Five Great Books About Sailing

Are you after some inspiration?  Maybe you need a bit of an escape.  Or a Christmas gift for your friends who enjoy the water.  I asked a bunch of my skipper friends on their favourite sailing books. Here are five great sailing books that are worth reading.

Dove by Robin Lee Graham

If you are looking for inspiration to start sailing, read this.  Setting off from Long Beach, California in 1965, sixteen year old Robin Lee Graham spent five years sailing around the world in his tiny 24 foot yacht.  As well as his book there were numerous articles in National Geographic plus a movie.  This book is so inspiring, you might be tempted to sell up and sail around the world.  You’ve been warned!

A Voyage For Madmen by Peter Nichols

A brilliant account of the first round-the-world race.  Nine men set off in 1968.  Only one finished the race.  The stories of each competitor are well told by Nichols.  Sailing-jargon is refreshingly light in this account.  Its title is no exaggeration.  You could say the only “distressingly sane” competitor was Knox-Johnson, the only man to complete the voyage.  If you’d like a longer synopsis read this excellent summary by Sam Wollaston.

Captain Blood by Rafael Sabatini

Arrrr me hearties.  Possibly the best pirate adventure series around.  The swashbuckling adventures of a wronged man who becomes a pirate and fights against upper class nobles and landowners.  What’s not to like about that?! This historical fiction was a huge hit when it was released almost a century ago and remains popular to this day.  Rich, ornate language – fitting for the genre.  Incidentally, if you like this genre and haven’t read Master & Commander by Patrick O’Brien, get it.  Brilliant.

Swallows & Amazons by Arthur Ransome

Looking for a great book for your child? Originally written for children, these books can also be enjoyed by adults.  England has produced some brilliant writers with the ability to be “ageless” in their storytelling appeal.  Like fellow British authors J.K. Rowling, Roald Dahl and Enid Blyton, Ransome writes about children and their adventures in a captivating way.  Adults are ever present but in the background. Set in England’s Lake District between the two world wars, this is a sailing book worth reading.

Sailing Alone Around The World by Joshua Slocum

Joshua Slocum’s is the amazing story of the first person to sail solo around the world.  In many ways Slocum’s book was the “first”.  That is, his story either directly or indirectly inspired almost every other sailing book written since.  Having built his own 34’ boat, Slocum set off from New England on the east coast of the US in 1895.  Three years and 46,000 miles later, he made it back.  Not just a great sailor, Slocum was savvy with public relations, being greeted by crowds and newspapers in every major port he entered.  An incredible read.

Grab a kindle, load it up with these books, get out there and enjoy!


Written by James Kell, the Founder of Sailing Virgins

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