A Collection of Recommended Nautical Books

This book review is provided by Thom Pillipson. This book, although it may be hard to find (out of print), should be in anyone's library who is planning on living aboard or just dreaming of doing so.
Capt. Matt

Title: The Cruising Life
Author: Ross Norgrove
Publisher: International Marine Publishers

Review: If you're looking for an insiders view of what it is like to live aboard a sailboat, Ross Norgrove offers excellent insight. Written in a style that's easy to read (with information that most authors would overlook as simply mundane) Ross covers the minutia with humor and grace. Every book that Ross Norgrove has written should be REQUIRED READING for anyone who has ever considered 'The Cruising Life'.


Thanks to Jeff Bronsing for suggesting this week's book. He is right, not only should every boater have a copy for exciting reading ; ) but it is required equipment onboard all vessels 12 meters (39.4 ft) or more in length.

Navigation Rules: International-Inland
US D.O.T. US Coast Guard
Published by COMDTINST M16672.2C

Review: You have a excellent library but this one book should be tops on your list for every boater! Besides, it is required to be on board when operating on navigable waters, under certain circumstances.

This week's book review is provided by Dave Calhoun.

Cruising the San Juan Islands is the most up-to-date and complete cruising guide available for these beautiful islands in North Western Washington State. It includes the latest NOAA charts, navigation tips and aerial photos as well as must-see places and favorite areas for gunkholing.

The author is Bruce Calhoun (Dave's Dad) and the book is published by Weatherly Press. You can order "Cruising the San Juan Islands" from Amazon.com.

You can order this book
from amazon.com

For Cruising Guides to the South East

You can order this book from amazon.com.
Thanks to Marty Kusy for this book review:

How to Cope With Storms
by: Dietrich Von Haeften

This is a excellent book on how to recognize a storm approach well in advance. How to prepare for safe navigation in storms and to handle the boat if caught in a storm. It contains many good diagrams to show what to do. I first got it from the local library but have put it on my christmas list.

Thanks, Marty!

Boat Docking - Close Quarters Maneuvering for Small Craft
By Charles T. Low

Check out our review of this excellent new book. It's a great resource for both new and experienced boaters.

Highly Recommended!

You can order
this book
from amazon.com

Inspecting the Aging Sailboat
By Don Casey

Whether you are shopping for a "new" used fiberglass boat or prioritizing maintenance tasks on your own boat, this book will save you money--and perhaps even disaster. Do you know whether or not any of the following situations indicates real trouble?

  • Are those cracks in the gelcoat?
  • Should the deck yield underfoot like that?
  • Are those rivets in the toerail, and why are they loose?
  • Why doesn't the head door close?
  • Should there be rust on the keel bolts?
  • What is that bulge in the hull?

This book will answer these questions, and many more. You will find all you need to learn about where and what to look for when inspecting a fiberglass boat--with clear, step-by-step drawings and instructions.

The Outboard Boater's Handbook : Advanced Seamanship and Practical Skills
by David R. Getchell , Sr. (Editor)

Owners of larger boats have their bibles, but, until now, outboard boaters have been neglected. This comprehensive manual shows you how to go places and do things you never thought possible in a small outboard motorboat. Covers all the popular types - and some alternative craft - as well as methods that might change your entire boating outlook.

Topics include

  • judging a boat's potential based on design and construction
  • how to upgrade an older boat
  • how to handle a little boat in big seas, surf or shallow water
  • how to navigate
  • how to read the weather
  • how to head upriver or offshore
  • how to trailer your boat
  • how to manage and equip it for camp cruising
  • how to care for boat and motor

You can order
this book


You can order this book from
amazon.com right now.

Chapman Piloting : Seamanship & Small Boat Handling (62nd Edition)
by Elbert S. Maloney, Charles Frederic Chapman
Published by Hearst Books

Reviewed by: Dr. Steve Batson

The consummate compendium on boating and seamanship is "Chapman Piloting," the 62nd edition published in 1996 by Hearst Marine Books. This comprehensive resource is recommended by both the U.S. Power Squadron and the USCG Auxiliary as a reference.

"Chapman Piloting" covers all the basic topics of boating and seamanship (weather, handling, docking, anchoring, knots, etc.), a broad review of related information, and the etiquette of proper boating, including flag display and dockside behavior.

