This article is from the Boats FAQ, by John F. Hughes with numerous contributions by others.
THE ALTERNATIVE KNOT BOOK, Harry Asher, A book about new
knots and splices that are appropriate for modern fibers and weaves of
rope. ISBN: 0911378952. (bm).
ASHLEY'S BOOK OF KNOTS AND FANCY ROPEWORK, Ashley,
The definitive book on the subject.
ANCHORING, Don Bamford, Anchoring is really a subtle and complex
business which isn't given the attention it deserves by many people.
While the chapter in Hiscock covers the basics quite well, this book does
it in depth and detail.(mh).
SEXTANT HANDBOOK, Bruce Bauer, This is about the instrument
itself and its care. Not really necessary, but nice to have.(mh).
VOYAGING UNDER POWER, Beebe, About design and building plus
long range voyaging; excellent short chapter by his wife about
provisioning and managing the galley.(tl).
THE PROPER YACHT, Arthur Beiser, Dated and out of print, but a
good guide to some of the older designs which are found on the used
HIGH PERFORMANCE SAILING, Frank Bethwaite, ISBN 0 87742 419
4. International Marine is at PO Box 220, Camden, ME, 04843.
Elsewhere in the world it uses ISBN 0 07 470 100 2, from McGraw Hill
Australia Pty Ltd, 4 Barcoo Street, Roseville NSW 2069, Australia. The
book is about 400 pages with four sections on the wind, water, boat
development, and how to use what you have. I'm up to about page 250
now, and Frank treats all areas of the world, and when nothing but
local knowledge will help you (he speaks of visiting bars on the
waterfront to talk to freight ship captains rather than local sailors
:-). Good stuff... (ab) From further discussion of this book on the
net, it would appear to be the very best on the subject, supported by
serious research data rather than conjecture. (jfh).
BOAT CANVAS FROM COVER TO COVER, Bob and Karen Lipe, A
very basic discussion of canvas work with a series of practical projects
from simple to complex.(mh).
100 SMALL BOAT RIGS, Philip C. Bolger, He's managed to take what
could be a very boring topic and make it intensely lively.
TED BREWER EXPLAINS SAILBOAT DESIGN, Ted Brewer, Good
introduction to the technical aspects and jargon of sailing yacht design.
BACKYARD BOAT BUILDING, George Buehler, This is a
no-nonsense(?) book on building stout seagoing boats. Most of it deals
with wood construction. Buehler is a designer, builder, and cruiser who
lives in the Pacific northwest, and his designs include power and sail
cruisers and workboats. It includes plans for 8 boats, but it IS really
about building in your backyard, in the tradition of Rable and Chappelle.
320 pg paperback, $24.95 IM 158380 (wv).
PRECISION CRUISING, Authur F. Chace, A series of cruising stories
which pose various problems in seamanship and piloting, along with
proposed solutions for those problems. (mh).
YACHT DESIGNING AND PLANNING, Howard Chapelle, WW Norton
and Co. New York 1971. (I don't know if it's still in print). The book to
turn to when you want lots of good useful, practical advice on yacht
design. Not heavy on theory but has years of experience behind it.(mp).
HEAVY WEATHER SAILING, Adlard Coles.
HANDMADE HOUSEBOATS - INDEPENDENT LIVING AFLOAT,
Russell Condor, Houseboats in the tradition of Whole Earth Catalog, so
read with caution. Contains photos and drawings of some good, classic
floating residences. 230 pg paperback, $19.95 IM 158022 (wv).
WORLD CRUISING ROUTES, Jimmy Cornell, A route planning guide
for world cruising with regional weather patterns, currents, etc. Highly
THE YACHT NAVIGATOR'S HANDBOOK, Norman Dahl, A concise
and very practical coverage of general navigation and piloting, the best
overall reference on the subject I have found. The section on celestial is
good enough to serve as a self-teaching course, although it probably isn't
the best choice for that purpose. Highly recommended, but appears to be
out of print. (mh).
YACHT NAVIGATOR'S HANDBOOK, Norman Dahl, A good
intermediate book between Chapman and Bowditch.(mh).
SAFETY AT SEA, George Day, Covers everything from yacht design to
abandon-ship in a broad and general way.(mh).
THE NATURE OF BOATS, Dave Gerr.
HOW THINGS FLOAT, E. N. Gilbert, American Mathematical Monthly,
March 1991 (Vol. 98, No. 3), pp. 201-216.
SURVIVOR, Michael Greenwald, The part of it you don't want to think
about but must. Mainly about liferaft survival, but also covers many
other topics concerned with safety and emergencies including medical
procedures. Highly recommended.(mh) ADVANCED FIRST AID
AFLOAT by Peter F. Eastman, MD. Seems to be the best all around
FIBERGLASS BOATBUILDING FOR AMATEURS, Ken Hankinson,
You can get it from Glen-L Marine (look in the classifieds of just about
any sailing magazine). It covers pretty much all aspects of glass boat
building. More technical, covers different resins and reinforcements,
vacuum bagging, high tech as well as low tech, gel coats, laminating, etc.
CHOICE YACHT DESIGNS, Richard Henderson, See comments on
Beiser, The Proper Yacht.
SAILING IN WINDY WEATHER, Richard Henderson, A good book on
sailing in a half gale, but not a gale or a hurricane. (jfh).
THE GOUGEON BROTHERS ON BOAT CONSTRUCTION,
Gougeon Brothers Inc., Bay City, MI 1983. The best by far on cold
molding. Lots of practical hints. Good safety (esp. WRT epoxy) and
general/setup chapters. How to mix and use epoxy, how to engineer wood
composite structures. (mp).
