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Old 20-03-2013, 08:40   #1
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Boat Books

I think people read too many boat books! You can almost tell which book some people have read just by what they will post.

I think lots/most of the boat book writers have a lot of experience and have good things to offer. But in book form this really just comes down to their opinions and preferences. And I think most boat books are looking back 20 years of so in time from the date they were written so the info is really pretty dated lots of times.

I feel that things like sailing methods etc for different conditions in books remain good as that is the school of hard knocks. But things like design etc lots of times just mess up your mind.

Because the books are so dated I feel that really you get better and more up to date info from forums. But you have to sort though a lot of stuff and be willing to make your own decisions in the end. I even think lots of times you are better off never researching something and just doing what seemed to be the right way to do it from the start.

I have read the following books: ASA (the first 2 as I don't know if they have more as part of their training levels), Sailing for Dummies, The Voyager by Beth Leonard. I got all of these BEFORE I ever stepped foot on a sailboat as part of deciding if it was something I felt worth getting into.

So what books have you read? In hind sight do you feel they were "the word" or just something maybe to consider.
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Old 20-03-2013, 08:52   #2
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Re: Boat Books

all of beth leonard (great books)
some by the pardleys
a lot of books written by circumnavigators about doing RTW (most in danish)
webb chiles - single wave

while some are dated, there is usually somethiong to be gleaned in all of them
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Old 21-03-2013, 05:22   #3
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Re: Boat Books

I love and read all the classics from a young age book like, The Totorore voyage, Ice bird, South Seas Vagabond, Northern Light. All the golden globe entrants books, Chichester... These are the history of ocean voyaging and I think they set a very useful background. The sea hasn't changed.

My grandparents and parents shelves were filled with great books, and the likes of the Hiscocks voyaging and wandering under sail were always ready to hand... Yep the making of a boat nerd!

As I got older I sought out the likes of Motessier, Hal Roth, Pardeys, Bob Griffiths... I guess every book I could get my hands on. I am not sure if those books helped shape me into the sailor I am today or if I sought and enjoyed those books because I had a natural tendency towards the simplicity they described?

At some point you start to develop your own opinions, and maybe some of them contrast or even oppose the ideas of your favorite books. I don't think it invalidates the books, I am not even sure the outdatedness of some of them now invalidates them.

The Books encapsulates one experienced and successful person's views and philosophy in a way that is hard to get from a forum or casual meeting. In that they are all extremely valuable.

There are so many different ways to sail and voyage, that the forums often become a confusing hodgepodge of competing ideas without the complete picture of seeing how each of the posters ideas fit into there unique sailing style.

Thats not to say forums aren't a good source of excellent info, I just don't think it's a great way to get the complete picture, more of a details thing. The books give the whole picture.

To me the Books that always stands out, and I still consider very valid in completely different ways are all the Bernard Moitessier ones, particularly "Cape Horn the logical route" and "The Long Way" and Both of Deborah Shapiro and Rolf Bjelke books "Time on ice" and "Northern Light". They both sail sisterships in very different ways.

Bernard teaches how to be at one with the sea, Probably the most important lesson for a budding voyager, and how simple and crude can work just fine if tempered with good sense and seamanship.

Rolf and Deborah teach us how to run a ship with exceptional efficiency as a couple, how to manage risk, sleep and prepare meticulously for the worst. and they do it as part of a great read.

Other Books of Note are Annie Hills Voyaging on a small income. A great antidote to todays consumerism.

I definitely recommend Sir Robin Knox Johnsons "A world of my own" for a very understated tale of what I think is the most remarkable and amazing voyage in a small boat ever made. It is only as I have gathered experience over the years have I come back to that book, reread it carefully reading between the lines and really appreciated the scale of his courage and determination.

Funny how I have ended up with an old IOR Two tonner with hydraulics and rod rigging!

I am very interested in hearing what books the rest of you recommend, and were influenced by in some way.
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Old 21-03-2013, 06:37   #4
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Here's my 2 cents.

