Sep 19, 2009

Sailing Books - A ciriculum to sail away

I’ve learned a ton from reading books about sailing. Here are a few of my favorites.

Confessions of a Long Distance Sailor by Paul Lotus
Probably the first book I read about sailing, because it was available free as an e-book. The book is still available for free online, but it is also available in paper back format HERE.

This book was the best find ever. I was completely enchanted, and couldn’t stop reading it from the moment I started. My mom was concerned about the amount of time I was spending sitting in front of a computer while I read it.

One thing I’ve always remembered from the book was the author’s description of his life philosophy: “Do something different. Look at what everyone else is doing, and do something different.”

This is excellent for those looking to learn because it covers the authors journey from having no sailing experience at all, right up to completing his circumnavigation. It provides a very realistic insight into the day to day life of long distance sailing.

Sailing aside, the author is a pretty cool guys. He designed spacecraft components for the NASA Space Shuttle, and created a mathematical model of the solar system used during the Viking Mars lander program. His best-known program is "Apple Writer" the first word processor for personal computers.

Flirting With Mermaids by John Kretschmer
The nine page introduction alone is worth the cost of this book. Perhaps best said in the words of the author: “It is a book about living a passionate, adventure-filled life on your own terms.”

It is packed full of wisdom and inspiration for anyone who has felt like they just don’t fit right.

“My freedom is the ability to shake off the grip of society’s expectations.”

“Life is something to be devoured because at any moment it might be snatched away… you have to seize life by the throat… pursue your dreams relentlessly, recklessly. It is too much of a gamble to waste time.”

"If there is any advice, any lurking pearl of wisdom hidden in this book, it's something as simple as how to go sailing at all costs while steering clear of the stealthy nine-to-five routine that slyly steals the only thing you own in life: your time.”

"Dreams are private and fragile creations, we make them, live them, or ignore them. Dreams are, as much apart of sailboats as teak planks and sistered oak frames, rusty steel plates and the toxic chemicals that make up a fiberglass hull."

“I have always insisted on steering my own course, a wayward course that invariably runs counter to conventional wisdom.”

Maiden Voyage By Tania Aebi
I really didn't like this book, but it’s pretty inspirational. The author left New York City knowing hardly anything about how to sail the boat. For example, she had to call her dad on her first night out to learn how to anchor. She even learns to navigate while on the trip.

So I thought: “If this girl can sail around the world, I can at least make it down the East Coast!”

Sailing Books on Audible

The Boy Behind The Gate
I felt like I was chancing an audible credit on this one, but I ended up really enjoying this audiobook. After I finished it I couldn't help but look up the author to see what he is up to now. It's narrated by the author and he does a really great job telling the story.

It pains me to recommend this audio book, but it's one of the few books, audio or otherwise, that I've come across about circumnavigating on a catamaran. Also, it's difficult to like a book that basically mocks and ridicules me as a cruising sailor. The target audience for this book is apparently people who hate sailing and sailors.

So why even recommend it? Because despite it's flaws, it's really an enjoyable, well written story.

Sailing, Yachts and Yarns
This book is a collection of op-ed sailing articles all by the same author. They were published in a UK magazine, and as an American it was interesting to get a UK perspective on sailing. These short stories pack a punch. They grab your attention and are quick paced.

Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage 
I'm really not into survival stories. I got this book for Christmas and I was totally blown away. There is so much more to the story than I ever imagined. If you have never read this, I highly highly recommend it.

Child Of the Sea
This book it noteworthy for being told from the perspective of a child. My four year old son loves this book, but I think a large portion of his interest comes from hearing children's voices in the story. As a story, it's okay.

Fatal Forecast
This is the book behind the year 2000 movie "The Perfect Storm". The movie ends with the main character ending up in a life raft. The book primarily focuses on the time spent IN the life raft. If you have a life raft aboard your boat, this book provides a good idea of what it's actually like to be stranded in one. I didn't think of a wool sweater as survival gear until I read this book!

Educational Sailing Books

Sailing: The Basics: The Book That Has Launched Thousands by Dave Franzel

The title is pretty self explanatory. This book provides a very good balance between telling you what you need to know, without boring you with minor details that really don't matter. If you don't know anything about sailing, this is a great place to start.

