Do you want to learn to sail? While the best way to learn to sail is by just getting out there in a boat, here you'll find a selection of books that can help you learn everything from the basics of sailing and boat handling, to navigation, boat maintenance and equipment, to the best places to charter a sailboat.

How to Read a Nautical Chart by Nigel Calder

The best handbook on chart usage, from one of the most trusted names in boating

Charts, whether paper or electronic, are your most fundamental navigational tool. Using them to your best advantage requires a thorough understanding of the symbols and abbreviations and an awareness of the limits of accuracy in positions and soundings.

In 2000, the U.S. government ceased publication of Chart No. 1, the invaluable little book that generations of mariners have consulted to make sense of the complex system of signs, symbols, and graphic elements used in nautical charts. Now Chart No. 1 is not just reborn but expanded and improved in How to Read a Nautical Chart. The demand for a book like this has never been greater.

Arranged and edited by Nigel Calder, one of today's most respected boating authors, ­­and containing full-color illustrations throughout,­­ How to Read a Nautical Chart presents a number of original features that help readers make optimum use of the data found in Chart No. 1, including a more intuitive format, crucial background information, international chart symbol equivalents, electronic chart symbology, and thorough explanations of the practical aspects of nautical chart reading.

Boat Navigation for the Rest of Us: Finding Your Way By Eye and Electronics

The popular texts would have us navigate our small boats using the same techniques found on an aircraft carrier. But these elaborately precise methods just don't work in the bouncy, wet, cramped cockpit of a typical pleasure craft. This is the first book to teach small-boat navigation the way most people actually navigate, combining electronic aids like radar, GPS, and Loran with commonsense visual piloting and seat-of-the-pants chartwork. It explains in plain, simple language exactly how to find where you are and get where you want to go with a minimum of fuss, and contains many useful but relatively unpublicized methods specifically designed for use aboard the nation's 20 million small power- and sailboats.

Boat Navigation for the Rest of Us is the only book that teaches navigation the way small-boat skippers actually navigate: by combining electronic aids like GPS and radar with commonsense visual piloting skills and simple chartwork. This second edition covers important developments in electronic navigation, including dramatic improvements in GPS accuracy, the growing popularity of electronic charts and plotting systems, and the increasing availability of navigation information over the Internet. It's a full course in navigation plus a whole toolbox of little-known tips and shortcuts to deal with real-life situations without a slide rule.

The Weekend Navigator

Can piloting a boat really be this easy?

Traditional navigation with its chart plotting, compass errors, and current vectors requires years to master. Serious boaters learn it eventually, but with $100 GPS receivers offering 50-foot position accuracy anywhere in the world, it¡¯s no longer necessary to master the art before enjoying the sport. The Weekend Navigator is the first book to recognize that affordable, simple-to-use electronics demand a radically new approach to teaching navigation. Bob Sweet lets you find your way on the water immediately, learning by rather than before doing.

This innovative guide¡¯s quick-reference format shows you how to:

  • Pinpoint locations at all times
  • Determine the precise ranges and bearings of destinations
  • Compensate for wind and current effects
  • Avoid underwater hazards

Longitude by Dava Sobel

The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of His Time

The thorniest scientific problem of the eighteenth century was how to determine longitude. Many thousands of lives had been lost at sea over the centuries due to the inability to determine an east-west position. This is the engrossing story of the clockmaker, John "Longitude" Harrison, who solved the problem that Newton and Galileo had failed to conquer, yet claimed only half the promised rich reward.

If you've grown up at a time when orbiting satellites were taken for granted, you'd probably not find reading a book about longitude an enticing prospect. But Sobel, an award-winning former science reporter for the New York Times who writes frequently for Audubon, Discover, LIFE, and Omni magazines, has transformed what could have been a dry subject into a fascinating tale of scientific discovery.

GPS for Mariners

The manual you wish had come with your GPS receiver

GPS for Mariners summarizes essential global positioning system concepts, explains the buttons, screens, and menus of your GPS receiver, and answers all your questions. Filled with helpful illustrations and hands-on examples, this complete and practical guide shows you how to:

  • Become an informed GPS buyer and user
  • Connect GPS to your computer, autopilot, and radar
  • Navigate with GPS using waypoints and routes
  • Use an electronic chartplotter or navigation software to plan and monitor your course
  • Utilize the many functions in your GPS to safely and enjoyably reach your destination whether under sail or power
  • Enhance your receiver's performance with WAAS, DGPS, and proper antenna placement
  • Master advanced techniques

GPS For Dummies

GPS For Dummies gives new meaning to finding yourself. In fact, with a GPS (global positioning system) receiver, you can determine precisely where you are anywhere on this planet. If you¡¯re are planning on buying a GPS receiver or if you have one and want to get your money¡¯s worth, this guide tells you what you need to know.

While this is written mainly for land-based navigation, the basics apply also to boating, and the fun and light-hearted approach makes the topic easy to understand for beginners.

Dutton's Nautical Navigation

As paper navigational charts are replaced by vector images on computer screens, magnetic compasses enhanced by digital flux gate technology, and chronometers joined by atomic clocks, the demand has been mounting for an extensive update to the classic reference known worldwide as Dutton's. To meet the varied needs of today's recreational, naval, and commercial navigators the Naval Institute introduces this new edition of a guide that has remained the seafarers' choice for more than three-quarters of a century. It blends the traditional navigation techniques first compiled by Benjamin Dutton in 1926 with technological marvels of the twenty-first century to authoritatively cover all phases of surface navigation. For example, while the book acknowledges that many navigators still peer into the skies through sextant telescopes, it also helps them take full advantage of man-made Global Positioning System (GPS) satellites.

Valued as both an indispensable quick reference and a comprehensive text, Dutton's makes accessible such foreboding subjects as spherical trigonometry through the use of step-by-step explanations and examples that encourage practical use. To insure accuracy and relevancy, a board of experts made up of naval and Coast Guard officers, merchant mariners, accredited harbor pilots, and sea-service academy professors, has carefully reviewed this fifteenth edition. The result is an unparalleled treatment of the art and science of nautical navigation that both amateur and veteran navigators will use to safely navigate the waters of the world.

Basic Coastal Navigation: An Introduction to Piloting

Yes, we have our Chapman and our Bowditch (somewhere), and The Annapolis Book of Seamanship, but it seems to us that the author Frank J. Larkin, in this new edition, makes the subject of piloting and dead reckoning much less daunting and easy to comprehend. Larkin starts at the beginning and takes the reader through the basics of such things as using dividers and a chart, with the kind of useful information sometimes passed over in more sophisticated treatments of the subject. We like that, and we think this 278-page reference is more likely to be read cover-to-cover.

Keywords: Sail, Sailing, Charter Boat, Sailing Charters, Navigation, Boat Charters, Women in Boating, Coastal Navigation