Category Archives: blog

Transport Canada Exam & Certificate Guide Updated

We’ve just updated our popular and import Transport Canada Exam & Certificate Guide to reflect our current understanding of the requirements and of the editions currently available to help professional mariners study.  [Thanks Rhys! -Ed.]

If there’s any area you’d particularly like to see expanded, or would like to contribute, please let us know.

Rough Seas, Lee Shores, 20% Off.

Lee Shore Sale
20% Off Most Items In-Store

Visit us in person before August 1st
and get a 20% discount on just about anything in the store
(*some exceptions apply, including charts,
cruising guides, & professional texts)

Please Tell all Your Shipmates
& Yacht Club Pals!

We Hope to See You Soon


Sailors have been flocking to our store on the shores of Toronto Harbour for books, charts, guidance, and yarns since 1980. As one of Queen’s Quay’s longest-lived establishments, and as a “candy store”-like environment for mariners, we’ve become a natural meeting spot and destination.  For the past couple of years though, disruptive street construction has made it harder to reach us. The late, lamented storefront of our neighbour The Dock Shoppe was an early casualty of this familiar Toronto story, and the number of people coming through our own door has dropped very noticeably.  Fortunately, we’ve got a pretty good website, and people near and far are keeping us mostly afloat with mail-orders (many thanks).

Nautical disorder in front of the former Dock Shoppe.  This is now a Tim Hortons. :/Part of the whole point of a neat little local nautical bookstore, though, is having a place for people to go to get advice on trips, find the right chartbooks, and run in to other sailors.  Our website can’t quite offer that, and some days our storefront feels like a shipping warehouse. So we’d like to invite everyone down to our sale.

Press Gang: We’re Hiring. Join the Nautical Mind Crew!

The Nautical Mind Bookstore is looking for a new crew member to work a couple of days a week, starting in September extending ideally for several years, depending on circumstances.

The job involves helping customers in the store, on the phone, and online find the right books, charts, and cruising guides for their needs, and getting said items to them.  Detailed knowledge of boats, books, the implacable heart of the sea, and navigation would be a great boon, as would a facility and comfort with computers, and an ability to learn and problem solve, specifically with respect to fiendish logistical problems. An interest in writing blog posts and/or engaging in social media would be nice but isn’t mandatory, as would comfort around scrappy little sea dogs. Flexible availability, including weekends would be helpful as the scheduling gods are as fickle and capricious as a sea breeze.

The Nautical Mind is a positive and inclusive workspace where the traits, skills, and contributions of all are acknowledged and respected.  It’s a unique local niche bookstore focussed on a deeply fascinating subject matter.

If you’re interested, please send your resume and a cover letter to, subject: “Press Gang”.


David Beaupré’s Advice to Liveaboards

David Beaupré, author of Quest and Crew writes:

There are as many reasons to buy a sailboat and cruise off to the Caribbean as there are dreams. Quest and Crew is the memoir of one such dream. It is a dream complete with blue water sailing and palm fringed islands. For Wendy and me it was the adventure of a lifetime. Each day in paradise presented us with new challenges which helped to refine our sailing abilities.

David and Wendy

David & Wendy

Our cruising style varied considerably from most liveaboard cruisers. We sought out the most remote beautiful anchorages, free from the trappings of civilization. We routinely stayed for weeks in hidden coves that only saw two or three boats a year. The key to our enjoyment and independence was having the right boat and the perfect equipment.

Quest and Crew is the story of our adventures. I also hope that it is a testament to a fine classic boat that was lovingly restored. Quest is a Bayfield 36 that was built in Ontario from a Hayden Gozzard design.  Her beautiful lines and unquestioned pedigree do not tell the complete story. She possesses one elusive and intangible quality that we all seek. She is a very lucky boat. Her luck was proven in Chapter One when Quest faces down a 150 mph hurricane and survives without a scratch while the marina is destroyed and the fleet of moored boats were holed and sunk.

If I could convey one important thought to the reader, it would be the idea that anybody with the will to succeed and a modest cruising kitty can follow their dream. It doesn’t require great strength or a lifetime of blue water sailing. The ability to captain a boat safely does require complete knowledge of the craft and a great deal of common sense. The most important requirement to make an ocean cruiser successful is the desire to take on the unknown. Out on the ocean, outside of the sight of land you discover the meaning of self reliance.

Quest in Nevis

Quest in Nevis

Apart from a good boat and cruising kitty the would-be cruiser should possess the ability to adapt to an ever changing environment and have a high degree of faith in their ability to make themselves into competent sailors. They will certainly need to adapt to very tight living conditions. Without a doubt the greatest stress on a cruising sailboat is not the raging sea. Many couples choose to live their sailing dream in later life. For the first time in their lives they will be living day after day, shoulder to shoulder in the tightest of quarters. In the end it is the human relationship that is put under the greatest strain.  Be prepared. Your relationship will change. It will strengthen or weaken. Under adversity you and your mate will grow closer only if you are willing to compromise.

