Capt. Dan's Sailing Books

Reference Books

All of these books are in my library. I can't say that I've read each cover-to-cover. If I did that, I wouldn't have time to sail. If you're just starting to sail, get "Sailing for Dummies." Once you've learned to tack, gybe and pick up the MOB dummy and you're ready to head out into the Pacific, you'll want more info. These are my most-used reference works. You'll note there is nothing on celestial navigation. That's still useful, but marginally so, particularly for coastal cruisers.

If you're looking for a nautical book beyond my favorites, Amazon has provided a carousel at the bottom with a plethora of choices.


This is a great way to take a whole library to sea (1500 books on the small one, 3500 on the 9.7" model.

This baby's batteries seem to go forever - well, at least as long as we glorified daysailers go out - almost two weeks.

We've got one, but if Lynn sails with me very frequently, we might need another. If you want the the 9.7" device - the big one - that's the second link.

Accessories like various lights and padded bags, though not essential, make the device even more useful at sea.

ASA 101 & 103 substitute or supplemental

This is Capt. Dan's favorite basic sailing book. Top link is for the soft cover book, second link is the Kindle version.

Sailing for Dummies is a terrible title for a really good book that includes the basics but goes well beyond.

The instruction is clear, the writing kinda breezy ... apropos for a sailing book, don't you think?

It does not address a couple of minor facts that show up on the ASA 101 and 103 tests, but Capt. Dan's Powerpoint reviews fill those gaps. Take a pretest warm up Fundamentals Review

If you buy only one sailing book for your beginner's library, this is it.

ASA 104 Official Text

Not Capt. Dan's favorite sailing book.

Cruising Fundamentals by Harry Munns is lame, as my high school students would have said, but it does cover all of the written test questions on ASA 104. You're much better off investing in the book below.

ASA 106 and 104 substitute

The Annapolis Book of Seamanship by John Rousmaniere is Capt. Dan's favorite (and favorite gift to new sailors). It starts at basic, covers intermediate skills and is as advanced as most of us day sailors need.

When you've got a little time to read and study, say in winter or when the marine layer sets in for a day or two, this is the book to bring to the fireside chair.

Bring your marker, too.

There's a lot you'll want to come back to

It's not just about Dropping the Hook

Capt. Randy's favorite book on the subject

The Complete Anchoring Handbook by Alain Poiraud

If you're a veteran Channel Islands Sailor, you may know a lot of what this book contains. On the other hand, after 50 or so cruises to the islands and having anchored USS Nimitz a couple of times, a quick perusing of this book convinced me I had a lot to learn. So I bought one.

ASA 105 substitute

The American Practical Navigator - Dead Reckoning Chapter.

This is 90% of ASA 105 material. Download here free.

Want the whole book?

Though the book has been published for more than 200, it's kept up-to-the-minute in technology and technique.

How well will this book fit you?

Check out the chapter on Tides. If you ever need to build your own planet, this will give you the algorithm for setting up tidal flow.

Click here also free

Rules of the Road

Get this direct from the publisher for $11 or so Paradise Cay

For a free.pdf, click here

Note: if you need this for the boat, it's cheaper to buy a copy. Also much more portable.

Chart One

Get this direct from the publisher for $10 or so Paradise Cay

For a free.pdf, click here

Note: if you need this for the boat ... same as above

The Cruising Guide to Central and Southern California

I hesitate to call this the bible for cruising the Channel Islands; however, that's how I treat it

If it is the Bible, I wonder what that makes Fagan.

BTW - we provide updates of our own on line for the Channel Islands. See Capt. Dan's Cruising Guide for the Channel Islands

Chapman Piloting and Seamanship

I have to mention Chapman Piloting and Seamanship by Elbert S. Maloney if only because they've been in the business so long ... 65 editions at my last count.

Like Bowditch, it's a U.S. Navy standard. In my opinion, a bit more than most day sailors need.

Storm Tactics

This book is too damned long and far to repetitive. Skim the first 49 pages. You'll learn that heaving-to in extreme weather can be a life saver. Study pages 50 and 51 and then skip to the Q & A, where you'll learn how to rig a sea anchor, deploy, retrieve and so forth. Also read carefully the section on trysails and storm jibs. If you venture offshore for more than a couple of days, you should own this book .... and read it.

Dutton's Nautical Navigation

I guess I have to mention Dutton's, too. It's a warhorse and a text at the U.S. Naval Academy, and will tell you all you want to know about celestial navigation.

Like Bowditch and Chapman, it's a U.S. Navy standard and quite a bit more than most day sailors need.

On the other hand, if you want to learn to use a sextant and plug the tables, you'll probably need this.

Looks great in the bookcase and would be a great gift for someone whose silence you would enjoy as they study this august tome.



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