Some of our friends are gearing up for a Pacific crossing, so I spent some time trying to compile my favorite resources for them. A few years ago, we sailed down the West Coast of Mexico, and while I'll say we were actually pretty prepared, we definitely still learned a lot. Here are some great books to check out if you're planning on cruising. If you don't see one of your favorite books here, let me know and I'll add it to the list!
This book was like our bible! It's an absolute must-have for anyone cruising Mexico. It's easy to find information about the major ports, but this book also includes GPS charts of tiny cruising anchorages, villages, ports for fuel, provisions, all the marinas, haul-out yards, local services as well as local attractions and tons of photos.
I studied Spanish in high school, but no class can prepare you with the practical, specialized phrases you need to communicate with port captains, dock attendants, marina and boatyard staff, mechanics, marine technicians, rescuers, fishermen and divers. It's completely indexed in English and Spanish, with easy-to-use pronunciation for every word, plus illustrations and diagrams of systems and boat parts. If you're heading in to French waters, you can also get French for Cruisers.
Every boat should have a copy of the USCG Navigation Rules and Regulation handbook (often referred to as COLREGS, aka, international regulations for collision avoidance) onboard, and if your boat is over 40', it's a requirement!
Eventually, something is going to break, and you're going to have to figure out how to fix it on your own. The Boatowner’s Mechanical and Electrical Manual by Nigel Calder has pretty much become the standard for on-board maintenance. If it’s on a boat and it has screws, wires, or moving parts, it’s covered in this book.
I'm thankful we never had to use this book, but I felt way more comfortable and prepared for our trip after scanning it. The author, Michael Beilan, is a physician who has also circumnavigated, so this guide understands the specific medical needs/plans of cruisers better than any other.
This book isn't for everyone, but it's one of Derek's favorites. It chronicles Bernard Moitessier's own incredible story of his participation in the first Golden Globe Race, a solo, non-stop circumnavigation rounding the three great Capes of Good Hope, Leeuwin, and the Horn. It might just inspire you to leave and never come back!