Sailboat Cruising ... and much more
Choose a cruising sailboat to see the world? In these days of high speed travel it seems crazy that sailors roam the globe at little more than jogging pace when they could be zooming through the sky at hundreds of knots.
But speed isn’t everything. The truth is that a cruising sailboat is a wonderful mode of travel. The photograph in the header panel above shows Guadeloupe, one of the pearls of the Caribbean. Just out of camera shot is a dinghy recently pulled up onto the sand. And anchored in the bay some way off is the sailboat that brought me to that spot.
My name is Andrew Simpson. I'm the publisher and editor of Books for Sail, and it's my pleasure to welcome you on board. I have been sailing for over 50 years. I won't bore you now by yarning about my wanderings but I can tell you that I've never found a better way to travel.
Sailboats have carried me around most of Europe, the length and breadth of the Caribbean, much of the Atlantic and Gulf coasts on the United States and to many other places besides. Never once have I felt like a tourist. Never once have I felt unwelcome. For that's the magic of cruising under sail. You get to explore places the tour operators have yet to discover – to meet the locals as they really are, unspoiled by the rubber-necking hordes.
It should be underlined that sailboat cruising is not all about long distances. Within a few miles of our base on England's southern coast are scores of lovely spots, some almost inaccessible except by sea. And just 60 miles south, across the busy maritime highway known as the English Channel, lies France and the rest of continental Europe. And there are parallels in other parts of the globe that offer the same.
For example the Bahamas lie about the same distance off Florida – that’s to say an easy day’s sailing away. Each of the Balearic Islands are just a few hours apart. Ditto the Canaries.
So, cruising under sail is about pleasure, not endurance. With such beguiling prospects on offer, it seems a darn shame to waste them!
So what is Books for Sail?
If access to a boat is the first requirement, without doubt the second is knowledge. The sea isn’t a vindictive environment but neither is it one you should take for granted. So Books for Sail is an information source for sailors, primarily for cruising sailors but with lots that applies to power-boaters too. Indeed, anyone whose interests lie out upon the water should find something useful in our pages.
A central feature in Books for Sail is the Reading Room (see sidebar, left) where a selection of informative articles can be browsed at leisure. These articles are free-to-view and can be saved or printed for non-commercial use. They will only be removed if they become irrelevant, obsolete or superceded by more current data, so will remain accessible over time to provide an ongoing reference for those in the search of knowledge.
Books for Sails's current content covers a wide range of nautical themes, all written by experienced sailors or other specialists in their various fields. More articles on other subjects have been commissioned and will be published very soon. If you would like to contribute, we would very much like to hear from you.
The following are just a small example of the overall content:
Seamanship and Boatcraft
These skills lie at the heart of all boating activities. They span a whole range of accomplishments from the simplest knots to the trickiest manoeuvres under power or sail. No one can become an expert overnight but, if taken a step at a time, proficiency and confidence comes naturally. Check out Boat Handling Basics and Sail Trim Secrets to see how helpful a little bit of knowledge can be.
Here we have a subject revolutionised by technical advancement. Once considered something of a black art, electronic wizardry feeds us with data and we can pinpoint our position to within a few metres anywhere in the world, more accurate than a pencil point on a chart!
Clever and convenient, yes – but it would be a very rash mariner who didn’t learn something of the basics – for example, Working With Tides or Traffic Separation Schemes.
Mariners rely heavily on information from others who have gone before. This might be by word of mouth or perhaps the printed page, and increasingly today via the internet. Have a look at Sailing in the Mediterranean as an example.
Boats and Gear
Boats have become technologically complex, and it’s a sensible skipper who gains at least some familiarity with their various intricacies. Windvane Self Steering is a good case in point. Another deals with the awesome loads imposed on Turning Block Troubles.
Mechanical and Electrical
The general complexity becomes even more so considering our reliance on machinery and electronics. If something goes wrong, can we fix it? Often the answer is ‘no’ but that isn’t always true. Take Bleeding a Marine Diesel Engine for example or Charging Boat Batteries.
And much the same applies to taking care of our boats – for many, an important part of the pleasure of boat ownership. Got a grubby waterline on your glassfibre boat? Click the Waterline Stains link to find out what to do.
Boat Design and Theory
Whether we have an interest in the theory or not, its influence is fundamental to the way our boats behave. This is never more true than when we come to make choices. Monohull or Multihull?. Long keel or fin keel? Heavy or Light Displacement? Follow the links to learn some of the arguments.
Few boat owners can resist the temptation to make improvements or modifications. This category describes some useful things you can make
at home – Flopper Stopper - how to make a simple roll reducer being one!
Life afloat can be quite uncomfortable enough without the misery of sitting on damp cockpit cushions. Fortunately you can make some that will dry very quickly. To learn how follow the Quick Drying Cockpit Cushions link.
This popular activity is such a natural extension of boating that it seems almost irresponsible to waste it. Handline Trolling - how to catch fish when under way shows you how to get started. And just to demonstrate that it can be fruitful, the albacore (right) was caught off Sardinia and fed the crew for several days.
Buying and Selling
For many sailors, their boat is the second most valuable asset after their house. This important section is about how to get the best deal out of any sales transactions. Visit What is My Boat Worth? - Hot tips to help sell your boat for an introduction.
As the title suggests, our Writers' Corner is a section for writers, both established and aspiring, who have the sort of knowledge and skills that would be useful to others. Since we are actively looking for further contributions, it contains advice on Writing for Books for Sail and also tips on how to present material to sell your articles to other markets such as boating magazines.
Of course, information is only ever as reliable as its source. All of our authors will be experienced sailors with useful knowledge to pass on, or will have particular expertise on specialised subjects. Some qualify in both regards. Take a trip to the Meet the Authors rogues' gallery of our Writers' Corner to get the broader picture
Books for Sail is growing every day and shall continue expanding online. It's our intention that the site will provide a legitimate, ethical and trusted outlet for those with knowledge to share.
Let's face it – some subjects are too colossal to ever master entirely on your own.