Sailing Small is an anthology of tales of several sailors’ attempts to find a sailboat that would meet their need to get away from everyday life. Most are stories of finding a boat “on the cheap” and adapting their needs to fit its accommodations. The stories related also confirm what many have suspected: that sailors learn to tolerate their boats’ flaws and even learn to love them in spite of their limitations. Each story is revealing and stands alone, making the book easy to read.

The first chapter is by the editor explaining his premise and detailing some boats to demonstrate his points. The last chapter is by a boat designer sharing his thoughts as to boat design, which should be helpful to anyone having a boat built or buying a boat. There is a section of color pictures of the different boats described in these stories.

Each author tells how and why they chose the boat they did, how the boat came to be used, and how the owner adapted the boat to his or her needs. In many cases they also tell how they adapted their needs to fit the size and construction of the boat. Authors are from several countries, have varying backgrounds, and have different outlooks on life. The thing that ties these stories together is how they all learn to use their small sailboats to best advantage. Some are tales of weekend cruises close to home, and some of more extended cruising. This is not an “around the world in three years” collection, although some of the authors did have lengthy adventures. Nor is it a cookbook or a how-to book about cruising. It would be better described as a “what I came to discover closer to home collection.”

I think the editor described this collection best when he sub-titled it, “Inspiration and Instruction for the Pocket Cruiser.” Small sailboats of affordable costs for ordinary folks of reasonable means are the subject of these writings. Small Sailing could best be described as a lot of ideas presented as part of different stories.

This book will push you toward buying a boat you can afford instead of dreaming of something you cannot make happen. Those who already own a boat will glean ideas they can use…or even better ideas they can use as a starting point to develop their own procedures or modifications which will make their sailboat better fit their needs. It’s definitely worth reading!

Sailing Small, Inspiration and Instructions for the Pocket Cruiser Edited by Stan Grayson (Devereux Books, 2004; 197 pages)