Winter Reading List

When the weather outside is frightful ... best boating books for a fireside escape.


Its that time of year again, when freezing temps mean many of find our watery adventures limited to a fireside escape in a good sailing book. For this years winter reading list, weve compiled a library of guide books on topics ranging from navigation to racing, folklore, and galley magic.


Scoundrels and Kings

Author John Jourdane is the quintessential been-there-done-that sailor. Hes sailed over 300,000 miles, crossed the Pacific Ocean 47 times, the Atlantic 12 times, and circumnavigated the world three times, including two Whitbread Round the World Races. His adventures are fodder for entertaining sea stories, and make his “Sailing with Scoundrels and Kings” a book thats hard to put down. A world-class navigator, Jourdane tells of his experiences aboard such boats as the Kiwi Whitbread entry Fisher and Paykel and Roy Disneys Pyewacket.

Jourdane knows well the breaking point of man and machine. Hes been on seven boats that lost rudders and has the dubious honor of losing a mast in each of the planets three great oceans. His saga leaves the reader with valuable lessons learned, and also conveys why sailing and sailboats retain such a special allure. (Cape Horn Press, 2006, $20 at

Celestial Navigation in the GPS Age

Practical Sailorregularly harps on the importance of keeping your traditional navigation skills sharp, and for the ocean voyager, celestial navigation remains an important backup to GPS. This point is reiterated in John Karls “Celestial Navigation in the GPS Age.”

More than just a guide to the offshore navigators basic bag of tricks, Karls treatment dives deep into the logic and mathematics behind finding ones place on the earth using only the celestial bodies and scientific calculator. Sprinkled with historical anecdotes and supported by worksheets and a well-developed appendix, Karls book will appeal to the budding celestial navigator and the seasoned pro alike. (Paradise Cay Publications, 2007, $16 at

Further Offshore

The number of marine guide books on the market is countless. Some are written for the clueless beginner while others are tailored for the old salt trying to master new electronics. “Further Offshore, A Practical Guide for Sailors” is meant for them and everyone in between.

Authored by Ed Mapes-a Practical Sailor contributor, sailing instructor, and delivery captain-“Further Offshore” is an aid for daysailors, racers, and coastal cruisers taking the plunge into bluewater sailing. It covers a wide range of topics, including trip preparation, navigation, heavy weather sailing, anchoring, seamanship, medical issues, and schooling kids aboard.

Mapes ( channels his 30 years of sailing and teaching into a well-rounded reference guide that will help readers get further offshore. (Sheridan House, 2008, $32 at

The International Marine Book of Sailing

With the publication of “The International Marine Book of Sailing,” Practical Sailor contributing editor Robby Robinson can now say he is among the few writers who literally “wrote the book on sailing.” Robinson has combined his talents as educator,

writer, and sailing instructor to produce a book that effectively escorts the novice sailor through a logical progression of learning, from understanding basic vocabulary to crossing an ocean. As Robinson builds the curricula from start to finish, he offers well-illustrated snapshots of the many subjects that the sailors education entails (comparing boat designs, reading the sky, plumbing a head), many of these pulled from the growing library of International Marines successful titles. If you know someone who is just getting started in the sport, Robinsons book provides the foundation for a lifetime of rare pleasure. (International Marine, 2008, $32 at

Seafaring Lore and Legend

Whether youre a lover of maritime history or a reader who escapes in folklore and legend, you will find education and entertainment in author Peter Jeans “Seafaring Lore and Legend, a miscellany of maritime myth, superstition, fable, and fact.” Jeans recounts the history of seafaring through its myths, customs, and legends, sorting fact from fiction. From the story of Moses and the Red Sea to the real pirates of the Caribbean, few tales are left out.

Thoroughly researched and reported, the book also addresses monsters and mermaids, and the many superstitions surrounding the sea, sailors, and ships. Ever wonder why the albatross is a coveted bird among mariners or where the term “Davy Jones Locker” came from? Jeans answers those questions and more in a truly enjoyable book. (International Marine, 2007, $20 at

Storm Tactics Handbook

One of the most daunting realities of venturing offshore is dealing with heavy weather at sea. To say that being properly prepared when the time comes to shorten sail and heave to is important is a gross understatement.

One invaluable resource on storm management is Lin and Larry Pardeys “Storm Tactics Handbook.” First published in 1995, the books third edition was released in 2008, completely revised and expanded with nine new chapters and updates throughout.

Through four decades of cruising and two circumnavigations, the Pardeys ( have experienced the extreme conditions most sailors have nightmares about. Their handbook offers their lessons learned as well as accounts from fellow cruisers, with advice on heaving to for survival, choosing storm gear, and building and using storm staysails, and many other topics.

The revised edition also includes lessons from Cape Horn, an interview on storm survival with Kiwi yachtsman the late Sir Peter Blake, and adding rudder protection stops.

“Storm Tactics Handbook” is a great addition to any cruisers library. (Pardey Books, 2008, $21 at

Sailboat Refinishing

“Sailboat Refinishing” is the latest offering by well-known boat maintenance master Don Casey, author of “This Old Boat.” The step-by-step guide covers everything a boat owner needs to know to refinish a fiberglass boat-from the cabin to the mast and everything in between. The book opens with thorough explanations of marine coatings, adhesive-sealants, and solvents, as well as tips on choosing the right tools and maintaining them. Throughout the book, basic, black-and-white illustrations provide reference for refinishing methods.

The book is a must for any amateur DIYer planning to refinish tired teak, brighten up the topsides, or repair blisters. But even boat-yard veterans will find helpful advice and tricks of the trade in Caseys guide. (International Marine, 2007; $15 at

Galley Guru

Despite its overly optimistic subtitle, “Effortless Gourmet Cooking Afloat,” the new cruising cookbook from Lisa Hayden-Miller, “Galley Guru” ( is firmly grounded in the realities of living aboard.

While coaxing memorable meals from an obstinate stove in a cross-sea is assuredly not effortless, Hayden-Miller, who has worked variously as charter chef in Greece, restaurant co-owner in Spain, and caterer in New York City, delivers more than 100 restaurant-worthy recipes that are deceptively quick and easy.

Featuring an excellent section on stocking a fridge-less galley, a truly international selection of recipes, and handy categories to simplify planning (shore power, at anchor, beam reach, heavy seas, etc.), the book will be a surefire hit among food lovers whod rather not watch their cruising kitty disappear at waterfront restaurants. (Paradise Cay Publications, 2008, $14 at

Darrell Nicholson, editor of Practical Sailor, grew up boating on Miami’s Biscayne Bay on everything from prams to Morgan ketches. Two years out of Emory University, after a brief stint as a sportswriter, he set out from Miami aboard a 60-year-old wooden William Atkin ketch named Tosca. For 10 years, he and writer-photographer Theresa Gibbons explored the Caribbean, crossed the Pacific, and cruised Southeast Asia aboard Tosca, working along the way as journalists and documenting their adventures for various travel and sailing publications, including Cruising World, Sail, Sailing, Cruising Helmsman, and Sailing World. Upon his return to land life, Darrell became the associate editor, then senior editor at Cruising World magazine, where he worked for five years. Before taking on the editor’s position at Practical Sailor, Darrell was the editor of Offshore magazine, a boating-lifestyle magazine serving the New England area. Darrell has won multiple awards from Boating Writer’s International, including the Monk Farnham award for editorial excellence. He holds a U.S. Coast Guard 100-ton Master license and has worked as a harbor pilot and skippered a variety of commercial charter boats.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here