This is not meant as a post which recommends 5 most popular books among sailors, neither must-read books. The intention was born when I recently witnessed a great deal of ignorance and sciolism among sailors who proudly show their skipper’s licenses around. Please, do not take me wrong; I certainly would not like to say that I am the best skipper ever. I just want to say that I noticed how a valid skipper’s license is not always a proof of competence to handle massive and expensive vessel and be responsible for the lives of others.
There are many excellent books and handbooks that can help you improve your sailing skills and make your sailing safer and more comfortable. To begin with, an excellent handbook on advanced navigation theory, safety and seamanship, “Yachtmaster” written by Penny Haire and illustrated by Sarah Selman. This handbook is published by Royal Yachting Association and covers all major subjects and aspects of sailing, navigation, communication, rules, restrictions, safety and many more. Not many questions should be asked after reading this handbook and accepting its content.
I have also noticed that sailing theory and trimming techniques are being thought rather shallowly throughout the education for skipper’s license exam. Still, I strongly believe that sailing is the activity that is learned endlessly. Therefore, I would recommend some books which could be an excellent beginning to improve your sailing skills and become a better sailor. First of all it is “Mainsail Trimming” written by Felix Marks, with photography by Neil Hinds and Felix Marks. This book is published within Wiley Nautical edition by John Wiley & Sons Ltd. The language used in this book is very simple and understandable for every English speaking reader, while simple and informative illustrations and photographs complete written content.
Another book by the same author and publisher bears the expected title – “Jib Trimming”.
These two book should answer all your questions about function of the sails, the physics of the air and wind, the thrust and all related areas which explain how the vessel is moving on the surface without the use of engine. Even if you are not amazed by sailing to the level which would bring you to the racecourse, think of the importance of such knowledge when your engine fails to start next time.
For those who really are amazed by sailing and are keen to take part in a sailing race, there is another book to be recommended. It is “Sail smart” written by Mark Chisnell, also published within Wiley Nautical. This book will make you understand all onboard instrument systems, from their theory to their calibration and practical use. Not only would you sail faster after reading this book, but you would be able to make right calls and, at the end of the day, win races.
In case you want to be more involved in sail racing, a good starting point would be reading “Keelboat & Sportsboat Racing” written by Glyn Charles and published by Fernhurst Books. This book tells you a lot about rigs and setup, sailing dynamics and techniques and maneuvers of hoisting and dropping the sails.
Your knowledge about sail racing could be complete with another book by the same publisher. It is “Racing Crew” written by Malcolm McKeag and Bill Edgerton. In this book you can find a lot of information about positions of the crew, duties, tasks, skills, procedures and other aspects of life on board and sail racing; considering the crew members and their behavior.
These books are available via online bookshops and I hope they will help you improve your sailing skills. I also look forward to your recommendations and comments because sailing education never ends…
I wish you a calm sea, a fine wind and a strong mast!