“There’s nothing – absolutely nothing – half so much worth doing as messing around in boats”
Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows


The desire to ‘mess around in boats’ starts from a young age. Babies splashing with plastic vessels in their baths quickly become children controlling toy sailboats on lakes. Before long the water bug has fully set in and these infants become salty sea dogs for life.

Boats mean freedom. The sea offers independence – to stray away from trodden paths and find seclusion in a way that roads cannot permit. On top of this, the ability to retract a gangway presents a certain exclusivity which is then reinforced in the steep running costs inescapable with leisure boats.

Of course, a boat’s purpose stretches much further than cruising between coves, chasing the sun and sipping cocktails over a matchless view. Since the first dugouts (canoe-type boats) 10,000 years ago, ships and sailboats have played an integral part in civilisation and the progression of the human race. Navigated in commerce, travel and the military, they have permitted exploration of the unknown and created links between the distant and domestic.

To ‘mess around on a boat’, however, is to enjoy what the sea can give you. There is so much to learn from the water itself, not just from where it can take you. High speeds, water sports and stunning coastlines skirt its surface but beneath lies leagues of marine life, a million shades of blue and fathomless mystery.

So while you’re moored at Capri, Monaco, St Tropez or St Barths, take the time to indulge in stories of those who have been ‘messing around’ for years, the worth in doing so and the secrets which the water itself holds.

Classic Yachts

by Francois Chevalier

A testimony to maritime history, this book tells each sailing vessel’s story through arresting photographs, an informative text, and architectural diagrams.

How to Read Water: Clues, Signs & Patterns from Puddles to the Sea

by Tristan Gooley

This study of the behaviour of rivers, lakes and seas brims over with astonishing facts. From wild swimming in Sussex to wayfinding off Oman, via the icy mysteries of the Arctic, Tristan Gooley reveals the secret of water.


Gordon Bennett and the First Yacht Race Across the Atlantic

by Sam Jefferson

This pacey portrayal uses the 1866 yacht race to plot the transformation of yachting into something altogether more rugged and adventurous and of America into its gilded age.


The Stylish Life: Yachting

by Kim Kavin

As you browse the pages of this breathtaking tome, you’re bound to drift away to where everyone is rich and attractive – and it’s always the height of summer.

The Life of Pi

by Yann Martel

A positive and hopeful comment on the nature of human being, as told by Pi accompanied by a Bengal tiger aboard a stranded lifeboat.


Fifty Places to Sail before you die

by Chris Santella

Both in inspiration and information, this will help any budding sailor chart their own adventure.



The Sea

by Philip Plisson

Plisson’s deployment of light on water attains something close to painting with photography. An incredible example of the fruits of patience and creativity conjoined.

Stories of the Sea

by Everyman Classics

Tales of shipwrecks and storms at sea, of creatures from the deep, and of voyages to distant places as told by literary greats.



by van der Wal

A colourful tale, lavishly told through immaculate photography of all things sailing.



by Konemann

A stunning dedication to the boatyard which has contributed more than any other to spreading the cult of Italian style around the world.