There is an absolute wealth of knowledge to be gained from sailors and innovators both alive and dead. In fact the amount of stuff that’s relevant to the shoestringsailor in older books (from the likes of Maurice Griffiths, Eric Hiscock, Fox Geen or Denys Rayner) is probably far greater, as they experienced sailing before the revolution of expensive electronic wizzardry that blights our bank accounts today. Some of the stories of “pleasure trips” taken by these chaps are hard to comprehend now with our various devices of constant communication, but the writing is so good you can nearly feel the isolation radiate from the pages. Personally¬† I get a good deal of satisfaction from knowing that I can navigate without electronics or splice old ropes rather than have to buy new. It saves me a good few pounds, it’s all part of our maritime heritage, and I find it fascinating.


Just a handful of my most useful favourites from the shelf.

These are all reference books that I’ve picked up for only a few quid from second hand bookshops or from online auctions. It’s baffling how cheap these are now, often at only 99p, and you can go back to them time after time. Makes me wonder if people actually value books as a resource at all these days. These authors have all written some great accounts of their exploits too, so a quick search by name can turn up some budget gems for those long winter evenings.


Essential night time reading. Mostly non fiction.

The above books should be considered essential reading for anyone with an interest in sailing small boats or seeking out a bit of low cost adventure. These guys are absolutely amazing in how much they’ve achieved with so little. In some cases dedicating a lifetime of hard effort to fulfill their dreams. Everyone needs a bit of inspiration now and again. Especially when the mundane, gruelling reality of making ends meet or complying with the expectations of this modern world seem to suck the spontaneous joy of existence from everything. Keep some of these little fellas tucked away on the bookshelf for when it’s a freezing cold, grey Sunday evening in January and you just can’t see any reason why you shouldn’t flog the old boat project that’s been stealing all your beer money.