Tis the season to be reading and every sailor has a favorite book that is brought out at a favorite anchorage. This year we have decided to share a few favorite books that speak to sailors and ocean lovers. While we may enjoy reading books about most topics, these are specific to the ocean, boats, and the lifestyle of sailing.
Do you have a favorite sailing specific book that you think we should be reading? Leave us a note in the comments or tell us all about it on social media.
Take a look at a few of our favorite reads that might be worthy of the gift-giving season.
If you are a fan of science and the ocean this book is an instant hit. If you are intrigued by Hawaii and big wave surfers you won’t put it down. For sailors, the idea of a rogue wave is daunting and this book shares so many details about waves that it is a must read.
Susan Casey captures colossal, ship-swallowing waves, and the surfers and scientists who seek them out. For legendary surfer Laird Hamilton, hundred-foot waves represent the ultimate challenge. As Susan Casey travels the globe, hunting these monsters of the ocean with Hamilton’s crew, she witnesses first-hand the life or death stakes, the glory, and the mystery of impossibly mammoth waves. Yet for the scientists who study them, these waves represent something truly scary brewing in the planet’s waters. With inexorable verve, The Wave brilliantly portrays human beings confronting nature at its most ferocious.
Treasure Islands – Pamela Stephenson
An ASA member recently suggested this book and it takes you on a travel adventure that inspires wanderlust.
This is the story of two resourceful women. The one, psychologist and wife of Billy Connolly, Pamela Stephenson—the other, Fanny Stevenson, intrepid wife of Robert Louis. Both married to maverick Scots, both in search of adventure, both drawn to the coral islands, lagoons, natives, and customs of the South Seas. A love of Joseph Conrad, a desire to escape the travails of an LA lifestyle, and a fascination with Fanny all inspired Pamela’s voyage to the other side of the world. Her encounters with the perils of the sea, the islanders, and latter-day pirates all make for marvelous reading—travel, adventure, history, and biography all rolled into one.
Many in the sailing community might frown on this choice for a sailors book but we all need guilty pleasures. I found this book on a charter in the Caribbean and after a few days of ignoring it I started reading. Maybe it was having coffee with this book while at anchor or just the easy reading, either way it was well worth the read.
Irene Steele shares her idyllic life in a beautiful Iowa City Victorian house with a husband who loves her to sky-writing, sentimental extremes. But as she rings in the new year one cold and snowy night, everything she thought she knew falls to pieces with a shocking phone call: her beloved husband, away on business, has been killed in a helicopter crash. Before Irene can even process the news, she must first confront the perplexing details of her husband’s death on the distant Caribbean island of St. John.
In August 1914, polar explorer Ernest Shackleton boarded the Endurance and set sail for Antarctica, where he planned to cross the last uncharted continent on foot. In January 1915, after battling its way through a thousand miles of pack ice and only a day’s sail short of its destination, the Endurance became locked in an island of ice. Thus began the legendary ordeal of Shackleton and his crew of twenty-seven men. When their ship was finally crushed between two ice floes, they attempted a near-impossible journey over 850 miles of the South Atlantic’s heaviest seas to the closest outpost of civilization.
Hemingway’s Boat: Everything He Loved in Life, and Lost – Paul Hendrickson
Like all sailors, Ernest Hemingway loved his boat and he loved the ocean. While Hemingway was most likely not trimming a sail regularly and instead fishing off of his beloved Pilar, he was always yearning for more time on the water.
Focusing on the years 1934 to 1961—from Hemingway’s pinnacle as the reigning monarch of American letters until his suicide—Paul Hendrickson traces the writer’s exultations and despair around the one constant in his life during this time: his beloved boat, Pilar.
Into the Storm – Denis Perkins & Jillian Murphy
In the face of turmoil and tragedy, a crew of “amateur” sailors piloted their tiny vessel–the AFR Midnight Rambler–through a treacherous storm in order to achieve victory in a world-renowned sailing competition. Their triumph–perhaps even their survival–owes itself to their astonishing commitment to teamwork: an alchemy of cooperation, trust, planning, and execution. Author Dennis N.T. Perkins chronicles their nearly four-day ordeal and draws parallels to the world of business, revealing how teams can work together to overcome obstacles and succeed during difficult times. The Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race is among the most demanding sailing competitions in the world.
A Voyage for Madmen – Peter Nichols
In 1968, nine sailors set off on the most daring race ever held: to single-handedly circumnavigate the globe nonstop. It was a feat that had never been accomplished and one that would forever change the face of sailing. Ten months later, only one of the nine men would cross the finish line and earn fame, wealth, and glory. For the others, the reward was madness, failure, and death.
Adrift: Seventy-six Days Lost at Sea – Steven Callahan
Steven Callahan’s dramatic tale of survival at sea was on the New York Times bestseller list for more than thirty-six weeks. In some ways the model for the new wave of adventure books, Adrift is an undeniable seafaring classic, a riveting firsthand account by the only man known to have survived more than a month alone at sea, fighting for his life in an inflatable raft after his small sloop capsized only six days out.
Sailing Made Easy
Maybe we are a bit biased but if there is any book that should be on your shelf it is Sailing Made Easy. It is the official manual for the ASA Basic Keelboat sailing course (ASA 101) and as comprehensive of a book as you will find on learning to sail and boating safety.