The highest compliment you can pay to some people is to say that they’ve never held down a job. For anybody with the goal of long-term cruising, the first question might be how to achieve that goal. That’s not to say that Tor Pinney doesn’t work. His brief autobiography in the introduction to this book is a description of a life of ease that sounds like very hard work. If you were wondering how you might prepare a boat for cruising, a good first step would be to ask questions of somebody who has done it. Tor Pinney has done it, and this book was written to answer those first questions. His credentials are impressive, and he presents his subject well.

Ready For Sea is rich in specialized information, and the subtitle describes it fully and accurately: how to outfit the modern cruising sailboat and prepare your vessel and yourself for extended passagemaking and living aboard. In the wrong hands, though, this book could be dangerous: if cruising is something you feel drawn to but believe it’s something only “special people” can do, then you should be aware that Captain Pinney has the gift of making it seem achievable. You might well be left with thoughts along the lines of “I could do that.” This is not to imply that he trivializes the issues involved or encourages inadequate preparation, but behind all the preparations he never loses sight of his own rules, his “tenets,” and Tenet #1 is to have fun. That rule is summarized by his answer when someone suggests that he’s going to do some really serious sailing: “No, I’m not. I’m talking about doing some really fun sailing. Serious is what I hope to leave behind.”

This isn’t intended to be a how-to book. If you want detailed instructions on all of the things that need to be done, you should look elsewhere. What you will find here is a description of what you should do, rather than howyou should do it. Although it’s clearly aimed at a specialized audience, any sailboat owner will find some ideas here, if only the idea that it’s time to check your standing rigging (“Being dismasted is no fun, especially offshore. And that contradicts Tenet #1”). Tor shares my prejudices, but it seems to me that he believes in balance, with neither a hairshirt following of Joshua Slocum nor a belief in the need for every modern convenience. You will find a chapter on an Integrated Energy System, but also the suggestion that you don’t really need one.

If you’re planning on cruising, or dreaming of it, then this book should certainly be on your reading list.

Ready for Sea, How to Outfit the Modern Cruising Sailboat and Prepare Your Vessel and Yourself for Extended Passagemaking and Living Aboard  by Tor Pinney (Sheridan House, 2002; 240 pages)