Christmas time – time for presents. And every year it´s just the same question: What can I present? It´s perfectly clear that the new sailing-jacket for 600 Euros is out of question and even if we would, a brand-new set of running rigging is definitely out of budget. But you know what? A good book was and is always the perfect gift if there are no ideas otherwise and the budget (as for most of us) is limited. This article is intended not to recommend specific books (although it does) but to give you some hints which book from which category to choose as a gift – and what might be connected to that gift.

Newbie Lubber onboard or skilled Skipper?

Your husband, boyfriend or female presentee is a complete rookie on board? Has never set a foot on a deck of a yacht but wants or has to do so in the coming months? Well, than you might find a suitable present in a “How to behave on board”- or “New on board?”-guide for starters of which there are a handful of books available. I did buy one myself and found it very interesting to have a book with first-steps and one step at a time structured tutorial for yacht newbies. From questions such as “Where is port side and where is starboard?” over to “How to utilize a pump-toilet” up to “Standard safety procedures on board” will turn a lubber into somebody who at least won´t fall overboard at first – it can help anybody to answer the FAQ connected to yachting and sailing and I find it´s a great present for rookies.

Sailing books for newbies and both cracks: A perfect present for christmas.
Sailing books for newbies and both cracks: A perfect present for christmas.

Your husband and sailing friend is an old hand in yachting? Then a very simple, plain and – to be honest – not very natty book might be just the perfect present for him or her. Well, let´s not call it a book, it has mostly the charm of a brochure but can nevertheless bring back the bling-bling to the eyes of the presentee. A tidal charts-calendar for the coming year and sailing season. Why it is so cool? Because if he will sail in tide affected areas that´s a present with a real value. You know that the person wants to discover a certain sailing area next year? Like the French Channel coast, Cornwall or the North Sea-sailing areas such as the Netherlands or Germany? A tidal charts-calendar will be a perfect little present to raise the pleasant anticipation on that particular trip.

Books on the Golden Age of Sailing: Clippers and Adventures.

I love to read books on the good old times of sailing. In particular it´s the era of the fast sailing Clipper Ship that interests me most. Square rigged sailing ships have been the true motor of the state-in-being of the United States. Their rise was fueled by the outstanding Gold Rush from the 1850ies to the early 1880ies and still until the late 1990ies (!) it was the famous Boston-built Donald MacKay Clipper Ship FLYING CLOUD that was holding the record of sailing nonstop from New York City around Cape Horn to San Francisco. Search your local antiquities for books about Donald MacKay and I promise your present will bring hours of pure joy, romance, hard and wild raging storms and pure passion about the most advanced, high-pitched wooden sailing vessels ever built.

Good ol´ times ...
Good ol´ times …

If it´s not the Golden Age of the American Clippership, than you might be interested in the famous tea races that have been staged some years after the Goldrush between China´s tea ports and England. Ships like THERMOPYLAE or CUTTY SARK have engraved their names for all times into the hearts of shiplovers all around the world. The tea race was the Formula 1 of the Victorian England. Ships raced weeks through the Strait of Malacca, passed Mauritius and Reunion, rounded Cape of Good Hope to sprint all up to the North to deliver the first of the new season´s tea-harvest. Masters of the winning ships made a fortune. Others, not so lucky, went down in a too hard sailed storm with the entire ship. I cannot tell how thrilling and stimulating the lecture of such a book can be. Ust fascinating.

Learning more on your local Sailing Area.

Of course, if the one you want to present is an active skipper in being, than you might go for a more practical present. What about a book on his or her local sailing area? And don´t despair of the teask if you have no clue which of the specialized books is the right one: A book on local weather-phenomena? A skipper´s guide on marinas? Well, what about a different approach: Choose a book on the history of your area. To be more precise, the local maritime history. For example, here we have our Baltic Sea. A very small ocean, indeed, but an ocean with a very rich history: From the Vikings to the old Hanse, all the wars and rich history in fur- or amber-trading there are tons of history books. Why are history books so cool?

Books on your local sailing area can open up whole new horizons.
Books on your local sailing area can open up whole new horizons.

It´s easy: To know what was done by whom and when can inspire the skipper to sail to destination he or she otherwise wouldn´t have found. You are interested in the Viking´s history? You will definitely find some interesting spots to sail to in Denmark or Sweden. You like the 500 year history of one of the mightiest trading-networks of all times and a predecessor of a commercial superpower called “Europe”? The story of the Hanse will grasp you and hopefully inspire you to sail to places so full of history and stories that will open up a whole new approach on planning future cruises. Besides: It´s a huge potential of education here. Other than history books, cruise reports of people who did the “big small” round can often be so much more interesting than reading a book on the big loop. Such like “Digger Hamburg” – a very fascinating and nicely written book on a skipper who sold his big ship and bought an 18-feet dwarf to discover the Danish Baltic coast. A sensational inspiring and lush read …

Modern Day Circumnavigation by Yacht: Want some Inspiration?

Let´s be honest: Everyone dreams of going around the world (here is an interesting article on three young guys who also did) and so might be the person you are going to make a present. Is he or she going on everybody´s nerves with stories on people who fulfilled their dreams? Well, let´s fuel it up a bit and spice his or her waiting time for the own circumnavigation with a book on somebody who actually sailed around the world. You will easily find tons of different books with different approaches: The short-handed extreme sailing on-stop, the how-not-to-do-it book or the great classics (Jimmy Cornell, Bobby Schenk or your regional heroes on that topic) will make this present a welcome one under the Christmas tree.

Books on circumnavigation are more than spare-time for the reader´s brain.
Books on circumnavigation are more than spare-time for the reader´s brain.

Same area but with a practical use: How to-guides in circumnavigation. There are a lot of good books on how to plan a world-cruise, which boat to choose and how to equip it, when to sail where the best and which islands od landfalls not to miss can mark a starting point and motivate the presentee to make his or her dream come true. But be aware: If he is your partner, he might want to turn the good read into reality soon …

A good Book is a Perfect Present. Always.

No matter which book you choose – if there´s a personal point to it or a message attached it can be a perfect present for a skipper, no matter how experienced or not he may be. I am right now refitting my 40 year old boat (article can be read here) and I can tell you – if there is anyone sending me a book on ships electrical stuff, on laminating GRP and varnishing it, on ships woodworks and other crafting stuff … just perfect! It´s a good read, it is of great practical value and educates me. What more to expect from a Christmas present?

The all-time-classics: Schenk, Erdmann, Cornell & Co.
The all-time-classics: Schenk, Erdmann, Cornell & Co.

Which book you may choose – I wish you all a merry Christmas, a lucky hand in finding the right literature and may your skipper and you have a wonderful Christmas time!


What is a perfect maritime read for you? Looking forward to your comments.