Winter is the time for Great Lakes sailors who haven’t pointed the bow south towards little latitudes to plan next season’s cruises, prepare the spring maintenance list, shop for boat upgrades, learn more about sailing and dream about their “next boat”. Books provide a great means for beginning all of these processes.
The Modern Cruising Sailboat (International Marine 2009) by Charles Doane offers a wealth of information useful as a guide for beginning cruising sailors and as an authoritative and nearly comprehensive review for cruising veterans. While mostly directed at the cruising sailor, racers and day sailors will also likely find the book interesting.
The book is well written with great illustrations and pictures. The first half of the book covers design and construction and is the most comprehensive at doing so that I’ve read in a book aimed at a cruising audience. There’s also a fair bit of historical information that some readers will enjoy. While readers likely won’t find all of the information and ideas for fitting out a cruising boat new, I’m certain they will pick up several ideas that will be helpful.
There's also a section at the end where Doane reviews 40 cruising boats ranging from 27' to ~60' feet. He chooses boats that he recommends for cruising based on his personal experience and gives a wide-array of different styles. This is the section of the book that many readers will gravitate towards for practical perspective on which boats to consider for purchase and which boats to keep locked in their minds as dream boats. I personally appreciated the size range, price range and collections of older boats included in the this section. Doane certainly could have included many new boats with his experience as editor-at-large for Sail magazine, but instead I believe he appeals to a wider audience by including several vintage, “affordable” cruising sailboats. While I would have liked to see a review of at least one pilothouse or motor-sailer, Doane candidly told me in an email correspondence that he’d like to add these if a second edition of the book is published.
While I’ve read just about all the sailing books and magazines I can get my hands on, The Modern Cruising Sailboat is the type of book I’ll keep close at hand for reference, alongside a select few other titles such as Beth Leonard’s The Voyager’s Handbook and Don Casey’s This Old Boat. Unfortunately I enjoyed Doane’s book so much that I read through it in about a week’s time so now I’ve got to find more reading to take me through the rest of the long Great Lakes winter.
The Modern Cruising Sailboat is readily available on Amazon.com. You can read more about the author on his personal blog at http://www.wavetrain.net/