When I was growing up I read a plethora of books on survival/Bush craft. Well I'm Metis and from as long as I can remember I just wanted to be free. But before I started honing my primitive living skills I had turned to bush survival/craft books. This started when I could first learn to read and continued until my early 20's even though from my early teens I was primarily into learning my primitive living skills.

Here's what I have learned related to that. From all the books I read from, I went and practiced every technique. After not too long it became crystal clear there are as many armchair authors as there are arm chair posters on a forum. Often they have some experience but often they embellish or use theory instead of actual experience.

Now if I picked up a book on the subject I could easily scan through it and tell you if the author knows what he's writing about. I can also say in that topic many authors have taken the thoughts of one author and then tried to improve on it or just straight copied the idea.

Now to be honest I have read a number of sailing books when I first started learning to sail but these have usually been of the text book type except a couple. For a textbook thats following; physics, rules, laws, mathematics etc on a subject can usually be taken at face value. But I always take every other type of book of with a grain of salt. I still feel those books taught me so much. Even books I've read where the author was out to linch. I think if you read enough books or threads and posts for that matter. You can start to separate the seed from the chaff so I'm still doing he same thing and trying different techniques if I think it rings true and then critiquing the results etc. for me it's a learning curve and I have a lot of different disciplines and areas of expertise to draw from. I'm opened minded and think outside the box. At the moment my profession is as a troubleshooter across a broad spectrum of systems. To be successful you have to think outside the box go back to basics and first and foremost have a complete comprehension of each system your dealing with.

I guess what I'm saying is if you read a book and just buy into it you could be setting yourself up for a problem. If you take it on board along with other writers (theories and perspectives) with an open mind understanding there's dynamics involved that means just because it worked once at one time somewhere doesn't mean it always will no matter where you are.
So go ahead and read see things from as many angles as you can but don't lock into any one thing. Then when the time arises pick out the bits you learned that apply for that time.

Practice makes perfect so if its a storm technique your wanting to learn about try them all in controlled but different circumstances to see which works for you and it what situations. Then when the time comes and you have to use it for real you can pick one of the ones you think will most likely work best for that situation plus you may have some back up techniques you've honed.

I think the same would apply for others IMHO, they should not just follow what a book says blindly. Rather question it and test it. Then decide if it works for you.

In short be a wise reader. (sheesh why didn't I just say so in the first place)

Sorry for being long winded ;-)
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Old 21-03-2013, 11:52   #5
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Re: Boat Books

Good post Don. Some people find the 20+ (more like 30+) year old books valuable because they are sailing a boat older than that and want to keep the boat and their experiences in that era. For those who embrace the Twenty First Century, they are not as relevent.

My favorite is Cornell's "World Sailing Routes". Calders "Boatowner Mechanical and Electrical" is second. Chapmans is good for references. I study pilot books non-stop in the off season.

The books by Roth, Pardey's, Cornell's "World Cruising Essentials", and others I can't remember where of so little value to me as to be worthless.
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Old 21-03-2013, 12:01   #6
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Re: Boat Books

yeah, people take a boat book they read as "gospel". Wake up... it's just written by another sailor, some better, some worse, some dated, some not, some just wierd.... some amazing!. Read them all, use the information as part of your repetoire (sp?) of tools to make your own decisions....
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Old 21-03-2013, 12:31   #7
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Re: Boat Books

C A Marchaj's "Sailing Theory and Practice" is the best I have seen yet on the actual physics of how sailboats work. It's not opinion or anecdote, just real data. If you can cope with equations and graphs it is a must.
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Old 21-03-2013, 13:26   #8
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Re: Boat Books

I agree with SnowPetrel! I tend to believe the old books without all the modern electronics and equipment references are a goldmine of information that is backed by centuries of men that sailed seas with the seat of their pants and the stars above. Sailing books using a simplistic ship inventory, ( i.e. just the sea and the boat ) are great for understanding what the rudimentary needs are going to be at sea. Whether it be voyages, sailing directions, historical journals or even some newer books like Ocean Going Yacht by D. Street. I have even gleaned useful information from books like Lord Jim by Joseph Conrad. Just my two cents.
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Old 21-03-2013, 13:41   #9
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@Don - Great Topic!

