Book Review: The Annapolis Book of Seamanship

Most of the books that I have reviewed here on The $tingy Sailor that teach sailing skills have been compact handbooks that are useful to keep on board and cover the most basic of sailing skills. They aren’t intended to be encyclopedias of all sailing knowledge. This book is different.

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The Annapolis Book of Seamanship is a 400 page, large format masterpiece of sailing knowledge wrapped in a book cover. It’s written by John Rousmaniere who has tens of thousands of miles of sailboat cruising and racing experience and is one of the world’s foremost sailing safety experts. If you took a college course on sailing, this could be the textbook. It’s written at equivalent level but stops short of sounding scholarly.

The book is in its fourth edition since 1983 and contains many updates and revisions that have kept it current through the years. The theories are expertly illustrated by Mark Smith, Creative Director of North Sails. The spot color illustrations are supplemented with lots of black and white photos from the author’s own collection of the theories in practical application under real-world conditions.

Example page
Example page describing how to steer without a rudder or sail with a broken mast

Practically every topic has some sort of visual aid to help you understand the subject. The book design is excellent and makes for both easy reading and skimming. The cover jacket is beautiful and would complement any coffee table book collection. Scattered throughout the book are helpful little sidebars titled Hands On that contain practical tips to apply what you’ve learned.

The book comprises 18 chapters that cover virtually any topic you would want to learn:

The Boat
Getting Under Way
Sail Trim
Sail-Handling Gear and Knots
The Sailor’s Health
Rules of the Road
Navigation Aids
The Magnetic Compass
Plotting and Position Finding
Special Piloting Techniques
Heavy Weather
Equipment and Maintenance
Traditions and Courtesies

If you will own only one sailing book, this should be it. It would also make a wonderful gift for a teen crew member or the novice skipper in your life. You can take a look for yourself or order a copy from Amazon.

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