A Collection of Recommended Nautical Books


The Annapolis Book of Seamanship
by John Rousmaniere, Mark Smith (Illustrator)

annapcover.gif (9717 bytes) Avg. Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars

Since the publication of the widely hailed first edition in 1983, The Annapolis Book of Seamanship has set the standard by which other books on sailing are measured. Used throughout America as a textbook in sailing schools and Power Squadrons, The Annapolis Book of Seamanship thoroughly and clearly covers the fundamental and advanced skills of modern sailing. This edition of Annapolis is a major overhaul. Over half the book has been revised; old topics and features have been updated, and many new ones have been introduced. The design has been modernized, and many color illustrations have been added.

"A volume that any sailor or would-be sailor simply must own." That's what Yachting magazine called THE ANNAPOLIS BOOK OF SEAMANSHIP, written by John Rousmaniere (who has more than 30,000 miles of blue water behind him) and illustrated and designed by Mark Smith. The 1983 and 1989 editions were widely hailed for their highly readable, clearly illustrated coverage of all types of sailing. For years America's best-selling sailing manual, ANNAPOLIS is now available in this thoroughly revised and updated new edition. One-half the text and one-third the illustrations are new. There's a color section, plus expanded coverage of multihulls, emergencies, knots, personal safety, anchoring, heavy-weather sailing, and other topics. The unique "Hands On" sections succinctly explain dozens of advanced tips of the modern sailor's trade.

As big and detailed as Annapolis is, the wealth of technical information (including dozens of step-by-step instructions) is presented here in a way that is uniquely readable; it's both useful and easy to use. This is because John Rousmaniere and artist Mark Smith bring to Annapolis decades of experience both as sailors and as professional communicators.

Annapolis emphasizes the standard skills and proven methods that eliminate error and confusion, ensure security in emergencies, and allow every sailor more time for enjoyment on the water. Much has changed on the water since 1983 when this book was originally published. Black buoys are now green, the Global Positioning Satellite navigation system (GPS) is almost universally used, new types of anchors and sails have appeared, safety skills and gear are vastly improved, many more women are commanding boats, and catamarans and trimarans are common where only monohulls used to sail.

But for all these modern developments, the basic skills and spirit of sailing have not changed at all. Sail trimming, keeping up steerageway, maintaining the dead reckoning plot, heaving-to -- these fundamentals are as important now as ever and receive much attention here. Among the innovations in this edition are:

* Basic skills in early chapters: Fundamental sailing and boat-handling skills and gear, which are introduced in chapters 1, 2, and 3.
* "Hands On" segments: Three dozen special sections, each devoted to a particular seamanship problem and an expert solution.
* More how-to tips: Additional rules of thumb that guide a crew quickly and successfully through seamanship problems.
* New coverage of multihulls: Advice on evaluating, anchoring, and handling catamarans and trimarans under sail (including in storms).
* More on emergencies: New material on emergencies, safety, and heavy-weather sailing, including a section on preparing a docked boat for a hurricane.
* Equipment updates: Expanded coverage of the use and care of modern gear and hardware, including radar, GPS, rescue devices, and asymmetrical spinnakers.
* Terminology: Full definition and illustration of major terms when they're first introduced, with alternative language provided in parentheses.
* Gender: The use of feminine personal pronouns, which reflect the fact that more women are captaining and sailing boats than ever before.

From navigation and seamanship to boat and gear maintenance, from pleasure cruising to heavy-weather sailing, here is the definitive, state-of-the-art guide that provides systematic step-by-step techniques to see you through every situation on deck and in the cockpit.

John Rousmaniere (pronounced Room-an-ear) has more than 30,000 miles of water in his wake since he started sailing in Maine more than forty years ago....

Mark Smith, the designer and artist, also is a lifelong sailor with much experience in multihulls.

Order this book from Amazon.com

Chapman Piloting Chapman Piloting : Seamanship & Small Boat Handling (65th Edition)
by Elbert S. Maloney, Charles Frederic Chapman
Published by Hearst Books
Reviewed by: Dr. Steve Batson

Avg. Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars

The consummate compendium on boating and seamanship is "Chapman Piloting," the 65th edition published 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 Chapman Piloting from amazon.com right now

OnBoard Medical Emergency

On-Board Medical Emergency Handbook: First Aid at Sea [ILLUSTRATED] (Hardcover)
by Spike Briggs (Author), Campbell Mackenzie (Author)

The only boater's emergency medical guide designed to provide fast answers in an emergency and to withstand the marine environment.

