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Use these books to learn about the differences in sailboats and what to look for when buying a new or used boat.

To add an item to your shopping cart click on the buy from Amazon button on the left. To read more reviews, learn more about the book, or see if used ones are available without adding it to your cart, click on the title above the review. Close the window to return here. If the book you are looking for is not in one of our Bookstore Sections, use the search box at the bottom of the page to find what you want.

Twenty Small Sailboats to Take You Anywhere, by John Vigor
Reviewer: A reader from Atlanta, GA United States
This book is an excellent starting point for those trying to wade through the ocean of sailboats available on the used market, who want to get "the most bang for their buck." The reader should come away with at least several favories, allowing him/her to narrow the search for the "perfect" boat. At the same time, other boats will be stricken from the list of possibilites because of information contained in this book. It is aimed at the person who wants to get out there and sail on the best boat possible, but must shop carefully due to budget considerations. The short descriptions and comparisons of the boats are helpful, as are the details of the "known weaknesses," and interviews with owners. I just wish the book could have profiled more than 20 sailboats, I hated to reach the end. As a companion to this book, I would recommend "Inspecting The Aging Sailboat" by Don Casey. I would buy this book again.

Seaworthy Offshore Sailboat: A Guide to Essential Features, Handling, and Gear, by John Vigor
Reviewer: David M Paul from Denver, Colorado
You can easily pick up three books on offshore sailing and get three separate opinions of what type of boat you need. A fast boat will get across the pond faster. A big boat adds stability and can carry lots of accessories like auxiliary generators and water makers. John's theory is that you should get a boat that can be handled well by a small crew and tough enough to handle any weather that you are likely to run into. Since his opinion parallels my own, I can only assume that he is obviously a sailing genius. This book is highly recommended for anyone contemplating a voyage over the horizon.

Your First Sailboat : How to Find and Sail the Right Boat for You by Daniel Spurr
Your First Sailboat is the only book that puts entry-level sailboat selection, use, maintenance, and lifestyle issues all in one place for new sailors who happen to discover this wonderful sport as adults. This book answers questions that other books don't even think to ask: Can a keelboat tip over? Can I take a centerboard boat onto open water? What's a fair price to pay for the boat I want? Can I trailer a keelboat? How do I make this boat move? How do I make it stop moving? How do I take care of it? This complete guide for the beginning sailor:
  • Offers authoritative advice on choosing a sailboat
  • Provides decision trees to guide the reader to the perfect starter boat
  • Discusses lake vs. ocean boats, family day sailing vs. racing, and more
  • Answers all of the new sailor's questions
  • Surveying Fiberglass Sailboats: A Step-by-Step Guide for Buyers and Owners, by Henry C. Mustin
    Reviewer: Larry P Fraley from Sarasota
    Henry does it in one 3 1/2 hour setting - completely. I now feel confident in my search for 'Das Boot'. I drove a 27 foot Tartan for years, decided it was time for a 40 and didn't know how to proceed in my next move. Now I do. Well written, factual and even mentions, not-unfavorably, some names. I do not believe you could go wrong with this purchase, if, you are on the same quest as I. Retirement, with dive charters in the Caribbe... Buenas Suertes, y'all.

    Used Boat Notebook: From the Pages of Sailing Magazine, Reviews of 40 Used Boats Plus a Detailed Look at Ten Great Used Boats to Sail Around the World, by John Kretschmer
    Reviewer: Midwest Book Review from Oregon, Wisconsin Drawn from the pages of "Sailing" magazine and incorporating reviews of forty used boats (plus a detailed look at ten great used boats to sail around the world), Used Boat Notebook by professional delivery skipper John Kretschmer is a thoroughly "user friendly" guide for anyone looking to buy a used sailboat. The Used Boat Notebook provides an authoritative coverage of sailboat prices, ease of use, safety, investment, design quality and much more. Packed with technical information for each boat type, Used Boat Notebook is a first-class, strongly recommended reference written especially for anyone form a novice mariner to an experienced sailor who wants to know just what they are buying before they buy it!

