Top 11 Books On Boating

Boating is a common hobby that many people are gradually turning to. From acting as a stress buster to providing you with time away from a busy schedule, it has seen growing interest over the past few years.

Affordable boats and larger public facilities are the main contributing factors to this boom. Earlier, boating or sailing a yacht was seen to be more of a sport for the oligarchs and richer individuals of society.

But thanks to advancements in cheaper manufacturing techniques and the presence of rapidly evolving technology, a boat can now be built for a fraction of the original price.

These days, most coastal cities have rental boats or public marinas where you can berth your boat. While it may initially seem easy and simple to sail any vessel, the challenges are hidden right until you set foot on your craft.

It is such a complex and technical task that there are only a handful of people around the globe who can safely sail a boat only by themselves. But owning and enjoying a boat ride shouldn’t be a joy you miss out on, just because you lack the required know-how.

And that’s where this article comes into the picture. The best way to learn a new skill, other than by experience, is through reading books. We have compiled the top 11 books on the subject of boating, that will see you through all types of situations.

From expert manuals on mechanical systems to a dedicated guide on navigation, these books are a must-have for anyone looking to sail.

They all take on a DIY approach, with numerous step-by-step guides that provide solutions to common problems that may arise during a journey.

Rest assured, once you begin sailing armed with the proper knowledge and expertise, it will be a skill that will stay with you for life. The authors of these books are global experts in their fields.

From the US Coast Guard to seasoned naval architects, and a NASA researcher, we have you covered with the very best books in boating.

1. Boating Skills and Seamanship (14th Edition)
By the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary

The first book on our list is an industry-standard that has been in use for the past several decades and is ranked amongst the top boating books.

Published and released by the United States Coast Guard, it is an authoritative reference to the subject of seamanship. It has been in use as an educational guide for millions of students and includes concepts as taught in seafaring courses.

It provides a rigorous introduction to common practices and specific terminology used in the boating industry.

The main concepts covered in this book include choosing the right type of boat based on your requirements, essential equipment required by law, and the latest electronic navigation guides in use.

It explains the concepts of manoeuvring, navigation, reading nautical charts, seamanship, and boat handling. Special attention is paid to the loading and launching of boats from trailers. There are also extensive sections on federal regulations and how they apply to different types of boats.

Boating Skills and Seamanship, 14th Edition
  • Used Book in Good Condition
  • U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary Assoc., Inc. (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 416 Pages - 05/17/2013 (Publication Date) - International Marine/Ragged Mountain Press (Publisher)

2. Power Boating for Dummies
By Randy Vance

This book is an extremely detailed approach to powerboats and is an excellent reference for skilled professionals and beginners alike. 400 pages worth of minute and important details are provided about the most important concepts in boating.

It begins with a thorough introduction to the topic, including the types of powerboats, what prospective boaters should do to get certified, safety courses one must take, and the various boating exams. The guide to choosing your ideal boat based on its purpose and your budget is also included.

The main boating skills covered in the book are towing, maintenance, launching, and basic operation. It really stands out for including a rather unusual aspect of boating- trailer handling, boat loading, and trailer maintenance.

There are dedicated sections for boating rules, laws, boat light standards, and navigation markers. It also includes a detailed guide to the maintenance and repair of common boat problems. There are several detailed diagrams and photographs covering the various aspects of boating.

Power Boating For Dummies
  • Vance, Randy (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 392 Pages - 03/03/2009 (Publication Date) - For Dummies (Publisher)

3. How Boat Things Work: An Illustrated Guide
By Charlie Wing

From boating guru Charlie Wing, this book is the ultimate guide to DIY boat handling and repairs. It is aimed at casual sailors looking for an in-depth understanding of the various systems onboard boats.

Covering over 80 different systems, their assemblies, parts, operating mechanisms, possible issues, and solutions, it is a wealth of knowledge for boaters. The author has immense experience in the mechanical field, as a NASA researcher and field expert on topics ranging from boating to energy conservation.

The hundreds of illustrations in the book make it easy to read, and include cutaways and detailed drawings of the various systems.

The important concepts discussed include engines, transmission systems, propellers, steering instruments and equipment, navigational guides, anchor and windlass handling, and electrical components.

Boat operations are also discussed, with sections on rigging, splicing, line handling, block and tackle, and sail controls. Lastly, there is a section regarding onboard outfittings such as pumps, toilets, seacocks, and freshwater systems.

