One question I was frequently asked while selling books at the Annapolis Sailboat Show at the beginning of the month was “What are some good books for new cruisers?” or variations such as “for someone who is thinking of cruising?”
I gave some off the top of my head answers, but then started thinking more as I returned to Barefoot Gal. What books are the most helpful when you’re in the thinking about . . . planning . . . and preparing to start cruising stages?
Here’s my list . . . all come in paper, most have electronic versions — I greatly prefer paper for reference books. All links are to Amazon.
Thinking of cruising with the family? This book will answer all your questions with numerous suggestions for each:
- deciding to do it
- choosing the boat
- planning where you’ll go
- getting the kids excited about going
- dealing with friends and family who think you’re nuts
- feeding the family
- dealing with medical issues
- finding other kid boats
- staying safe
Even if you aren’t planning to cruise with kids, this book gives valuable insight on how to make your cruising dreams reality, without nightmares.
Rick and Jasna didn’t start out with a bunch of money, a lifetime of sailing, or a ton of how-to skills. And yet they figured out how to get out cruising. In this book, they tell you exactly how you can do it too . . . and stay safe. The biggest thing you need? Determination. Second biggest? This book.
If you are not rich, but dream of seeing our beautiful world from the deck of your own yacht, this book is packed with practical and spiritual advice to help you cut through the endless marketing and identify what it is you truly need to become a modern sea gypsy and sail away forever…
If you’re planning to buy a used boat, this boat is a must-read. It’s filled with the hard-won experience of Deb and TJ, who bought what they thought was their dream boat, only to discover a variety of nightmares. They provide 140 pages of tips and information on how not to have a similar experience.
How NOT to Buy a Cruising Boat will help you to navigate the search and purchase of your cruising yacht with your sanity intact. Through heartfelt stories, hard-won experiences, and creative ideas, Deb and TJ will help you realize your cruising dreams.
Essential information in easy-to-understand language. Six of Casey’s best books combined into one volume, covering how to:
- Evaluate the condition of your boat or one you’re about to purchase
- Repair structural damage to your fiberglass sailboat
- Improve or repair your sailboat’s electrical system
- Troubleshoot, maintain, and repair your boat’s diesel engine
- Put a professional-looking finish on your boat’s hull, deck, spars, wood, and trim
- Make and repair sails, sail covers, dodgers, awnings, sailbags, and bimini tops
Casey’s book is perfect as an introduction to the mechanical systems on a boat and maintaining them.
The one comprehensive galley reference needed aboard every cruising boat:
- 800+ recipes made from readily-obtainable ingredients with hand utensils, including numerous choices to suit every taste: not just one cake but 20, 16 ways to prepare fish, 10 regional barbeque sauces, and so on.
- Step-by-step directions to give even “non-cooks” the confidence they can turn out tasty meals without prepared foods.
- Detailed instructions on unfamiliar things like making yogurt and bread, grilling virtually every food imaginable, preparing and cooking freshly-caught fish and seafood, cutting up and boning meat, cooking in a Thermos and baking on the stove top, as well as lots of tips on how to do things more easily in a tiny, moving kitchen.
- Over 120 useful and tested substitutions.
Yes, this is my book. Call it shameless self-promotion. But it does seem to be pretty popular, with over 100 5-star reviews on Amazon. 🙂
This is the book that convinced me I could sail offshore and be safe. Lin and Larry Pardey detail tested methods of dealing with heavy weather at sea, particularly heaving-to. Special sections explain storm sail design, sea-anchor technology and tips for preventing gear failure at sea. Included are a series of checklists designed to help potential voyagers chose, then outfit their boat for safe voyaging plus others to prepare them as a storm actually approaches and reassure them once they are in the midsts of heavy winds and seas.
Reading this gave me the confidence to say “YES!” to buying a boat; practicing the techniques gave me the courage to head offshore.
A truly in-depth repair manual for all the mechanical and electrical systems on a boat. Definitely at a more advanced level than Casey, above. I find it helpful to have both on hand — Casey to give me an intro into unfamiliar systems and Calder to give all the tiny details that may be necessary to fix something in a remote anchorage. Great drawings and photos. Including batteries (including lithium), charging systems, watermakers, refrigeration and air conditioning, pumps, steering, autopilots, winches, windlasses, roller furling, other sail handling systems and more. Most cruisers consider this to be an essential book.
World Cruising Routes, now in its 8th Edition, is wonderful for dreaming about places you might cruise as well as essential in actually doing so. Wherever you want to go, this book will tell you how to get there with the least difficulty.
It’s a comprehensive guide to over 1,000 routes covering all the oceans of the world from the tropical South Seas to the high latitudes of the Arctic and Antarctic, showing the best times of year and routes (including waypoints) for each passage. It is the perfect one-stop reference for planning a voyage anywhere in the world.
Written by Jimmy Cornell (founder of many of the long-distance cruising rallies). His World Voyage Planner is an excellent companion volume, getting into the nuts and bolts of actually planning and preparing for long voyages.
Simply put, cruisers need a lot of vocabulary that ordinary tourists don’t — and some that’s not in so-called “complete” phrase books or translation apps, either. How do you ask for a fine-thread 3/8″ 8″ long 316 stainless carriage bolt (and the accompanying washers and nuts) in a Mexican hardware store? Thanks to Spanish for Cruisers, I had no problem. The first two years of cruising Mexico, I never went anywhere without it.
I don’t know of another source that provides boaters with the practical, specialized phrases they need to communicate with port captains, dock attendants, marina and boatyard staff, mechanics, marine technicians, rescuers, fishermen, and more. The books are just as useful ashore for food provisioning, shopping, dining, medical care, banking, phone, internet, transportation and directions. Completely indexed in English and Spanish or French, with easy-to-use pronunciation for every word, plus illustrations and diagrams of systems and boat parts.
Disclosure: I’m friends or at least acquainted with the author(s) of every book except Don Casey and Rick and Jasna. The cruising world just isn’t that big. So it’s possible that I’m biased, but really, these are all great books filled with useful information. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed in any of them.