Nigel Calder's Cruising Handbook: A Compendium for Coastal and Offshore Sailors / Edition 1

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The most comprehensive and helpful guide ever written for selecting and equipping a cruising sailboat

Whether you’re a coastal or offshore cruiser, you’ll find your most pressing concerns treated with the know-how that makes for skillful, confident cruising in Nigel Calder’s Cruising Handbook. The author -- one of the most respected marine how-to authors on either side of the Atlantic, and author of the universally admired Boatowner's Mechanical and Electrical Manual, -- walks you through all key technical and practical aspects of modern cruising systems and equipment, providing you with a summary of the skills necessary for safe, enjoyable sailing.

The first half of the book includes an easy-to-use tabular method for evaluating a boat's suitability for cruising; ideas for workable deck and interior lay-outs and organization; how to choose and configure suitable boat systems for cruising; and how to install gear for trouble free operation.

The book's second half teaches you boat handling skills; core navigational expertise; anchoring techniques; weather understanding; heavy weather expertise; and specific skills for long-term and long-distance cruising.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780071350990
  • Publisher: McGraw-Hill Professional Publishing
  • Publication date: 5/7/2001
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 608
  • Sales rank: 819,308
  • Product dimensions: 8.40 (w) x 11.00 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Nigel Calder has decades of sailing and cruising behind him. He is widely acknowledged as the world's foremost writer on boat systems maintenance, and writes regularly for SAIL, Cruising World, Ocean Navigator, Professional Boatbuilder, and Yachting Monthly, among other magazines. He is the author of six books, including Boatowner's Mechanical and Electrical Manual, Marine Diesel Engines, Refrigeration for Pleasureboats, The Cruising Guide to the Northwest Caribbean, and Cuba: A Cruising Guide.
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Table of Contents

Front Matter




Part One: The Boat

Chapter 1. A Boat for Cruising

Basic Design Parameters

Length-Beam Ratio; Keel Types; Displacement Calculations; Ballast Ratio; Displacement-Length Ratio; Overhangs; Waterplanes and Immersion; Comfort Factor; Sail Area-Displacement Ratio; Stability Curves and Ratio; Capsize Screening Value and STIX Number; Maintaining Control; Speed-Length Ratio; Buttocks, Diagonals, and Aft Sections; Speed versus Comfort

Getting Down to Details

Construction Materials; Cored Hulls and Decks; Hull-to-Deck Joints; Structural Reinforcements; Keels; Rudders and Skegs; Skegs and Propellers; Bilge Water and Tankage


Chapter 2. On Deck

Rigs and Rigging

Rig Options; Masts, Spreaders, and Shroud Angles; Holding Up the Mast; Roller-Reefing Foresails; Mainsail; Odds and Ends

Cockpits and Deck Layout

Center or Aft Cockpit; Basic Parameters and the Comfort Factor; Steering; Dodgers and Biminis; Cockpit Flooding; Deck Design and Layout; Stowage

Dealing with Ground Tackle

Bow Platform; Deck Layout; Anchor Wells; Chain Locker; Windlasses

Addendum: Carbon Fiber Masts

Lightning and Other Survival Issues

Chapter 3. Cruising Accommodations: Fusing Functionality at Sea with Comfort on the Hook

General Considerations

Minimizing Motion; Keeping Things in Place; Insulation; Ventilation; Air Conditioning and Heating

Specific Spaces

Navigation Station; Wet Locker; Galley; Saloon; Forecabins, Quarter Berths, and Aft Cabins; Head Compartment


Addendum: Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Carbon Monoxide Alarms

Chapter 4. Electrical Systems

A Balanced System

Keeping the Load Down; The Supply Side; Supplementary Sources of Power; Defining the Limits; Miscellaneous DC Systems Issues

DC to AC Inverters

Sizing an Inverter; DC and AC Installations

Over-Current Protection and High-Current Circuits

What Size Fuse or Circuit Breaker?; High-Current Circuits; Check Your Own Boat

Low-Energy Refrigeration

Efficiency; Versatility; Insulate, Insulate, Insulate; Enhancing Performance; Effective Refrigeration

Low-Energy Lighting

Fluorescent Lights; LED Lighting; Halogen Lights

AC Systems

Safety; Corrosion; Miscellaneous AC Systems Comments

Bonding, Zinc Anodes, and Lightning Protection

Stray-Current Corrosion and Bonding; Lightning Protection


Chapter 5. The Rest of the Systems

The Engine and Propeller

How Big an Engine?; Propeller Sizing; Propeller Matters; Peripheral Systems; Living with an Engine

Fuel and Water Tanks

Metal Tanks; Plastic Tanks; Freshwater Systems; Watermakers

Bilge Pumps

Flooding Rates and Pumping Capacities; Improving Performance: Hoses and Check Valves; Improving Performance: Electrical Considerations; Float Switches; Keeping Dry Below Decks

Through-Hulls, Seacocks, and Hoses

Quality Through-Hulls and Seacocks; Hoses

Propane Installations

The Problem of Refills When Cruising

Making Equipment Choices

What Spares to Carry?

Chapter 6. Acquisition Strategies

Defining Priorities

What Size Boat?; To Build or Not to Build; Commissioning Costs

Used-Boat Market

Refurbishing an Older Sailboat; Old Racing Boats; A Survey; Go Sailing as Soon as Possible!

