Editorial January 1, 2004 Issue

Practical Sailing Books

I thought it would be worth following up last month's mention of Maximum Sail Power by Brian Hancock (Nomad Press) with a few more book recommendations, especially since it's the season of giving, and we always like to see our fellow scribes provided-for. How to scratch the surface, though, of the scores of titles that make up the sailor's library? Let's go with some of the practical books we keep at hand, for reference:

Boatowner's Mechanical and Electrical Manual, by Nigel Calder (International Marine/McGraw Hill). You wouldn't want to own only a single book to help you assess and maintain your boat gear, but if you had to choose just one, this would be it.

Sailboat Electrics Simplified by Don Casey (International Marine/McGraw Hill). Casey's book is well-written, well-laid out, perfectly illustrated, and speaks to boat owners with moderate levels of interest and understanding, like most of us.

Desirable and Undesirable Characteristics of Offshore Yachts, by the Technical Committee of the Cruising Club of America, edited by John Rousmaniere (W.W. Norton). Accumulated practical wisdom from legendary offshore sailors, engineers, and designers like Rod and Olin Stephens, Bill Lapworth, and Richard McCurdy. The emphasis is on safety, simple comforts, and moderation.

The Seaworthy Offshore Sailboat by John Vigor and Offshore Sailing by Bill Seifert with Daniel Spurr (both from International Marine/McGraw Hill). Both of these books carry bodies of knowledge and advice similar to the CCA book above, but expand it in different ways, with different tips, anecdotes, illustrations, and formats. If you want to confirm something from one source, check the other two.

Elements of Yacht Design by Norman L. Skene, with a new introduction by Maynard Bray (Sheridan House). This textbook for two generations of designers (wooden-boat designers, mostly) was originally published in 1904 and revised by Skene for years, then by others like Frank Kinney of Sparkman & Stephens. Sheridan House has republished the last Skene-only edition from 1938. It's more nostalgic than up-to-date like the next two books, but is still fascinating.

Understanding Boat Design by Ted Brewer (International Marine/McGraw Hill) and Yacht Design Explained by Steve Killing and Douglas Hunter (W.W. Norton). Both of these are excellent primers and references, obviously much more modern than Skene's, and less text-bookish.

Standards and Technical Information Reports For Small Craft by the various technical committees of the American Boat & Yacht Council. This is the closest thing we have to a construction and specifications bible in the industry. It's only available to ABYC members, and costs $219. Makes for horribly arid holiday reading. Never mind. (But we do refer to it a lot.)

How Boat Things Work by Charlie Wing (International Marine/McGraw Hill). Just out. Great illustrations, sensible text. Good gift book.

The Complete Guide to Sail Care and Repair by Dan Neri (Beowulf Press). Neri poured his vast experience into this on-board manual, intended for sailors who will be doing their own maintenance and repairs. It's great to read a practicing pro explain things right down to the level of awl and palm.

Get Rid of Boat Odors by Peggie Hall (Seaworthy Publications). At last, the Headmistress has written her definitive book on the topic of marine sanitation systems and how to manage them. Totally practical. See her shine in the January 15 PS Advisor.

Sleek by John Rousmaniere (Mystic Seaport). OK, this last one isn't practical. It a gorgeously wrought collection of yachting photos from the Rosenfelds and some of their predecessors, all introduced and elucidated by the encyclopedic Rousmaniere.

Fair winds for the holidays.


-Doug Logan

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