Designed and packaged for use on your boat, this emergency medical handbook has waterproof covers and features 50 quick-reference flow charts to guide you through the proper responses to injuries and illnesses on board.

About the Author

Dr. Spike Briggs is a consultant in intensive care medicine and anesthesia. He is a medical advisor/fleet medical officer to the Challenge Business, which runs ocean yacht races across the Atlantic and around the world.

Dr. Campbell Mackenzie is a retired Surgeon Commander, having served in the Royal Navy and Royal Naval Reserve. He is an instructor for the Royal Yachting Association First Aid course and an advisor on marine medicine for the British coast guard.

You can order The Onboard Medical Emergency Book from amazon.com

First You Have to Row a Little Boat : Reflections on Life & Living
by Richard Bode
cover Jon Ayers sends the following review:

It's really a book about life, in which the author relates what he learned through his experiences with small boats while growing up on the south shore of Long Island, and how those experiences guided him later in life.

In a questionnaire sent three years ago to all owners of Nonsuch yachts, which generated some 300 responses, this book was mentioned as a favorite more than any other.

It's what I would call a 'dear' book, in that there is no single overpowering message, but when you finish it, you realize that you have thought a great deal about your own life.

You can order this book from Amazon.com

wpeE.jpg (20676 bytes)Reed's Nautical Almanac & Companions
by Ben Ellison (Editor)

Reed's Almanac and Companions include the following and much, much more. Approved by the USCG, they are essentials for your cruising library.

Check them out at Amazon.com

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

Boat Docking's front coverIt is with great pleasure that I review Boat Docking, Close Quarters Maneuvering for Small Craft by Charles T. Low. Also subtitled "Boat Skidding with Nonchalance" and "Help for the Dysfuntional Docker," this book is an essential reference for all boaters.

To learn more about Boat Docking, check out the guest column by Charles T. Low. It gives an introduction to what you will find in the book.

I have been teaching boat handling for most of my life in one form or another and I have never run across a book with such simple explanations, complete with drawings, of what can be a complex process. If you have ever had trouble docking your boat, or if you are a beginning boater, please get this book and study it carefully.

Written in an easy to read manner, Boat Docking covers such topics as:

  • Boat Motion
  • Docking Examples
  • Hull Effects
  • Steering
  • Lines and Fenders
  • Human Factors

Information is presented for inboards (single and twin), outboards and sterndrives, and even jet boats.

Any book which gets a positive review from Elbert S. 'Mack' Maloney, editor and author of Chapman Piloting, Seamanship & Small Boat Handling, the boater's bible, is a great addition to your boating library.

You can order this book from amazon.com

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

You can order The Outboard Boater's Handbook from amazon.com

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 The Practical Mariner's Book of Knowledge 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!
You can
order How to Cope with Storms from 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.

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.

You can order The Perfect Storm right now through amazon.com

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.

You can order When a Loose Canon Flogs a Dead Horse from amazon.com

Thanks to Jeff Bronsing for suggesting this 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.

Order Navigation Rules: International-Inland from Amazon.com

Black Wave: A Family's Adventure at Sea and the Disaster That Saved Them (Hardcover)
by John Silverwood (Author), Jean Silverwood (Author)

Ever think about about chucking it all and cruising off into the sunset? Sure you have. Before you do - read this book. This is the true story of a successful, somewhat typical, family who did just that. And it didn't turn out the way they envisioned. Check it out.

Order Black Wave from Amazon.com.

The following books have been recommended by our readers, however, they appear to be out of print. Copies may be available through recommendations by Amazon.com.

Close to the Wind
by Pete Goss
closetowind.gif (10848 bytes)Reviewed by Jan DeGroot

I am the author of 'No Shoes Allowed' and very honoured to discover that you included my book amongst your list of favourites. My thanks to your reviewer, Travis Herring, for recommending it. However, in all fairness, Close To The Wind, by Pete Goss deserves to be on the top of your list. This is the fellow who participated in the Vendee Globe race and rescued one of his competitors. There is only one word to describe it; AWESOME! I don't know if it is available here yet. My wife brought it over from England. If any of your readers spots it in a book store, grab it quick and don't let go of it!

