There are many books on the market that can help you take your first steps on your sailing career. I personally have about three feet of shelf devoted to that subject. Dan Spurr’s Your First Sailboat differs because it not only tells you how to find the right boat for you, it tells you what to do with it afterward. Fiberglass or wood, size, hull design, how to assess a vessel’s quality, and more are all covered to some extent in these pages.

This book does an excellent job of alleviating some of the doubt a potential new sailor may feel while considering a plunge into the world of motorless boating. One of my favorite parts of the book was the “What if . . .” section that covers what to do in a variety of worst-case scenarios that novice sailors often worry about. Disasters such as dismasting to a full-blown sinking boat are discussed in a humorous way that puts them in perspective.

The information in this book is very general, covering the basics of what you would need to learn once you actually owned a sailboat. For example, the section “Handling Your First Sailboat” should not be looked to as a definitive guide to sailboat piloting. I am sure this is by design though, as this book seems intended as a sort of recruitment tool for potential sailors. I would view it as a guide to what you will need to know, not necessarily the detailed information itself.

While reading this book I often found myself thinking, “Why didn’t I think of that before I bought my boat!” For that reason I wouldn’t recommend this book to someone who already owns a boat (unless they are in the market for another), but if you know anyone who has expressed the slightest interest in getting into sailing, but is reluctant to take the plunge — get them this book.

Your First Sailboat by Daniel Spurr (International Marine/Mcgraw Hill 2004; 270 pages)