Here’s a partial list of books that we bought ourselves or received as gifts over the years. We’ve included some of our favorites at the top, and at the bottom included a number of books that you can download for free in .pdf format (they will have the file size in brackets). For most of the rest, they have Amazon links, for which we earn a (very) small amount as an Amazon Associate from qualifying purchases, (but this doesn’t cost you any extra). If you have any recommendations please share them!
Two in a Boat is a personal account of a couple’s life at sea, from her perspective. After buying a small yacht (called Jameeleh) and teaching themselves to sail it (a process not without its fair share of disasters), they set out to cross the Atlantic.
The Essentials of Living Aboard a Boat is a book from Mark Nicholas which his geared towards the act of living on a boat more than cruising on a boat. Lots of information and an entertaining read. We got through this very quickly, it covered a lot of topics, and it made me hungry for more information.
Photographs illustrating the ins and outs of the 20 most useful nautical knots and splices. It also covers further practical info for beginners like general rope maintenance/stowage, how to pick up a mooring, and handling your yacht tender.
A man’s guide to sharing The Cruising Dream with his wife, and keeping her happy once she’s on board. We explain a little more about what we thought about it here.
As much about enjoying the freedom of Passive Income, as it is about the mindset that will let you enjoy the lifestyle. This could be very useful for some folks, but we were already fairly well established in our investing ways, so it just became another book to get through for us. A bit more explanation here.
One woman’s travel memoir of the couple’s shakedown cruise around the north Caribbean Sea, from wishful thinking to the act itself. A Kindle version is available. Our impressions after reading it here.
Sailing the Whole Enchilada-¡Qué Bárbara! is the sequel to Sailing the Great Escape – ¡QuéBárbara! It’s also John’s first foray into the Kindle book realm(!) While the price is obviously better, he still prefers the feel and presence of a real book. Really the only reason why we ended up with the Kindle format, was because it is the only version avail for the book at the time. See what we thought about it here.
Bumfuzzle is a chronicle of a couple’s journey from city living to circumnavigation. May be equally a guide for what not to do for some, which can be just as useful. The authors are a polarizing subject in the cruising community, which should make it an interesting read for most. Our impression after reading it here.
One reason Living a Dream is interesting is that it was written by Suzanne Griesmann, who had been an aide for the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs during the events surrounding 9/11. What we thought of it here. Paperback and Kindle version are available.
How To Sail Around The World is a great book if you are just starting out, and to have on your shelf as a reference as well. It’s not a technical how-to book per se, but Hal does go into great detail on many subjects from his own and other’s experience. The Chapters on Storm Management as especially good.
True Spirit is another biographical account of sailing, this time from a young person’s perspective…a very young person. It’s the true story of Jessica Watson, a 16-year-old Australian who sailed solo, nonstop, and unassisted around the world. Kindle and paperback are available through Amazon.
Handing Storms At Sea is a great book that will either give you the knowledge and confidence is stormy conditions to venture off to far away lands, or scare you into never leaving the sight of land and a quick escape. Highly recommended reading.
All in the Same Boat is from well known sailor author Tom Neale. He (with his wife and girls) goes into great detail about what to expect and what is required in all subjects to cut the dock lines and make your cruising life happen.
Fastnet, Force 10 is about one of the worst recreational sailing tragedies ever during the (in)famous Fastnet Race, which still is being run. The author, John Rousmaniere was himself participating in the “Deadliest Storm in the History of Modern Sailing” and although did not suffer the same problems that befell some of the other participants, gives a good account from a number of other participants. Definitely worth a read.
The Boat Who Wouldn’t Float is a very entertaining read from a well-known Canadian author Farley Mowat. It is a (semi) tall tale about his journey around Newfoundland outports and the French islands of St. Pierre and Miquelon in a boat that literally would not stop leaking for the duration. We were only able to find it on Amazon at the time.
