The best sailing books can be diverse, informative, and entertaining. Whether you’re new to boating or an old salt, our selection of the best sailing books will surely offer something to keep you entertained or increase your knowledge. We’ve got you covered, from some of the greatest fiction ever written to in-depth guides and technical know-how.

Technical Sailing Guides

As we mentioned above, there’s no skill level of sailor out there who would find a little extra knowledge not useful! These books can provide some great sailing knowledge for both beginners and experts, helping you become more competent on the water.

The Complete Sailing Manual, 4th Edition by Steve Sleight

Summary: Sleight provides an essential guide for beginner sailors, written by a champion. Features expert advice on gear, cruising, knot tying, and more.

This sailing guidebook from Steve Sleight is considered essential reading among many beginner sailors, covering everything you need to know to begin your journey into learning how to sail. This text was written by British national champion Steve Sleight and even has a forward from Sir Ben Ainslie, an Olympic gold medalist. In this guide, you’re truly learning from some of the most accomplished sailors out there.

Here, you’ll find expert knowledge on today’s most recent forms of gear and up-to-date best practices for cruising, knot tying, boat and equipment care, and more. This book is packed with information you’ll need to know and handy diagrams. It’s a perfect reference guide to keep on board in case of any emergency questions and a good investment for anyone curious to learn more about sailing.

Learning to Sail: The Annapolis Sailing School Guide for All Ages by Di Goodman

Summary: A clear, effective guide perfect for novices and children, developed by the renowned Annapolis Sailing School.

If you’re an avid sailor, there’s a chance you’ve heard of the world-famous Annapolis Sailing School. This school is considered America’s sailing capital and has taught people how to sail for decades. This book contains all of the techniques this institution has perfected to make the reader a better, more confident sailor on the water.

This book is perfect for beginners, especially children, as it is a short yet effective little guidebook. It covers the most basic fundamentals and is a great first start for a novice. You’ll learn about proper boat maintenance and care, proper sailing terms, and some fundamental skills that will make you a sight to be seen on the water.

The Sailing Bible: The Complete Guide for All Sailors from Novice to Expert by Jeremy Evans

Summary: One of the most comprehensive sailing guides available, perfect for all skill levels, covering a wide array of topics.

No matter your skill level, there’s something to be found in this sailing bible from Jeremy Evans. This book is designed to provide any new sailor with anything they’d need to start sailing and also features some more in-depth knowledge to teach experienced sailors a thing or two. Topics found here include learning the anatomy of boats, boating techniques and tactics, knot and rope tying, boat etiquette, how to stay safe in emergencies, and much more.

This written text is also covered with hundreds of amazing charts, drawings, and diagrams to keep you in the know. This is a great book to add to your existing library and keep on board as an easy reference guide. Reviewers agree that this is an amazing introductory text to the world of sailing and can do a lot to keep you safer and more competent while at sea.

Best Beginner Sailing Guide: Sailing for Dummies by J. J. Isler 

Summary: Simple and user-friendly, this guide covers everything a new sailor needs to know before hitting the water for the first time.

The “For Dummies” brand of books has been a go-to for many readers on a wide variety of subjects, so it makes sense that there would be an edition useful for sailing! This guidebook covered everything you need to know before you set sail on the water.

This guide will cover tons of important pieces of knowledge, including finding a good sailing school, knot tying, how to use and navigate equipment, what to do on the water, how to interpret weather conditions, plotting your course, and much more. This book is described as being a “textbook, user manual, and reference all in one.” Sailing need not be so intimidating with a handy guide like this.

Fiction & Non-Fiction Sailing Books

Reading does not always need to be focused on tactical, practical knowledge! The books listed here are all amazing pieces of fiction and non-fiction that center around sailing, still providing real-world insight in a less serious package. You’ll enjoy getting whisked away in the creative sailor’s stories crafted here and maybe even learn a thing or two about sailing along the way. These books are the perfect way to pass the time on a yacht pleasure cruise or long overnights on a houseboat would be with one of these.

