This book is aimed squarely at wannabe first-time cruisers who are ready to take concrete steps to casting off for a voyage. The author is a relatively young cruiser who bought a 1973 Columbia 34 in need of some attention, completed a total refit, and crossed the Pacific with his wife. Though the text contains a bit of motivation and insight, this is a practical distillation of the knowledge the author gained, from start to finish. It’s well-organized and touches on just about every subject I can imagine, from finding the right boat, to outfitting, to life aboard.

In fact, that’s the root of one of my only complaints about the book: there are subjects that should have been left out. It seems the author felt compelled to cover everything. Yet, I think the book would have been stronger if he had dropped a few topics. Rather than give 300 words or several pages to cruising with pets, or sailing with kids, or storm tactics, for example, it would have been better to simply acknowledge these subjects, and to then point readers to some of the books that focus on them. (Full disclosure, I’m the author of a book on sailing with kids.) Where the author covers topics with which he and his partner are familiar and experienced, the text comes alive with an authority conveyed through personal anecdote and perspective.

Readers should know that this is a book from a West Coast sailor who crossed the Pacific. Most of the information will be relevant to sailors starting a cruise from anywhere (and not necessarily crossing oceans, but liveaboard coastal cruising too), but the perspective and even some of the information is particular to the Rinkes’ adventure aboard Green Panther. Also, I stumbled on grammatical errors and typos, but not to the point of distraction.

Looking to untie some lines one day and disappear over the horizon? This book is a good step to getting your feet wet. While nearly all the information in this book is available elsewhere, it’s nice to have it distilled and organized between two covers and delivered in Rinke’s fresh voice.

All I Wish I Knew Before Setting Sail: A Practical Guide for Short and Long DIstance Cruising in the Digital Age, by Christian Rinke (Createspace, 2017; 340 pages; $17.95 print, $9.80 ebook)