Boating Books for Female Sailors

These books cover topics for women sailors, from engine repair to yoga and raising kids afloat.


Sailing how-to and have-done books abound. But only in the last decade or so has the world of sailing literature taken an interest in women-specific resources and travel stories. Grateful to have our very own how-tos and have-dones that extend beyond the galley, the women of Practical Sailor picked up some new reads for summer. From tips on relationships aboard to tales of a White House aide turned cruiser, these books have much to offer the reader, be she the captain or the mate.

Boating Books

Yoga Onboard

In “Yoga Onboard, a guide for cruisers and live-aboards,” author Kim Hess demonstrates how to tweak your yoga practice to accommodate the confines of life aboard. In addition to showing you how to fit your Downward Dog into the cockpit, the book features instructional photos of Hatha yoga poses astern, amidships, and on the bow, along with instructions on postures. Yoga is about grounding, balancing, and using energy with a focus, so its only fitting that it is connected with sailing in this informative, well-organized book, which is also available on DVD ( (Blue Duck Enterprises, 2007, $23)

Its Your Boat Too

Boating Books

Former U.S. Navy commander Suzanne Giesemanns “Its Your Boat Too, A Womans Guide to Greater Enjoyment on the Water, for Power or Sail” provides a wide range of excellent knowledge that answers beginner cruiser questions and details some of the (less) finer points of sailing-engine maintenance, electronics, safety, etc.

Most importantly, where many of the sailing books marketed toward woman discuss provisioning and galley duties, Giesemanns book tells you how to sail! It is an empowering book that could help a reader become a better sailor and have more fun doing it.

With a foreword by Lin Pardey, the book also includes terminology, Rules of the Road, line handling, navigation, docking and anchoring, and boat systems. We highly recommend women cruisers add this to their library. (Paradise Cay Publications, 2006, $10)

Boating Books

The Cruising Womans Advisor

Diana Jessies “The Cruising Womans Advisor, How to Prepare for the Voyaging Life” answers many questions that beginners may have about the cruising lifestyle. Jessie tells readers how to compile cruising knowledge without going into the how-tos of sailing and seamanship. With forewords by Tania Aebi and Lin Pardey, the book covers the minutiae of live-aboard life, including roles and relationships afloat, staying in touch, provisioning, and female-specific hygiene tips. Readers looking for more on sailing and boat systems should also pick up Geisemanns book. (McGraw-Hill Co./International Marine, 2007, $13)

Marys Voyage

Readers of John Caldwells gripping “Desperate Voyage” (1949) will already be familiar with his wife, Mary Caldwell. “Marys Voyage, the Adventures of John and Mary Caldwell” picks up where Johns book left off. Johns story was a harrowing tale of a man lost at sea trying to get back to the woman he loved, but Marys biography is of a woman trying to raise a family (including two young sons, a husband, and numerous pets, among them a goat) at sea as they attempted to become the first family to circumnavigate using only a sextant and dead reckoning. The familys exploits eventually landed them in the Caribbean, where they built the idyllic resort known as Palm Island.

Boating Books

Marys experiences tell of a remarkable wife, mother, and captain. Her insights offer a candid glimpse of cruisings great challenges and unmatchable rewards. Readers, no doubt, will be inspired to toss off the docklines and head for less crowded waters after enjoying this engaging story. (Sheridan House, 2008, $20)

Living a Dream

Boating Books

Sailing how-to author Geisemann tells her own story in “Living a Dream, a Journey from Aide to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on 9/11 to Full-time Cruiser.” The well-written page-turner chronicles Geisemann and her husbands transition from hectic professional lives in the Navy to their dream life as cruisers. Geisemanns story unfolds as the two move aboard their 36-foot sloop, Liberty, and head for distant anchorages. She takes the reader through foul weather and an emergency at sea to icy fjords and warm islands.

A contributor to Blue Water Sailing magazine, Geisemann is a gifted storyteller whose biography is both entertaining and encouraging. (Paradise Cay, 2008, $12)

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Darrell Nicholson
Practical Sailor has been independently testing and reporting on sailboats and sailing gear for more than 50 years. Supported entirely by subscribers, Practical Sailor accepts no advertising. Its independent tests are carried out by experienced sailors and marine industry professionals dedicated to providing objective evaluation and reporting about boats, gear, and the skills required to cross oceans. Practical Sailor is edited by Darrell Nicholson, a long-time liveaboard sailor and trans-Pacific cruiser who has been director of Belvoir Media Group's marine division since 2005. He holds a U.S. Coast Guard 100-ton Master license, has logged tens of thousands of miles in three oceans, and has skippered everything from pilot boats to day charter cats. His weekly blog Inside Practical Sailor offers an inside look at current research and gear tests at Practical Sailor, while his award-winning column,"Rhumb Lines," tracks boating trends and reflects upon the sailing life. He sails a Sparkman & Stephens-designed Yankee 30 out of St. Petersburg, Florida. You can reach him at