Friday, February 27, 2015

Top 25 or so Reference Books for Offshore Sailing

Fix it, replace it, or do without it. 

When we were setting off to cross oceans, we wanted to have access to a library of books that would allow us to fix anything that was essential on board including ourselves, that would help us figure out what we didn't know that we didn't know, and then help us communicate it to someone else if all else failed. My mantra became "If it breaks at sea you have three choices: fix it, replace it or do without it." So we brought along spares for anything we couldn't do without, like an alternator and water pump. We brought spare parts for things we didn't want to do without, like the head. And the rest we figured we could fix, jury rig or learn to live without -- as long as we had someplace to look up what we needed to know.

This is a listing of some of the most valuable books we brought along. It doesn't include cruising guides, only reference or instructional books. I'm certain there are some really great books missing here, so if I've inadvertently left something valuable out, please leave a note in the comments. Thanks.

Boatowner's Mechanical and Electrical Manual
by Nigel Calder

Practical solutions to increasingly more technical and challenging issues aboard boats. When you are far from home, and something on board quits working, it's really helpful to have Nigel along to consult on how to figure it out and fix it. Invaluable resource for everything that has screws, wires or moving parts. The bible for offshore sailors.  When we really couldn't figure it out on our own or with the product manuals, we called on Nigel.


Complete Illustrated Sailboat Maintenance Manual
by Don Casey


The number one bestselling instruction book on sailing on amazon, this simple to use book has loads of illustrations to help.  Need to repair sails, service an engine, repair fiberglass, or refinish teak, the answer will be in this book.  Casey saves you time, money and grief by sharing the fastest, easiest, and most effective ways to tackle just about any task on a sailboat. Well worth the money.



The Illustrated Boat Dictionary in 9 Languages
by Adlard Cole

Annotated illustrations arranged by topic allow quick communication when something goes wrong abroad and you cannot fix it on your own.

Diagrams clearly labeled with their nautical terms in each subject area makes it easy and convenient to translate between nine languages (English, French, German, Dutch, Spanish, Italian, Danish, Portuguese and Greek). You can easily show someone what you mean (or what is broken!) by pointing to it without worrying about a language barrier. From general terms to technical words, this guide is amazingly comprehensive and includes supplementary terms. Most useful when sailing in the Med.

Topics include: sailing terms, parts of a boat, boat maintenance and repair, navigation, weather, seamanship, requesting help, medical emergencies, safety equipment, numbers and time.



Happy Hooking. The Art of Anchoring. 2nd Edition
by Daria and Alex Blackwell


This second edition of Happy Hooking is a very readable book on boat anchoring. It is loaded with valuable information on anchoring tackle, anchoring technique, tying up and rafting, anchoring etiquette, as well as the occasional anecdote - a must have for any boater or sailor! 

The book explains easily and simply how different anchors work, what are effective techniques for anchoring and retrieving your gear, and helps you arrive at conclusions about what what combination of gear makes the most sense for you, your cruising territory, and your boat. It's the kind of book you can read cover to cover and yet refer to over time when needed.  



World Cruising Routes 7th edition – April 2, 2014
by Jimmy Cornell

If you are heading off across oceans, then this is one book that must be aboard when you leave, having studied it in detail before contemplating departure. Simply put, this book tells you everything you need to know about the probability of ocean currents, weather encounters and other navigational aspects to keep you in the right amount of wind and heading in the right direction at any given time of the year.  The information is based on a combination of centuries of trade routes sailing and new data available on climate change, new routes opening up, and new technology available to analyze it.  It is essential for planning the timing of passages.  There are three companion books that cover destinations, surveys of gear, and voyage planning.  In conjunction with his son, Jimmy has also created an ocean atlas with all the new routes outlined, a lovely gift for the armchair dreamer or ocean sailor. 



Weather Predicting Simplified
by Michael William Carr

Some time ago, I attended a weather prediction seminar by Michael Carr. I was so impressed with his simple, understandable and practical instruction that I bought his book.  As an experienced sailor, he certainly understands what  sailors need to know in order to interpret the GRIBs and other data sources.  Now getting to be a bit dated relative to new products hitting the market, this book is still a valuable on board resource that we referred to many times during our ocean crossings.