Quest and Crew by David BeaupréIf I were to offer the simplest advice it would be to purchase the right boat for your chosen cruising grounds. Spend some time discovering the boat’s strengths and weaknesses. But most importantly you must get up every day and make a commitment to get just a little closer to your goal of sailing away. Many want-to-be cruisers take a passive attitude to preparing for their adventure. The preferred alternative is to be a hands-on captain and do the work yourself. This will serve you well in finding the confidence to become a successful cruiser. This intangible quality can only come from deep within you. The desire to go sailing is a classic dream that has stood the test of time. To live even a part of your life on the water requires a mind change and the strength to test your abilities.



Unprecedented Online Clearance Sail – Up to 80% off!

Example of nautical books on shelves

An example of medium-high density nb/sqft

If you’ve visited our little nook in the harbour , you’ve seen that our store is crammed floor-to-ceiling with a complete collection of nautical books. We’ll go out on a limb and wager that we’ve got the highest nautical-book-to-square-foot (nb/sqft) densities in the world, and among the highest book-to-square-foot densities in the city.  Anyway, all this is to say that we need to make a little room, so we’re taking the unprecedented step of selling off some older stock at clearance prices.

These books are all new, un-remaindered, and (for the most part) undamaged. Previously, to save up to 80% on such books, you’d need to come on down to the Sail Sale Bargain table, but no more!

And dozens more in the new Clearance Section

* PleaseNote that supplies are usually limited to one or two copies, so we may sell out before our website catches up.

Ontario Sailor Reviews: Dana & Spurr

Some book reviews from Ontario Sailor Magazine:


The Annotated Two Years Before the Mast
By Rod Scher, Original story by Richard Henry Dana

Sailor, author and Harvard dropout (measles weakened his eyesight), Richard Henry Dana, wrote his book, Two Years Before the Mast, in 1840, about a trip he took on a working ship to California. The book became a hit and launched a genre, serving as a forerunner to maritime classics like Moby Dick, Sailing Alone Around the World and Caine Mutiny. Dana, a lawyer and member of a wealthy Boston family, signed up for grunt duty on the ship Pilgrim, and ended up writing about the poor working sailors who travel onboard “before the mast” compared to ship officers and privileged passengers who traveled in more comfortable quarters found aft of the mast. Dana went on to write another book, The Seaman’s Friend, that dealt with sailors rights during the early years of working sailboats, and he defended them in his law practice. His first book has never been out of print in more than 170 years and is now reprinted, along with annotations and notes in the margins by Nebraska-based writer and former English teacher Rod Scher. He has studied Dana’s life and books and has now added notes to explain in the original text old sailing terms, to criticize or compliment, and put the author’s life and experiences in context (eg. Dana’s use of the phrase “weakness of the eyes”).


 Your First Sailboat, 2nd Ed.
By Daniel Spurr

A marine writer who has worked for various magazines including Cruising World, Daniel Spurr has updated his book, Your First Sailboat, designed to help find the right sailboat and gain the skills to enjoy a day on the water. He is the author of other books like Upgrading Your Cruising Sailboat, Yacht Style, and co-author of Offshore Sailing. This book, with lots of black-and-white photos and graphics, tackles many topics, from what to look for in a new or used boat, handling and maintaining the vessel, navigating and what happens when things go wrong (eg., the engine doesn’t start). The back of the book lists 84 various mono- and multi-hulls, from dinghies to 38 ft. yachts, with the author offering pros and cons on various makes and models. Some topics may not be in detail, but the whole point is to get someone into sailing, and out enjoying themselves. Sail along with Daniel.

Mostly Normal Victoria Day Weekend Hours & Super Special Saturday Sale!

Queen VictoriaIn celebration of the moveable pagan feast dedicated to Her Royal Highness Queen Victoria, and the spirit of the British Empire, The Nautical Mind will be open for the following hours:

Saturday – 10AM – 5PM
Sunday – Noon – 5PM
Monday – 10AM – 3PM

Special Victoria Sale: Come in to the store on Saturday and make a convincing case that the book you wish to purchase is in some way related to HRH Queen Victoria and get 10% off! (some arbitrary and undisclosed conditions apply)


Easter Hours

bunny-boatThe Easter Bunny will be hopping down the bunny trail and/or rowing down the bunny canal (which is hopefully mostly free of ice by now) this weekend. To help The Bunny, we will be mostly open, providing our navigation aids, tools, and other boaty books.

Our storefront Easter Weekend 2014 Hours are:

Friday 18th: 10AM – 4PM
Saturday 19th: 10AM – 5PM
Sunday 20th: CLOSED
Monday 21st: 10AM – 5PM

Our web site remains open 24/7.


Windbags: Unique hand-sewn sailcloth satchels.

We are pleased to announce that The Nautical Mind is expanding our stock from books and charts to now also include fashionable satchels.  We will proudly purvey these morsels of haute couture from our store front and online from our webzones.

Windbags - Stylish sail cloth satchelsEach unique “windbag” is made from the best parts of old sails, hand sewn in authentic and shippy Lunenberg, Nova Scotia by salty-yet-stylish sea dogs. We have a wide array to chose from, so come down to the store and check them out, or order by phone or internest, and our staff of sophisticates will be delighted to select one to suit your exacting sail-fashion needs.

They are very rugged, attractive, and neat, and make excellent gifts to sailors or your self.