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Books as ballast

Wondertime's bookshelf. Already a bit crowded....

With nearly all systems ready and the standing rigging replacement just about complete, Michael and I have been left to concentrate on tucking away the hundreds of pounds of spare parts, tools, clothes, sails, toys, art supplies and books we want to take along into Wondertime’s cubbies. As it currently stands, by the time we get around to packing the food on board it appears that we’ll all be stuffing our pillows with dried rice and pasta. But as always, I’m sure everything will find it’s place eventually.

My job this week is to sort through the eight crates of books that have been in our storage locker and make the painful choice as to which ones go with us, which ones stay in their crates and which ones go on to new homes. This is no easy task: I’ve already weeded out our book collections many times previously, moving from house to house and then onboard Wondertime last year. The remaining ones are our very favorites and now it’s time to weed through them and pick out our very very favorites.

Today, I sorted through our three crates of sailing books. This actually wasn’t too difficult as many of them are collectibles we’ve already read so I easily filled a crate with those books. Others were outdated (but beloved) guidebooks from past cruises, favorite old “how to go cruising” books (before we found out the only way to really find out how to go cruising is to GO cruising), and a variety of reference books that we haven’t cracked since Google was invented. Another crate holds our favorite sailing stories. I will no doubt miss these and yearn to reread many as we travel (I am sure a fourth reading of Maiden Voyage is in my future). I am also fairly certain we will procure ourselves a Kindle or Nook at some point so I am just going to have faith that I’ll be able to access these stories easily one day even as they are tucked safely away in our storage closet in Olympia.

Finally, the chosen few were selected and packed into a relatively small cardboard box for transport afloat: Charlie’s Charts of Mexico, our Mexico Lonely Planet guides, Nigel Calder’s Boatowner’s Mechanical and Electrical Manual, our British Columbia cruising guides, a book on celestial navigation, our Storm Tactics Handbook, Spanish for Cruisers. Wondertime’s bookshelf space is at a premium and while I am the type of person that just loves to have books around because they look nice, only the ones that will actually be read and used make the cut.

That done, I am now moving on to my cookbooks, fiction books, general reference books, children’s picture books and children’s chapter books. I have a sneaking suspicion that there is going to be yet another round of book sorting.


  1. ben says:

    Laptop/kindle/nook/ipad/etc + http://www.blueleaf-book-scanning.com/ for the ones not already available digitally.

  2. get the kindle, wife loves hers. I’ve got a bunch of free classics at google books. pre 1910 before copyright, shakespear, Mark twain………. and so on.

  3. Matthew says:

    I’ve been rotating books on and off the boat. The Timberland Library has been my source for fiction and research. Now that we’ll be leaving that behind, we’ll be stocking up on paperbacks in hopes to exchange them along the way and/or buy more. Otherwise, we’re trimmed down to necessary reference sources and song books. Gotta have music!

    1. Sara says:

      We are going to miss the library so!

  4. Hi guys, another vote for the Kindle – we’ve been using our ours a lot. (And free access to email on it whenever there’s a 3g signal)
    Love your site and hope to meet you in person down in Mexico this year!

  5. Gretchen Lippert says:

    We’re not yet moved aboard- we will be finally aboard in August – but we too are struggling with the book issue. I have a Kindle and I know this will be our saving grace. Get the 3G version. It won’t replace a computer but the free 3G is a godsend for basic web browsing and if I’m not mistaken, it works worldwide, not just the US. Suggestion for the cookbook issue: Keep only those that you use frequently. The rest: find the recipes in there that you do use or will probably use, and copy them into a journal, thus creating your own little cookbook. I have done this for many years and it saves so much time – I don’t have to dig through books or my recipe box. I prefer a wire-bound book; I can tear out pages if I make a mistake or if I decide that a recipe is cluttering up my book. Good luck!