below…

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The Five Year Voyage: Exploring Latin American Coasts and Rivers

Book jacket for the Five Year Voyage

When the wanderlust returned he had a partner, Ginny, equally eager for adventure, so adapted a slightly larger boat.

Thurston was an adapted Sea Pearl 21, a two-masted trailersailer , drawing only 9 inches.

They added a cabin top, drinking water ballast, stowage and a sliding seat rowing system.

Two years later, having travelled from Florida to Panama, they added a Honda 2hp outboard.

This enabled them to spend a further three years exploring the coastline and great rivers of South America as far as Buenos Aires.

On the way they married and had a baby.

This is an intensely impressive small boat voyage. It’s also grippingly readable.

The Five-Year Voyage : Exploring Latin American Coasts and Rivers by Stephen Ladd, Seekers Press, £15.99

Buy The Five Year Voyage at Amazon (UK)

Buy The Five Year Voyage at Amazon (US)

Essential Boat Electronics

Book jacket fro Essential Boat Electronics

Electrics are the ‘number 1 problem on any boat’ states the blurb.

While some may wish to challenge this, the fact remains that recent decades have seen an unprecedented increase in the complexity of systems on even the most modest cruising yacht.

Often these systems have been overlaid on one another as new needs have been identified or earlier installations found inadequate.

This useful guide avoids too much theory but encourages better organisation and an understanding of personal priorities.

Even those of us who are privately determined to use professionals wherever possible, it would be well advised to read this book and keep it on board, for the moments when self-reliance is unavoidable.

This is not a problem that’s set to go away.

Essential Boat Electronics 3rd edition by Oliver Ballam and Pat Manley, Fernhurst Books, £16.99

Buy Essential Boat Electronics at Amazon (UK)

Buy Essential Boat Electronics at Amazon (US)

The Shetland Sea Murders

Sailing thriller - the Shetland Sea Murders book jacket

The Shetland Sea Murders is the 9th book in an established series featuring sailor Cas Lynch, but can be read as a standalone thriller.

The story starts will Lynch running her last charter of the season, which is disrupted by a VHF radio call from the Shetland coastguard.

What follows is two apparently unrelated murders, and soon Lynch herself is under threat.

Fans of Ann Cleeves’ Vera Stanhope series will throughly enjoy the plot’s twists and turns.

It will certainly keep you entertained!

Buy The Shetland Sea Murders at Amazon (UK )

Buy The Shetland Sea Murders at Amazon (US)

Buy The Shetland Sea Murders at Waterstones

Buy The Shetland Sea Murders at Audible

The Dinghy Cruising Companion

The Dinghy Cruising Companion (2nd edition) book jacket

This is the second edition of an important book, and deserves inclusion in our list of books for sailors.

Roger Barnes’s writing recalls Maurice Griffiths’s titles of the 1930s – Magic of the Swatchways and Ten Small Yachts – where the romance of solitude and the challenge of self-reliance took people and their boats to unexpected anchorages, as well as into the warmth of the pub at the end of the day.

Like Griffiths, Barnes writes beautifully but also offers sound, experience-based advice and discusses the qualities of different types of vessel as well as rigs, equipment and modifications.

It’s arguable we would all be better sailors if we reminded ourselves more often of the interplay of wind and waves experienced from inside the hull of a dinghy .

The Dinghy Cruising Companion (2nd edition) by Roger Barnes, Adlard Coles, £16.99

Buy The Dinghy Cruising Companion at Amazon (UK)

Buy The Dinghy Cruising Companion at Amazon (US)

Buy The Dinghy Cruising Companion at Waterstones (UK)

Note: We may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site, at no extra cost to you. This doesn’t affect our editorial independence.

Visit the Yachting Monthly Book Club for more of the best sailing books released this year.

If you have recommendations for books for sailors – get in touch at [email protected]

Enjoyed reading Books for sailors: our pick of the best new releases?

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35 Best Books for Sailors: Adventures, Sailing Stories, and Guides

pin of boat winches and lines

As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases. We also earn from other affiliate websites. See our full disclaimer .

If you’re a sailor, you know that there’s nothing quite like the open sea. The sun on your face, the wind in your hair, and the waves crashing against your boat’s hull – it’s a feeling that can’t be captured anywhere else.

We’ve put together a list of our favorite sailing books that inspire that passion and some of the best sailing guides to get you out on the water.

girl reading books on sailboat bow

From sailing adventure novels to non-fiction books about sailing around the world, there’s something for every sailor and armchair adventurer on this list. We’ve also included sailing books for cruisers and liveaboard sailors that share information and stories about the sailing lifestyle.

So whether you’re looking for a new book to read on your next sailing trip or just curious about life on the ocean, be sure to check out our picks for the best books for sailors.

Sailing Adventure Books – Non-Fiction

Non-fiction sailing books offer sailors a glimpse into the actual dangers and excitement of life at sea. Some of the most fantastic adventure stories are about life on the open ocean. These books of survival, exploration, and determination will leave a lasting impression and a feeling of respect for the sea.

