We love reading, and during a typical summer, it is not uncommon for Lori and I to blow through 30 or 40 books. Finding new fiction to replenish our selection is always a challenge, but we’ve been lucky to work with a wonderful librarian who is constantly keeping an eye out for stuff we might like. There are, however, a few books that we insist on taking every year: our reference section. Following is our list of favorite “how to” books. We have no stake whatsoever in any of these publications, they are included because we like them:
Ports and Passes. Easy to use tide and current tables that have daylight savings already included in the quoted times. The government tables are excellent too, but they break the coast of BC into 3 regions and are more expensive if you are cruising more than two regions of them. In addition, you need to remember to add daylight savings time to the times listed. Ports and Passes is easier.
Any of the cruising guides by Don Douglass and Reanne Hemingway-Douglass. We carry Exploring the North Coast of British Columbia: Blunden Harbour to Dixon Entrance and Exploring Vancouver Island’s West Coast . These guides are short on destination detail, but cover most nooks and crannies, no matter how improbable. Because they are so comprehensive, you’ll need to spend some time with them.
Waggoner Cruising Guide is an excellent companion to the anchorage focus that the Douglass guides have. The Wagonner Cruising guide covers the waters from southern Puget Sound to SE Alaska, including Haida Gwaii. It has piloting information, anchorage information (somewhat limited north of Desolation Sound) and a comprehensive listing of facilities and towns. Best of all, it is a free download.
The Dreamspeaker Guide Series by We don’t own any of these books, but we’ve cruised with people that do and really like them. They cover the same ground as the Douglass guides, but are picky about the anchorages they include. Because every stop listed is a worthwhile destination, the books are easy to use. The excellent pictures and drawings make them fun to read.
Local Knowledge: A Skipper’s Reference : Tacoma To Ketchikan by Kevin Monahan. A book of transiting notes that is particularly useful for understanding and using the tides and currents in the many passes on our coast.
Nigel Calder’s Cruising Handbook, Marine Diesel Engines, and the Mechanical and Electrical Manual.
They all get used occasionally. The Cruising Handbook is focused on buying and setting up a sailboat for voyaging, and at this point I read it mostly for enjoyment. It is 15 years old, and you can tell, particularly the electronics section. That said, the info on cruising sailboat design and layout is worth the cover price alone. The other two books are very hands-on troubleshooting type books that are applicable to power and sail boats.
The Voyager’s Handbook: The Essential Guide to Blue Water Cruising by Beth Leonard. The title speaks for itself. Although it is written specifically for those intending to go offshore in a sailboat, it has information useful to coastal cruisers as well. Plus, I’m a bit of a reference book geek. Beth Leonard has circumnavigated twice, and has rounded all 5 great capes – she knows her stuff.
St. John Ambulance First Aid Reference Guide: Preparing for emergencies at work, home and play. While any up-to-date First Aid book should be mandatory on board, we carry this one because it was the manual used in the course we took a year ago.
We carry a weather book that tries to explain how our weather works. Although it is well written, the one I have is pretty general, and covers concepts that apply globally. I’ve been looking for one with a local bias, and found Living with Weather Along the British Columbia Coast: The Veil of Chaos by Based on the description and review on Amazon, I think it is going on my wish list.
Lastly, we have two 3″ binders full of the documentation that came with our gear. All of it. Included in this is a shop manual for both the diesel engine and our outboard. Unfortunately, this stuff is referenced constantly; fortunately, it’s easy to find.
If I’ve missed a resource you find indispensable or particularly well written, please leave a comment and share the title. Thanks!