Karen suggested that I put together a list of the ten things I think every boat owner should have close to hand. It is a bit of a challenge to keep it to only ten, but these are things that are not in and of themselves necessary to making the boat go. Lots of things not on the list are important–even vital–but I have to make a cut somewhere.
Sailors need Knowledge.
I’ll start with the books. There are thousands of sailing books. Fiction, and non-fiction. Stories and how-to. Of course every serious sailor will have more books than what I list here, but for a boat owner, and especially the cruising sailor, these are the KEY books.
Humans have been sailing the seas for thousands of years. In that time we, as a culture, have accumulated a huge body of knowledge. If you try to learn to sail alone, by trial and error you are a fool. The sea does not cut you slack because you are “just a beginner.” Respect the sea and the wisdom of those who have gone before you. Read. Learn.
1.) Boats break. If they are well cared for they break a LOT less.
Boatowners Mechanical and Electrical Manual 4th Ed by Nigel Calder.
If you own a boat, or even dream of owning a boat, this is the bible for how it all should work, how to keep it working, and how to fix it if it doesn’t work. If you read this book from cover to cover–once–you will know as much as many professional boat mechanics. If you study it carefully and read it over until you understand it all, you will know more than most boat mechanics.
When people ask me how I learned so much about boats, having this book as bedtime reading for many years is a very large part of the answer.
2.) This is the closest I’ll have to a “how to sail” book…
Illustrated Sail & Rig Tuning by Ivar Dedekam.
It is a clear, easy to understand guide to what you need to do to with your sails to move your boat as quickly through the water as possible, and keeping the complex system of parts that hold the mast up working together to keep you safe. This book was originally written in Norwegian, and has been translated into many languages.
Learning what this book has to teach will make you a better sailor, even if you are pretty darn good to start with. It belongs on every sailboat. Every single one. Yes–yours too!
3.) A sailboat is nothing without its rig.
Recently updated with the latest in technical advances in materials and techniques this is a book that presents a complex topic with wit and wisdom. Mr. Toss is a great writer and teacher, and honestly just seems like a great human being. If you want to understand, and I mean REALLY understand, what all those ropes and wires do on your boat this book is the best, period.
Did you know that there are knot jokes, and some of them are funny? You’ll learn a few in this book. It is not a light read, but it is not a light topic either.