1. Adrift: 76 Days Lost at Sea

By Steven Callahan

Adrift: Seventy-six Days Lost at Sea

Adrift is a non-fiction book by Steven Callahan that tells the story of his 1982 sailing expedition, during which he was stranded in a lifeboat for 76 days.

The book chronicles his story as he fights for survival against all odds. This is an original, true adventure story that should be on every sailor’s reading list.

2. The Strange Last Voyage of Donald Crowhurst

By Nicholas Tomalin

The Strange Last Voyage of Donald Crowhurst: Now Filmed As The Mercy

The Strange Last Voyage of Donald Crowhurst is a non-fiction book by Nicholas Tomalin that tells the story of amateur sailor Donald Crowhurst, a man who attempted the Golden Globe Race around the world in 1968.

The book follows Crowhurst’s journey, revealing this solo race’s mental toll on a sailor.

3. The Proving Ground

By Bruce Knecht

The Proving Ground

The Proving Ground is about the 1998 world-renowned Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race. A distance of only 630 nautical miles, it is considered one of the most challenging races in the world, but it would also become fatal in this particular year.

A massive storm with 80-knot gusts and enormous waves tore apart the racing yachts killing six sailors and stranding 55 others. The book follows the stories of three of the yachts fighting for survival and showcases how those people of different backgrounds reacted in the face of disaster.

This story of courage, determination, and tragedy has been described as the ‘Perfect Storm’ version of a sailing race. Even if you know nothing about yacht racing or sailing, you can still find this book interesting and entertaining to read.

4. The Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage

By Alfred Lansing


The Endurance is a non-fiction book by Alfred Lansing that tells the story of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s 1914 expedition to Antarctica. The book follows the journey of the Endurance, a ship that was caught in pack ice and eventually destroyed.

This book is one of the most remarkable survival stories ever told. It is made even more interesting since the wreckage of the Endurance was just recently found in March of 2022 over 10,000 feet below the Weddell Sea.

5. In the Heart of the Sea

The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex by Nathaniel Philbrick

In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex

In the Heart of the Sea is a non-fiction book by Nathaniel Philbrick that reveals the true story of the whaleship Essex – the ship that was the inspiration for the timeless classic Moby-Dick.

In 1820, the Essex was attacked by a giant sperm whale, and the crew was forced to abandon ship. They sailed for over 90 days in small boats before finally being rescued. This is a sailing book of true survival and the unforgivable nature of the sea.

6. The Perfect Storm

A True Story of Men Against the Sea by Sebastian Junger

The Perfect Storm: A True Story of Men Against the Sea

The Perfect Storm is a non-fiction book by Sebastian Junger that tells the story of the 1991 Perfect Storm, a hurricane that caused massive damage along the East Coast of the United States.

The book follows the lives of the fishermen who were caught in the storm, and it paints a vivid picture of how perilous a storm at sea can be.

A True Story of Love, Loss, and Survival at Sea by Tami Oldham Ashcraft

Adrift [Movie tie-in]: A True Story of Love, Loss, and Survival at Sea

Adrift is an autobiography by Tami Oldham Ashcraft about two adventurous souls and their sailing passage from Tahiti to California. During this trip, Tami and her fiancé encounter a cataphoric hurricane that severely damages the sailboat.

This book is a true sailing survival story of a woman dealing with loss while struggling against impossible odds.

8. The Silent World

By Jacques Cousteau

The Silent World: The International Bestseller by the Father of Underwater Exploration (National Geographic Adventure Classics)

The father of scuba diving first introduced us to the mysteries of the underwater world in his book The Silent World. This book was published before Cousteau’s TV series and literally dived into the beginning of scuba and underwater adventure.

This book will delight sailors who are also divers and interested in exploring and discovering the deep sea as it was first explored through scuba in the 1950s.

9. Kon-Tiki: Across the Pacific in a Raft

By Thor Heyerdahl

Kon-Tiki: Across the Pacific in a Raft

The Kon-Tiki expedition was a famous 1947 voyage from South America to Polynesia on a raft built from balsa wood and bamboo. The team consisted of six men. The voyage was designed to test Heyerdahl’s theory that the ancient Polynesians could have settled in South America, and it proved to be a success.

This book is another fascinating true story of sailing expeditions and exploration in the 20th century.

Sailing Adventure Books – Fiction

Sailing adventure books are a great way to get lost in a story while enjoying the open seas. These novels often follow the journey of a sailing vessel or crew fighting for survival on the sea or a dangerous voyage in uncharted waters. They’re perfect for anyone who loves adventure and suspense or wants to escape from the real world.

These are some of our favorite fictional books on sailing adventures.

10. The Old Man and the Sea

By Ernest Hemingway

The Old Man and the Sea: The Hemingway Library Edition

The Old Man and the Sea is a classic novel by Ernest Hemingway, first published in 1952. The novella tells the story of an aged Cuban fisherman who struggles with a giant marlin fish for three days and nights in the Gulf Stream before finally killing it. He sets himself against both his own past, represented by his young brother, and the present, in the form of the marlin.