I would recommend this somewhat expensive publication to any sailor, new or experienced, who is interested in pursuing the details of boating and seamanship. It makes a complete library almost by itself.

You can order this book
from amazon.com

Building Classic Small Craft : Complete Plans and Instructions for 47 Boats
by John Gardner

Want to build the boat of your dreams? This commemorative edition contains John Gardner's best examples of classic wooden small craft and has instructions that enable any amateur builder with a little talent and ambition to build a beautiful boat.

This edition contains the text of Building Classic Small Craft and More Building Classic Small Craft, Volume 1. Includes all the plans, measurements, and directions you need to build any of 47 small boats - oar, sail or motor.

The Practical Mariner's Book of Knowledge : 420 Sea-Tested Rules of Thumb for Almost Every Boating Situation
by John Vigor

The 420 rules of thumb that fill this book comprise the essence of centuries of seafaring experience. This concise, alphabetically organized, reference for sailors and powerboaters consists of facts and figures for such diverse topics as hull thickness, estimating distances, predicting weather, rope size and strength, and boat resale value. There may be no substitute for a lifetime of experience, but this book is the next best thing.

You can
order this book from amazon.com

You can
order this book
from amazon.com

The Onboard Medical Handbook :
First Aid and Emergency Medicine Afloat

by Paul G. Gill

The only boater's medical guide written by a board-certified emergency medical specialist. Dr. Gill's book lists the essentials of a complete shipboard medicine chest and includes an easy-to-find emergency section covering shock and choking to jellyfish stings and near-drowning, with step-by-step procedures to follow. In addition to regular medical topics, the book also discusses:

Seasickness Shipboard Dentistry
Survival at Sea Sunburn & other solar injuries
Diving Sleep Deprivation
Childbirth & Pediatrics at sea Lightning on the high seas
Fish Poisoning

When a Loose Cannon Flogs a Dead Horse There's the Devil to Pay : Seafaring Words in Everyday Speech
by Olivia A. Isil

Published by Intl Marine Pub

Ever wondered about the origin of big-wig, flogging a dead horse, mind your P's and Q's, or three sheets to the wind? These commonly used colloquialisms all have nautical backgrounds and entertaining histories. This collection of more than 250 of these fascinating words and phrases also includes yarns, legends, superstitions, weather lore, poetry, rhymes, songs, and more.

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order this book
from amazon.com


You can order
this book

What Now Skipper?
by Des Sleightholme

Reviewed by: Capt. Matt

Seldom in sailing does everything go as you have so meticulously planned. Although you have practiced docking and undocking over and over again, you are never quite prepared for that occasion with wind and current at a 90 degree angle from each other and the slip you are attempting to enter is at an angle that makes it impossible to use either to your advantage. And…no matter how many crew overboard drills you practice, you probably have not practiced one in which the first mate is in the water, the skipper is unconscious in the cockpit with blood flowing from his head and the most inexperienced crew member is left to make the rescue with no headsail and an engine that is stalled by a line in the water.

This small but informative book poses forty challenges to test your knowledge and ingenuity. Each challenge is an easy to read, and many times quite amusing, short scenario (two to three pages) which sets up the challenge. You are then asked what you would do in the situation. Later, the authors, also the experts, make their recommendations. Many times they are very close in their methods to the solution of the problem, but, there are times when they take completely different approaches to solving the problem. That is where the fun lies. There is no one solution to every situation you may find yourself in, however, if you know several ways to handle the situation you will be better prepared when the situation arises.


Boatowner's Mechanical and Electrical Manual : How to Maintain, Repair, and Improve Your Boat's Essential Systems
by Nigel Calder
Published by Intl Marine Pub
Publication date: October 1, 1995

Reviewed by: James Schifferns

This is, without a doubt, the absolute best book for those wanting to maintain, repair, and improve a boat's systems. It was recommended to me by a sales clerk at West Marine Products.

Calder is the "guru" of boat electronics.

