on 14 January 2002
This is the degree-level course in traditional sail handling which is both comprehensive and understandable. A hundred years ago, the master of every vessel would have understood this all instinctively. At that time, sailing boats had reached their peak of development. Many so-called improvements since have only served to isolate us from the effects of the wind and the weather, blunting our natural sailing skills. Tom Cunliffe explains clearly and concisely how the traditional rigs were handled, concentrating on Gaff rig, but adding examples from schooners and square-riggers. If you don't believe the relevance of all this today, just put an experienced dinghy sailor up against somebody who has only sailed a modern pocket-cruiser! The knowledge of traditional boat-handling skills imparted by Tom will confer the same advantage. You will understand why boats developed in the way they did, and even have an insight into where we are going down the wrong track today.
Also recommended, by the same author, is The Complete Yachtmaster, which is a comprehensive book on Seamanship for both the modern sailor and the ancient mariner!
on 28 June 2008
being new to the dark art of sailing gaff rigs, this book helped explain all in a clear and logical way. it certainly helped us get a bit more speed out of the colin archer. also contains plenty of information for the more experienced. put simply, a great book.
on 31 December 2009
Tom has written, in his own inimitable style, a traditional boat owner's bedside book. Read it cover to cover or dip in and out and you'll get nuggets of information based on years of experience. Modern yacht designs have evolved from those of the old working boats and ships and many of the skills required to sail and handle a boat have been lost as the response to the helm has become quicker and winches have made rope handling easier. Tom returns us to keels that don't turn on a sixpence, that require different skills and understanding to make them work, that are gentle and seaworthy and to sail plans that are efficient and manageable. His love of long keelers and gaffers is obvious and persuasive. If you were undecided as to whether to buy one or not this book would have you toppling into the bilge in no time. His descriptions and explanations are clearly put and reflect both his years of working on traditional style boats and his long involvement in teaching.
A handbook and a good read, unbeatable!