It’s a simple (and relatively short) story, but with a closer look, you can see why this book earned Hemingway the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1953.

11. Moby-Dick

By Herman Melville

Moby-Dick (Dover Thrift Editions: Classic Novels)

One of our favorite sailing novels is also a classic by anyone’s standards. Moby-Dick tells the story of a sailor’s quest to hunt down a giant white whale.

The book captures the essence of life on the open ocean and, in turn, captures who sailors are as people, both adventurous and determined. This is one of the great sailing stories that should be on your must-read list.

12. Master and Commander

The Aubrey-Maturin series by Patrick O’Brian

Master and Commander (Vol. Book 1) (Aubrey/Maturin Novels)

Master and Commander is the first book in the Aubrey-Maturin series, a series of historical fiction novels set during the Napoleonic Wars. The book follows the life of Captain Jack Aubrey, a British naval officer, and his friend Dr. Stephen Maturin, a ship’s surgeon.

The Aubrey-Maturin series offers a glimpse into the life of a naval officer during the Age of Sail. It’s a story of friendship and adventure, and it’s sure to leave a lasting impression on anyone who reads it.

You can also check out the movie of the same name, which made our Top 15 Sailing Movies list .

13. The Life of Pi

By Yann Martel

Life Of Pi

The Life of Pi is a novel by Yann Martel that tells the story of a young boy who is stranded on a lifeboat with a tiger in the Pacific Ocean.

The story follows Pi as he attempts to survive for 227 days on the lifeboat, using his wits and animal instincts to keep himself alive. It’s an intense and harrowing story, but one that ultimately speaks to the human spirit and the will to survive.

14. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

By C.S. Lewis

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (Chronicles of Narnia Book 5)

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader is the fifth novel by C.S. Lewis in The Chronicles of Narnia series that tells the story of King Caspian’s voyage to find the seven lost lords of Narnia. The book follows the journey of the Dawn Treader, a ship that King Caspian captains.

Lewis’s ability to create interesting characters and settings makes this book a joy to read. If you are looking for a story with a fun sailing adventure, this is a good book to get lost in!

Books About Sailing Around the World

These books are true stories about sailors who circumnavigated the globe. From the first solo sail around the world to sailing around the world in a 12-foot boat – these books are packed with some of the best sailing stories of all time!

15. Sailing Alone Around the World

By Joshua Slocum

Sailing Alone Around the World

Sailing Alone Around the World is a sailing classic written by Joshua Slocum. The memoir recounts Slocum’s journey as the first person to solo sail around the world.

This book follows Captain Slocum’s three-year, 46,000-mile journey beginning in 1895 as he encounters an exciting number of challenges, including dangerous coral reefs, pirates, and even Indians. This book is the original true-story sailing adventure novel!

16. Maiden Voyage

By Tania Aebi

Maiden Voyage

Maiden Voyage is an autobiography that tells the story of an 18-year-old whose father gives her a choice between college and circumnavigating the globe solo in a 26-foot sailboat.

The book chronicles her remarkable journey around the world and provides a story of inner strength and determination that is sure to inspire anyone who reads it.

17. Gipsy Moth Circles the World

By Francis Chichester

Gipsy Moth Circles the World

Gipsy Moth Circles the World is a book about the author’s solo circumnavigation in 1966 on his 53-foot ketch via Cape Horn. At the time, he was one of only nine boats to sail around the world on this route and set a new record for speed on his 226-day journey.

This book is an authentic mariner’s sailing story, providing all the details of what it was like sailing solo on this voyage – from constant sail changes to weather and day-to-day activities. The fact that the author was 65-years-old on the journey makes the feat even more impressive.

By Robin Lee Graham


Dove is a sailing autobiography by Robin Lee Graham that tells how at 16-years-old he began an around-the-world sailing exhibition in 1965. During this trip on a 24-foot sloop, he became the youngest person to circumnavigate the globe solo.

The book chronicles his 33,000-mile journey, from exploring gorgeous tropical islands to finding his wife.

19. 500 Days: Around the World on a 12 Foot Yacht

By Serge Testa

500 Days: Around the World on a 12 Foot Yacht

Follow along with Testa as he sets the world record for the smallest boat to circumnavigate. During his 500 days sailing on an incredibly tiny yacht built by the author himself, he recounts his sailing stories with humor sprinkled throughout.

There’s no doubt Testa is a very self-sufficient and determined sailor, and he might even convenience you to start your sailing journey on a smaller sailboat!

20. The Long Way

By Bernard Moitessier

The Long Way: Sheridan House Maritime Classic (Sheridan House Maritime Classics)

The Long Way is a book by Bernard Moitessier that tells the story of his 1969 participation in the first Golden Globe Race. This race is a non-stop circumnavigation during which Moitessier sails around three capes, including Cape Horn. Follow along with the author and the many challenges he faces, including terrible weather, loneliness, fatigue, and maintenance issues.