    This Old Boat, by Don Casey
    Reviewer: Conrad B. Senior from Easton, CT
    I think I have over a hundred books on sailing and boating."This Old Boat" is my most recent addition, which I boughtsimultaneously with another of Casey's books "Sailboat Hull andDeck Repair". I consider them to be two of the most importantbooks for sailors that are boat owners.
    One can take two routes withboats, buying new and paying a fortune, or going the inexpensive routeand doing the work yourself. There is something to be said for each.I'm a sailor, I don't like working on boats. I had my fill as a childworking on my Dad's boat. Nevertheless, I'm presently engaged inrefitting an awesome older boat to modern standards. I love every bitof it.
    Casey's books are essential references for me. I've managedto pick things up from magazines and working on other boats over theyears, but I still found these books not only insightful and powerfulmotivators for me. One job that I have been reluctant to do, a deckmodification project has suddenly become do-able for me. Reading hisbook made it clear to me that these jobs are not as hard as they firstseem to be. It is difficult to cut up a nice looking deck, but if youplan the project right, you can transform your deck layout forsingle-handed sailing, fix a de-lamination problem and a multitude ofdeck leaks all at one time.
    I strongly recommend this book and his Sailboat Hull and Deck Repair.

    Inspecting the Aging Sailboat, by Don Casey
    Reviewer: Brad Shinn from Seattle, Washington
    I used this book in combination with another to really understand the boat systems and make an informed judgement. Are those cracks in the gelcoat serious? How do I know if the tiller attachment is a weak design? Casey helps you understand how to make a judgement about critical components from a novice/lay point of view. I found the book a very good resource.

    Sailboat Hull and Deck Repair by Don Casey
    Reviewer: A reader from Cedar Ridge, California
    This is an excellent book for someone who knows nothing about fiberglass boat repair. It starts off with a brief discussion of the three major sealant types (polysulfide, polyurethane and silicone) and when to use each. Other sections cover the different types of resin, epoxy choices, etc. etc. Excellent information when trying to decide which of the gazillion products to purchase in the boating catalogs. Major sections include Leaks (finding and fixing, installing deck hardware), Restoring the Gloss (polishing and scratch repair), Deck Repairs (stress cracks, voids, nonskid surfaces, and teak decks), Laminate Repair (fiberglass layup, types of resins, epoxy), Core Problems (wet core, stiffening), Hull Repairs (gouges, blisters, impact damage), Keel and Rudder Damage (centerboard pivots, weeping keels, etc.) This little book is not afraid to tackle big projects--the Core Problems section for example shows the repair of a huge 2-foot diameter section of rotted core. The book makes it sound easy, but I'd rather not think about that much work. The section on gelcoat--what it is, how it is manufactured, and how to keep it looking good as long as possible--is by itself worth the price of the book.

    Seaworthiness: The Forgotten Factor by Czeslaw A. Marchaj
    Reviewer: Phineas Sprague, Jr. from Cape Elizabeth, Maine
    This book is an absolute must for anyone who loves boats more than they have good sense. If you are a cruiser or a racer or a bar stool sealawyer who has any experience at sea, reading this book will lead you step by step from prejudice and intuition into solid insights into the behavior and performance of the different hull shapes in the real world of "at sea" in difficult situations. There is no substitute for "the experience" except the experience to recognise and avoid the experience and this book is every bit as important in picking a boat for your use or applying good seamanship to a boat that is on the edge of it's design envelope. The book contains the fundimental information that should be in any serious sailor's kit. It reads easily and the insights emphasise the seaworthiness vs speed delemma in yacht design.

    Desirable and Undesirable Characteristics of the Offshore Yachts, by John Rousmaniere (Editor), Stephen L. Davis
    Reviewer: Rich Kokoska from Mansfield Center, CT United States
    This collection of articles by a Cruising Club of America committee of the surviving gods of 20th-century sailing, especially the venerable Olin Stephens, lays down the dogmas of bluewater sailing design and safety as they were agreed upon by these worthies at the close of the century. Their lament at the undue influence of racing design on consumer cruising boats is commendably progressive, but otherwise the material is a chronicling of their conservative preferences in traditional equipment. The chapter on anchors takes a step backward, recommending as the primary anchor the fisherman, a design not in production even in 1987 (based on the author's experiences in 1962!); 4 of the 5 boats in the chapter on good designs were custom models not affordable to the general public, letting us all know where we (and they) stand in the class structure of sailing. Read this material for its intrinsic value and recover your sense of modernity by having a go at Garry Hoyt's book "Ready about", which is the New Testament and road map to the 21st century future of sailing.

