Nautical tales: Our top 10 book recommendations

Now’s the perfect time to catch up on some nautical yarns – enjoy the thrill of adventure on the high seas from the comfort of your armchair!

 Need some inspiration for your next read? Take a look at our top 10 book recommendations: 

A collage of nautical books

Photo: Hart Warming Classics/Adlard Coles/Michael Joseph/Whittles Publishing/Little Toller Books/Fernhurst Books/Bloomsbury

The Salt Path by Raynor Winn 

Facing the collapse of life as they know it, most people wouldn’t decide to embark on a trek around England’s South West Coast Path. 

Raynor Winn’s remarkable tale documents a journey with her husband. They’ve lost their home and he is diagnosed with a progressive brain disorder. With a renewed need to make every moment count, they pack their bags and set off from Minehead to Poole. 

Winn’s writing is honest and emotional, describing the landscape and the characters along the way. The hope and humour make this an inspiring and memorable read. 

Published by Penguin (ISBN 9781405937184)

An Illustrated Coastal Year by Celia Lewis 

Celia effortlessly guides her reader through the annual cycle of life along the British coastline. Her award-winning watercolours and linocut prints highlight the fauna and flora you may see along the way. 

Within the seasons you find a feast with easy-to-follow recipes, many from some of Britain’s best seafood chefs. Henry’s monkfish wraps are a new family favourite. 

This is a book that transcends the generations, keeping little visitors busy learning new things. Without doubt one of the most delightful and beautiful books I have had the joy to read.
Published by Bloomsbury (ISBN 9781472911704)

Knox-Johnston by Robin Knox-Johnston

Take Sailor Alex Thompson’s word for it: ‘Anyone who ventures to sea would be wise to take advantage of the seamanship lessons that Robin has learned.’ This book’s a real treat, packed with down-to-earth practical advice and entertaining tales from Robin’s 50 years of seafaring. 

It’s a collection of articles from Yachting World magazine, making it an easy book to dip in and out of. There’s an original introduction from Robin, reflecting on how sailing’s changed over the last half a century. 

Published by Fernhurst Books (ISBN 9781912177141)

On the Marshes by Carol Donaldson 

This is a true story of the author’s journey by foot across the waterlands of north Kent. 

It’s a romance, not only in the sense that she tells us about her last relationship, but mainly because of her love of nature, a yearning for simple life. The birds keep Carol company – the marsh harriers, oyster catchers and herons. Drawn to the watery margins of society, Carol gently reminds us there’s an alternative to the rat race. 

With her, we meet people on the edge of England. This quietly revolutionary book is a breath of fresh air. 

Published by Little Toller Books (ISBN 9781908213501)

Nelson’s Arctic Voyage by Peter Goodwin

 Admiral Lord Nelson’s famous victories during the Napoleonic Wars made him a national hero. But what was he up to at the age of 14? 

Discover the life of young Nelson as he joined the Royal Navy as a midshipman on their first expedition to the Arctic. A journey believed to have influenced his later career, he faced extreme conditions, awful storms and a legendary polar bear. 

With details of the ships and how the crew navigated them, and drawings from original journals, Nelson’s Arctic Voyage is an excellent read for anyone with an interest in naval history. 

Published by Adlard Coles (ISBN 9781472954176)

Waypoints by Ian Stephen

Join Ian Stephen on his adventures as he explores the west coast of Scotland. His passion for sailing seeps through the pages as he tells stories of his voyages on 10 vessels – each wonderfully described and accompanied by Christine Morrison’s beautiful illustrations. 

Throughout Waypoints, Ian Stephen shares traditional sea tales, giving you a fascinating insight into his lifelong love for the Scottish coastline and the mysteries that surround it. 

The perfect read for those who share a love of sailing, the sea and immersing themselves in enthralling stories. 

Published by Adlard Coles (ISBN 9781472939630)

The Epic Voyages of Maud Berridge by Sally Berridge 

There are plenty of historical sailing epics you could dip into – but few are written by women. That’s what makes the story of Maud Berridge so fascinating. 

Maud, the wife of a master mariner and captain, wrote accounts of her voyages around the world in the late 1800s. And now her great-granddaughter brings Maud’s story to life, blending extracts from the diaries with information about life onboard a sailing ship, Victorian society and Maud’s backstory. 

Fancy a trip through time? This book will transport you right onto deck of a Victorian cargo ship. 

Published by Adlard Coles  (ISBN 9781472954237)

By the Sea: The therapeutic benefits of being in, on and by the water by Deborah Cracknell 

For those of us who have ever lived by or visited the sea, we know that a walk on the beach does wonders for the mind. But did you know that there is now a wealth of research to support this? 

This inspiring and informative book explores Dr Deborah Cracknell’s passionate research into the mentally and physically therapeutic benefits of being in, on or by the sea. It’s a comforting read, interwoven with beautiful photographs and paintings of the sea. And it finishes with a reminder of how, if we wish to continue to enjoy the water, we must also look after it. 

Published by Aster (ISBN 9781783252947)

The British Lighthouse Trail by Sarah Kerr

Calling all coastal explorers! This is the ultimate guide to visiting lighthouses around the UK, Isle of Man and Channel Islands. 

The British Lighthouse Trail provides a comprehensive list of lighthouses. It includes practical recommendations on how to reach them, maps, a description of their structure, and details of those open to the public. 

Each page includes photographs of these incredible maritime landmarks, as well as a handy checkbox to record when you visited. This is an essential handbook if you love lighthouses. 

Published by Whittles Publishing  (ISBN 9781849954402)

Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson

A tale told from the perspective of young Jim Hawkins, this classic adventure will have you on the edge of your seat. From the moment a mysterious and unnerving old pirate comes to stay at Jim’s family’s inn, his life is changed. And when he discovers a map leading to buried treasure on a secret island, he can’t resist following it.

Join Jim and the legendary Long John Silver as they embark on a thrilling expedition to find, and fight over, the buried treasure. 

Brilliantly written and featuring terrific characters, escape into a world of excitement and adventure with Treasure Island.

Published by Hart Warming Classics (ISBN 490906902X)

Want more?

Get more book reviews (plus rescue stories, interviews with RNLI lifesavers and fascinating features) with our quarterly Lifeboat magazine. Become a member today to get your copy.