Set Sail with Knowledge: The 19 Best Sailing Books for Cruisers

Embarking on a sailing adventure is a dream for many, but navigating the open waters requires more than just passion. Best sailing books offer knowledge, inspiration, and practical advice to help cruisers prepare for a safe and enjoyable voyage. Whether you’re a seasoned sailor or a novice, diving into the pages of these essential reads can significantly enhance your cruising experience.

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1. Practical Guides and Manuals: Your Cruising Compass

Navigating the Seas with Confidence: Mastering navigation is paramount for any cruiser.

Navigating the seas confidently is the foundation of a safe and fulfilling cruising experience. It’s much more than simply plotting a course from one point to another; it’s about understanding your place on the vast ocean, anticipating weather patterns, avoiding hazards, and ensuring the safety of yourself, your crew, and your vessel. Mastering navigation is important for cruisers because it equips you with the skills to avoid dangerous situations, like running aground or getting caught in storms. 

It fosters self-reliance, enabling you to find your way even if technology fails. With confidence in your abilities, you can explore remote anchorages and hidden gems, venturing off the beaten path. Knowing your location and how to reach your destination brings peace of mind, allowing you to relax and truly enjoy the journey. In emergencies, your navigation skills become crucial for a swift rescue. 

Additionally, understanding local regulations ensures legal compliance, avoiding fines and complications. Ultimately, learning navigation is a journey of personal growth, building confidence, problem-solving skills, and a deeper connection with the sea, transforming you from a passenger into a skilled captain of your adventure. Let’s get on with our best sailing books selection:

  • The American Practical Navigator by Nathaniel Bowditch: A time-tested reference, this comprehensive guide covers celestial navigation, piloting, dead reckoning, and other essential skills. It’s a must-have for any serious sailor looking to master the art of navigating the seas. American Practical Navigator An Epitome of Navigation Bowditch 2019 Edition Volume I
  • Understanding Weather Forecasts by David Houghton: Weather is a constant factor at sea, and understanding forecasts is crucial. This book demystifies meteorological data, teaching you how to interpret weather patterns, predict changes, and make informed decisions for safe sailing. RYA Weather Forecasts
  • The Complete Sailing Manual by Steve Sleight: This is my husband’s number one best sailing books! In fact, he’d say it’s his best sailing books of all time. This comprehensive manual covers all the basics of boat handling, from rigging and sail trim to anchoring and docking. It’s a valuable resource for beginners and experienced sailors looking to improve their skills. New Complete Sailing Manual
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Gearing Up for Long Voyages: For extended voyages, meticulous preparation and maintenance are key.

Embarking on a long sailing voyage is an exhilarating endeavor, but it demands meticulous preparation and maintenance to ensure a safe and rewarding experience. The unpredictable nature of the ocean and the extended time away from land-based resources necessitate a vessel in peak condition. 

Meticulous preparation ensures you have all the necessary tools, spare parts, and knowledge to address any issues that may arise, fostering self-sufficiency in the face of unexpected challenges. Regular maintenance not only prevents costly repairs but also contributes to the comfort and enjoyment of the voyage, as a well-maintained boat is less prone to breakdowns and malfunctions. That’s why these best sailing books are helpful.

By investing time and effort in these essential practices, you create a safer, more enjoyable, and ultimately more successful sailing adventure, allowing you to focus on the wonders of the open sea with peace of mind.

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2. Inspirational Stories and Memoirs: Sailing Dreams on Paper

Finding Motivation on the High Seas: Let these inspiring stories fuel your wanderlust.

  • Sailing Alone Around the World by Joshua Slocum: A true classic, this memoir recounts Slocum’s pioneering solo circumnavigation in the late 19th century. It’s a testament to the human spirit of adventure and the enduring allure of the sea.
  • Maiden Voyage by Tania Aebi: Follow the incredible journey of Tania Aebi, who at 18 became the youngest woman to sail solo around the world. Her story is one of courage, resilience, and the pursuit of dreams.
  • Dove by Robin Lee Graham: This captivating memoir chronicles Graham’s five-year circumnavigation as a teenager, filled with encounters with diverse cultures and the challenges of growing up at sea. One of many best selling books of all times!
  • Adrift by Tami Oldham Ashcraft: This harrowing true story recounts Ashcraft’s survival after a devastating storm leaves her and her fiancé adrift in the Pacific Ocean. It’s a tale of courage, resilience, and the enduring power of the human spirit.

3. Destination Guides and Cruising Resources: Charting Your Course

Charting Your Course with Confidence with best sailing books

  • World Cruising Routes by Jimmy Cornell: This comprehensive guide offers detailed information on sailing routes around the globe, including weather patterns, navigation tips, and cultural insights. It’s an invaluable resource for planning your next adventure.
  • Cruising Guide to the Virgin Islands by Nancy and Simon Scott: This guide provides comprehensive information on the Virgin Islands, including anchorages, marinas, local attractions, and cultural insights. It’s a must-have for anyone planning to cruise this beautiful region.
  • The World Cruising Handbook by Jimmy Cornell: This essential reference covers everything you need to know about cruising, from choosing the right boat to dealing with customs and regulations in different countries. It’s a valuable resource for both novice and experienced cruisers.

Stay informed and connected with best sailing books

  • Reeds Nautical Almanac: This annual publication is a treasure trove of information for sailors, including tide tables, celestial navigation data, port information, and much more.
  • Cornell’s Ocean Atlas: This atlas provides detailed information on ocean currents, winds, and weather patterns, making it a valuable resource for planning safe and efficient passages.
  • Cruisers & Sailing Forums: This online forum is a great place to connect with other cruisers, ask questions,and share experiences. It’s a valuable resource for information and support.

4. Sailing Britican’s Essential Best Sailing Books

  • VHF Radio Checklists & Templates: This book provides a comprehensive set of checklists and templates for VHF radio communication, ensuring clear, concise, and effective communication at sea. It’s an essential tool for safety and peace of mind. Get my VHF Radio Checklists & Templates here!
  • Checklist For Sailors: From pre-departure preparations to routine maintenance tasks, this comprehensive checklist helps you stay organized and ensure that nothing is overlooked. It’s a valuable resource for both new and experienced sailors. Get Checklists for Sailors.
  • Sailboat Buying Guide For Cruisers: Choosing the right sailboat is crucial. This guide offers valuable insights and advice on selecting a boat that meets your needs and budget, ensuring you find the perfect vessel for your cruising dreams. Sailboat Buying Guide for Cruisers.


Best sailing books are more than just reading material; they are your trusted companions on the journey of a lifetime. They equip you with the knowledge, skills, and inspiration to explore the world’s oceans confidently and joyfully. So, as you prepare for your next adventure, don’t forget to pack a few of these essential reads – they might be the most valuable gear on board.

Remember: The open sea is your library; let the best sailing books be your guides.

Best Sailing Books – your thoughts?

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Kim Brown:
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