A most amazing book arrived for review recently. The box weighed 8 pounds. This isn’t the sort of book you can hold on your lap or take along on the bus for light reading. The 528-page coffee-table size masterwork is not so much a book as an encyclopedia, an encyclopedia of yacht designers in one volume. Called The Encyclopedia of Yacht Designers, this impressive work was the dream of Lucia del Sol Knight, Bob Knight, and Dan MacNaughton. It was jointly written by more than 80 experts and was 10 years in the making.

It was worth the wait. It was even worth the weight. It may even be worth the price, a stiff $250. It’s a reference book that should be in every library so boaters everywhere have look-’em-up access. Not every boater will want to own a personal copy.

This masterful compilation includes designers you’ve never heard of from North America and the rest of the world along with all your favorites. No one was left out. It includes 525 designers from the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries. It includes designers for sail and power. It is an incredible reference tool containing an excellent index if the alphabetical presentation by name doesn’t help you find the individual you’re looking for.

I flipped through the pages in awe. You can’t just start with Bjarne Aas and read through to Douglas Zurn, as you might when reading a novel. Well, you could maybe, but I didn’t have the stamina. I’d still be on the letter D, with Oscar Wilhelm Dahlstrom, and this review would never get done!

This is a reference tool, not a novel. But it’s the most beautiful reference tool you’ll ever see. From its elegant cover to its gorgeous photos and illustrations of breathtaking beauties, it’s a heart-stopper. Paging through causes murmurs, sighs, and occasional gasps. I expect that you won’t be able to read it quietly.

This encyclopedia simply must be accessible to boaters everywhere through libraries, yacht clubs, and marina collections. Of course, it will also wind up in some private collections…possibly yours. I’m certainly not giving up MY copy! So ask your local nautical source to buy this book. Make a yacht club book fund. Talk to your local librarian.

When the Encyclopedia of Yacht Designers arrives, don’t hurt your back lifting it. Walk carefully to the closest sturdy table. Open it reverently. Try to suppress your oohs and aahhs if you’re in a library reading room. Others will be trying to concentrate on their studies, you know.

The Encyclopedia of Yacht Designers by Lucia del Sol Knight and Daniel MacNaughton (W.W. Norton & Company, 2005; 528 pages)