8 Awesome Sailing Books for Beginners

The best way to learn to sail is to take an RYA course with highly-skilled instructors in a gorgeous place like Mallorca—where the weather is perfect and the sailing conditions are ideal for beginners. However, you can supplement that practical hands-on training with a few sailing books targeted toward beginners that will provide additional insight and information that you can use as you continue your sailing adventures or when you want to keep learning, but maybe the weather is not ideal for sailing.

Not every sailing book is the right fit for beginners. If you read one that is targeted toward seasoned sailors, you could easily get overwhelmed. Start simple. It’s important to find books from well-respected authors who deliver the written lessons in an easy-to-understand format. Remember, these books for beginning sailors are designed to supplement what you learn in an accredited course like RYA Start Yachting, Competent Crew, or Day Skipper.

Here are our top 8 books that we recommend for beginning sailors. They are all relevant for beginners so you can read a few of them or all of them.

1. The Sailing Bible: The Complete Guide for All Sailors From Novice to Expert

by Jeremy Evans, Pat Manley, and Barrie Smith

This sailing book is perfect for beginners. With one-page, easy-to-follow instructions on a variety of topics, The Sailing Bible breaks down sailing techniques in easy-to-digest chunks. The instructions are clear and concise and become great references for when you need a refresher. Throughout your sailing life, these tips will remain relevant so you can refer to them over and over again. The expert tips and sound advice provided in the 400-page book are designed to help the novice sailor increase their confidence level as well as their skill level. The Sailing Bible will become your go-to guide for quick lessons and reference.

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2. The Complete Sailing Manual

by Steve Sleight and Ben Ainslie

This updated classic should be on every sailor’s shelf. Written by an experienced and well-respected sailor, who is also a former British national champion, with a foreword by Olympic medalist Ben Ainslie, the book provides a complete course on seamanship. With simple lessons for the novice, you will pick up expert tips that you can use every day. Handy diagrams and stunning photography help to visually show the reader the most important sailing techniques in a compelling way.

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3. Sailing Fundamentals

by Gary Jobson

While this is a slightly older American book it has great information for all novice sailors.  If you are a visual learner, this book for beginning sailors is just right for you. It includes more than 150 line drawings and photographs that clearly demonstrate every aspect of learning to sail. This is the authoritative text for teaching international standards and preparing beginning sailors for certification. Still available in paperback in the UK.

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4. The Annapolis Book of Seamanship

by John Rousmaniere

Another American book but this is a great read. Many sailors believe this is the book that set the standard for sailing instruction books. It is used in many sailing schools and covers the fundamentals of sailing along with the more advanced skills for when you are ready for a higher-level of techniques. It includes dozens of step-by-step instructions, is easy to read, and is useful for beginners. From pleasure cruising to heavy, offshore bluewater sailing, this book is a great supplement to your sailing training.

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5. Yachting Monthly’s Expert Sailing Skills: No Nonsense Advice That Really Works

by Tom Cunliffe

The title says it all—no-nonsense advice. This is a perfect way to approach your supplemental sailing training. With hundreds of easy-to follow photographs and diagrams, sailing expert Tom Cunliffe teaches sailors a wide variety of beginning sailing skills. Each chapter focuses on a specific skill with step-by-step instructions so you can quickly reference the skills you need help with at the time that you need help.

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6. World Cruising Essentials: The Boats, Gear, and Practices That Work Best at Sea

by Jimmy Cornell

All of the World Cruising books by Jimmy Cornell should eventually find their way into your sailing library, and World Cruising Essentials should be the first. For those dreaming of the open ocean, or even if you are just starting out, you will find value as well as entertainment inside the pages of this comprehensive sailing guide. The book is a compilation of the surveys of more than 15,000 sailors by the world’s foremost expert on blue-water voyaging. He provides tips on the boats, navigation and seamanship best practices.

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7. Navigation: A Newcomer’s Guide

by Sara Hopkinson

Navigation is one of the sailing skills that can intimidate beginners. But no worries! This is a simple guide to navigation for beginners. Geared specifically for the novice sailor, you can acquire a foundation for sea navigation with plenty of diagrams and photos and very few nautical terms. Written by a RYA Yachtmaster instructor, the book is recommended by Fernhurst Books for beginners and Day Skipper students.

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8. How to Battle Seasickness: 100 Tips to Help You Get Your Sea Legs

by Michelle Segrest

Many beginning sailors experience seasickness, but you shouldn’t let it keep you from learning to sail or from reaping the many rewards of yachting. This book is the ultimate guide to seasickness relief with 100 tips from experienced sailors, doctors, psychologists, fishermen, and merchant marines who all weigh in on the best seasickness remedies. This book is designed to help beginners overcome the fear of seasickness, understand what causes it, and most important, learn proven techniques to help you survive your way through it.

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All these books are helpful for beginners but remember that they are only supplements to the real training you should get with a practical course taught by a skilled instructor. Check out RYA Start Yachting, Competent Crew, and Day Skippercourses and learn to sail in Mallorca for the ultimate yachting learning experience.

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