Seamanship and Sea Faring by Robin Knox Johnston
This book is a delight to read. The chapter headings alone are worth the cover price. Fernhurst Books have put together a series of Sir Robin's articles which originally appeared in Yachting Monthly. One part of the book is full of straightforward practical advice and sound common sense. They distill the practical wisdom gained during 40 years or more at sea and show how to put into practice what you might have learned in your theory courses. His advice is as useful for sailing round the Isle of Wight as for sailing round the world. There is not a wasted sentence. Every word is helpful. It doesn't quite replace the theory, but almost. The author assumes you know the basics and are reasonably competent. The chapter on freeing the prop, for example, assumes you have a knife on board that can do more than slice tomatoes and a crew member who does not mind getting their hair wet.
The second part of the book consists of anecdotes from Sir Robin's long sailing career and extensive racing experience. He makes his stories amusing, light hearted and instructive. Like all really gifted sportsmen, he makes it look and sound easy. You feel you could easily master the skill depicted in the sixth chapter and thus make a useful crew in Sydney to Hobart Race and would be sure to be warmly welcomed in the bar described in the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club. Such is the power of an engaging and well written book.