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Why You Need to Read These Top 5 Sailing Books Before Learning How to Sail

Updated: Jul 17, 2022

Are you learning how to learn how to sail for the first time, enrolled in sailing school, or maybe you need to brush up on the sailing skills that you learned when you were younger?

I am a firm believer that you will always be learning how to sail so we have compiled a list of the Best Sailing Books for you.

Get a basic understanding of local boating laws

When you're learning to sail, knowing the rules of the road and water is vital. You'll need to know how to navigate your boat in a safe manner, as well as be aware of local regulations regarding anchoring and mooring.

Local laws also have an impact on where you can go within a marina or other maritime area. It's important to understand them before you head out on your first adventure!

Understand sailing safety

When learning how to sail, one of the most important things you can do is learn about safety. The weather conditions on a sailing vessel can change quickly, so it's important that you're always prepared for any type of emergency.

  • Always wear a life jacket when sailing. If there's an accident and your boat capsizes or sinks, it may be difficult to get back on board the ship if you don't have a life jacket on. Your life could depend on having this piece of equipment with you at all times!

  • Make sure that everyone in your group has their own helmet and harness before setting out on your voyage. A helmet will protect against head injuries should something happen while at sea (such as falling off the boat), whereas a harness keeps people from being thrown overboard during rough weather conditions or accidents onboard a ship (like if someone falls overboard).

Now that we have a few basics out of the way for how to learn how to sail, I also have listed my top five sailing books (in no particular order) to provide you with the education and resources you will need for how to learn how to sail.

I also highly suggest that you take a look at the American Sailing Association's website and US Sailing's website for in-depth sailing information regarding sailing schools and certifications.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, meaning we receive a small commission if you decide to purchase through our links, at no cost to you. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. This helps us to continue writing reviews, top lists, and providing educational articles for our readers.

Quick Reference List

The Complete Sailing Manual, 4th Edition

The Complete Sailing Manual, a hardcover reference sailing book, is a fantastic and must-have reference book for beginner sailors. This top sailing book covers step by step basics of sailing to more advanced maneuvers of sailing. It goes over sailing terminology, equipment, and boat features which includes colorful pictures and diagrams. It is comprehensive and would be a great addition to your sailing book library.


  • Sailing navigation

  • Rules and regulations

  • A comprehensive overview of sailing terminology

2. Invitation to Sailing

Invitation to Sailing is a beginner's sailing book that is organized into two sections. The first section teaches you basic seamanship for learning how to sail in different weather patterns. The second section focuses on sailboat racing and how to teach sailing. Although this book does not have colorful pictures and diagrams, it does cover additional areas that we did not find in other sailing books.


  • Reviews seamanship

  • Diagrams that feature sailing to windward and leeward

  • Practice questions and answers

3. Sailing For Dummies

Sailing for Dummies is a well-organized sailing book that was written by Peter Isler, a world-renowned sailor, motivational speaker, and author. It is a comprehensive and informative sailing book for beginners that covers specific topics through in-depth chapters. There is a whole chapter dedicated to anchoring which we all know that anchoring is crucial to a good night's sleep on a liveaboard.


  • Learn how to tie nautical knots

  • Overview of how to dock

  • Reviews sailing emergencies

4. The Annapolis Book of Seamanship: Fourth Edition

The Annapolis Book of Seamanship is in its fourth edition and is a highly regarded sailing book that encompasses (and is not limited to) seamanship, sailing emergencies, heavy weather, maneuvering, and anchoring. The author, John Rousmaniere, was honored in 2013 by the U.S. Sailing Association for his "outstanding contribution" for sailor education.


  • Sailor's health

  • Plotting and positioning

  • Equipment and maintenance

5. Sailing Fundamentals

Sailing Fundamentals is a descriptive sailing book that encompasses sailing basics with in-depth descriptions and diagrams. We have found that a lot of sailing schools use this sailing book for beginner sailor certifications. It is comprehensive enough to get you feeling confident with your first sail.


  • The official learn-to-sail manual of the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary

  • Written by widely acclaimed author, Gary Jobson

  • 150+ line drawings and photographs

We hope you found this compiled list of how to learn how to sail top-rated sailing books informative. Learning to sail is exhilarating and fun. However, sailing terminology is totally different and may take a while to learn. Diving into a good beginner's sailing book will add to your learning how to sail journey.

It might take some time before you feel comfortable enough to take your first solo voyage, but once you do, you will never look back!

If you have read these sailing books and/or have additional beginner sailing books that you love, please leave a comment below and let me know.

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Hello! I'm Tiffany, a creative travel writer, mother to three awesome kids, and Floridian. We like to visit beautiful Florida resorts and beaches, Florida State Parks, and explore destinations by boat. I like to write about our travel adventures and provide tips to other families traveling or relocating to the Sunshine State.


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