tall ships sailing books

Top 10 Books on Tall Ships and Sailing History

As ship enthusiasts, we often seek to delve deep into the history of tall ships and sailing.

If you are fascinated by tall ships and sailing history, you might enjoy reading some of the books we recommend in this article.

These books cover different aspects of tall ships and sailing history, from historical accounts to fictional narratives, from technical manuals to artistic expressions.

Whether you are a novice or an expert, you will find something to inspire and educate you in these books.

1. “The Last Grain Race” by Eric Newby

This book is a classic sailing history masterpiece that depicts the author’s journey as a crew member aboard the Moshulu, a four-masted bark, during her last grain race from Australia to England in 1938.

Newby’s account of living in close quarters aboard a tall ship is a gripping tale filled with vivid descriptions and hilarious anecdotes, making it a must-read for all sailing lovers.

2. “The Republic of Pirates” by Colin Woodard

Pirate history is fascinating, and this book covers it in great detail. Woodard’s research takes us through a time when pirates dominated the Caribbean and threatened the economic order of the colonial powers.

It’s a thrilling and well-written book, with a unique perspective on piracy that’s sure to give you a new appreciation for the role of tall ships in history.

3. “The Bounty Trilogy” by Charles Nordhoff and James Norman Hall

This trilogy consists of three novels based on the true story of the mutiny on HMS Bounty in 1789.

The first novel, Mutiny on the Bounty, tells the story from the perspective of Roger Byam, a young midshipman who is torn between his loyalty to Captain Bligh and his sympathy for the mutineers.

The second novel, Men Against the Sea, follows Bligh and his loyal men as they make an incredible 3,600-mile voyage in an open boat to reach safety.

The third novel, Pitcairn’s Island, depicts the fate of the mutineers and their Tahitian companions who settle on a remote island in the Pacific.

4. “Two Years Before the Mast” by Richard Henry Dana Jr.

This memoir details Dana’s two-year journey from Boston to California on the tall ship Pilgrim during the nineteenth century.

He also provides a valuable eyewitness account of the early history of California under Mexican rule.

Dana was a historian turned sailor, and his vivid descriptions of life on the seas portrayed the hardships faced by sailors and gave a glimpse of life in the past, making it a must-read for anyone interested in the history of tall ships.

5. “The Sea and Civilization” by Lincoln Paine

If you’re looking for a comprehensive history of sailing and the impact it had on civilization, then look no further. Paine’s book details the evolution of seafaring, from early rafters and dugouts to modern container ships.

He provides an overview of the maritime history of each region, including technology, trade routes, and explorers, making it a definitive guide to the impact of maritime culture on civilization.

6. “A General History of the Pyrates” by Captain Charles Johnson

This book is considered one of the most crucial books in pirate history. It covers the Golden Age of Piracy from the late 17th to early 18th centuries, with accounts of notorious pirates like Blackbeard, Anne Bonny, and Calico Jack.

Johnson’s work is known to be a very detailed and well-researched history of famous pirates and their exploits.

7. “Longitude” by Dava Sobel

If you’re interested in the technical side of sailing, this book tells the fascinating story of the quest to determine longitude. Sobel’s book chronicles the efforts of John Harrison, who invented the marine chronometer in the eighteenth century, making sailing more accurate and reliable.

It’s a book that’s sure to pique the interest of anyone curious about the intersection of technology and sailing.

8. “The Complete Rigger’s Apprentice” by Brion Toss

This book is a comprehensive guide to the art and science of rigging, which is the system of ropes, wires, and chains that support and control the masts, sails, and yards of a sailing vessel.

The book covers everything from basic knots and splices to complex rigging systems and techniques. It also includes historical and cultural information, as well as practical advice and tips.

9. “The Wooden World” by N.A.M. Rodger

This book details the British Navy’s evolution from wooden sailing ships to the ironclad steam battleships of the nineteenth century.

Rodger’s book provides comprehensive descriptions of the wooden ships that dominated the seas during the early modern era, along with their technology and construction, making it an incredible read for anyone interested in naval architecture.

10. “Kon-Tiki” by Thor Heyerdahl

This book is an account of Heyerdahl’s voyage across the Pacific aboard the Kon-Tiki, a raft he constructed based on pre-Columbian designs.

It’s an engaging read that takes readers back to a time when people were still exploring the seas with rudimentary technology, and the book’s fascinating imagery and description of the voyage make it a must-read for anyone interested in tall ships and sailing.

To wrap up

These books are just a small sample of the vast literature available on the topic of tall ships and sailing history. They provide a comprehensive and fascinating look into the evolution of sailing, from piracy to naval architecture and technical innovation, and make an excellent addition to any ship enthusiast’s library.

We hope our list has inspired you to dive deeper into the history of tall ships and sailing and helped narrow down your choices for where to start.

Enjoy reading!