Biker to Sailor is the latest book from Bob Bitchin’ of Latitudes and Attitudes and Cruising Outpost fame. It was our first book from Bob, and it was a very entertaining read. You will question whether everything he details is actually as it happened, but that isn’t really the point in such a book. It could have been a bit longer at only 243 pages, but we’re off to find some of his other books on the used market, so we should get our fill. As subscribers to Cruising Outpost, we were able to pop for the autographed hardcover before it was released. You can find it on Amazon, Cruisingoutpost.com, Seafaring.com, and Bobbitchin.com.
Letters From The Lost Soul is the sequel to Biker to Sailor even though the first edition came out 15 years prior. We read Biker To Sailor first, by accident, so we managed to get them in the right order chronologically. More of the same from Bob with lots of entertaining anecdotes. You won’t learn how to sail in a technical sense by reading this book, but that is not the reason to read it. You can find it on Amazon, Cruisingoutpost.com, Seafaring.com, and Bobbitchin.com.
Dockmanship is a neat little book from David Owen Bell that covers all the important stuff associated with being close to the dock in a bout 100 pages. There are a few version out there, so make sure you get the latest one when searching on Amazon or similar site.
The Complete Book of Anchoring and Mooring is a great book to have on your shelf. It addresses anchoring systems, techniques, and permanent moorings. It covers monohulls, multihulls, light displacement sailboats, cruisers, sportfishers, passagemakers, and workboats. Consider this the bible for anchoring and mooring.
The Voyager’s Handbook: The Essential Guide to Blue Water Cruising. If you could only read one book before you went cruising, this would be the one. From Amazon, “This inspirational and comprehensive manual leads you step by step through every aspect of choosing, planning, and following the voyager’s life. Using three example boats representing three cruising lifestyles—Simplicity, Moderation, and Highlife—Beth Leonard helps make your bluewater dreams come true, whether you’re sailing on a shoestring or a CEO’s pension.”
Another neat item that we saw for the first time during our Day Skipper Course was Quick Reference Cards from Davis Instruments. You can get them from Amazon if your a frequent shopper, but we bought them direct from Davis. They are plasticized and fairly tough so you won’t be afraid to take them on deck with you.
The Ashley Book of Knots (41.3MB) is the bible when it comes to this subject. Originally published in 1944, it is a beast of a book with over 600 pages and can be quite intimidating for someone just starting out. You can find it in .pdf format online or on the used market at Amazon.
Surviving The Storm. (19.9MB) Thanks to Steve and Linda Dashew for making this available. From their website SetSail.com, “The emphasis throughout this book is on survival storms because, if you are prepared for the worst, normal gales and storms are no longer something to be feared – they become a chance to experiment, to test what works best on your boat.”
Mariner’s Weather Handbook. (14.8MB) Thanks (again) to Steve and Linda Dashew for making this available. From their website SetSail.com, “Understanding weather is the most important thing you can do to insure the success of your time on the water. And before you leave the dock is the time to get yourself up to speed. Start today by getting your copy of Mariner’s Weather Handbook and begin forecasting at home today.”
Sailing The Farm: A Survival Guide to Homesteading on the Ocean (9.72MB) This book has been long out of print but has been making a comeback via .pdf version spreading across the net. It’s a description of homesteading on a boat, or “seasteading.” Finances, tools, farming, it’s all there. Although quite dated now, there is still a great deal of useful information there. It’s also available as an Amazon used book, but the prices seem quite high.
RCAF 5 Basic Exercises. (3.42MB) An exercise program developed by Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) in the late 50s, and first published in the early 60s. It was innovative at the time for trying to solve the practical problem of some remote RCAF stations having confined spaces and no access to specialized exercise equipment. Remarkably similar to the situation faced on board a small private vessel.
45 places you can download tens of thousands books…for free. I can’t remember where I came across this site, but I think it was a Facebook share from someone. Amazing there is so much available out there. Check out The Sailor’s Word-Book.