Books You Should Get If You Want To

This page is dedicated to the books that help us dream and educate us in the process. Let us know if you have recommendations for books that are not on the list yet.

The Finely Fitted Yacht: The Boat Improvement Manual, Volumes 1 and 2

This is a hefty tomb of a paperback book. I consider it to be a classic reference and it has some pretty cool ideas for older boats, such as converting a berth in the forepeak into a desk. Who would have thought? Ferenc Mate’, I guess. This book is not for the faint at heart since most of the ideas require good wood working skills. But hey, I can always hire someone to do it for me.

The Cruising Life: A Commonsense Guide for the Would-Be Voyager

Jim Trefethen lays out his plan for saving money, paying cash, and getting out there cruising within 5 years. This book was written before the latest stock market crash and the deflation of housing values, thus I’m not sure if all the advice he gives would be applicable today. That being said, I found most of his ideas made good sense, even if not all of them would work for us. He did give me good food for thought in terms of boats being a liability, not an asset. This book is an interesting read because the author is entertaining, but not a ‘must have’ in my opinion.

Seaworthy Offshore Sailboat: A Guide to Essential Features, Handling, and Gear

This book has a ton of useful information and will be a valuable reference for us. One thing that is interesting and thought-provoking is at the end of each chapter author John Vigor has a section called ‘Think Inverted’. This is basically an area where he gives the readers questions to ask themselves about how different areas of the boat would behave if turned upside down, God forbid. He also has a recipe for beer bread in the book. Can’t beat that with a stick.

   Inspecting the Aging Sailboat

By Don Casey, I believe this will be an in valuable reference as we get serious about buying our next boat. Don makes the case that one should not rely on one’s heart when buying an old boat. Probably good advice, Don. Glad we have this book to help us.

Voyaging On A Small Income

Okay, so I bought this book because of the cover. I’m interested in junk rigs, and also in learning what I can about living lean on the water. I’m not a luddite and I’m not likely to sail as simply as Annie Hill does, but I admire her ability to live the way she does and hope I’ll learn some useful things in this book. Also, interestingly, the photos she has of the salon and main cabin in her boat show that she sails on a very comfortable boat. I don’t know if this is going to be a ‘must have’ book, but it’s likely to be a worthy read.

Boatowner’s Mechanical & Electrical Manual: How to Maintain, Repair, and Improve Your Boat’s Essential Systems

It’s like the Bible with pictures and diagrams. How did we get by without this book so far?  It’s possible that I might actually be able, some day, to take apart and re-assemble a starter by using this book as a reference. I hope I don’t have to, but if I ever have to try, the 4 pages of detailed photographs in this book will increase my confidence. This book will have it’s own shrine on our book shelf, I’m thinking.

The Modern Cruising Sailboat: A Complete Guide to its Design, Construction, and Outfitting

This book is like a textbook on cruising sailboats, including a large section where the author, Charles J. Doane, reviews suitable blue water boats. That’s pretty much why I bought the book, but he also has good sections on cockpits, rigging, steering systems, and the like. Probably a good book for us to have right now.

   The Cost Conscious Cruiser

Classic Pardey. Not having this book in the library is probably about like having an American Literature library without Faulkner or Hemingway. One would be ashamed to admit it.  The Pardeys certainly have strong opinions about their own brand of cruising. Whether you agree with them or not, it’s worth the read.

The World’s Best Sailboats, Volume 2

Actually, we have volume one of this book and it is total eye candy. I want volume 2 and will add it to our library shortly. Ferenc Mate’ is an entertaining writer, and the photographs are large and glossy. This book will cause price creep in one’s search for a good old boat, so beware.


 Twenty Affordable Sailboats To Take You Anywhere

This is a good reference book. Greg Nestor provides basic reviews of 20 good old boats in the 30-38 foot range. I wish this book had photos. It does have a drawing of each boat, but photos would make it a more complete reference for me. I do like it that the author gives information on how each boat performs under sail.




