• REMINDER - COVID-19

    Any content, information, or advice found on social media platforms and the wider Internet, including forums such as YBW, should NOT be acted upon unless checked against a reliable, authoritative source, and re-checked, particularly where personal health and liberty is at stake. Seek professional advice/confirmation before acting on such at all times.

    Users who are found to promulgate FAKE NEWS on the forum in regard to this issue, intentional or otherwise, may find their access terminated. It is your responsibility to provide references to bona fide sources.

    FAKE NEWS, in this regard, is that which is posited by organisations, media, etc., that is repeated on the forum, or used to support personal opinion/hypothesis posted by users - FAKE NEWS is not necessarily the personal opinion/hypothesis being posted in itself, any issues with such should be challenged respectfully.

My ten favourite sailing books!

steve350

Active member
Joined
23 Feb 2006
Messages
583
Location
south west
The Voyage of the Cap Pilar looks like an audacious ripping yarn. I've not read it and the reviews on Amazon seem favourable so I've just placed my order. I hope the prose lives up to the endorsements. I find many sea faring exploits, wonderful though they may be, are little more than the ships log In print. This one looks promising
 

Poecheng

Well-known member
Joined
16 Aug 2013
Messages
1,777
Location
East Coast
The Voyage of the Cap Pilar; Adrian Seligman. How - on a whim - he buys and teaches himself to sail & voyage a full sized square rigger.
No Stars to Guide, Seligman. A WW2 novel (but is it?) of smuggling a coastal tanker out of the Dardanelles and geting it to Egypt. A particular delight to anyone who knows the Turkish and esp. the Carian coast & Marmaris area well it's almost too realistic not to be at least semi true.
War In The Islands; Seligman again. Compendium of true covert SBS operations supporting the Greeks in sailing caiques in the Dodecanese in WW2. Real life swashbuckling stuff.
More Seligman, The Song of the Sirens. His Sirens were the 17 boats that he owned and adored, or in some cases owned him.
The Last Great Grain Race; Eric Newby
The Cruise of the Kate; E E Middleton. A mid-Victorian solo round Britain voyage.
The Master Mariner; Nicholas Monserrat. His Masterpiece; seldom has the life of a sailor been described with such accuracy and detail, all wrapped up in a most imaginative and unusual format. There are few better Sea books than this.
Monserrat again, The Cruel Sea. About the most classical of the classic sea-books.
Follow that with Walker RN to learn the true story of Capt FJ 'Johnnie' Walker, sub-killer and leader extraordinaire upon whose dazzling exploits the above is based.
And of course Tristam Jones produced a number of beautifully written tales though sadly some seem to like criticising him for publishing faction that they had imagined was biographical. Most of them are a damn fine read.
Agree about The Master Mariner. I bought a Sadler 26 (Samphire) in about 1989 in West Mersea and The Master Mariner was left on board by the owner and a most wonderful read (a good few times) - a book which has moved from boat to boat with us. I believe based loosely on the legend/story of the Wandering Jew
 

saab96

Member
Joined
21 Feb 2009
Messages
120
Location
Bath, Somerset mainly
Some great books listed but no mention of the greatest, craziest sailing love story “Desperate Voyage” by John Caldwell. I’ve never read a more astonishing story of a sailing novice who took on an ocean and survived, just.
Of course someone has listed the great Bernard Moitessier but the best read about his adventures and life is “Moitessier – A Sailing Legend” by his friend Jean-Michel Barrault. It does away with much of the cod philosophy Bernard loved to write.
And what about our own east coast legend Frank Mulville? Any of his books are good but try “Single-Handed Sailing” if that is what you do.
And how come Slocum isn’t on this list?
 

fairboy

New member
Joined
15 Sep 2020
Messages
13
There have been some great books already mentioned. I'll add Captains Courageous by Rudyard Kipling; The Shadow Line by Joseph Conrad; The Last Grain Race by Eric Newby (ploddy Gustav!); The Riddle of the Sands by Erskine Childers; Farthest North by Fridjof Nansen (original title Fram over Polhavet. Den norske polarfærd 1893–1896) though the story of the Fram expedition is not really about sailing; anything by Alan Villiers (Falmouth for Orders about his time on the Herzogin Cecile, By Way of Cape Horn about his time on the Grace Harwar, and many others)
 
Joined
22 Sep 2012
Messages
2,566
Could i recommend"Sea Peace" by Lord Stanley of Alderley. A lovely read when stuck below in the rain with the heater going. It captures sailing in the UK and Europe just before the last war.
 