Weather for Sailors 2nd Edition
by Bill Biewenga

With more than 320,000 sea miles, decades of weather routing, and teaching courses in weather prediction for North U and Seven Seas University along with many personal appearances at boat shows, Bill's book combined with the CD which includes all his course and seminar materials is really worth acquiring and studying.  It wouldn't be a substitute for attending the 5-day course, but it certainly is a good companion and reference resource.


Adlard Cole's Heavy Weather Sailing 6th Edition by Peter Bruce

Although this book has plenty of good information about heavy weather tactics, the best time to read it is before heading offshore, and perhaps even before buying your boat. The seamanship classic you should have on-board when preparing for rough weather, this reference  provides expert advice for design considerations, preparations, and tactics that you should consider before it begins to blow. This edition includes new chapters on storm sails and managing multihulls in storms, plus thrilling new accounts of actual storm encounters. The harrowing accounts at the end of the book could make you sit in your armchair just a little longer. It's an important resource for offshore sailors, both cruisers and racers.



Storm Tactics Handbook: Modern Methods of Heaving to for Survival in Extreme Conditions, 3rd Edition
by Lin and Larry Pardey

Lin and Larry are the quintessential ocean sailors who sailed without an engine and relied on their sailing expertise to get themselves out of tough situations. We learned really valuable lessons from this book, chief among which was about heaving to (earlier editions did not include that in the title). They are strong proponents of the technique that essentially allows you to park your boat to let a storm pass over, effect repairs in a rough sea, or simply get some rest. Their recommendations are not always without controversy, but they certainly make you think about what will work for your boat and your situation. We hove to twice in the northern North Atlantic and even baked cookies in one of those instances. Well worth reading before you head offshore.



The Cruiser's Handbook of Fishing
by Scott and Wendy Bannerot

Catching and eating fish fresh from the sea on an ocean passage is one of the finest experiences. Of course, first you have to catch a fish, and when you catch a huge tuna, you have to know what to do with it. This is the complete guide to catching and cooking fish from the decks of a cruising sailboat. It tells you everything you need to know about catching fish in tropical or middle-latitude seas - from a cruising boat underway or at anchor, from a dinghy, in the surf, and while diving reefs. This guide walks you through choosing, using, and maintaining tackle, tying the best knots, reading currents, wind, wave patterns, tides, water temperature, and atmospheric conditions to increase your chances. It discusses modifying cruising vessels with fishing enhancements such as rod holders, outriggers, cleaning tables, bait wells, and platforms. It also covers avoiding and treating routine fishing injuries and poisoning - including information on ciguatera, venomous stings and punctures, and steering clear of dangerous predators.  It helps you identify hundreds of fish species, prepare your catch and more.  As an interesting note, we caught no fish at all in the northern North Atlantic waters between Nova Scotia and Ireland.  It was empty out there. We had great luck in a crossing from the Canary Islands to the West Indians. Beautiful mahi mahi, tuna and more. But with the overfishing of our oceans, it's important to improve your chances of catching when you are fishing.



The Complete Rigger's Apprentice by Brian Toss

This updated edition combines the best traditional rigging principles and practices with information on modern materials and technology.  This book will help the bluewater sailor feel confident that, should a shroud part at sea, they'll be able to repair it or jury rig it. It is for the exacting sailor who wants to know how to inspect, tune and maintain their own standing and running rigging.  It is for the financially careful sailor who wants to replace or supplement their rigging with carefully selected components and effective rigging techniques. It also presents a collection of useful ideas and tips on everything from supplementing winches with block and tackle, to rigging snubbers at anchor, and to proper selection of knots.  It's the definitive book on the art of rigging.


Knots. The Complete Visual Guide by Des Pawson


This DK guide to knots is visually appealing. With step-by-step color photographs, it is a clear, comprehensive, and practical guide to tying more than 100 knots. From choosing, using, and maintaining ropes, to learning about the different families of knots and what they intended to do this is the ultimate guide to tying knots for every occasion, from outdoor use in a host of recreational activities, to practical functions around the home. So although it's not specifically for sailors, it is an uncomplicated visual learning system that appealed to me and helped me learn more knots that I ever could before.



Wilderness Medicine
by Paul S. Auerbach

Dr. Paul Auerbach's guide to Wilderness  Medicine is in its 6th edition for good reason.  It is an excellent resources for dealing with medical emergencies when far away from doctors and hospitals.  Not specifically about medical matters encountered at sea, it is nevertheless very useful for improvising care under remote conditions.  His Field Guide to Wilderness Medicine is a packet edition suitable for carrying in backpacks and on small boats.



