Books for Cruising Families

In the voyaging-with-kids genre, blogs aren't the only place to turn. There are good books out there too.

Based on the emails we get, I think a big portion of the folks who read this blog are parents thinking about cruising with their kids. This makes sense. For five years I read every family blog I could find as we prepared to cast-off; they were good sources of information and inspiration and gave us opportunities to connect with families we were near. This is why I maintain links (eyes right) to more than 100 current and former cruising families.

But in the voyaging-with-kids genre, blogs aren't the only place to turn. There are good books out there too. Here’s a list of several that relate real and entertaining stories of family life afloat.

Blown Away
by Herb Payson
A 35th anniversary edition of this book was just released this month—it's that good and it isn't dated. The author was a heavy-drinking nightclub piano player with a cocktail waitress wife, six kids, no boat, and no money. From those beginnings, the family managed to get out cruising and explore the entire Pacific Ocean, for years. The book is both serious and hilarious and a very good read.

Into the Light
by Dave & Jaja Martin
If you're a family thinking about going cruising, you're surely familiar with the Martins. But in case you're not, they once circumnavigated in a Cal 25, many of those miles as a family of four. So if you're waiting to go until you can afford a bigger boat, get some perspective. But this book is about the family's next boat, a 37-footer they sailed north to Iceland and Norway and then further north. They even wintered over in Iceland and put the kids in school there. If you think you need to stick to the beaten path, read this book. Also, it's just a good, compelling story. Dave opens it up on passage, in the middle of the North Atlantic, after he discovers a rusted hole in the hull with water coming in.

All in the Same Boat
by Tom Neale
This is the book that inspired me to suggest to Windy that we not wait until retirement to go cruising again. Tom Neale chronicles not just the story of the years he and his wife raised their two daughters to adulthood aboard a boat traveling along the Eastern Seaboard, but offers detailed how-to information in a guide-like format. This is kind of a dated read in terms of mining information, but still relevant in terms of the story of a family who was inspired to go and who made it work.

Boat Girl
by Melanie Neale
When you're done with All in the Same Boat, here is a rare opportunity to read the perspective of one of the author's daughters, now grown and looking back at a childhood afloat.

Chasing the Horizon
by Fatty Goodlander
Capn' Fatty is like no other. He is a self-described sea gypsy who cruises the world on a sunken boat he salvaged, and got himself a gig on NPR. His monthly Cruising World column is always humorous and insightful. This book chronicles (embellishes?) experiences he and his family had while cruising the Caribbean back when it was a comparative wild west. This is a collection of well-told stories with characters that could not be made-up. Who else could convince a co-worker that his ferrocement boat was an inflatable?

South From Alaska
by Mike Litzow
This candid, entertaining account of a new family who leave their Kodiak, Alaska home aboard a boat bound for Australia, is a must-read for any family with very small kids. Mike's first son was 9 months old when they set sail and it was not all easy going. The author invites you into his head from the start of their audacious voyage. The writing is both crisp and beautiful.

The Curve of Time
by M. Wylie Blanchet
Despite being published more than 50 years ago and based on voyages during the 1920s, this PNW classic almost reads like it was written about cruising today. But get this: the author was a young widow with five kids when she took off cruising the Salish Sea for summers aboard her 25-foot powerboat. How many of today's single mothers would make the same choice today? Part of Blanchet's motivation may have been to get out of the house so she could rent it out while they were gone and make money. Her tales are amazing.

I think I could turn up countess other tales, but I think I’ll stop it here, with the titles I’ve read and enjoyed or found interesting. Happy reading!

Books for Cruising Sailors

Books for Cruising Sailors