Sailing Alone Around the World by Captain Joshua Slocum

Summary: A historical and thrilling account of Captain Joshua Slocum’s incredible solo journey around the globe.

Any sailor would find this read an inspiring tale. This is an account of the great Captain Joshua Slocum, who very famously was the first person to sail around the globe alone on a 3-year solo expedition in 1895. He wanted to prove that a single man could sail around the world alone, and he did so. Here you’ll find a recount of some of his incredible adventures and the harrowing tales he returned with after this historic voyage.

This book was first published in 1900 and has been enjoyed by sailors and avid book fans alike for a long time. Reviewers have described this work as epic, eloquent, and hilarious, as he tells the tales of all the exotic people and places he met on his travels. A great adventure story with some amazing accounts of early sailing techniques, this book is sure to be enjoyed.

A Voyage for Madmen by Peter Nichols

Summary: An action-packed non-fiction tale of nine sailors on a dangerous round-the-world adventure, from which only one returned.

Peter Nichols has written many wonderful memoirs and novels about sailing, but many critics agree that this is one of his best. A Voyage for Madmen is a non-fiction tale that tells the story of nine sailors who wanted to single-handedly sail around the globe nonstop. However, only one man would return from this harrowing journey after ten months of traveling.

This novel covers a story of men at sea in a time before the electronic systems that are so helpful to modern sailors today. It’s an exciting, dramatic tale about dreams, storms, fame, glory, and the closeness of death that can follow you when traveling at sea.

Maiden Voyage by Tania Aebi

Summary: An inspiring story of an 18-year-old’s solo, 27,000-mile sailing journey.

In this non-fiction novel by Tania Aebi, you’re hearing the story of a New York City teen who took to the water for the first time and set out on what was to become a life-changing adventure. When Tania was 18, her father gave her two choices: pursue a college education or be gifted a twenty-six-foot sloop, with which she’d have to sail around the world alone. And as the title preludes to, Tania chose the boat.

This book encompasses the 2.5-year journey Tania took, sailing 27,000 miles alone for the first time. Led by sheer determination, grit, and a little fear, this is a tale of love, danger, dreams, goals, and the lessons to be learned at sea.

Moby Dick by Herman Melville

Summary: The classic tale of revenge and morality on the high seas, beloved by book lovers and sailors alike.

Herman Melville’s 1851 classic novel Moby Dick is well-loved by many novelists and book lovers across the globe but holds a special place in the hearts of sailors. Here you’ll find the fictional tale of a captain named Ahab, a whaler on a mission to get revenge on a white whale that damaged his ship on a previous voyage. It’s a tale of drama and life lessons, exploring ideas of good and evil and the lives of the interesting crew aboard the ship on this mission.

This novel is notable for its highly praised for the way it approaches whale hunting techniques for its time and its descriptions of old sailing techniques. This is a certified classic and an interesting read that belongs on the bookshelf of any sailor.

The Long Way by Bernard Moitessier

Summary: A captivating account of a veteran sailor’s seven-month solo journey through three great Capes.

The Long Way is a novel by Bernard Moitessier and outlines the story of his first-ever Golden Globe Race. This solo race sees participants sailing through three great Capes, the Cape of Good Hope, The Cape of Leeuwin, and The Cape of Horn. Here you’ll read the real-life tale of this sailing veteran’s seven-month journey, in which he battled both the elements and his encounters with fatigue and loneliness.

Tons of technical passages give some great insight into sailing, but they are met with equal parts of humanity as you learn this sailor’s incredible travel tale. This book is about much more than just a race, telling a very human story about determination and confronting yourself, and can be well-loved by sailors and non-sailors alike.

The Bottom Line

Whether your interest lies in the practical side of sailing and learning the ins and outs of life at sea or thrilling adventure, both real and imagined, you’ll find plenty in these books to keep you occupied and enthralled. There’s plenty to learn and more to keep you glued to the page. Happy reading and smooth sailing!