steve yates

Well-known member
Joined
16 Oct 2014
Messages
2,365
Location
Benfleet, Essex/Keswick, Cumbria
The Voyage of the Cap Pilar; Adrian Seligman. How - on a whim - he buys and teaches himself to sail & voyage a full sized square rigger.
No Stars to Guide, Seligman. A WW2 novel (but is it?) of smuggling a coastal tanker out of the Dardanelles and geting it to Egypt. A particular delight to anyone who knows the Turkish and esp. the Carian coast & Marmaris area well it's almost too realistic not to be at least semi true.
War In The Islands; Seligman again. Compendium of true covert SBS operations supporting the Greeks in sailing caiques in the Dodecanese in WW2. Real life swashbuckling stuff.
More Seligman, The Song of the Sirens. His Sirens were the 17 boats that he owned and adored, or in some cases owned him.
The Last Great Grain Race; Eric Newby
The Cruise of the Kate; E E Middleton. A mid-Victorian solo round Britain voyage.
The Master Mariner; Nicholas Monserrat. His Masterpiece; seldom has the life of a sailor been described with such accuracy and detail, all wrapped up in a most imaginative and unusual format. There are few better Sea books than this.
Monserrat again, The Cruel Sea. About the most classical of the classic sea-books.
Follow that with Walker RN to learn the true story of Capt FJ 'Johnnie' Walker, sub-killer and leader extraordinaire upon whose dazzling exploits the above is based.
And of course Tristam Jones produced a number of beautifully written tales though sadly some seem to like criticising him for publishing faction that they had imagined was biographical. Most of them are a damn fine read.
Song of the Sirens was by Ernest K Gann, and yes its a lovely book. I've ordered the voyage of the cap pilar, and slope of the wind, by seligman.
 

laika

Well-known member
Joined
6 Apr 2011
Messages
6,324
Location
Limbo
There have been some great books already mentioned. I'll add Captains Courageous by Rudyard Kipling; The Shadow Line by Joseph Conrad; The Last Grain Race by Eric Newby (ploddy Gustav!); The Riddle of the Sands by Erskine Childers; Farthest North by Fridjof Nansen (original title Fram over Polhavet. Den norske polarfærd 1893–1896) though the story of the Fram expedition is not really about sailing; anything by Alan Villiers (Falmouth for Orders about his time on the Herzogin Cecile, By Way of Cape Horn about his time on the Grace Harwar, and many others)
Fine list. Except it's copied word for word from this 2011 Quora post:
What are the best story books about sailing? - Quora

Why does no-one else ever spot the obvious spammers? They mostly start as new users in the book club or the restaurant review section (with comments like "I've been there and will definitely be going back!")
 

laika

Well-known member
Joined
6 Apr 2011
Messages
6,324
Location
Limbo
Good list! I would agree with most of them. I would definitely add ‘Voyage for Madmen’
Of course someone has listed the great Bernard Moitessier but the best read about his adventures and life is “Moitessier – A Sailing Legend” by his friend Jean-Michel Barrault. It does away with much of the cod philosophy Bernard loved to write.
And what about our own east coast legend Frank Mulville? Any of his books are good but try “Single-Handed Sailing” if that is what you do.
And how come Slocum isn’t on this list?
I agree Barrault's book is essential reading but a lot of us *like* the cod philosophy and it's a little disappointing to have to confront the reality that Moitessier may have been a somewhat self-absorbed human being. Agree also that whereas "The Strange Last Voyage of Donald Crowhurst", "A World of my own" and "La Longue Route" are the essentials, "A Voyage for Madmen :" frames them well. Tetley's "Trimaran Solo" is not as good as the others but not a bad read if you can find a copy.

Regarding "Left for Dead" from Halcyon's list...I couldn't help wondering what parts might have been misremembered and what parts might have been embellished by the woman who wrote the book ("with" Nick Ward). Briefly meeting Nick Ward once did nothing to temper that feeling. In writing this post I just did a bit of googling and note that Matthew Sheehan who has always struck me as one of the better writers in our yachting press broke silence to publish his side of the story:
Fastnet Race 1979: Life and death decision - Matthew Sheahan's story

Definitely worth a read if you haven't already but are familiar with "Left for Dead"

I was going to Add "Fastnet Force 10" to the book list but note Sheahan's criticism of it in the above article.
 

hangingtree

New member
Joined
20 Aug 2020
Messages
9
One of my favourite books about the maritime world, written in an extraordinarily good language, is “We, the drowned” written by Carsten Jensen, and is about Marstal, when it still had a great importance in shipping. Very recommendable! For sailors I recommend, besides some modern authors, the classics by Eric. C. Hiscock, you can still learn a lot after 50 years, only the technique is a bit "antique", the approaches to sailing trips and the handling of the profession sailing as a life(position) is highly modern though… but it will never change if you want to be a nice gentleman on the sea hahah (…for some gentlemen here very recommendable reading material!!) And to laugh and cry: “Novecento” by Alessandro Baricco…these are only a few recommendations! :)
 

Kilo

New member
Joined
12 Oct 2020
Messages
24
May I add: By way of the wind by Jim Moore
He has a light touch and a nice way of owning his mistakes.
 
Top