Thank you, Jan! You can order Close to The Wind right now through amazon.com

yellow_pages.gif (13982 bytes)Internet Boater's Yellow Pages:
The Online Guide to the Best Nautical Sites

by Tom Lichty
Reviewed by Linda

We love this book! Well, we should - the author names BoatSafe.com as one of the top ten boating web sites. Which just goes to show you, he certainly has good taste. 1400 Boating Websites, Mailing Lists and Newsgroups are listed and reviewed in this comprehensive directory of boating-related websites. You can save an incredible amount of time and energy finding the information you've been looking for, and some you didn't even know you were looking for. Alphabetical listings by subject and a detailed index make it easy.

You can order the Internet Boater's Yellow Pages through amazon.com

No Shoes Allowed
by Jan DeGroot
Review Sent by: Travis Herring

noshoes.jpg (6016 bytes)The reviews presently displayed at Amazon.com, although very favorable, don't do this book justice.

A narrative about a different type of boating. The author relates stories about his life as a charter yacht operator in the Caribbean Islands. In addition to his interesting and often hilarious encounters in the trade, the book also gives insight into the history and provides solutions to some of the technical problems of the business.

A highly entertaining 'must read' for anyone, boating enthusiast or not.

This book is different from any other kind of yachting/cruising story and deserves to be a best seller. A highly recommended read indeed!

Avg. Amazon Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars

You can order this book through amazon.com right now

In Hazard
Author: Richard Hughes
Reviewed by Arthur Samson
cover Every bit the equal of PERFECT STORM, this is the story of a freighter that gets caught out in the worst hurricane ever recorded at the time. It's terrifying, and it's also wonderfully written.
From the Publisher
A tremendous piece of dramatic narrative description . . . magnificent. SUNDAY TIMES
To take the same subject as Conrad in TYPHOON would be foolhardy if it were not so triumphantly justified. GRAHAM GREEN
Book Description: The story of a ship's and her crew's desperate struggle to survive the most powerful hurricane ever recorded.

Order this book from Amazon.com

Sailing For Dummies
sail.gif (6711 bytes)Author: Peter Isler, J.J. Isler
Reviewed by Jay Holben

An extraordinary overview resource for the beginner, this volume covers everything from buying your own boat to coping with storms. A fantastic, common language text with tidbits for the more technically minded.

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

Yacht Design Explained : A Sailor's Guide to the Principles and Practice of Design
Authors: Steve Killing and Douglas Hunter

039304646x_m.gif (23154 bytes)Well written and straight forward this recent publication answers the curious "how or why did they do that?" questions. This wonderful book on sailing yacht design is a must for the curious sailor. The contents include fantastic graphics, charts, illustrations and photographs. It covers the fundamentals of design including hulls, keels, ballast, rudders, rigs, and sails. Covering designs from Sir Isaac Newton to the America's Cup, this book is not a technical manual but an explanation of the problems that designers and builders cope with in solving the problems created by wind and water to produce a stable and practical sailing vessel.

According to a review by John Rousmaniere, author of the Annapolis Book of Seamanship, "This is the new 'Bible' of yacht design."

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

Capt. Matt

inland_passage.gif (13096 bytes)On Boats & Boating in the Northeast
by David W. Shaw
Hardcover - 224 pages (July 1998)
Rutgers Univ Press

Inland Passage takes readers on a tour of the Northeast, revealing the natural history of the waterways and waterfronts that make up these popular cruising grounds. The book also focuses on rare boats, their owners, and the many people from boatyards to museums who work to preserve them. Reading this book is like riding the waves with the author as he sails the major waterways from Cape May to Lake Ontario and the Thousand Islands on the Saint Lawrence River, the mountain lakes of the Adirondacks, the Erie Canal, the Hudson River, and Lake Champlain.

You can order this book through 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.

You can order Building Classic Small Craft through 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?

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.

You can order Inspecting the Aging Sailboat through amazon.com

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 Boatowner's Mechanical and Electrical Manual right now through amazon.com

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 The Complete Book of Anchoring and Mooring through amazon.com right now.

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