Essential Reading for Performance Boaters: Books
One of the greatest thing about boating is that no matter what kind powerboat you are into, there is always something to learn about design, setup and new technology. On top of that, the boating world is full of colorful characters, so there are endless stories and information to consume as a boater. In this article, I want to highlight just a few books and work that I feel are essential reading. This list, if you haven’t read them already, will hopefully be a great jumping off point to build a good foundation of knowledge, depth of understanding and an appreciation of the weird world of boats.
This book is exactly as the title states, and is a must read. I was fortunate enough to be given a copy as a kid, and I remember devouring it. All of the information in this book allows you to understand more than just about propellers but also about setup. It isn’t comprehensive, but once you gain the knowledge in this book, you can understand more complex theories and experiment with your own boat, with a much better understanding of how things work. Chances are you have been online to seek answers about props, this book will help you avoid the pitfalls of bad information commonly see on forums and other online sources. From terminology to theory, this book has you covered, it is the best foundation of knowledge you will find.
For essential up to date reading, the Mercury Racing blog is excellent. Usually written by Rick Mackie and Scott Reichow, you are getting some of the latest happenings in the world of Mercury Racing, along with some tech tips. With most of the propeller articles, you will find technical questions at the bottom, where Scott Reichow, the propeller department manager at Mercury Racing answers them. There is a wealth of technical information in those answers, and because of the diversity of questions, there is a good chance someone is asking about a situation similar to your own. Great resource for many things, especially props.
Bass & Walleye Boat Magazine, John Tiger Jr.
Anyone who grew up interested in high performance outboards, and read the magazines, has read John Tiger Jr’s articles. John wrote for many publications and usually focused on high performance outboard tech, setup, and testing. He spent quite a bit of time at the now defunct Bass and Walleye Boats magazine, which was full of great information for all performance boaters. I believe you can track down some archived articles online. Notable topics included tuning popular outboards like Mercury 2.5s and 3.0s, testing props on leading performance boats, as well as countless safety tips and setup questions answered. John had in depth knowledge from racing and working on outboards, he is a great writer and I know I learnt a great deal from his work. If you can find John’s work online, or track down some old issues, they are definitely worth reading.
Secrets of Tunnel Boat Design, Jim Russell
Don’t let the title fool you, Jim touches on almost every imaginable hull design and application. The focus on performance is there and the book is very technical, but if you are interested in going faster, or even have entertained the idea of designing a hull, there is high quality information here. Not only does the book provide comprehensive design theory, but provides formulas, tests and ideas on how to understand different designs. Russell added propeller design and history as well as an in depth look at “modified tunnel hulls” (Mod VP) design. The book is not only very interesting, but if you understand the design and theory of different hulls, it can help you setup your own boat, as well as be a safer driver. Jim Russell is a professional engineer, specializing in mechanical and aeronautics, with extensive design consulting and research experience, as well as a seasoned racer.
This will be lighter reading than the other work mentioned. Published in 1994, and written by Don Aronow’s son Michael; this account of Aronow is very detailed and engaging. Michael provides great insight into the history of the companies, as well as very personal stories of the day to day operations the Don was involved in. Everyone knows the story, but if you don’t, Don Aronow is probably one of the most influential builders and racers in boat history. He operated on North 188th st in North Miami Beach, and started many of the leading offshore powerboat brands, including Formula, Donzi, Magnum and Cigarette; to name a few. This book has tremendous insight into an incredible story of a legendary entrepreneur. Even if you’re not into boats, the story is fascinating. So fascinating that John Travolta is doing a movie about it coming out this August.
Iron Fist: The Lives of Carl KieKhaefer
We mentioned this book in our article about Carl Kiekhaefer, and it is a very in depth look at an incredible story. The German / Wisconsin engineer and business maven is a legendary guy, while the book does a tremendous job of uncovering his personal past, grand ambitions, and how he set the tone for Mercury to become the leader in the marine industry. Written beautifully by Jeffery Rodengen.