There’s a good chance you know the book but don’t recognize the man. Charles F. Chapman—known affectionately as “Chap”—built a prestigious résumé over his lifetime that included Commodore of the New York Motor Boat Club, Chairman of the American Power Boat Association, and Chief Commander of the United State Power Squadrons. But his greatest contribution to the boating world may in fact be Chapman Piloting & Seamanship, the 68th edition of which was published last year.
Since 1917, when the first edition was published, “The Boating Bible,” as it’s known, has been in continuous publication. “There was nothing like it at the time,” says Power & Motoryacht’s Editor-at-Large and Co-Editor of the book, John Wooldridge. “And I don’t think there’s been anything like it since.”
Together with Co-Editor Jonathan Eaton, Wooldridge—a nearly lifelong fan of Chapman’s—was tasked with updating the new edition to account for trends and technologies like outboard propulsion and multifunction displays.
For now, Chapman’s will stay in its weighty tome form, according to Wooldridge—there are no plans to make it available online. “If you found yourself in a You Must Take One Book situation,” says Wooldridge, “this would be the one.”