The Long Way exploits the struggles of solo sailing passages and shows the rewards behind such a challenging feat.

Best Books on Sailing for Beginners

If you’re new to sailing or living on a boat, you might wonder where to start. These books will teach you how to sail, maintain a sailboat, and live on a sailboat. We’ve also listed excellent guides to cruising on a sailboat, including what boat to buy and how to outfit it.

Here are some of the best books for beginner sailors and liveaboards.

21. Sailing Made Easy

By The American Sailing Association

Sailing Made Easy

Sailing Made Easy is a book by the American Sailing Association that provides a comprehensive guide to sailing for beginners. The book covers everything from the basics of sailing to more advanced topics, and it includes many helpful illustrations and photos.

Sailing Made Easy is the guidebook for sailing school with the American Sailing Association and its ASA1 course. It’s an essential resource for anyone who wants to learn how to sail!

22. Don Casey’s Complete Illustrated Sailboat Maintenance Manual

By Don Casey

Don Casey's Complete Illustrated Sailboat Maintenance Manual: Including Inspecting the Aging Sailboat, Sailboat Hull and Deck Repair, Sailboat Refinishing, Sailbo

Don Casey’s Complete Illustrated Sailboat Maintenance Manual is the ultimate guide to sailboat maintenance. Casey is considered the ‘go-to’ expert for answers about repair and maintenance in the sailboat community.

With six full sections on sailboat maintenance, this book includes everything from how to repair sails and other sailboat fabrics, to how to repair fiberglass. Casey includes many helpful illustrations and photographs along the way to make it easy to understand each step of the project.

Don Casey’s Complete Illustrated Sailboat Maintenance Manual is an essential resource for anyone who owns or plans to own a sailboat. Not only will it help you keep your boat in top condition, but it will save you money in the long run.

23. The Boat Galley Cookbook

By Carolyn Shearlock & Jan Irons

The Boat Galley Cookbook

The Boat Galley Cookbook is a cookbook that was written specifically for sailors cooking in a sailboat galley.

The author, Carolyn, is well known in the cruising community for her blog The Boat Galley, and is considered an authority on cooking onboard.

The book includes over 800 recipes for all kinds of meals, snacks, and desserts, and it provides instructions on how to prepare them while sailing. The authors have also included helpful tips on food storage and preparation and advice on how to make things like yogurt and bread aboard.

The Boat Galley Cookbook is an essential resource for anyone who loves to sail and wants to enjoy delicious food while doing so. It’s also an excellent gift for any sailor in your life!

24. The Essentials of Living Aboard a Boat

By Mark Nicholas

The Essentials of Living Aboard a Boat

This book is chock-full of realistic and useful information for anyone who wants to learn how to live on a boat. Nicholas covers everything from the basics of living aboard to more advanced topics, such as insurance and liveaboard marinas. He also goes in-depth on boat buying and budgeting.

This is truly an excellent resource for the new boat owner who has a goal to liveaboard.

25. Get Real, Get Gone

How to Become a Modern Sea Gypsy and Sail Away Forever by Rick Page

Get Real, Get Gone: How to Become a Modern Sea Gypsy and Sail Away Forever

Rick Page’s book, Get Real, Get Gone, is about escaping the rat race by sailing away on a boat – and not needing to be a millionaire to do it.

Page provides helpful tips, from choosing the right boat and preparing for departure to dealing with challenging weather conditions and staying safe at sea.

Rick Page’s philosophy is to keep things simple so you can get out on the water as soon as possible. The author focuses on simplicity onboard, frugal sailing, and sustainable traveling. This book is an incredible resource for anyone looking to make their dream of sailing away into the sunset a reality.

26. Capable Cruiser

By Lin & Larry Pardey

Capable Cruiser 3rd Edition

This book is an updated extension of the Pardeys’ book ‘The Self-Sufficient Sailor.’ This comprehensive cruising guide is even more jam-packed with information on all aspects of cruising, from boat selection and outfitting to weather forecasting and provisioning.

The authors have over 50 years of combined cruising experience and are somewhat legends in the cruising community. Their motto of “go small, go now” is a well-known sailing quote and has gotten many sailors out on the water sooner with a simple setup that allows them to live their cruising dreams!

27. Boatowner’s Mechanical and Electrical Manual

By Nigel Calder

Boatowners Mechanical and Electrical Manual 4/E

The Boatowner’s Mechanical and Electrical Manual is a book that covers in detail the mechanical and electrical systems of a boat.

The author, Nigel Calder, has included information on everything from maintaining your diesel engine, wiring your boat, servicing your winches, troubleshooting your batteries, and much more.

Nigel is so good at answering your mechanical and electrical issues we took to just saying “let’s see what Nigel says” whenever we had a problem on our sailboat.

This book is an essential resource for boat owners and sailors.

28. The Annapolis Book of Seamanship

By John Rousmaniere

The Annapolis Book of Seamanship: Fourth Edition

The Annapolis Book of Seamanship is considered the bible of sailing. It is a comprehensive guide covering topics such as sailing basics, sail trim, navigation, weather, boat maintenance, safety, anchoring, and more.