    The Complete Guide to Choosing a Cruising Sailboat by Roger Marshall
    Reviewer: Nicholas P. Provenzo from Alexandria, Virginia
    Naval architect Roger Marshall provides a substantive guide for the cruising sailor who chooses his boats based on their suitability to his purposes. In plain language and with clear supporting diagrams, Marshall explains the fundamental principles of seaworthiness, the elements of good design, and the ever challenging balancing act between speed, comfort and cost.
    I disagree with the reviews that say this book is only for cruising sailors with a large budget. I think this book is for sailors of any budget who take sailing seriously and who want to own boats that fit their exact needs. Considering how many boats are left to sit idle by their owners, it makes sense to realistically think though how one intends to use their boat and just what features are worth paying for. Frankly, most sailors will find they do not need the boat to end all boats if they only intend to putter close to shore on sunny weekends. At the same time, considering there is always the potential for a sailor to face the elements at their harshest, and considering some cruisers will want to push the envelope to its fullest, it makes sense to understand what exactly makes a sound, seaworthy boat and a worthwhile investment. I found that Marshall covers all these bases and more and I heartily recommend this book to readers.

    Best Boats to Build or Buy, by Ferenc Mate
    Reviewer: A reader from Olympia, Washington
    I would never build a sailboat. It would take too much time. But, this book makes me want to change my mind. At the very least, it give interesting insight into journeyman boatbuilding. I used to check this book out of the library about twice a year - whenever I'd get an irresistable urge to dream about sailing away into the sunset. I don't buy very many new books but I finally decided to just buy a copy of this one because I kept wanting to keep it when my check-out time was over (there was always a waiting list). Also, if you ever want to buy a boat - just pick one of the ones described in this book and you'll at least appear to know what the heck you are doing!

    The World's Best Sailboats: A Survey, by Ferenc Mate
    Reviewer: Mark L. Corson from Pepper Pike, Ohio
    This book is a well written survey of high grade, expensive sailboats. The information is getting very dated. We need a new edition if the reader wants current advice on selection of a sailboat. Few of the boats covered are current production boats, though I assume all of them could be built for an owner in a custom yard. I found the general principles described in the book helpful, but the newer materials and newer designs that have come out in the years since this book was published make the book dated. I would have rated this book five stars when it came out, but its value to me as a first time sailboat buyer today makes me give the book only three stars.

    The World's Best Sailboats, Volume 2, by Ferenc Mate
    Reviewer: A reader from United States
    Mate' and his talented band of photographers take you into a world where the average sailor seldom ventures, on the decks and into the saloons of the finest yachts built by craftsmen from around the globe. A valuable addition to Volume I, fit for sailors and wannabees alike. A visual feast to take you through the cold winter evenings 'til the crack of a crisp sail is upon us come spring, if she ever comes...

    The Cruising Life: A Commonsense Guide for the Would-Be Voyager by Jim Trefethen
    Reviewer: A reader from Seattle, Washington
    My wife and I recently began seriously considering cruising as a way to depart from the 9-5 working world, before we were too old to enjoy it. In addition to doing a lot of sailing since these societally mutinous thoughts have entered our heads, we've read a lot of books on cruising.
    If you want a comprehensive reference book on all things sailing, get The Annapolis Book of Seamanship. If you want drama and a lesson in the harshest of realities, read The Perfect Storm and pray you can avoid that kind of experience at all costs.
    The Cruising Life is a practical, tasteful overview of how to start cruising, and my opinion is that this appears to be a reasonable approach to the pursuit of happiness in warmer (or colder) climes on a sailboat. Sometimes I wanted a lot more information than I got here, but that wasn't the point...
    The author offers frank, balanced treatment of all topics - and admits his opinions are his. For example, he offers a great account of what passes for a bluewater capable cruising boat (smaller may be better than larger, and older, well-used boats are best).
    My thanks to Mr. Trefethan for fanning the flames of our cruising ambitions.

    All in the Same Boat: Family Living Aboard and Cruising by Tom Neale
    Reviewer: R. Kathleen Robel from Berkeley, California
    This book contains an incredible range of useful information for those who are considering living aboard. From the cruising "mindset" to types of galleys to what kind of head you'll want, Neale brings experience and a clear, accessable writing style to a great number of issues. Much of the information here is also very useful to weekend or short-vacation sailors (how to choose a boat, anchoring, and energy concerns, for example). Even for those of us not yet ready to sell the house and sail away for good, this is a terrific resource and an enjoyable read.

    The Liveaboard Report: A Boat Dweller's Guide to What Works and What Doesn't by Charlie Wing
    Reviewer: Nicholas P. Provenzo from Alexandria, Virginia
    This book has an interesting premise: instead of relying solely on the author's experience as to what works and what doesn't, the author instead puts the question to over seventy live-aboards. The result is a book of smart questions and interesting answers complete with both statistical breakdowns and useful anecdotes.
    If you are contemplating the live-aboard life-style, this book will give you a firm idea what to expect.

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