|Readin' the Pages!
― St. Augustine
I'm often asked what books I'd recommend to get a person started. It's a very short list.
These aren't the only books I enjoy or recommend in general... FAR from it. But from this core one obtains a solid foundation from which to explore in any direction. What's more, I find them extremely readable. If you, like me, tend to bog down in Chapman's, these are for you. [Probably doesn't help that, for two bits, I buy musty old Chapmen from the glorious 50s... not the latest editions.]
The links are all to Amazon, but they are available from many other vendors. Consider buying locally, or from small companies specializing in feeding our maritime appetites. Use 'em or lose 'em.
So here's my recommended Big Three. Between them, is everything you need to bootstrap yourself onto and across the water. The rest is gravy!
- Hand Tools: Their Ways and Workings by Aldron Watson
Tool-by-tool elucidation for use and maintenance of your hand tools, right down to sharpening your pencil. Most of these lessons are upwardly compatible to power tools, too. Friendly format, easy to read and reference. Despite being 'old-school', it doesn't have that soporific, text-book feel.
If you already have these skills, this one's optional. But even if you do, you'll learn something from it.
- Beuhler's Backyard Boatbuilding by George Beuhler
Attitude, exhortation, anecdotes, know-how and plans, all in one book. This is solid, robust boatbuilding that girds the reader against the "there's only one way to do things" gang. DIY from stem to stern, from building a workshed to turning the hull to pouring a keel.
There are plenty of techniques not covered in this book, but that's why they invented Post-It Notes!
- The Complete Sailor by David Seidman, Illustrated by Kelly Mulford
Once you've got the boat built, you'll want to know how to get along on the water... here's your book! While emphasis is on sailing, the seamanship sections (most of the book) is entirely applicable. Organized in a modular format for easy reference, most topics get a one or two page treatment. It will take you through the novice stage and well into competency before you ever need to read beyond its pages.
This one's a keeper. Even once you've memorized it, you and your guests will appreciate the clarity of information and quality of presentation. An onboard copy provides a centerpiece for discussion, even among long-term sailing companions, greatly enhancing civil communication.
That's it! With these three, you can build, launch, rig and sail away.
To go with them taters, here's some gravy:
- Eric Sloane's Weather Book - Pictures painting thousands of words about how weather works.
- The Craft of Sail: A Primer of Sailing by Jan Adkins - Sort of a mini version of Complete Sailor. Very accessible, especially for kids.
- Sailing the Farm: A Survival Guide to Homesteading the Ocean by Ken Neumeyer - Great attitude. Lot's of ideas, variously well baked. Out-of-the-box thinking. [This is the book that got me going.]
- Voyaging on a Small Income by Annie Hill - Shoe-string living coupled with practical steps toward creating an income from capital, plus a general good look at the life aboard.
- The Chinese Sailing Rig - Design and Build Your Own Junk Rig by Derek Van Loan - Stripped down how-to for Junk Rig. Presents one sail-form, but may be adapted to others.
- The Practical Pilot: Coastal Navigation by Eye, Intuition and Common Sense by Leonard A. Eyges - Navigation for small boat sailors who lack a stable, big ship platform for standard nav techniques. A trove of techniques we actually use!