Writer-sailor John Rousmaniere (“room-an-ear”) has written 25 books and hundreds of articles about the practical and historical aspects of sailing and the sea. He has sailed more than 40,000 miles, including many long passages, cruises, ocean races, and small boat races. His Annapolis Book of Seamanship has been one of America’s standard sailing manuals for almost 25 years, with extensive sections on personal safety, heavy weather sailing, navigation, and other skills of basic and advanced seamanship. His Annapolis Book of Seamanship Series is a five-DVD series of sailing instruction.
John helped found the US SAILING/Cruising World magazine Safety-at-Sea Seminar program and has moderated or spoken at more than 40 safety seminars across the country. He co-created the Cruising and Seamanship seminars sponsored by North U, the instructional arm of North Sails, and presented more than 50 of these one-day seminars and Suddenly Alone seminars. He is a former Seamanship columnist for Sailing World magazine and the online magazine, SailNet. John is a member of the Cruising Club of America and the New York Yacht Club, and an advisor to the USAILING’s Safety-at-Sea Committee. He previously served for many years on US SAILING’s Olympic Sailing Committee and now is a member of the Bermuda Race Organizing Committee.
John’s book, Fastnet, Force 10, about the deadly 1979 Fastnet Race storm (in which he sailed), was hailed by the Los Angeles Times as “a narrative worthy of the best sea literature.” His book After the Storm concerns storms at sea and their consequences for survivors, families, and communities. It was praised by Nathaniel Philbrick as “the crowning achievement of one of America's foremost sailing writers.”
An authority on the history of sailing, he wrote A Berth to Bermuda (a history of the 100-year-old Bermuda Race), The Golden Pastime: A New History of Yachting, Sleek (a collection of 80 photographs from the golden age of black and white photography), In a Class by Herself: The Yawl Bolero and the Passion for Craftsmanship, and The Low Black Schooner: Yacht America, 1851-1945, among other books, and edited Olin Stephens’ autobiography, All This and Sailing, Too. He has served on the editorial advisory boards of The Oxford Encyclopedia of Maritime History, The Oxford Companion to Ships and the Sea, and The Encyclopedia of Yacht Designers.
He has written the scripts for or appeared on many videos and television shows and was the writer on the Outdoor Life Network’s coverage of the 2002-03 Louis Vuitton Cup. John lives in New York City with his wife Leah Ruth Robinson-Rousmaniere.
John’s recommendations: (revised July ‘08)
INSPIRING AND ENTERTAINING
Sailing Alone Around the World by Joshua Slocum (originally published 1900) - Essential. The story of one of the word’s great sailors making the first solo circumnavigation.
Cruising at Last: Sailing the East Coast by Elliott Merrick (2003) - A passionate, articulate, wry sailor in a small boat, demonstrating the transforming art of living aboard a boat and visiting interesting places.
Taking on the World by Ellen MacArthur (2003) - The autobiography of one of the world’s greatest sailors. The perfect gift for a boat-mad girl.
The Quotable Sailor by Christopher Caswell (2001) - A handy, well-organized anthology of wise and funny quotes about sailing and boats by Ted Turner, E. B. White, John F. Kennedy, William F. Buckley, Jr., and other avid sailors.
We Didn’t Mean to Go to Sea by Arthur Ransome (originally published 1937). One of the famous “Swallows and Amazons” series of books that have inspired and entertained young readers for decades.
SAILING AND SEAMANSHIP MANUALS
The Annapolis Book of Seamanship by John Rousmaniere (3rd edition, 1999) - “A volume that any sailor or would-be sailor simply must own.” (Yachting) Coastal navigation, sailing theory and practice, safety, sail trim, heavy weather, meteorology, etc.
LONG DISTANCE CRUISING AND ADVENTURE
The Voyager’s Handbook by Beth A. Leonard. (2nd edition, 2006) - Tips and how-to by a veteran of 85,000 miles of offshore sailing.
Blue Horizons: Dispatches from Distant Seas by Beth A. Leonard (2007) - Thoughts and observations by a widely experienced cruising sailor who brings her readers into the cockpit and cabin to meet not just good sailors but interesting, quirky, and very real people.
Cruising in Seraffyn by Lin Pardey (1976, recent new edition) - Ocean cruising by a couple in a small boat.
Time and Tide: A Nautical Memoir by Robert Van Blaricom (2007, available by download from www.lulu.com) - A California sailor’s cruising life in many boats, big and small—some of which he built.
SEAMANSHIP, HEAVY WEATHER AND STORM SAILING
Surviving the Storm: Coastal and Offshore Tactics by Steve & Linda Dashew (1999) - Encyclopedic, with many important lessons.
Once is Enough by Miles Smeeton (1959, recent new edition) - Capsized in the Southern Ocean. One of the greatest adventure stories ever written.
Fastnet, Force 10 by John Rousmaniere (1980) - “John Rousmaniere's gripping account of that calamitous race is a must read for anyone thinking about sailing offshore. This richly detailed account provides inspiration for all sailors to thoroughly prepare and use good sense at sea.” (Gary Jobson)
All This and Sailing, Too: An Autobiography by Olin J. Stephens II (1999) - The life and work of the 20th century’s most important yacht designer and sailors, with much about good boats.
A Berth to Bermuda: 100 Years of the World’s Classic Ocean Race by John Rousmaniere (2006) - The story of the goal of many serious cruiser-racers—the Newport-Bermuda Race.
At minimum, the American Red Cross basic first aid manual.