Best Sailing Books to Give or Receive

Gifts for sailors, especially liveaboards with limited storage space can be tricky. We love giving (and receiving) books, paper or Kindle/Audible. So we put together a list of some of our favorites that we think every sea lover or sailing enthusiast will enjoy. Happy reading!

the hitchhiker in panama by liz alden book-cover

The Hitchhiker in Panama

by Liz Alden: Liz is actually Amy, one of the crew of Starry Horizons. She and David have sailed aboard their boat, a Fountaine Pajot Helia 44, since 2014. They completed their world circumnavigation in 2020. Liz is a fellow sailor and we wanted to support her! 

The book is a little steamy, romantic, and very adventurous. When Lila sets out to backpack Panama, she meets an sailor, Eivind. One passionate night sparks unexpected adventure as they set sail together, but are their lives headed in different directions?

See more by books by Liz Alden.


A Sail of Two Idiots

by Renee Petrillo, a Catamaran Guru client! We are so proud of what they accomplished. When they first asked us to help them find a boat, we knew that they would have some challenges being complete novices, but they navigated this journey expertly…and sometimes with a little crazy luck.

Play Video about video thumbnail for renee petrillo explaining her book sail of two idiots
close to the wind book- cover

Close to the Wind

by Pete Goss

I love this book received from a sailing friend, Jennifer Lagasca! It’s an autobiography from a 1996 event undertaken by the author, a former Royal Marine. He set out to conquer the most grueling competition of his sailing career: the Vendée Globe. During the nonstop, single-handed round-the-world yacht race, Goss battled 60-foot seas and dueled with his spinnaker in high winds. Weeks in, it all went wrong: sails destroyed, navigation equipment useless, and on Christmas Day, he picked up a distress call. A French competitor was sinking 160 miles away. Goss veered off course into gale-force winds in hopes of spotting the tiny life raft somewhere in the expansive unforgiving southern ocean. Who will survive? Who will win?

the boat galley cookbook cover

The Boat Galley Cookbook

by Jan Irons &  Carolyn Shearlock

Cooking aboard IS different from cooking ashore. Smaller space, limited pans and appliances, no grocery store nearby, and food storage challenges. But with a little know-how, you and your guests can eat well while the cook gets enough time to enjoy all the relaxing aspects of cruising: swimming, snorkeling, kayaking, exploring, or enjoying the breeze and view from a quiet spot aboard.

These recipes help you cope, even thrive, in the galley with practical boat cooking ideas and over 150 substitutions and dozens of “make it yourself” options for things like sour cream and spaghetti sauce that you may not have aboard. Book availability.

boatowners mechanical and electrical manual is a must-have for cruisers

Boat Owners Mechanical & Electrical Manual

by Nigel Calder

This book appears on every must-read sailing book list we have ever (and will ever) publish. It is a life saver…literally! Here’s more information we shared about Boat Owners Mechanical & Electrical Manual.

97 miles south book cover

97 Miles South

by Phil Thompson

Phil signed this book  for me when we last sailed to Cuba. Here’s a synopsis to entice you to read it!

Christina and Pete risk their lives in a midnight, open-ocean sail to reach dry land so the Cuban woman he loves, Christina, can survive. High seas adventure and an improbable love engulfs a crew of resourceful American anglers in pursuit of the giant blue marlin who dare to cross the Straits of Florida, to the forbidden fruit of the Caribbean…Cuba.  Navigating its socialist society is a treacherous as the journey. Spies, informants, and a secret police colonel join forces to assure the visiting Americans spend their dollars without spreading the taboo dogmas of capitalism, democracy, and free speech. One American’s pursuit of love proves more perilous than monster fish.

three sheets to the wind book cover

Three Sheets to the Wind

by Cynthia Barrett

If you love words, even if you aren’t a sailor, you will love this book! The subtitle is “The Nautical Origins of Everyday Expressions”. It is surprising how many common English phrases have maritime roots.

As an example of the nuggets in this fun book, the origin of “turn a blind eye” is explained. In the 1801 Battle of Copenhagen, Admiral Horatio Nelson’s refusal to accept the signal to retreat as the battle turned treacherous for the British. He was indignant when his signal lieutenant informed him of it and scolded the lieutenant that he was told to watch for the Danish commodore’s surrender signal. Then Nelson put his telescope to his blind eye and stated, “I really do not see the signal”.

atlas of improbable places book cover

Atlas of Improbable Places: A Journey to the World's Most Unusual Corners

by Travis Elborough

National Geographic presents weird and unusual locations with strange-but-true history, trivia, and geography of our planet’s most intriguing and curious places. From deserted cities and strange settlements to remote islands and underground labyrinths, this beautifully illustrated tome has something for the explorer in you whether you are a sailor or landlubber.


The Cruising Womans Advisor

by Diana Jessies

This primer answers many questions that beginners have about the cruising lifestyle.

The minutiae of live-aboard life including roles and relationships afloat, staying in touch, provisioning, and female-specific hygiene tips are shared without going into the how-tos of sailing and seamanship. 


Mary's Voyage

by Mary Caldwell

Readers of her husband’s, John Caldwell’s riveting “Desperate Voyage” (1949) already know his wife, Mary. Her tale picks up where his book left off. With John’s harrowing account of a man lost at sea trying to get back to the woman he loved, Mary offers a different tack. She writes a biography of a woman raising a family with two young sons and numerous pets including a goat aboard a boat…at sea. All this domestic bliss while attempting to be the first family to circumnavigate using only a sextant and dead reckoning. Where will they end up?


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