How Boat Things Work: An Illustrated Guide
  • Wing, Charlie (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 176 Pages - 06/04/2007 (Publication Date) - International Marine/Ragged Mountain Press (Publisher)

4. The Total Boating Manual
By Kevin Falvey

As the golden guide to boating, this book is an excellent reference for seasoned professionals and novices alike. Published by the Boating Magazine that routinely releases world-class guides to this field, it contains detailed descriptions, user guides, tips, and tricks that are a must know. This book also includes inputs from the in-house experts over at Boating Magazine and is an authoritative guide to the subject.

Some of the topics it covers include how to select the best boat for your needs and purposes, picking the right gear for the boat, choosing the best equipment for you, and the navigational guides that are used.

There is also a detailed discussion on maritime safety, with sections on tips, best practices, and how to stay safe during deep-sea ventures. Drawing on extensive maritime know-how, the book also includes expert guidance on repairs, money-saving purchases, piloting, seamanship reference, and an exhaustive list of common sailor’s knots.

The Total Boating Manual
  • Falvey, Kevin (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 224 Pages - 05/17/2016 (Publication Date) - Weldon Owen (Publisher)

5. Boatowner’s Mechanical and Electrical Manual
By Nigel Calder

As a top writer on boat maintenance and handling, this book from Nigel Calder is an industry-standard in boat systems. Spanning every mechanical and electrical component onboard a boat, the book delves into great detail.

Over 900 pages long, it covers broad topics such as power systems, electronic systems, electrical power generation, corrosion, and seamanship.

Some of the sections that are discussed are the DC power sources, latest energy generation methods such as solar panels, hybrid and waterjet propulsion, marine data systems such as RFI and antennae, plumbing, pumps, refrigeration, HVAC systems, and outfitting. Mechanical systems such as power transmission, anchor systems, and steering are also gone into in detail.

The latest editions provide a complete revamp of obsolete technologies and have mentioned the latest developments in each field.

With extensive additions to the rapidly evolving marine electronics field, it is relevant to today’s maritime scenario. With in-depth details of every minor component that serves a function on the boat, it is a complete guide that can be used for outfitting and understanding the inner workings of your vessel.

There are also sections on the proper maintenance and upkeep of your boat. It includes discussions on DIY repairs, potential problems that may arise, repairs, and solutions to small issues that occur with wear and tear.

Boatowners Mechanical and Electrical Manual 4/E
  • Hardcover Book
  • Calder, Nigel (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 960 Pages - 07/02/2015 (Publication Date) - International Marine/Ragged Mountain Press (Publisher)

6. The Ultimate Book of Everyday Knots
By Geoffrey Budworth

Knowing the perfect knot is essential in the field of sailing, and this book is the perfect reference guide. Covering the most common and useful knots in use, there are detailed instructions and diagrams that provide the reader with a complete understanding.

The various types of knots can be used in fishing, climbing, crafts, casual boating, and competitive sailing. The major sections cover overhand, the figure of eight, bowlines, sheet bends, crossing, and several other knots.

The author- Geoffrey Budworth, is considered to be an expert on the topic of knots and has authored several books on the subject.

This book covers a large number of knots in under 200 pages and can be easily applied to daily life. Rest assured, these knots have applications even at home or for simpler purposes and are not meant solely for professional boaters.

Boatowners Mechanical and Electrical Manual 4/E
  • Hardcover Book
  • Calder, Nigel (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 960 Pages - 07/02/2015 (Publication Date) - International Marine/Ragged Mountain Press (Publisher)

7. How to Read a Nautical Chart: A Complete Guide to Using and Understanding Electronic and Paper Charts (2nd Edition)
By Nigel Calder

The second book by author and boating expert Nigel Calder that makes it to our list, this is a comprehensive guide to nautical charts. It includes an introduction to charts, with a brief history of the older methods of paper navigation.

It also delves into how data is gathered, collated, sorted, processed, and finally assembled into the form the end user is usually familiar with. The common charts prepared by various government sources are also provided, for readers from other countries. There are techniques and methods such as scaling, chart projection, and data interpretation.

In this age of electronic charts, this book also provides a rigorous understanding of how their data is processed to give accurate and real-time information.

Understanding and interpreting the various data provided by instruments such as the GPS and onboard Nav Station are also discussed.

The perils of zooming, and the limits of paper and electronic charts have been provided. There are also sections on the integration of onboard navigation systems, radar overlays, AIS, electronic user interfacing. It stands out for discussing the prospect of user-generated content, 3D charting, and real-time weather characteristics.

How to Read a Nautical Chart, 2nd Edition (Includes ALL of Chart #1): A Complete Guide to Using and Understanding Electronic and Paper Charts
  • Calder, Nigel (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 272 Pages - 03/08/2012 (Publication Date) - International Marine/Ragged Mountain Press (Publisher)

8. Chapman Piloting and Seamanship
By Jonathan Eaton

As the oldest guide to seamanship and piloting, Chapman has been an indispensable reference for boaters. Having completed over a century in publication, this book covers every minute aspect of sailing that there is.

