A sailors reading list

For several years I have been collecting all manner of nautical books to wile away the hours of my quasi-life between sailing adventures. Unfortunately, lugging my treasured library around the world in a tiny boat isn’t feasible, so I have recently set about sorting through the clutter in order to reclaim some space for provisions.

Listed here are my latest finds (from which I winnowed the occasional gem):

Sailmaker’s Apprentice: A Guide for the Self-reliant Sailor

By: Emiliano Marino

I can’t fit a sowing machine on board for sail repairs so I’m counting on this book to guide my attempts at old fashioned needlework. Who knows, once I master this arcane art, I may be qualified to move on to mending my own socks and reattaching shirt buttons.

Troubleshooting Marine Diesel Engines, 4th Ed. (International Marine Sailboat Library)

By: Peter Compton

Perhaps I’ll get some use out of this book in port. At sea however I’m more likely to sick-up over it, the engine and anyone unlucky enough to be within range.

How to Sail Around the World: Advice and Ideas for Voyaging Under Sail

By: Hal Roth

Some good ideas, but this book was not for me.

The Cruiser’s Handbook of Fishing

By: Scott Bannerot, Wendy Bannerot

A must, but only because I am determined to do better than the one tuna and seagull that I have managed to catch so far. All I’ll have to figure out next is whether I can eat what I catch, and for someone that couldn’t even recognize a small tuna, the signs do not bode well.

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

By: Nigel Calder

Use of this book will follow the “inversely proportional to income” rule. In my dollar challenged future I expect to be using it often.

Hand, Reef and Steer: Traditional Sailing Skills for Classic Boats

By: Tom Cunliffe

Only because I knew nothing about the Gaff rig before I bought Eileen of Avoca.

Storm Tactics Handbook: Modern Methods of Heaving-To for Survival in Extreme Conditions

By: Lin Pardey, Larry Pardey

I like this book and have purchased a Fiorentino parachute sea anchor as part of my heavy weather safety equipment. Unfortunately, the handbook only describes one storm tactic, so rather than risk being a one trick sea pony, I’ve also purchased a Jordan Series Drogue. Both systems allow me to batten down the hatches and ride out the storm in extreme discomfort.

The Atlantic Crossing Guide: RCC Pilotage Foundation

By: Anne Hammick, et al

A must!

Adlard Coles’ Heavy Weather Sailing

By: Peter Bruce

My hopes of finding the definitive way of dealing with heavy weather were dashed after reading this book. Hence my purchase of two entirely different systems to cope with a storm (parachute sea anchor and drogue). Nevertheless, I found the material invaluable and I’d even be so bold as to suggest it be mandatory reading for anyone intending to cross an ocean in their sailboat.

Warning: Don’t let your landlubber relatives read it or they won’t let you go.

Your First Atlantic Crossing: A Planning Guide for Passagemakers

By: Les Weatheritt

Interesting reading but of little practical value for the single handed small boat sailor. A book for those seeking inspiration perhaps?

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

By: John Vigor

A true gem.

World Cruising Routes: 1000 Routes from the South Seas to the Arctic: Companion to World Cruising Handbook

By: Jimmy Cornell

Traditional routes galore. I use this book as a planning guide for more adventurous itineraries… After much refinement, the end result is often nothing like what I started with, but the handbook is still my first point of reference. Also heavy enough to be used as a vermin exterminator!

Atlantic Pilot Atlas

By: James Clarke

I hope the gods of winds and currents have read this atlas too and decide to honor its content. Being a cynical sort, I’ll just have to take it with me to check up on them.

Essentials of Sea Survival

By: Frank Golden, Michael Tipton

Prepare for the worse and hope for the best? I can’t say this was an enjoyable read. I think I was going through a dark phase in my literary preparations as the following titles attest.

Left for Dead: The Untold Story of the Tragic 1979 Fastnet Race

By: Nick Ward, Sinead O’Brien

Another book to scare the living daylights out of all your friends and relatives. Hand a copy to anyone you don’t want volunteering to be crew.

A Voyage for Madmen

By: Peter Nichols

No comment.

Killing my best friend.

Chester the Old English Sheepdog

Chester the Old English Sheepdog

In two weeks I have to kill my best friend and I’m devastated.

After 14 years of selfless companionship Chester my Old English Sheepdog will be put to sleep. All this time he has either traveled with me or patiently held the fort back home, but there will be no more sailing with “ye old sea dog”, for he is much too frail and there is soon to be no place to call home (other than my small boat).

I can’t help but feel guilty. While he has several tumors and little strength for even a short walk (he frequently stumbles and falls), he is still his old self; always happy to be in company and eager for a snack or two.

If I didn’t intend to move out of my house he may have lived a few more months, but I know that he can not survive a move and I don’t want him to suffer.

The last time I took him to visit the vet the 5 minute car trip almost killed him. He collapsed upon arrival and the veterinarian wanted to put him down then and there.

I refused. When he dies it will be at home in familiar surroundings.

Not a day has gone by in 14 years that he has not made those around him smile. A perpetual source of joy will be lost to me forever the day Chester the Old English Sheep-dog dies and I will unashamedly shed a tear or two for my ever faithful friend.

A small boat is best!

All comforts?

All comforts?

If I were to list all the virtues of owning a small boat, not only would it make rather dry reading for the non-boating enthusiast, but inevitably it would spark an argument between those who hold to “bigger is better” vs. “small is beautiful”…

Now where have I heard that before?

I guess it all comes down to a matter of taste, (and the size of ones wallet). Mind you, some people just have to take everything with them when they go cruising and no amount of argument will ever shift them to the minimalist small yacht camp.

A tiny boat will certainly never cater to this fellows idea of traveling in style, but for the benefit of the skeptics and fence sitters I offer you a few photos showing the diminutive boat owner in his element.

It isn’t often that I find small boats cruising far from home, so when I do, it almost always warrants a photograph.

Mini "Gin Paslace"

Mini "Gin Palace"

Above is a photo of a happy couple living it up on the smallest “Gin Palace” in St.Tropez.

English Canal Boat

English Canal Boat

On the French waterways I came across this cruiser in a shortened English canal boat.

Apparently it’s a thousands pounds per foot to build one of these (and he managed to get 70% off)!

Ugly boat?

Ugly boat?

OK this isn’t a small boat but I thought to include the photo to show that the “ugly is best” camp also has a following!

Tiny boat

Tiny boat

Last and also least (dimension wise) is this minuscule yacht found cruising in the south of France. It makes my Yarmouth23 seem extravagantly spacious.