cruising books

Give Me All the Books!

I'm a reader. I've been a reader since I was tiny, and it's not unusual for me to be found with my nose in a book, tucked away in some corner. The Kindle* is a revelation of an invention for my love of books (also it's a disaster - do you know how easy it is to buy a book on a Kindle?!!!) given that I sail on a small boat with limited bookshelf space. That electronic device holds hundreds of books in a space less than a regular paperback. 

some of the books we have. 

some of the books we have. 

And you can borrow books from the library on your kindle. Did you know that? (Here's the link to my local public library system, which joins with libraries all over southwest Virginia.) They don't have everything, but wow is it cool to reserve a book and have it show up! Magic.

Books in general are magic, not just the ones on an e-reader. They carry us to worlds both real and created. They contain information, inspiration, and imagination.

And there are some books that have stood the test of time for us as cruisers, ones that will go on the boat on that limited amount of bookshelf. They've got salt-water stains, ancient address labels, dog ears, and post-it notes. Some are so loved that we're on to a second version; others are so important we've got a copy at home as well as on board.

There are reference books that get pulled out time and time again for boat projects.

This Old Boat (Don Casey) (as an owner of an old boat, this is as close to a bible as it gets. It's used for wood projects, refrigeration questions, fiberglass work, and canvas ideas. Plus tons more.)

Edition the newer. We keep both editions handy.

Edition the newer. We keep both editions handy.

Boatowner's Mechanical and Electrical Manual (Nigel Calder) (Pretty much a MUST HAVE)

Brightwork: the Art of Finishing Wood (Rebecca Wittman) (Got varnish? Get this book.)

Marine Diesel Engines (Nigel Calder) (Calder, again. The end.)

There are reference books for wildlife identification, often area-specific, as well as cruising guides (none listed here - those morph as we go along!). 

Reef Fish Identification (Paul Humann) (The photographs are epic. Not for eating fish, but snorkeling and scuba identification. There's nothing quite like going for a snorkel and coming up to see what you saw . . . )


There are general cruising books, tomes on "how to cruise" - at least one of these is totally outdated but we still have it on board!

The Voyagers Handbook (Beth Leonard) (So much great information about cruising styles and budgets, plus smart practical advice on organization and more.)

Cruising Under Sail (Eric Hiscock) (Classic. Maybe outdated, but fun to have around)

The Capable Cruiser (Lin and Larry Pardey) (As a fan of the "go small go now" philosophy, this book reassures me that it's really possible.)

Cost Conscious Cruiser (Lin and Larry Pardey) (Great practical reminders of how to save money afloat. Not all ideas will appeal to all, as is standard with any book!)

Voyaging with Kids (Behan Gifford, Michael Robertson, and Sara Johnson) (Have kids and want to/are cruising? This book is a MUST HAVE on board.)

Sensible Cruising, the Thoreau Approach (Don Casey and Lew Hackler) (I love the humor, the guidance, and the practical tips.)

Voyaging on a Small Income (Annie Hill) (Inspirational message and practical information. The line drawings are worth the price of admission.)

There are the galley books - and yes, I also carry a collection of cookbooks with me!

The Boat Galley Cookbook (Carolyn Shearlock and Jan Irons) (Hard to beat with so much incredible information and recipes, all geared directly toward life afloat.)

Don't have this one? Get it. Now.

Don't have this one? Get it. Now.

Care and Feeding of the Sailing Crew (Lin Pardey) (I've had this on hand since the early 1990s; it's been updated. I love the format as well as the ideas.)

And finally, there are the inspiration books. I've read every one of these a few hundred times, it seems, and they'll STILL come aboard. Why all the Pardey books? Simple, really - their books are the reason we bought the boat we did in 1992, and the reason we're still cruising on her today. She may be small, but she is mighty - and if they could do it, so can we.

Cruising in Serrafyn (Pardey) (Have plans, will build and go sailing.)

Serrafyn's Oriental Adventure (Pardey) (24 feet of awesome, cruising in the Orient.)

Serrafyn's European Adventure (Pardey) (Still 24 feet long, still cruising, still loving life.)

As Long as It's Fun (Herb McCormick) (A biography of the Pardeys. You'll see some familiar stories presented in a new way.)

Taleisin's Tales (Pardey) (Taleisin comes to life as the 29' wooden beauty sails in the Pacific.)


An Embarrassment of Mangoes (Ann Vanderhoof) (Practical, well-written travel book with recipes by someone who, like many, was invited to the cruising dream when she had no real idea what that entailed. The recipes are delicious too!)

There are a lot of links*, and you may be able to find a few (if not all!) at your library. Maybe not on a kindle, but maybe as an inter-library loan (remember those?) 

*As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

What books are your MUST-HAVEs? Now that I have a Kindle, I can take more with me!