Some are better than others (and there are many more wonderful books that are not on this list), but I think these ten books in particular make for a nice, well-rounded cruising library. Many of these are not the type of book you would read cover to cover – but will prove useful for reference once aboard. Here they are, in no particular order:
1. Jimmy Cornell: World Cruising Routes
This book is fantastic for planning cruising routes. It tells you when to go where, and – more importantly – where you don’t want to be and when. It’s a great resource for passage planning and Jimmy Cornell is the authority on world cruising routes.
2. Jimmy Cornell: World Cruising Handbook
This is a great companion to the book above. He lists nearly any port of call you can think of, the customs regulations, ports of entry, visa requirements and other formalities such as that. It’s like an encyclopedia for cruising and is very useful when internet is not available and when we are passage planning.
3. Hal Roth: How to Sail Around the World
Hal Roth has created a very comprehensive guide to cruising that covers everything from essential gear to storm tactics. It can be very technical, but much of it reads very easily. Full of great tips, tricks and information.
4. Nigel Calder: Cruising Handbook
Nigel Calder is quickly rising in the ranks as “the” cruising authority and this book is proof positive. It is chock full of great, useful information that is covered in a very accessible way. I don’t think he leaves a single subject uncovered. It is a fantastic volume.
5. Nigel Calder: Mechanical and Electrical Manual
I don’t think we’ve met too many boats who don’t have this book aboard. It is a must-have. You WILL reference it. Just wait and see. And you’ll be REALLY grateful you have it because it will be the first place you look when something fails (and something – maybe many things – will fail, it’s just a question of when).
6. Beth Leonard: The Voyager’s Handbook
I LOVED this book. It’s one of the few books on this list that I actually read cover to cover. It’s another cruising book that covers it all – from navigation to meal planning, from how to manage life at sea to storm tactics – Beth goes into great detail about the life of a voyaging sailor. This book will paint a very real picture of what to expect when cruising and will provide you with some fantastic tips and tricks to help you get underway.
7. Charles B. Husick: Chapman Piloting & Seamanship
This book is considered by many a skipper as a “bible” and we use it frequently as a reference. Believe it or not, there are a TON of rules when it comes to sailing and navigation. Knowing who has the right of way in what situation can be the difference between an afternoon sail and a disaster. Furthermore, if you ever want to get your captain’s license – or at the very least know what you need to know to be incredibly competent on the water – this book is for you.
8. Mario Bigon and Guido Regazzoni: The Morrow Guide to Knots
Lets face it, we don’t know all the knots we need to know. How do you attach two different sizes of lines if you want to make a longer line? That would be the sheet bend (okay, that’s easy – but there are MANY more). The diagrams are clear and replicating the knots is easy with their step by step pictures.
9. Lin and Larry Pardey: The Cost Conscious Cruiser
Full Disclosure: We actually do not have this book and we have never read it. So why the heck is it here? Well, I am including it because it has been mentioned to me so many times in blog comments and reader emails that I feel like it has a place. The Pardey’s focus is on simplicity and how to really maintain a boat well on a budget the right way. They are in the “hard core” camp of cruisers and many people chose not to live exactly like them, but their advice and the tips they provide are apparently saving people money all over the place!
10. The American Practical Navigator: Bowditch
I’m not going to lie. When Scott brought this book aboard I was like “What the hell?? You have GOT to be kidding!!” It is HUGE. Gigantic even. BUT…it is the definitive authority when it comes to all things navigation. It is incredibly dense and if anyone out there has read this thing cover to cover, you deserve some sort of award (or a straight jacket?). This book is carried on the bridge of every single US Navy Ship and it should probably be in yours as well.
I might also include a book on weather predicting, but I am so inexperienced with that so don’t feel like I could really suggest a good one. What I WOULD suggest, however, is that anyone sailing offshore subscribe to a weather service like the one we get from Chris Parker (he focuses on the Bahamas and the Caribbean). He is fantastic, and his reports are tailored specifically to our location and passage. Of course you use other models as well and make your own decisions, but having a professional meteorologist on your side is a big help. We are grateful for his reports every day.
What books have you found essential to cruising or prepping to cruise?
Brittany & Scott
_When two people, with the same life long dream of sailing around the world find each other, there’s only one thing to do… make it happen!
Which is precisely what we, Scott and Brittany, are doing aboard our boat, Rasmus, a Hallberg-Rassy 35 which departed from Chicago September 2010! Follow along at _