Recomended Books for Sailing

Being avid readers aboard Maringret, and starting out to edify ourselves on sailing and its many aspects just a few years ago when we first bought our Maxi 95, we have read many of the books available. Quite a few of the volumes we haven’t read we have browsed in bookshops prior to deciding that another book suited our needs better. We rarely pass a new book shop without popping inside to see if a new volume (or at least a volume new to us) isn’t sitting on the shelves. We’ve made some friends over the last few years who have been going through the same situation and have shared their finds with us. We don’t try and pretend that our list is definitive but rather a list of what we have found to be good and useful in light of the fact that publishing for sailing books seem to be an irregular and intermittent business. We have never figured out why some volumes are available in one area but not another, because most of the time the book is available in most countries but only to order, it is not stocked so that you could can serendipitously browse. Consequently we’ve tried to provide a link to Amazon Books for a review of the book, and also we regularly use the Advanced Book Exchange (ABE) which is an internet gathering of secondhand and new books dealers around the world. For out of print and second hand books they are hard to beat.

Happy reading!

Boatowner’s Mechanical and Electrical Systems Second Edition, by Nigel Calder,
published by Adlard Coles Nautical, 1996, ISBN 0-7136-4291-2
This book has the pole position aboard for fixing things. Often we use it just to figure out how something works. It also has served as a guide to which projects we have decided to defer once it had shed some light on how much complexity lay in the project, what skill level would be needed, and what special tools we would need to borrow or purchase.This is probably the reference book we open the most. Amazon link
Marine Diesel Engines – Maintenance, Troubleshooting and Repair, by Nigel Calder,
published by International Marine, 1992, ISBN 0-07-009612-0
As non-diesel engine types, we both appreciate this book, written in Calder’s usual thorough style. Amazon link
Nigel Calder’s Cruising Handbook, by Nigel Calder,
published by International Marine, 2001, ISBN 0-07-135099-3
A thorough treatment of most aspects of cruising, a large section is on navigation which we already had in other volumes when this volume was published. However for someone starting out this volume is very detailed in equipment selection and equipping the modern cruising boat. A very competent companion volume to Calder’s other publications. Amazon link
Offshore Cruising Encyclopedia, by Steve & Linda Dashew,
published by Beowolf Inc., 1997, ISBN 0-9658028-1-7
This extensive volume (1200 pages) complements Calder’s “Boatowner’s Mechanical and Electrical Systems” very well. There is very little overlap between both these great volumes. The perspective of offshore cruising realities dominates this book. It has aided us in planning and researching the myriad of topics of seem to crop up in passage planning, passage making, boat modification and boat understanding which although not often mentioned is a vital component of successful cruising. It seems there are a myriad of books covering the inshore version of the topics in this book but very few who deal exclusively with the offshore aspects. And this is one of the best. available for free download here
Mariner’s Weather Handbook, by Steve & Linda Dashew,
published by Beowolf Inc., 1998, ISBN 0-9658028-2-5
Although well written, we feel that this volume would have been better titled if it had referred to weather faxes which the latter two thirds deal exclusively with. Boats not having a weather fax may find the usefulness of this book limited. It did prompt us into getting a weather fax however. available for free download here
Surviving the Storm, by Steve & Linda Dashew,
published by Beowolf Inc., 1999, ISBN 0-9658028-9-2
This is a first narrative based discussion of heavy weather, predicting it, handling and preferably avoiding it. Many years of interviewing participants in severe meteorological events have been smoothly edited together. This is probably one of the most narrative non-fiction books we have. available for free download here
The Complete Book of Anchoring and Mooring, by Earl Hinz,
published by Cornell Maritime Press, 1986, ISBN 0-87033-348-8
The definitive book on anchoring and ground tackle. Although missing some of the newer designs (e.g. the Spade anchor) but the underlying theory combined with the author’s thoroughness provide the essential knowledge. Amazon link
Blue Water Countdown, by Geoff Pack,
published by Yachting Monthly, IPC Magazines, 1988, ISBN 1-85277-073-2
A brief yet excellent (200 page) guide to the myriad of choices facing anyone looking into blue water cruising. Amazon link
Upgrading the Cruising Sailboat, by Dan Spur,
published by International Marine, 1991, ISBN 0-07-060554-8
Unfortunately not available in hard cover, this volume complements both Calder’s “Boatowner’s Mechanical and Electrical Systems” and also the Dashew’s “Offshore Cruising Encyclopedia”. Here the emphasis is on background and less technical discussion with a strong emphasis on hands-on solutions to problems or improvements. It is unfortunate that a newer edition isn’t available that would take note of newer materials and techniques where they exist. Amazon link
Advanced First Aid Afloat, by Peter F. Eastman, M.D.,
published by Cornell Maritime Press, 1972, ISBN 0-87033-465-4
We’ve never had to use this yet but it comes recommended in the Dashew’s “Offshore Cruising Encyclopedia” among others. The book is written using a combination of scenarios and step by step instructions to cover many possible situations. Amazon link
365 Starry Nights, by Chet Raymo,
published by Simon & Schuster, 1982, ISBN 0-671-76606-6
This volume has 225 pages which means there isn’t one page for each day of the year but this doesn’t detract from the premise of having a page to describe the celestial configuration for each night of the year. Much history and background is supplied in what is the perfect book to have when lying out in the cockpit on a starry, starry night. Amazon link
Celestial Navigation, by Tom Cunliffe,
published by,19??,ISBN
A thoroughly dense topic written in Cunliffe’s always clear style. Not the most thorough of tomes on star based navigation but very well positioned to introduce someone to the topic by working though straight forward exercises. Guests aboard have been able to follow the discussion without too much trouble. Amazon link
The Fiberglass Boat Repair Manual, by Allan H. Vaitses,
published by International Marine, 1988, ISBN 0-07-156914-6
Although over a decade old, this book is clear and concise for fibreglass matters large and small. As plastic neophytes we have come to depend on this book. Amazon link
Canvaswork & Sail Repair, by Don Casey,
published by International Marine, 1998, ISBN 0-7136-5004-5
For all the essentials of working with both sail, covering fabrics and yacht upholstery, this concise volume is indispensable. The illustrations are clear and to the point and illustrate the project oriented approach of this book. Amazon link
The Sailor’s Assistant, by John Vigor,
published by McGraw Hill, 1997, ISBN 0-07-067476-0
Subtitled “Reference Data for Maintenance, Repair, & Cruising” this volume seems to have all those hard to locate pieces of data such as radio propagation values and frequency allocations, the moisture content of wood, bottom paint compatibility, power generated by sails (measured in either kg/m2 or horsepower/ft2 or pound/foot2), single letter international code flags, rudder stall angles, stability from roll time calculations, water plane area calculations. With this 175 page book in hand, anyone should be able to organize a trivia quiz for their local boat club! Amazon link
Boat Data Book, by Ian Nicholson,
published by Adlard Coles Nautical, 1994, ISBN 0-7136-3953-9
A reference book for owners crew, boat buyers, charterers, chandlers, builders, designers, draughtsmen and students. Full of tabular and graphical data on material, composition and techniques. Essential for undertaking any large boat overhaul. Amazon link

We have no pretensions that we have caught all the good books out there so if there’s one (or more) you think should be on our list do email us…

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