This guide is updated regularly and is an essential book to have onboard your sailing vessel.

Best Blue Water Sailing Guides

If your goal is blue water sailing, these three books are some of the most highly acclaimed and respected resources available today. They get you started with what sailboat to buy, the gear you need, route and passage planning, and more. Don’t leave shore without them!

29. World Cruising Routes

By Jimmy Cornell

World Cruising Routes, 9th Edition

This book is the most comprehensive guide on sailing routes around the world. Often referred to as the blue water cruising bible, it includes detailed information on weather conditions and currents around the world and the best times to make passages. You’ll even find details on where to provision, have repair work done, and other essential information.

World Cruising Routes is a must-have resource for any sailor interested in blue water sailing.

30. The Voyager’s Handbook: The Essential Guide to Blue Water Cruising

By Beth Leonard

The Voyager's Handbook: The Essential Guide to Blue Water Cruising

The Voyager’s Handbook is a book that covers everything you need to know about long-distance cruising. From buying the right blue water vessel to weather forecasting, passage planning, safety and emergency preparation, etc. This book presents a guide to cruising on either a shoestring budget or a larger allotment.

The author, Beth Leonard, has sailed around the world herself, and she provides detailed information on every topic and skill needed to successfully complete a long voyage on a sailboat.

31. How to Sail Around the World

By Hal Roth

How to Sail Around the World: Advice and Ideas for Voyaging Under Sail

Hal Roth has been sailing for more than 50 years and has logged more than 200,000 nautical miles. In his book, he shares his vast knowledge of sailing and very detailed information on blue water sailboats, passage planning, single-handing a small boat, and more.

He also covers topics such as:

  • How to buy a boat
  • How to learn navigation skills
  • What you need in order to sail around the world safely

If you are planning to circumnavigate or sail around part of the world, this is a great sailing blook to have at your disposal.

Best Sailing Books About Cruising

These books are written by cruisers living aboard and contain many sailing adventure stories to inspire your own liveaboard adventure! If you are looking for an accurate and sometimes humorous description of what it’s like living on a sailboat, these books are an excellent place to start.

32. A Sail of Two Idiots

100+ Lessons and Laughs from a Non-Sailor Who Quit the Rat Race, Took the Helm, and Sailed to a New Life in the Caribbean by Renee Petrillo

A Sail of Two Idiots: 100+ Lessons and Laughs from a Non-Sailor Who Quit the Rat Race, Took the Helm, and Sailed to a New Life in the Caribbean

A Sail of Two Idiots is a book written by Renee Petrillo that tells the story of her journey with her husband to go from zero experience as sailors to living on a boat in the Caribbean.

Renee shares her sailing adventures and lessons learned with humor, intelligence, and insight. Her book will make you laugh, cringe, and want to set sail on your own adventure. This book is recommended for beginner sailors or anyone who aspires to go cruising.

33. An Embarrassment of Mangoes

A Caribbean Interlude by Ann Vanderhoof

An Embarrassment of Mangoes: A Caribbean Interlude

Ann Vanderhoof’s book, An Embarrassment of Mangoes, is a delightful account of her time spent living on a boat in the Caribbean.

Vanderhoof provides readers with a charming and humorous look at the people, culture, and food of the Caribbean. With stories that focus on their adjustments to life on a sailboat, intertwined with recipes and cooking tips around local ingredients in the islands.

An Embarrassment of Mangoes is a must-read for any foodies dreaming of living the cruising lifestyle!

34. Escape from the Ordinary

By Julie Bradley

Escape from the Ordinary (Escape Series Book 1)

Julie Bradley’s book, Escape from the Ordinary, tells the story of her and her husband’s decision to leave their life in the U.S. behind and sail around the world.

Bradley provides readers with an inspiring and honest look at the highs and lows of living a life of adventure as they travel to exotic places all over the globe.

35. Plunge: One Woman’s Pursuit of a Life Less Ordinary

By Liesbet Collaert

Plunge: One Woman's Pursuit of a Life Less Ordinary

If you’re looking for an inspiring and honest account of one woman’s journey to find a life less ordinary onboard a sailboat, you need to read Plunge.

Collaert provides readers with a compelling and candid look at the challenges and rewards of living a cruising lifestyle. From working remotely on a sailboat to the challenges of a relationship on a boat – Liesbet covers everything from a realistic perspective.

If you are considering diving into the world of sailboat living, Plunge will give you an accurate depiction of the lifestyle’s high highs and low lows.

The Best Books About Sailing

The best books for sailors provide readers with an inspiring and honest look at the challenges and rewards of a life of adventure.

Whether you want an inspiring account of one woman’s journey around the world or a humorous look at going off the grid and living aboard a sailboat in the Caribbean, these books will give you the inspiration you need to take the plunge.


  • 11 Best Sailing Instagram Accounts to Inspire You to Sail Away
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  • 15 Best Sailing YouTube Channels and Popular Sailing Vlogs

Want to find more articles for sailing inspiration?