 The Voyager’s Handbook: The Essential Guide to   Bluewater Cruising

I bought this book last year and let’s just say that our copy is already ‘well loved’. This book is full of practical information, as well as savvy financial advice. There is a chapter on provisioning for long voyages, and even information on getting exercise during days when land is not in sight. The chapter that has been most useful to me is the one on what makes a good ‘blue water’ boat. There are lots of details about things like ventilation while at sea, adequate stowage, and deck layout, for example.

I’d say that this book represents the opposite end of the spectrum from the Pardey books. Although Beth Leonard does compare three styles of cruising in terms of finances, it’s clear that the boat she owns cost much more than most of us can spend. Still, she’s a very experienced sailor and writes very well. Even if, like us, you can’t afford a boat like her Hawk, the book is well worth having.

[amazon_enhanced asin=”0924486848″ /]

The mind of a sailor, the soul of a poet. I couldn’t put it down. May as well buy this book because it belongs on your permanent bookshelf. Read it. Then read his others  too.

[amazon_image id=”1574090216″ link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]A Sea Vagabond’s World[/amazon_image]

[amazon_image id=”1574091549″ link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]Cape Horn: The Logical Route ; 14,216 Miles Without Port of Call[/amazon_image]

[amazon_image id=”0924486775″ link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]Tamata and the Alliance[/amazon_image]

[amazon_image id=”1574091204″ link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]Sailing to the Reefs[/amazon_image]


3 thoughts on “Books You Should Get If You Want To

  1. Pingback: - Little Cunning Plan

  2. It’s nice to run across others of like mind in this virtual world. We, too, live in Puget Sound and are currently upgrading/restoring S/V Grace, our Union 36.

    While searching for our retirement home (Grace) I was very intrigued by cat ketches, junks, and the Nonsuches. I also wondered why there weren’t more of these, apparently, very functional designs on the water….so I did some investigating.

    They have a common attribute of unstayed masts which I find appealing. Unfortunately this requires tremendous engineering considerations when the sail loads can’t be spread across the entire hull with the ease of standing rigging. There’s a lot of security against dismasting in stormy blue water conditions with standing rigging.

    If coastal cruising was our goal, I would have sought out one of these designs. Probably a cat ketch (for ease of sail handling) in junk form.

    The Nonsuch are VERY comfortable and fast, if you can afford one. We toured a 33 whose owners said they decided to enter a race shortly after having it trucked from Florida. It sounded like fun so they invited all their friends and had a party on board during the race. They didn’t realize the invitation came from a very competitive bunch, each with a skeleton crew. They had a slow start but raised their glasses of wine to all the boats they passed while the barbeque continued to sizzle. They came in second.

    Now, should you look at one of these beauties (Nonsuch), consider they were all balsa core decks, at least. I’m not sure about the hulls but it’s worth investigating because core rot was a common problem with this brand. Also, if you’re thinking blue water, imagine taking a breaking wave in that cockpit. It’s huge, and now a small swimming pool.

    Fair winds,

    • Hello and welcome, Brad! Thanks for your comment. There is quite a discussion about whether unstayed masts are seaworthy with plenty of opinions on both sides, as it usual in anything boat related, I guess. The Nonsuch is probably not a boat I would choose for our plan, in spite of it’s level of comfort, which seems considerable. The size of that mainsail is daunting, to say the least. And the boom is absolutely huge. Our acquaintance who owns one uses electricity to raise the main, reef the main, etc. I’m thinking we don’t want to have that level of complication on our future boat. I’d like to think I can find a boat where raising and lowering sails can be done simply and easily by hand. It’s a concern I have about the cat ketches that are not junk rigs as well. Those sails are mighty big. Of course, good and large winches solve that problem.
      The Union 36 is actually a boat that is on our definite short list. How do you like Grace? Is she easy to sail, and can you sail her well in the protected waters around here? We don’t want to give up sailing locally in order to have a ‘blue water’ boat. so finding the right compromise in order to do that is a priority. Please tell us what you like and don’t like about your vessel.

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