7 Great Sailing Reads

By: Books

The sailing season has slowed down for quite a few of us but that doesn’t mean you have to stop thinking about being out on the water. Take a look at these ideas for your sailing bookshelf.  If you can’t be out there you might as well read about it.

Here’s a list, in no particular order, that is worth the effort.

Red Sky in Mourning: A True Story of Love, Loss, and Survival at Sea

Red Sky in Mourning: A True Story of Love, Loss, and Survival at Sea
by Tami Oldham Ashcraft with Susea McGearhart

Adrift, the movie that is based on this book is in the theaters now, so it’s a good time to check this one out. As is so often the case, the book is supposedly better than the movie. It’s a harrowing tale and for some reason many sailors like to hear about these worse case scenarios. Be that as it may – a great summer read.

Dove by Robin Lee Graham

by Robin Lee Graham

If you haven’t read Dove yet, this summer is the time to check it out. It’s one of those books that many sailors have read. It’s a story of sailing, but also one of youth/coming of age. Graham set out on a round the world voyage at 16 and the voyage changed his life in many ways. And now, with so much time under the bridge, it’s interesting to look back on cruising-sailing as it was in the 1960s. Dove is definitely a book that’s part of sailing literacy if there is such a thing.

South by Ernest Shackleton

by Ernest Shackleton

South is not a typical sailing book where a cruising sailor turns their log into prose. It’s great to read about a cruising sailor’s adventures, like the ones we all daydream about and can easily relate to, but South is something entirely different. Captain Ernest Shackleton, who isn’t really a sailor at all, tells the incredible story of exploring the Antarctic region at a time when it had hardly been visited by humankind. It’s adventure of the tallest order. They sailed a barquentine, which was sort of a tall ship at the end of the tall ship era, and found themselves in a highly precarious position in one of the most remote places on the planet. Read this on a nice toasty day and you will really be glad it’s summertime!

Farther Than Any Man by Martin Dugard

Farther Than Any Man
by Martin Dugard

An interesting concept to bear in mind about sailing, and one that is not lost on most of us is how meaningful it has been to the formation and forwarding of the modern world. The geographical discoveries, international commerce, and their role in wartime scenarios are just a few of the vital areas where sailing/tall ships was so very integral. Check out Farther Than Any Man, a biography of Captain James Cook, for a taste of how professional sailors/explorers did their thing in the 1700s. It’s controversial some times but interesting all the time. It’s very fun and interesting to compare sailing then and now with an understanding of how it all progressed. Cook’s work has been extremely influential and important – very worth reading.

Sailors’ Secrets by Mike Badham

Sailors’ Secrets
by Mike Badham

This book contains no story but it’s packed with useful tricks, tips and hints about the stuff we all have to do to keep sailing. It’s really a cruising sailor’s dreams. Sailors’ Secrets is a compilation of hundreds of different sailors’ favorite idiosyncratic advice, each about a paragraph long. Innovative and inventive ways to fix leaks, battling corrosion, making sails last, handy knots, tackling odors; the list goes on for days. It’s one of those books that you can pick up and read for five minutes or forty five minutes again and again. There are tons of novel ideas and it’s a blessing that Badham has gone to the trouble of putting it all in one place for us. Good stuff.

A Sailing Surfer’s Voyage Of Awakening by Captain Liz Clark

A Sailing Surfer’s Voyage Of Awakening
by Captain Liz Clark

Liz Clark, who is originally from Southern California, has been sailing around the South Pacific for more than 10 years. Her goal was to fulfill her life-long dream of surf exploration via sailboat. In this memoir, Captain Liz Clark captures her voyage in gripping detail, sharing tales of sailing in high seas, of solitude and surprises, of finding connection to the earth and commitment to living in harmony with it. The book is not just about the adventure of sailing the Pacific on her Cal-40 with her cat, it’s about how to be closer to nature, and take time to cherish and appreciate it – “I use less, need less, and want less – yet have never felt more fulfilled.” says Captain Liz.

Bareboat Cruising Made Easy by the American Sailing Association

Bareboat Cruising Made Easy
by the American Sailing Association

Well, c’mon, we’re putting one of our own on this list not just because it’s our website and our story but because it’s a really good book! Bareboat Cruising Made Easy is 212 pages of focused information that is indispensable for those looking to charter but it’s also very valuable for those who do a lot of cruising. Like all of ASA’s books, it’s written in an informal easy-to-understand manner that makes the learnin’ go down smooth. It goes step by step through the process of chartering and it’s loaded with great pictures and diagrams to ensure readers understand the concepts completely. The book is truly comprehensive covering literally hundreds of different issues. It’s one of those books that never collects dust on the shelf because someone is always picking it up.