Check out our lists of sailing movies, quotes, music, and more that inspire this lifestyle.

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Morgan, the founder of The Home That Roams, has been living nomadically for over five years. She began her journey traveling across the U.S. in a motorhome and cruising on a liveaboard sailing catamaran. Currently, she lives full-time in a travel trailer, sharing resources on RV living and boat life to help others downsize their lives and thrive in an alternative lifestyle.

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Best sailing books: 25 tales inspired by the sea

A list of the best sailing books including memoirs, novels and biographies, constituting the most fascinating nautical tales ever penned

After recently compiling a list of the best sailing movies we’ve seen, I was prompted into some related reading. Fresh from a delivery of sailing bestsellers (and less-sellers), I’ve put together a list of the best sailing books.

The list covers everything from epic voyages, tales of survival, investigative biographies and sailing manuals – with a few coffee table reference books thrown in.

Best sailing books

The below list is in no particular order. If you have any suggestions that you feel deserve a place on this list of best sailing books, please add them in the comments below.

Sailing Alone Around the World by Joshua Slocum

In 1895, Joshua Slocum set out to prove that a man could sail alone around the world. Some 46,000 miles and three years later, he completed the first single-handed circumnavigation of the globe in his 34ft sloop, the Spray.

A Voyage For Madmen by Peter Nichols

In 1968, nine sailors set off on the most daring race ever: to single-handedly circumnavigate the globe non-stop. It was a feat that had never been accomplished and one that would forever change the face of sailing. Ten months later, only one of the nine men would cross the finish line.

The Strange Last Voyage of Donald Crowhurst by Nicholas Tomalin and Ron Hall

One of the best sailing books I’ve ever read. Donald Crowhurst was a contestant in the above round the world race. Hopelessly out of depth, he attempted to pull off one of the greatest hoaxes of our time.

The Last Grain Race by Eric Newby

This was one of the first sailing books I ever read and it got me hooked. In 1939, a young Newby set sail aboard Moshulu, the largest sailing ship still employed in the transportation of grain from Australia to Europe as part of what was known as ‘the grain race’. His story of the passage has become a classic.

Kon-Tiki: Across the Pacific in a Raft by Thor Heyerdahl

The adventure of Thor Heyerdahl and his companions on their raft across the Pacific has gone down in legend as a feat of endurance and courage. This is that story in Heyerdahl’s own words.

The Annapolis Book of Seamanship by John Rousmaniere

Since the publication of the widely hailed first edition in 1983, this book has set the standard. Used throughout the world as a textbook in sailing schools, the Annapolis Book of Seamanship thoroughly and clearly covers the fundamental and advanced skills of modern sailing.

montage of best sailing books

A Race Too Far by Chris Eakin

Chris Eakin recreates the drama of the epic inaugural Golden Globe race. He talks to all those touched by the event: the survivors, the widows and the children of those who died.

Adrift: 76 Days Lost at Sea by Steven Callahan

I’m currently halfway through this gripping tale and it is already one of the best sailing books I’ve read. Steven Callahan’s dramatic account was on the NYT bestseller list for 36 weeks. In many ways, it’s the model for the new wave of adventure books. At the time, he was the only man known to have survived more than a month at sea alone.

438 Days: An Extraordinary True Story of Survival at Sea by Jonathan Franklin

In 2012, Salvador Alvarenga left the coast of Mexico for a two-day fishing trip. After 14 months, he washed ashore having drifted over 9,000 miles.

Master and Commander by Patrick O’Brian

The first of Patrick O’Brian’s famous Aubrey/Maturin novels, regarded by many as the greatest series of historical novels ever written. There were 20 completed – and one unfinished – in the series set during the Napoleonic Wars.

Gipsy Moth Circles the World by Francis Chichester

First published in 1967, just months after the completion of Chichester’s historic journey, the book was an instant international best-seller. It inspired the first solo around-the-world race and remains a timeless testament to the spirit of adventure.

Maiden Voyage by Tania Aebi

Tania Aebi was an unambitious 18-year-old in New York City. She was going nowhere until her father offered her a challenge: choose college or a 26ft sloop. The only catch was that if she chose the sailboat, she’d have to sail around the world alone. Off she went.

another montage of best sailing books

DK Complete Sailing Manual by Steve Sleight

DK are renowned for producing beautiful reference books and this sailing manual does not disappoint. Now in its fourth edition, the book covers the basics of sailing, mastering navigation and maintaining your boat.

The Ashley Book of Knots by Clifford W. Ashley

First published in 1944 and reprinted many times since, this magnificent, fully illustrated book of knots is collated by Geoffrey Budworth with the help of other members of the  International Guild of Knot Tyers .

Swell: A Sailing Surfer’s Voyage of Awakening by Liz Clar

Clar chronicles her 2006 solo voyage across the South Pacific in search of great surf. She recounts her story in gripping detail, telling tales of self-awareness, solitude, connection to the earth and surfing.

