Here’s a list of books I have onboard:

  1. Maintenance:
    1. Don Casey – Sailboat Maintenance Manual. This jewel is great for learning the basics on any system on the sailboat. I referenced it quite a bit when starting out and still go back to it when starting a job I haven’t done before. It’s a lot cheaper than a mechanic and gives great general advice. After reading the section pertaining to my job, I head to Google and the forums for advice on my specific system.
  2. Knowledge:
    1. John Rousmaniere – Annapolis Book of Seamanship. A textbook on how to sail. How can the wind move a sailboat upwind? Can you legally drink and sail? Who has right of way? Is there enough anchor rode out to hold in this breeze? What’re those thingies holding the lifelines up called?
    2. Nathaniel Bowditch – The American Practical Navigator: Bowditch. A book dedicated to everything related to sailboat navigation. It has been updated continually since it’s first edition in 1799 to now include GPS, Radar, Radio and other “new” technology.
    3. US Coast Guard – Navigation Rules. A publication containing the right of way rules, light, sound and shape signals, and the agreed upon Convention on the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea (COLREGS).
    4. John Karl – Celestial Navigation in the GPS Age. How to navigate by the sun, stars and planets using a sextant in the age of calculators and GPSs. In combination with Bowditch, it’s pretty much all you need to teach yourself celestial navigation.
    5. Sight Reduction Tables. Required for celestial navigation if reducing a sight without the use of a calculator. Unlike the almanac, these numbers never change. They basically do the spherical trigonometry for you. If you’re happy with typing in numbers into the calculator without the look-up tables in this book, that is also an option. Here is Volume 2 for latitudes 15 to 30. If you are going north or south, you may need volumes 1 or 3 as well.
    6. Nautical Almanac. Required for finding a position using celestial navigation. It contains tables listing the locations of the celestial bodies at any given moment. You must buy a new almanac every year.
  3. Novels and Fun Reading:
    1. Julian Stockwell – Thomas Kydd 15 book series. This follows the life of a young sailor captured by the English system of pressing civilians into warships during the Napoleanic Wars in the Age of Sail. Here’s the first book:
    2. Patrick O’Brian – Aubrey/Maturin Series. The series starts with Aubrey’s first command as captain. He picks up Maturin as his ship’s doctor to cruise the high seas on a royal warship through the Napoleonic Wars. I couldn’t stop reading all 20 books in a row! Great series! Here’s the first book; You may have heard of it: Master and Commander:
    3. C. S. Forester – Horatio Hornblower 12 book series. Yet another Napoleanic War series (I just can’t get enough). This is probably my least favorite of the ones listed, lacking in realism. I mean, Horatio is just to perfect and never makes a bad decision. Pfff. But still, I couldn’t put the books down and I learned a lot of sea terms and techniques, some of which are still used today.
    4. Joshua Slocum – Sailing Alone Around the World. Published in 1900, an amazing first person account of the first solo circumnavigation from 1895 to 1898. Slocum is my hero :)