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Don Casey is the dean of DIY sailboat restoration and improvement in my opinion. He’s a contributing editor of Sail magazine and author of several other books that I’ll be reviewing in the coming months. The sheer expanse of his knowledge and experience comes through in every book. Every subject that he writes about is not only technically correct but also seasoned with advice that only comes from having been there and done that and more than once.
Most sailboat improvement books center around big repair or maintenance jobs like painting a hull. The job will be long, tedious, and not much fun. You turn to the book to do it right and finish as soon as possible. Just reading about the monstrous task ahead of you and imagining the many hours it will take makes reading the book seem like taking your medicine as a kid. It was an awful experience but you knew you had to do it if you wanted to go outside and play anytime soon.
Instead, 100 Fast & Easy Boat Improvements is the kind of book you love to read. None of the projects in it are repair or maintenance jobs that you have to do to keep you sailing. Every one is a clever idea that adds safety, convenience, comfort, storage, easier maintenance, or pure enjoyment to your boat – the fun jobs!
It’s a quick read, with many excellent illustrations that show example dimensions and critical construction details. It reminds me of the old Popular Mechanics magazines that showed reader’s ingenious but simple tips for solving common shop or repair problems.
In the book, Don gives you the cream of the crop of small, inexpensive, and quick projects that he’s seen, done, or read about over the last 25 years. Each one can easily be completed in a few hours or less with modest skills, common tools, and readily available materials. Most of them don’t rely on specific dimensions and you can do them on a boat of any size. The book focuses more on how to do it than exactly what to do.
When you get done reading the book’s 138 pages, you’ll be surprised that it was actually 100 projects. It seems like less because they go by so quickly and leave you wanting more. My copy has a dozen or so yellow Sticky Notes hanging out that mark projects that I want to do to Summer Dance. For an example of one with my own variations thrown in, see How to add coachwhipping to your tiller handle.
The Bottom Line
If you’re looking for inspiration to work on your boat or just want to make cruising more enjoyable, get yourself a copy of 100 Fast & Easy Boat Improvements. It would also make a great gift for that stingy sailor you know that’s always adding improvements to their boat.