7 Sailing Books to Read During the Lockdown

We asked the crew for some reading recommendations, this is what they came up with, enjoy.


Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage

Type: based on a true story
Author: Alfred Lansing
Where to buy: Waterstones, Amazon

As a reviewer on Good Reads commented,  “There aren't many true-life tales that live up to the hype. There are always some details that make the story just a little less dramatic than in the made-for-TV movie. Not this time!”

This is the story of Ernest Shackleton and 27 of his men who set sail in 1914 aboard their vessel, Endurance on an expedition to the South Pole.

When their ship is crushed amongst the ice, Shackleton and his crew face a seemingly impossible journey over 850 miles to the Southern Atlantics most treacherous seas.

This book gives an incredible insight into the fateful expedition of Shackleton and his men. If you like true stories of adventure, heroism, exploration and courage against the odds, this is the book for you. Be warned, it’s hard to put down!


A Voyage for Madmen

Author: Peter Nichols
Type: based on a true story
Where to buy: Amazon, Waterstones

In 1968 the world saw the start of the inaugural 1968 Sunday Times Golden Globe Race, the first single handed non-stop round the world yacht race the world had ever seen. The race later became known as the BOC Challenge and more recently the Vendee Golden Globe.

Here Peter Nichols tells the true story of the first sailors (such as Nigel Tetley, Chay Blyth, Donald Crowhurst and Sir Robin Knox-Johnson) who became the first to accept the challenge of racing around the world, without stopping, without support and braving the marine weather on their own.

The Guardian described it as, “a book about boats and the sea, about wind and waves and frightening, lonely places. A wonderful yarn, told with passion.”


The Bounty: The True Story of the Mutiny

Author: Caroline Alexander
Type: based on a true story
Where to buy: Amazon

In 1789, during a return voyage from Tahiti, Royal Navy officer William Bligh aboard his ship HMS Bounty.

Officer Bligh and 18 of his loyal crew members were set adrift on a small boat without any sailing navigation tools in the middle of the ocean by first mate Fletcher Christian. This abandonment led Bligh and his men to navigate an unprecedented 3,618 nautical miles in their tiny vessel through treacherous seas and stormy weather. In this book Caroline Alexander tells the tale of this incredible seamanship and human endurance.

This true story more recently featured in a UK TV adventure series called “Mutiny” where ex SAS special forces operative Anthony Middleton lead a handful of civilians and sailors to recreate Bligh and his men’s fateful trip.


An Unsung Hero: Tom Crean - Antarctic Survivor

Author: Michael Smith
Type: based on a true story
Where to buy: Amazon

Follow the story of Tom Crean who ran away to sea at the young age of 15. Some argue he spent more time exploring the Antarctic than Captain Robert Falcon Scott and Ernst Shackleton.

Tom was part of three expeditions to Antarctica during what became known as the heroic age of Antarctica exploration. He was also a member of Ernst Shackleton’s expedition on The Endurance (listed above) which resulted in the crew being stranded on ice for 492 days before making the 800 nautical mile trip in lifeboats to the inhospitable Elephant Island.

An inspirational story of one of life’s greatest sailors and adventurers and a must read for anyone who loves the sea.


Solitaire Spirit: Three Times Around the World Single-Handed

Author: Les Powles

Type: based on a true story

Where to buy: Amazon, Waterstones

This book was written by the sailor himself, Les Powles.

With only eight hours of sailing experience Les decided to set sail solo around the world, something we doubt anyone would attempt with so little sailing navigation knowledge!

Read tales of his incredible journey that turned into not one but three circumnavigations. This book details the adventures found and mistakes made, including getting lost in the middle of the Atlantic, making landfall on the wrong continent and even being given up for dead.

Les Powles is now 86 and lives aboard his self-built yacht Solitaire in Lymington Yacht Haven, which has given him a free berth for life. Les won yachtsman of the year in 1981 for his incredible yachting achievements. In this book we have the honour of reading his story.


Adrift: 76 Days Lost at Sea

Author: Steve Callahan

Type: 1986 memoire

Where to buy: Amazon

This book, once the New York Times bestseller for more than 36 weeks, is an incredible memoir by Steven Callahan about his incredible survival whilst alone in a life raft in the Atlantic Ocean. This is a  first hand account by the only man known to have survived more than a month alone at sea. Steve Callahan’s sailboat, Napoleon Solo, a 6.5-meter sloop that he designed and built by himself sank in the Atlantic, leaving him stranded in a five foot inflatable raft, exposed to the marine weather for seventy six days! Steve drifted over 1,800 miles before being rescued. This is an incredible true story of survival against the odds, a gripping read for any sailor or lover of the sea.  


Running Free: the autobiography of Robin Knox-Johnston

Author: Robin Knox-Johnston
Type: autobiography
Where to buy: Amazon, Waterstones, The Telegraph Bookshop

In 1969 Sir Robin Knox-Johnston won the Sunday Times Golden Globe Race making him the first person to sail single handed non-stop around the globe. Having circumnavigated in his 9.8 metre yacht Suhaili, a boat he still has today, Sir Robin went on to donate his prize money of £5,000 to Donald Crowhurst’s family, a fellow competitor who committed suicide after attempting to fake his position in the race.

Fifty years on from this harrowing race Sir Robin reveals the true story of his incredible life.

Inspired by our list? Have a go with the savvy navvy sailing navigation app and plot a course from the comfort of your home to prepare for your return to the waves!

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