DESIRABLE AND UNDESIRABLE CHARACTERISTICS OF
OFFSHORE YACHTS, ed. John Rousmaniere, Technical, but required
reading for anyone choosing an offshore boat. This is a series of reports
which were inspired by the Fastnet race disaster of 1979 and sponsored by
the Cruising Club of America.(mh).
THE SCIENCE OF YACTS WIND AND WATER, H. F. Kay, G. T.
Foulis and Co Ltd 1971 Has most of the formulas you need, I guess.
CHAPMAN'S PILOTING, SEAMANSHIP, AND SMALL BOAT
HANDLING, Elbert S. Maloney, The bible of basic boating. Tons of good
information, with perhaps a bit too much emphasis on flag etiquette, but
otherwise excellent. Kept up to date by Elbert S. Maloney. (jh).
DUTTON'S NAVIGATION AND PILOTING, Elbert S. Maloneyn, I
believe this used to be published by the Navy and used as text at
AERO HYDRODYNAMICS OF SAILING, C. A. Marchaj, Adlard Coles
Ltd. 1979 A complete update of the previous classic text.
SAILING THEORY AND PRACTICE, C. A. Marchaj, Adlard Coles Ltd.
1964 A scientific analysis of the aerodynamic and hydrodynamic and
other design factors wich define the yachts behaviour.
SEAWORTHINESS: THE FORGOTTEN FACTOR, C. A. Marchaj,
(International Marine Publishing Company of CAMDEN Maine), $34.95.
This is the book on hull design. It is a nice melange of the artistic,
political, academic, and technical, and Marchaj has a fine writing style.
For boaters, all I can say is that most will find it very controversial. His
precise and tightly argued passages on just why the modern racing yacht
is neither seakindly nor seaworthy will have some, like myself, smugly
nodding, and others, most racers, I guess, hopping mad.
THE WORLD'S BEST SAILBOATS, Ferenc Mate', Even if you can't
afford the boats in this book, it will give you some ideas of what to look
for. Coffee-table format, glorious photography. Try not to drool on
SURVEYING SMALL CRAFT, Ian Nicholson, How to evaluate a
prospective purchase. Not a substitute for a professional survey, but very
useful for preliminary work before making an offer.(mh).
AMERICAN PRACTICAL NAVIGATOR (BOWDITCH), The
US Hydrographic Office, (2 volumes) More than you would ever dream of
wanting to know about navigation. Most of it is oriented towards big
ships, but everything there is, is in there somewhere. No one will take you
seriously unless you have Bowditch aboard.(mh).
BUILD THE INSTANT BOATS, Hal Payson, Simple, often
not-very-strong, boats.(jfh) Easy to build, and the ones with lots of
curvature tend to be strong and stiff (paraphrased). (wv).
BUILD THE NEW INSTANT BOATS, Hal Payson, See notes on previous
FASTNET FORCE 10, John Rousmaniere, Fascinating, absolutely
riveting book. It tells the story of the 79 Fastnet race from the
perspective of the participants, by one of the participants. His story gives
a different view than most of the general media reports, by somebody who
THE ANNAPOLIS BOOK OF SEAMANSHIP, John Rousmaniere,
Simon and Schuster, New York 1989. A complete and thorough guide to
every aspect of sailboat handling by a leading expert in offshore sailing.
Chapters include the boat and her environment, safety, navigation, and
THE CRUISING NAVIGATOR, Hewett Schlereth, (4 volumes) A full
course in basic celestial navigation plus a complete reference work on the
subject with perpetual almanacs and sight reduction tables. No other
references are required. As a self-teaching course, it is not perfect but it is
very good (I learned from it). As a working reference, its only weakness is
that it does not include the moon and planets (perpetual almanacs aren't
practical for these bodies). Printed on waterproof paper with heavy
covers. This set cost $100 and is now out of print. A used copy is a major
find. Volume "00", SIGHT REDUCTION TABLES FOR SMALL BOAT
NAVIGATION is a find in itself. This is a much more convenient set of
tables than any of the standard sets (it is a condensed version of HO 229).
SKEENE'S ELEMENTS OF YACHT DESIGN., Norman Skene, An early
classic. Also originally called "Elements of Yacht Design." Dodd, Mead
and Co. First edition 1927, many later revisions and editions to the early
1950s. Out of print, first editions quite rare. A classic in the field.
OFFSHORE CRUISING ENCYCLOPEDIA, Steve and Linda Dashew,
Not an encyclopedia, but a tremendous collection of well informed opinion
on every subject imaginable. Oriented towards larger (sail) boats and
cost-no-object cruising, but it has something for everybody. Whether it is
worth the tremendous price (about $70) is another matter.(mh).
BOATBUILDING MANUAL, Robert Steward, The most concise book on
wooden boat construction (including modern methods). Easy to read and
understand. A standard reference.(mp).
KNOTS, Brion Toss, A nice little basic introduction to the important
knots and their use by a good writer.(mh).
THE RIGGERS APPRENTICE, Brion Toss, The more sophisticated
aspects of rope and lines.(mh).
BOATBUILDING ONE-OFFS IN FIBERGLASS, Alan Vaitses, (I think
it's now out of print). This one has so much wisdom per page it's worth
looking for. Really a hands-on book, Vaitses made a living building glass
boats for a long time, so he's made all the mistakes and knows what
works and what doesn't.(mp).
THE OCEAN SAILING YACHT, Donald Street (2 volumes), The first
volume is dated but covers the basics well. The second volume covers
most of the same subjects in a more complete manner and from a more
modern perspective. The volumes complement one another.(mh).
THE ART AND SCIENCE OF SAILS, Tom Whidden, Not quite so
technically inclined is "Sail Power (The Complete Guide to Sails and Sail
Handling)" by Wallace Ross.