Spanning over 900 pages, the latest 68th edition is complete with the latest technology, advancements, and vessels that are in use. There are sections on maritime laws, regulations, acts, safety procedures, best practices, and tips for the avid boater.

Filled with over 1,500 photographs documenting every aspect of a boat, it is easy to read and understand. The guide is filled with details on the various systems that are operational on a boat, and aspects of maintenance and repair are also looked into.

Common problems that you may run into and their solutions are also provided. For anyone who sails, this is an essential book to have in your possession.

It compiles details from several trusted sources in a single place. Moreover, the practical aspects of boating are also discussed, making it easy to use for novices in the industry.

Chapman Piloting & Seamanship 68th Edition
  • Hardcover Book
  • Chapman (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 920 Pages - 10/03/2017 (Publication Date) - Hearst (Publisher)

9. Know Your Boat’s Diesel Engine: An Illustrated Guide to Maintenance, Troubleshooting, and Repair
By Andrew Simpson

From prolific boating author Andrew Simpson, this book is an excellent reference for anything you may need to know about your boat’s diesel engines.

Written in a simple and lucid manner, it takes complex topics and converts them into easily understood information. Aimed at those who operate boats without a technical background, it provides a solid foundation for the topic.

It discusses the parts, functions, and operating mechanisms of the marine engine. It also has a section dedicated to problems commonly encountered during operation, and the solutions to them.

Despite being packed with information, it is less than 200 pages, making it easy enough to carry with you during a journey. It also has a hands-on approach to maintenance and repair, with guides detailing how these repairs can be carried out.

A reference for the troubleshooting steps to be done in case of a malfunction is also included. This book is jointly developed by the Royal Yachting Association, which is the global standard for books on seamanship and boating. Many of the repairs discussed in this book can be accomplished even by beginners.

Know Your Boat's Diesel Engine: An Illustrated Guide to Maintenance, Troubleshooting, and Repair
  • Simpson, Andrew (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 128 Pages - 11/08/2007 (Publication Date) - International Marine/Ragged Mountain Press (Publisher)

10. Powerboat Handling Illustrated: How to Make Your Boat Do Exactly What You Want It to Do
By Robert Sweet

As a master guide to the topic of powerboats, this book is an essential read for any enthusiastic sailor. With introductory texts on the basics of boating, boat construction, and maritime jargon, the reader is immersed in the world of power crafts.

Just under 200 pages, it is concise and to the point, but includes a wealth of knowledge. Whether you are an experienced hand or novice, this is excellent reference material for your next outing. It includes detailed texts on boating operations such as trimming, wave handling, manoeuvring, low draft operations, and docking.

Author Rob Sweet has already published several books for boaters including bestsellers such as “The Weekend Navigator” and “GPS for Mariners”, making him an expert on the subject.

It is routinely used as a tool for both professionals and education purposes and puts across complex details in a simple manner.

The hundreds of photographs and drawings also make it easy to read. The book stands out for explaining various boating operations for different types of vessels, ensuring that it covers a wide range of readers.

Know Your Boat's Diesel Engine: An Illustrated Guide to Maintenance, Troubleshooting, and Repair
  • Simpson, Andrew (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 128 Pages - 11/08/2007 (Publication Date) - International Marine/Ragged Mountain Press (Publisher)

11. Marine Diesel Engines: Maintenance, Troubleshooting, and Repair
By Nigel Calder

Another book from expert boat builder Nigel Calder that makes it to our list, this 300 plus page guide to marine diesel engines is a must-have for anyone operating a diesel engine.

As a practical guide, it includes sections on common boating issues and problems such as overheating, transmission trouble, electrical system troubles, faulty cooling systems, leaking valves, and malfunctioning systems.

It also deals with common repairs that any boater may encounter including engine retrofitting, oil changes, HVAC flushing, and fuel filter replacements.

Despite first being published in the early 2000s, it has remained relevant even today with the latest editions complete with advancements in marine engine technology.

Some of the newest sections added to this guide are on fuel injection systems and electronic engine controls. The main purpose behind this book is to help avid boaters diagnose and repair engine problems, perform maintenance on their crafts and get the most work out of their engines.

Marine Diesel Engines: Maintenance, Troubleshooting, and Repair
  • Hardcover Book
  • Calder, Nigel (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 320 Pages - 10/03/2006 (Publication Date) - International Marine/Ragged Mountain Press (Publisher)

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About Author

Ajay Menon is a graduate of the Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, with an integrated major in Ocean Engineering and Naval Architecture. Besides writing, he balances chess and works out tunes on his keyboard during his free time.

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