Once is Enough by Miles Smeeton

This timeless classic is an exciting true story of survival against all odds. Smeeton and his wife sailed their 46ft ketch, Tzu Hang, in the wild seas of Cape Horn, following the tracks of the old sailing clippers through the world’s most notorious waters.

Last Man Off: A True Story of Disaster and Survival on the Antarctic Seas by Matt K. Lewis

The waters of Antarctica, 1998. A 23-year-old Lewis has just started his dream job aboard a deep sea fishing boat. A storm hits. With the captain missing and the crew forced to abandon ship, Lewis leads the escape onto three life rafts, where the battle for survival begins.

A World of My Own: The First Ever Non-stop Solo Round the World Voyage by Robin Knox-Johnston

In1968, a tiny ketch called Suhaili slipped almost unnoticed out of Falmouth. Ten and a half months later, Suhaili came romping joyously back to Falmouth to a fantastic reception for Robin Knox-Johnston who’d become the first man to sail single-handedly around the world non-stop.

The Proving Ground by Bruce Knecht

This is the story of the 1998 Sydney to Hobart boat race, the most dramatic in yacht racing history. Of the 115 boats that started, just 43 would finish. Knecht recreates those dramatic hours and the gut-wrenching fear of those caught in the eye of the storm, battling for their lives.

The Racing Rules of Sailing for 2017-2020 by Royal Yachting Association

The essential manual includes the updated International Code and Race Signal flags. Water-proof editions are also available.

The Long Way (La Longue Route) by Bernard Moitessier

The Long Way is Bernard Moitessier’s own incredible story of his participation in the first Golden Globe Race, a solo, non-stop circumnavigation rounding the three great capes of Good Hope, Leeuwin and the Horn.

Left for Dead: 30 Years On – The Race is Finally Over: The Untold Story of the Tragic 1979 Fastnet Race by Nick Ward & Sinead O’Brien

The second edition is updated with a new chapter describing Nick’s eventual completion of the Fastnet Race 30 years after his first, ill-fated attempt.

Love with a Chance of Drowning by Torre DeRoche

This sometimes hilarious, often harrowing, and always poignant memoir is set against a backdrop of the world’s most beautiful and remote destinations. Equal parts love story and travel memoir, the book is witty, charming, and proof that some risks are worth taking.

Two Years Before the Mast by Richard Henry Dana Jr.

A memoir first published in 1840, written shortly after a two-year sea voyage starting in 1834. To this day, the book is regarded as a valuable historical resource describing 1830s California.

Godforsaken Sea: Racing the World’s Most Dangerous Waters by Derek Lundy

In 1996, 16 sailors set out from the Bay of Biscay to embark on the Vendee Globe – a single-handed yacht race through the world’s most treacherous and isolated seas. Only six completed the course, six others withdrew, three were plucked from sinking boats and one disappeared without a trace.

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Books for Your Boat

  • By Cruising World Staff
  • Updated: December 11, 2012

With the publication of Cornell’s Ocean Atlas, that’s no longer the case. By employing the latest technology and weather information compiled via satellite over the last two decades and by quadrupling the number of roses on their clearly illustrated collection of transoceanic charts, the Cornells have not only updated a valuable resource but also substantially broadened it. For more background info, visit their website . -Herb McCormick

best books about sailboat racing

Understanding, Installing, and Operating HF Marine Radio Transceivers by Martin Dunsmuir (2011; $30; White Squall Consulting ). Setting up a reliable high-frequency system can be daunting for those of us unfamiliar with the various products and the specific cabling, antennas, modems, and software required. In this self-published manual, the author takes the mystery out of the process. Dunsmuir is an expert, and he provides regular seminars to such groups as the Blue Water Cruising Association.

This work fills in all the blanks. It begins with a section on high-frequency radio theory and quickly moves on to hardware choices, licensing, antennas, grounding, and troubleshooting. The last section is invaluable advice for solving problems offshore. The style is direct, up-to-date, and written specifically for cruisers. -Peter A. Robson

If you like your nautical literature penned by the light of a swaying kerosene cabin lamp, this is the book for you. What’s amazing isn’t that Don was my favorite guidebook writer when I was a teenager, but that he continues to be today, when I’m in my 60s. They don’t make ’em like Don anymore. Five stars. -Cap’n Fatty Goodlander

best books about sailboat racing

“I believe,” he says, “that 50 years from now, historians will place GPS on the short list of inventions, alongside the clock, electricity, and the Internet, that are truly indispensible.” The same could be said for this well-focused and eminently readable nugget of a book. -Lynda Morris Childress

Situated on the U.S. East Coast, the fleet, known as the Hooligan Navy, reported year-round on the presence of submarines, picked up victims of ships attacked by U-boats, and engaged U-boats in unevenly matched fights.

Narrator Spencer King capably delivers the tale, in which the author employs a style of framed narration by having a grandfather recount his experiences in the fleet to his granddaughter.