International Medical Guide For Ships 3rd Edition
by International Maritime Organization (IMO)


The third edition of the International Medical Guide for Ships shows designated first-aid providers how to diagnose, treat, and prevent the health problems of seafarers on board ship. This edition contains fully updated recommendations aimed to promote and protect the health of seafarers, and is consistent with the latest revisions of both the WHO Model List of Essential Medicines and the International Health Regulations. Intended for merchant ships, it is nevertheless a useful resources for dealing with medical emergencies at sea.



Merck Manual Of Medical Information 2nd Home Edition
by Mark H. Beers MD

The Merck Manual has traditionally provided exclusive, up-to-the-minute information to doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals. The special Home Edition is written for the general public to access virtually the same critical data contained in the physician's version -- but in everyday language and a reader-friendly format.

With contributions from nearly 200 internationally respected medical experts, this edition offers vital, easy-to-understand information about almost every known medical issue...and much more. Featuring original illustrations and diagrams, an A-Z listing of brand-name and generic drugs, and an appendix of medical resources, The Merck Manual -- Home Edition is published as a not-for-profit service by Merck, a world leader in therapeutics with a long commitment to making the world a healthier place.



Celestial Navigation for for Yachtsmen
by Mary Blewitt

This is by the far the best understandable explanation of using a sextant to navigate by the sun and the stars. Although we haven't used it in some time, we still have it on board along with our sextant just in case the electronics get fried. We have had the experience of a boat being struck by lightning and wiping out everything electrical.  If it were to happen again, at least we'd be able to find our way to some distant shore if need be. Of course, if you just head east or west you are bound to find land eventually.



French for Cruisers and Spanish for Cruisers
by Kathy Parsons

These two are must have reference books for sailing outside the English speaking world. When you go to remote places, people do not speak English as readily as they do in cities. Kathy Parson has done a wonderful job in preparing and organizing these books into very useful sections by type of encounter.  Practical, specialized phrases needed to communicate with port captains, dock attendants, marina and boatyard staff, mechanics, marine technicians, rescuers, fishermen and divers. These guides are just as useful for provisioning, shopping, dining, medical care, banking, phone, internet, transportation, touring and directions. Sections fit with the cruiser's lifestyle and needs.




Singlehanded Sailing
by Andrew Evans 


"It takes thousands of hours of sailing to get the kind of knowledge contained in this book." -- from the Foreword by Bruce Schwab

Although written for solo sailors, there are plenty of practical tips in this book for anyone and especially short-handed crews. When you think about it, double-handing as most couples do is really single-handed sailing half the time. Solo sailing is within any sailor's grasp with a little forethought --and this essential guide.

Canadian single-hander Andrew Evans learned the hard way how to sail and race alone -- with lots of mishaps which he shares, including broaches--and he shares the techniques, tips, and tactics he has developed and gleaned from others to make his solo sailing adventures safe and enriching. He covers the mental and physicial preparation, managing the power consumption to feed the autopilot, setting and gybing a spinnaker, getting away from and back to the dock, anchoring, finding time to sleep, and dealing with heavy weather.  He includes interesting examples from the experience of other solo sailors.



Reeds Nautical Almanac


Reeds Nautical Almanac is the indispensable trusted annual compendium of navigational data for yachtsmen and motorboaters.

This particular edition provides all the information required to navigate Atlantic coastal waters around the whole of the UK, Ireland, Channel Islands and the entire European coastline from the tip of Denmark right down to Gibraltar, Northern Morocco, the Azores and Madeira.  It contains pilot information, chartlets, tides and a whole host of nautical information essential to navigating coastal waters.



Navigation Rules & Regulations Handbook 2014

USCG Department of Homeland Security
New Navigation Rules & Regulations Handbook has a new name and several updates. This edition includes both International and Inland Rules of the Road otherwise known as COLREGs or Collision Regulations.  It satisfies LNM 46-14 and NTM 48-14 33 CFR 83.01(g) which requires: " The operator of each self-propelled vessel 12 meters or more in length shall carry, on board and maintain for ready reference, a copy of these Rules."

The Navigation Rules & Regulations Handbook Supersedes Commandant Instruction M16672.2D 

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