You can order this book right now from amazon.com

Federal Requirements
and Safety Tips for Recreational Boaters
Produced by the U.S.Coast Guard Boating Education Branch

This pamphlet contains information about Federal laws, equipment requirements, and safety recommendations for recreational vessels. Best of all, it's free and you can get it by calling the U.S.C.G. Boating Safety Hotline (800)-368-5647

The Annapolis Book of Seamanship
Author: John Rousmanier
Published by Simon & Schuster

Capt. Matt says: "If Chapman's is the power boater's bible, this book is the sailor's bible."

Based on the U.S. Naval Academy's courses in navigation, piloting, and seamanship, the first edition of this work became the bible for sailing schools and pleasure sailors across America. Its new revised edition is packed with invaluable information and is an indispensable resource for any sailor. Drawings and charts.

You can

order this book
right now through amazon.com


The Perfect Storm : A True Story of Men Against the Sea
by Sebastian Junger
Published by W W Norton & Co

Reviewed by the crew (Linda)

October, 1991: It was the storm of the century, the perfect storm. Waves were over 100 feet high--the largest waves ever recorded in the Atlantic. Far off the coast of its home port, Gloucester, MA, the crew of the 72 foot steel swordfishing boat Andrea Gail was struggling to stay afloat and alive. With hardly a trace, the boat sank and her six crew members disappeared at sea.

You can order
this book right
now through

With no witnesses or hard evidence, the author undertakes a study to determine why this boat sank and others survived. Through his extensive research and interviews, the reader learns about weather, boats, seamanship and survival. When you finish this book, you will have a new appreciation for the "romanticism" of the sea and especially for the difficult and dangerous job of fishing. And you'll never venture offshore without checking the weather first.
Sailors' Secrets : Advice from the Masters
by Mike Badham, Robby Robinson

More than 1,000 tips, suggestions and evaluations from hundreds of the world's top sailing experts. Includes advice on:

Boat maintenance
Understanding weather
Safety at sea & storm strategies
Gear and outfitting

Sailing well
Engine troubleshooting
Simple solutions to complex problems

You can
order this book
from amazon.com
Primarily aimed at sailors, there are some very good tips for all boaters, such as in this excerpt:
" . . . try plain old Ajax powder, which contains oxalic acid. It not only "washes the dirt right down the drain," it brightens teak. You may wonder why you've been paying six times the price all these years for some fancy-smancy cleaner with a boat on the label."

Our Visitors Recommend:

Two Years Before the Mast
Author: Richard Henry Dana
Reviewed by: Michael O'Neill Johnston

Surely the most enjoyable way to learn about sailing in the 1830's and early California history. Dana writes with a charming style about his two years in tall ships. You can taste the salt air and feel the sting of the captains lash.

You can order this book through amazon.com right now.

Richard Bolitho-

Author: Alexander Kent
To order

Midshipman Bolitho and the Avenger
To order

Recommended by: Thomas J.Glidden

Not just one book, but several! All chronicle the life of Richard Bolitho. From midshipman to rear admiral, these stories bring you aboard sloops, brigs, three deckers.

Depicting all duties of function and rank during Britain's war with Spain, Troubles with the Colonies, and the animosity with France.

The Way of a Ship
Author: Alan Villiers
Publisher: Charles Scribner's Sons 1953

Recommended by: Michael O'Neill Johnston

The definitive narrative style book on square rigged ships that sailed Cape Horn. Out of print but not out of style.

Note: According to amazon.com this book is not "officially" out of print - you just can't find it anywhere. (?) Try a used book store or borrow it from a friend.

The Complete Book of Anchoring and Mooring
Author: Earl R. Hinz
Publisher: Cornell Maritime Press, Centreville, MD
Reviewed by Dr. Steve Batson

"The Complete Book of Anchoring and Mooring" (2nd edition) is an excellent technical reference on anchoring and mooring for all recreational and work boats in the range 12 to 80 feet. An award-winning author, Hinz is also an engineer and inventor of design improvements in ground tackle.

Part I covers the technology of ground tackle and Part II covers the art of anchoring. Part III reviews the mechanics of mooring. The book also includes an extensive appendix and bibliography for further reading.

A new boat owner or the potential owner of a new boat (bigger and better?) will greatly benefit from just reading the recommendations Hinz puts forth. For those content with a concrete block attached to a clothes line, this book may be too advanced. Otherwise, all good boaters will find this reference invaluable as a thorough review of the subject of anchoring.

You can order this book from amazon.com right now.