@snowpetrel and Mischeif - seriously great posts, thank you.

I think snowpetrel makes an I,portent point about the difference between relevance and importance. The old books may not be relevant in terms of technique but they are important. They have the capacity to shape young minds, they shaped mine even though I don't use them as tools. Mischief nails it when he talks about how the assimilation of another piece of information is important as it broadens your mind even if the information itself is slightly suspect.

Thanks again for a great thread topic, this is one I have thought about many times.
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Old 21-03-2013, 21:20   #10
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Re: Boat Books

I set up my first cruising boat with information from Hiscock, Street and Roth. I did a lot of reading, and research and after cruising for many thousands of miles decided that Street was a blowhard that would promote anything that paid him, and Roth was an ultra conservative(with some very good advice) that promoted things that could drown you(bucket and chuck it). Hiscock was an old fuddy duddy that gave very good conservative advice that would not get you in trouble. Many of us from the cruising class of the early 70s, consider Eric Hiscock as Uncle Eric, and gave thanks to his advice. There is much very good information on this forum, but it is mixed with Pure B.S. that needs to be sorted out. Reading the classics just might get you grounded enough to sort the wheat from the chaff.______Another opinion____Grant.
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Old 21-03-2013, 22:17   #11
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Re: Boat Books

When I was just out of high school, I decided to read everything in 910.2 of the Dewey Decimal System - sailing - geography - travel - adventure. I think I got a big chunk of them. I still go to that spot in any library with the DDS
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Old 22-03-2013, 05:13   #12
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Re: Boat Books

Quote:
Originally Posted by Don L View Post
I have read the following books: ASA (the first 2 as I don't know if they have more as part of their training levels), Sailing for Dummies, The Voyager by Beth Leonard.
I was wrong above.

I have a book "Sail Trim for Cruisers". I still get this one out sometimes.

It was the thinnest sail trim book I could find when I went to the book store. All the others were full of complex crap that even though I'm an engineer I just didn't want to go though. I just wanted something that said "do this if this is going on".

I don't like sailing books that turn sailing into something hard to do. Just like I don't like the ones that spend most of the time in storm fear stuff that makes you think every turn involves 50' waves.

Most books don't make sailing sound ll that much fun. Even the boat recommendation sections are clouded in fear.
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Old 22-03-2013, 06:18   #13
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Quote:
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Most books don't make sailing sound ll that much fun. Even the boat recommendation sections are clouded in fear.
I guess there is a difference between fun and adventure. For me fun gets boring pretty quick. And adventure gets scary, uncomfortable or both quite often. The trick is to get the balance just right.
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Old 22-03-2013, 07:07   #14
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Re: Boat Books

When I was a kid I loved 76 days adrift and alone against the Atlantic...great even for a kid!
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Old 22-03-2013, 07:21   #15
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Re: Boat Books

I would call this thread obvious.

Books are one type of learning. Having someone show you is another. Structured and unstructured practice on you own is a third. Listening is a fourth. Obviously we do all of these, and those dismissing any of these have limited themselves.

The advantage of books and schools is the presumption of fact checking. Little is presented that's plainly wrong, though the application can't be universal (one engineering prof told us that his job was only to keep us from getting fired in the first year). Clearly forums can contain everything from brilliant to stupid and until you've learned a good bit there is no certainty you will be able to sort the wheat from the chaff. For example, we regulary see posts from those that think GPS replaces coastal piloting skills. Little do they realize how many areas have not been up-dated since the 70s. I hope they stay on the main roads.

By now I find the greatest value of books and the forums to be entertainment.
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