The fifth edition of 'Heavy Weather Sailing" is radically different in content, if not in scope, to earlier editions. When the author of a revered textbook dies, his sucessor as Editor has to choose between retaining "the words of the Master" and retaining his or her intentions.
Peter Bruce has done the latter, keeping just one and a half chapters from Adlard Coles's editions of the book.
Consequently, if you have an older edition, (or even two!) you still need to buy this one. The techniques recommended have changed; lying a-hull is not now favoured and the use of parachute sea anchors has become accepted. Data from RORC races involving heavier long keeled yachts has been dropped in favour of the 1991 Japan/Guam Race and the 1998 Sydney/Hobart Race.
In place of the old anecdotal arrangement, Peter Bruce has performed radical surgery. The book is neatly divided into two sections - "Advice from the Experts" first, followed by accounts of experiences. The first chapter, by Olin Stephens, sets the tone for the whole book; balanced, authoritative, concise.
As Adlard Coles used to say, the book. like seasickness tablets, should be taken before the onset of heavy weather and there is every reason to do just that. One of the strengths of the old book was that, unlike most textbooks, it was readable and could be read for pleasure. Peter Bruce has managed to retain this quality, so that the lessons will have sunk in before they are needed.
The one complaint is that the proof reading is a disgrace; we have 55 metre inflatable boats(!) a boat leaving an anchorage to avoid a dragging kedge ("ketch" in earlier editions!) and many more such. Presumably, in a spirit of economy, the proof reading was done with the aid of a spellcheck programme rather than a yachtsman!
The photographs, on the other hand, are as good as ever.
An essential book