Cruising-Boat Questionnaire and Checklist of Desirable Features

Part Two: Cruising Skills

Chapter 7. Boat Handling under Power and Sail

Maneuvering under Power

Close Quarters Maneuvering under Power; Docking (Mooring) Lines; Docking Situations; The Mediterranean Moor; Getting in and out of Slips; Picking up and Leaving a Mooring

Sailing Skills

A Little Theory (of Sorts!); Going to Windward; Using Telltales; Adjusting Draft; Tacking; Reaching; Running before the Wind; Double Headsails; Spinnakers; Cruising Spinnakers; Weather Helm and Lee Helm; Motor Sailing

Tuning a Rig

Preparatory Measurements; Static Tuning; Dynamic Tuning at Sea

Chapter 8. Piloting, Navigation, and the Rules of the Road

Paper Charts

Chart Construction; Chart Terminology and Symbols; Chart Corrections; Other Nautical Publications

Buoyage Systems and Lighthouses

Lateral and Cardinal Marks; Lighthouses; Picking out Navigation Marks

Compasses and Plotting

Compass Basics; Compass Installation and Adjustment; Transferring Bearings to and from a Chart; Plotting Positions

Basic Piloting

Dead Reckoning; Estimated Positions, and Set and Drift; Fixes; Plotting Conventions; Tides, Tidal Currents, and Currents; Keeping a Logbook; Expanding the Piloting Repertoire; Complex Situations, Fog, and Coral

Electronic Navigation

Chart and GPS Datums; Electronic Charting; Radar Navigation

Rules of the Road

Basic Rules; Sound (and Light) Signals; Navigation Lights

In Perspective

Addendum: One Person's Ellipsoid Is Another Person's Shipwreck

Newton versus the Cassini Family; From Sphere to Ellipsoid; From Ellipsoid to Geoid; A New Age; Nautical Peculiarities; Avoiding Reefs

Chapter 9. Anchoring, Running Aground, and Kedging Off

Ground Tackle

Calculating the Load; Matching the Components; Chain Rodes; Rope Rodes; How Much Rode?; Anchor Choices


Anchoring Routine; Setting and Retrieving an Anchor under Sail; Setting More than One Anchor; Retrieving (Weighing) an Anchor

Running Aground and Kedging Off

Running Aground under Sail; Running Aground on a Rising Tide; Running Aground on a Falling Tide; Running Aground in Tideless Waters; Towing and Salvage

Chapter 10. The Ditty Bag

Modern Ropes

A Look at Construction; Caring for Ropes

Marlinespike Seamanship

Knots; Eye Splices; Seizings and Whippings; Ratlines


Materials and Construction; Maintenance and Repairs


Hard versus Inflatable; Inflatable Options; Getting a Dinghy on and off a Boat; Miscellaneous Dinghy Thoughts

Foul-Weather Gear

Features; Layering and the Extremities

Safety-Related Equipment

Life Jackets and Harnesses; Crew Overboard Maneuvers; Fire Extinguishers

Chapter 11. Weather Predictions and Heavy-Weather Sailing

Basic Theory

Adding Wind and Putting a Spin on These Processes; Pressure Changes, Isobars, and Wind Direction; Relative Humidity, Air Masses, Stability, and Instability; Frontal Systems; The Jet Stream and the 500-Millibar Chart; The Big Picture

Coastal Cruising: Putting Theory to Use

Onshore and Offshore Winds; Thunderstorms; Fog

Offshore Cruising: Putting Theory to Use

Things to Monitor; Signs of Change; Ocean Currents

Extreme Weather Situations

Hurricanes and Typhoons; Rapidly Intensifying Lows (Meteorological Bombs); Microbursts

Heavy-Weather Sailing

Being Prepared; Heaving-To; Lying Ahull; Running Off; Sea Anchors; Dealing with Flooding; Abandoning Ship


Chapter 12. Extended Cruising and Staying in Touch

Logistical Considerations

Provisioning; Ensuring Safe Water; Environmental Issues; Finding Crew; Financial Matters and Insurance; Bureaucracy; Children Onboard

Staying Healthy

Seasickness; Good Health in Tropical Climates; Diarrhea; Childhood Infections and Infestations; Avoiding Mosquito-Borne and Other Transmittable Diseases; Cuts, Scratches, Insect Bites, and Marine Hazards

Staying in Touch

Big Ship Developments; VHF Radio; Marine SSB and Ham SSB Radio; Inmarsat; Satellite and Cell (Mobile) Phones; E-Mail; Making Decisions; Snail Mail



Metric Conversions and Trademarks


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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 27, 2006

    Thick and a bit gassy

    It's a big expensive book like the rest. I'd recommend it for cookie cutter big buck cruising. If you're a bit more fringe finanically, it's only going to frustrate you. Geared for the charter boat world.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 18, 2001

    Outstanding summary for beginners and experienced cruisers

    My wife and I realized a dream as we purchased our Valiant 40 in Dec. of 2000. Since that time I have read as many books as possible on all the various subjects needed to become a proficient cruiser. We have taken the courses prescribed and sailed as often as possible to upgrade our skills..we were really novices. I was driving my wife crazy as I bought book after book to find 'the answer' to all cruising situations. If I were to take one book on our boat while cruising...this is it! Excellent job!! Covers it all!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 10, 2012

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