It’s a perfect way to contrast the youth of that era with the youth of today, and sailors particularly will appreciate Miller’s accuracy and attention to detail, undoubtedly a byproduct of his decades as an engineer in the aerospace industry. -Rick Martell

best books about sailboat racing

Optimizing the Trailerable Sailboat by Paul Esterle ($28; 2010; available from ). Owners of small, trailerable sailboat for daysailing or camp-cruising will find here a compendium of simple-to-implement, ingenious yet practical ideas for maximizing enjoyment, functionality, and creature comforts on small boats. Virtually every topic from ballast to the trailer stand is covered in this work, and it’s all spiral-bound for quick, frequent reference. -Lynda Morris Childress

His best recommendation? Focus on the essentials, then go sailing. -Mark Pillsbury

Written from the refreshing perspective of someone who chose the cruising life not as a retiree but as someone who decided to break away from the workaday world, this gorgeous book is a step-by-step guide for anyone, but especially 30-somethings and 40-somethings, thinking about taking the leap. -Jen Brett

Stokes Field Guide to Birds: Eastern Region by Donald and Lillian Stokes ($12; 1996; Little, Brown and Company ). When the first frigate bird soars above your boat or a brown booby lands on your wind generator, you’ll wish you had a bird book aboard. We prefer books with full color photos and information about habitat and range all in one place, and this one fills that bill. -Jan S. Irons

best books about sailboat racing

_ Usborne Spotter’s Guide: Flags of the World _by William Crampton ($8; 2003; Usborne Books ). Before leaving U.S. waters, we rarely had the opportunity to puzzle over the national identity of boats we encountered. Now we seem to consult our flag book daily to identify neighbors in our anchorages.

-Jan S. Irons

Backyard Stars: A Guide for Home and the Road ($5; 1998; Klutz ). This book answers such general questions as “What is that bright star?” Skies in the tropics are so dazzling that you’ll want to know where and when to spot planets, stars, meteor showers, and comets so you can relax on deck and take in the heavenly show.

Spanish for Cruisers: The Boater’s Complete Language Guide for Spanish-Speaking Destinations by Kathy Parsons ($32; 2nd ed., 2008; Aventuras Publishing Company). Parsons not only provides the words and easy pronunciations but also accompanying pictures. If all else fails and no one understands your Spanish, you can simply point at what you need!

-Lynda Morris Childress

-Herb McCormick

As well, the adventures of the crew of Moon Wind, a 26-foot Chris-Craft Pawnee exploring the shores of southeastern New England in search of the mystical land of Mass, where they speak a different language, will keep you turning the pages. -Rick Martell

-Elaine Lembo

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The Winner's Guide to Optimist Sailing

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The Winner's Guide to Optimist Sailing Paperback – March 9, 2004

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Written by one of the best-known figures in all of sailing and a leading authority on Optimist sailing and racing, The Winner's Guide to Optimist Sailing is the ideal training manual for young skippers, their parents, and their coaches. The most comprehensive sailing guide to the International Optimist dinghy class features:

  • Step-by-step instructions on every aspect of beginning sailing
  • More than 100 stunning photographs and helpful illustrations
  • Useful tips and winning tactics for competitive racing
  • Special advice sections for parents and coaches
  • Reading age 8 - 12 years
  • Print length 176 pages
  • Language English
  • Dimensions 7 x 0.4 x 9 inches
  • Publisher International Marine/Ragged Mountain Press
  • Publication date March 9, 2004
  • ISBN-10 0071434674
  • ISBN-13 978-0071434676
  • See all details

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From the publisher.

Gary Jobson has won ten national one-design sailing titles, the America's Cup, and many ocean races. In 1999, he received the U.S. Sailing Association's most prestigious award, the Nathanael G. Herreshoff Trophy. In 2003 Gary was inducted into the America's Cup Hall of Fame. He is an editor at large for Cruising World and Sailing World and has been ESPN's sailing commentator since 1985. Jay Kehoe has coached six U.S. Optimist Dinghy Association international racing teams and has served on the coaching staff of the U.S. Optimist National Team. Formerly head sailing coach at Yale University and the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, he is now head sailing coach at Stanford University.

From the Back Cover

  • Equipment, lines, and useful knots
  • Basic sailing tips, including where to sit, how to launch and land, tacking, jibing, and Rules of the Road
  • Weather awareness
  • More advanced sailing skills--going faster!
  • Racing, including starts, upwind tactics, finishes, and dealing with protests
  • Practicing alone or in groups
  • Opti events, including tips for parents, plus scholastic and collegiate sailing, and the Olympics

"A comprehensive guide for kids learning to sail and race in Optis."-- Sailing World

About the Author

Product details.

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ International Marine/Ragged Mountain Press; 1st edition (March 9, 2004)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 176 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0071434674
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0071434676
  • Reading age ‏ : ‎ 8 - 12 years
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 11.2 ounces
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 7 x 0.4 x 9 inches
  • #137 in Children's Water Sports Books (Books)
  • #250 in Sports Reference (Books)
  • #358 in Sports Encyclopedias

About the author

Gary jobson.

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