Storm Tactics Handbook: Modern Methods of Heaving-to for Survival in Extreme Conditions, by Lin and Larry Pardey

There are many many books on survival at sea. This is the only one I have read so I don’t have any comparison. However, the Pardeys are accomplished, respected sailors, AND they write well. In many other cases it seems you only get one or the other. Their book Cruising in Seraffyn is also pretty good, but I found it hard to relate to. They are rather "old fashioned" and set in their ways. But it's still a good book.

Awesome Travel and Adventure Books:

The Beach by Alex Garland
You might be familiar with the terrible movie version of this book that stared Leonardo DeCapprio. The book is FAR better. It's one of my favorite books. It doesn't include anything about sailing, But it has a lot about traveling and adventure.


  1. Hi Chad!!!! It's me Hannah, I was just wondering how you guys where doing. How is Sushi? How are you? How is LeeAnn? We all would like to see you all again soon some time, like maybe next summer or something. I can't wait to see you again. Hope to talk to you soon, like real soon.

    -Hannah Sellers

  2. Hey, what are you guys up to lately?

  3. I just sent a big email to you Dad's email address telling you all about what's been going on.

  4. Hi Chad and LeeAnn. I randomly found your blog and was so excited - this is almost spot-on what I want to do when I get out of college. I'm 19 right now. So, I just wanted to say hi, and you guys are awesome, and maybe someday I'll come across you guys in an east coast marina somewhere. I'll keep an eye out for you. :)

  5. Hey Lizzie!

    good luck with college, and good luck sailing! It's a blast.


  6. It is certainly interesting for me to read this blog. Thanks for it. I like such themes and anything that is connected to this matter. I definitely want to read a bit more soon.

  7. Hello!
    I just came across your blog and have been eating it up this morning! Looks like you two had great adventures. I will be showing this to my boyfriend today- "see, you don't have to wait until you can buy the biggest most fancy boat out there to do it!" ...hopefully soon we'll be following you're lead :-D

    I wish you both the best

  8. Somehow stumbled across your blog and have been perusing for the past few minutes. Nice job. Enjoyed your comment about most of your sailing friends being over 50. I am 55 my wife is 54. Our house is for sale, the dumpster sits in front and we are within 18 months of taking off. Th boat is not ready and won't be ready in June 2011 but no matter we are leaving anyway. Our plan is to do as you have done, mostly coastal with a few offshore hops. Maybe we will see you out there. Eric and Gail on Blessings out of Bay City MI

  9. I think you are doing it right! just set a date and leave, because the boat will never really be "ready". Sailing it really very simple, and if you are not crossing an ocean there is too much that you can't live with out for now, and add on at a later date.

    Plus you might find once you move aboard that your priorities for things you "need" will change.

  10. I congratulate, your opinion is useful

  11. Inspiring to say the least. How do you finance the trips? and how much $ did you start with.
    Though im only a year older i hope to be enjoying a similar life Chad. First sell my business while planning for the trip and hopefully a fine lady will join me on the adventure. Hopefully she'll find me because i dont have time to search for her, or maybe ive already found her...

  12. We finance the trips with good old fashioned hard work. We had no debt so that helped a lot.

    In New York I worked as a bar tender, and LeeAnn worked at Petco. We had a free dock so that helped.

    We sailed 3 months after leaving NY, landing in Charleston, SC and then worked for about 10 or 11 months saving money, then sailed for 6 months in the Bahamas.

    We never had cars while we lived on the boat, or cable. Bills like water, electricity and the internet were included in our slip fees.

    You can save a lot of money when you simplify your lifestyle.

  13. Great advice for all. The only thing you have is time--use it wisely. Hope to see you on the water at some point.

    Capt Conrad

  14. Thanks for sharing. I plan to retire in a couple of years and I plan to live on a sailboat. I love to read inspiring stories, it give me the confidence that I can really live my dream.

    1. Read Maiden Voyage By Tania Aebi. That book really gave the confidence to think "if she can do it, I can."

      And, you can too! It's scary until you do it. Then you just figure it out step by step.