Book Reviews

Every Boat Should Have a Copy!

How Boat Things Work

An Illustrated Guide by Charlie Wing

Today I’m pleased to review ‘How Boat Things Work’ by Charlie Wing. It’s a real treasure trove for any boat enthusiast like myself. Wing really breaks it all down with easy to understand explanations accompanied by an array of schematics, exploded diagrams and data tables of almost all systems onboard a boat – traditional or otherwise! Whether you’re tinkering with fuel injection or troubleshooting engine hiccups, Wing’s explanations and detailed diagrams are a lifesaver.

I first got my hands on How Boat Things Work (HBTW) nearly 10 years ago, after spending too much time pondering over my new-to-me Narrowboat’s 1.5 BMC engine. This was many years prior to ever stepping foot on a sailing ship, prior to the (extensive) hands on engine room experience as mate and bosun or my MCA Approved Engine qualification. NB ‘Ramble On’ wasn’t rambling anywhere and while I have never been scared of getting my hands dirty, fettling with this 40+ year old, new-to-me, marinised black cab engine was beyond my comfort zone. Not helped by the fact previous owners’ had modified it with various ‘improvements’…

I’m a big picture kind of gal’, and could look over an exploded diagram for hours. HBTW depicts a Yanmar 2GM as it’s sample engine but it was similar enough for me to get the idea of each aspect of my BMC. The book helped me understand the different systems of a marinised engine and eventually I tracked down the issues to geriatric glow plugs, an end-of-life alternator and a blockage in the raw water cooling system (duckweed be damned).

I kept it close at hand while I change alternator and replaced oil and fuel filters and I assumed the book would just sit collecting dust on the shelf until the next time a filter needed changing. At the time, much of the book was irrelevant to me, no rigging or anchor motors on my 47′ Narrowboat. No windvane’s or roller furling systems.

But as time went by, and I made Ramble On my home, I found myself going back to HBTW with each renovation. Water systems, a new prop, replacing the anodes and even upgrading my starter and leisure batteries. Even between projects, I loved learning about sailboat rigging and the section on Line Handling, which includes knots and splices, is still to this day some of the best examples, diagrams and explanations I’ve come across (sorry Clifford!).

In my opinion, ‘How Boat Things Work’ is a must-have for any boat owner. Its wealth of information, combined with those excellent exploded diagrams, makes it an invaluable resource that’s earned a permanent spot on my boat shelf.

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