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on 2 September 2012
So the author knows his stuff. But he has written this book for people who already know enough about sailing that they probably don't need the book. I don't need an idiot's guide, but as a 'student' of sailing, I don't appreciate having to look up the terminology twice in every sentance! That said, I have learnt a fair bit. But surely there must be books on sailing which are slightly less - well, pompous.
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on 29 June 2016
Brilliant book and well written.

If people have trouble reading this, it's because they are poor readers.

The language used is crisp, smart and even witty in places. It's really nice to find a book that is written well, as so many writers nowadays seem to only have a vocabulary of a few hundred words.

The beginner may struggle with some nautical terms used at times, but that's all part of the fun of learning.

If you want a book written in a dumbed down and condescending fashion, find one that has been written by an American author- they appear to be good at it.
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on 19 January 2011
The RYA YM scheme offers a quite unique and experience-based way to acquire internationally recognised sailing certificates. I myself have purchased and thoroughly studied this book as I - having a German sailing background - wanted to familiarise myself with the British syllabus and exam requirements.

The book is very well written, concise and comprises all important aspects of the RYA syllabus. However, further additional reading on some more specific topics such as meteorology, the IRPCS or terrestrial navigation is certainly advisable, but couldn't be expected to be covered by a book like this anyway.

I have found a few comments of other reviewers complaining about the author's writing style, saying it was self-indulged, old-fashioned and incomprehensible. Perhaps the reviewers made particularly bad experiences with Tom Cunliffe as a YM examiner, tend to polemic comments in general or lack some experience.

Given the fact that I as a non-native speaker had no problem at all to understand this book (and I certainly have when it comes to historic logbooks and letters) I find it hard to believe that there should be anything old-fashioned among this book. The entire concept of the book has been rather further developed and adapted over the years in quite a few new editions, making this book an inexpensive and up-to-date compendium.
The odd salt-dog-talk is certainly sometimes unfamiliar, but not inappropriate or cryptic, quite likeable and rather entertaining. Whoever has seen Tom Cunliffe on TV knows that this is rather his personal style and should not be interpreted as self-obsessedness.
The drawings and pictures are very didactical and useful and straightforward to understand and work with. The book leaves little to be desired for. A sort of hightlighted keywords in the text or on the margin could make it easier to find certain text passages. Ten pages of weather related content is unfortunately rather a short sketch of a summary if any at all.

I would absolutely recommend this book together with Basil Mosenthal's 'Learning the Rule of the Road' and a book on meteorology (sorry, only German recommendations here: Seewetter, DSV-Verlag).

Fair winds.
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on 7 June 2013
I wanted something to learn from, having completed the RYA day skipper theory and I found the level of this book about right. It covered some things I already knew, but in most cases in more detail. There was plenty of new information for me too. The writing style is authoritative and very enjoyable (could easily be rather dry and dull) with lots of relevant and practical advice. I chose the kindle version, so I could read while travelling and have the book both at home and aboard. One gripe with the kindle version is the page layout often looks very odd and referring to images whilst reading the text is not as easy as I would guess it is in the print version. Also, all the images appear in the same aspect ratio, so you have to click on them to open them up so that they show in the right shape (important for many of the diagrams in this book). For me, overall portability trumps these niggles.
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on 30 October 2009
When I bought this book I was somewhat put off by some adverse reviews I had seen, saying that the book was difficult to read, and that unnecessarily technical terms had been used.

I TOTALLY disagree.

I found this to be a valuable read, and I actually read it from cover to cover - I have never read a "reference" book like that before! It is not perfect, but it is a reference book I would highly recommend that any skipper has on board alongside the charts and aid memoir's.
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on 1 September 2007
Tom Cunliffe is a well known yachting author, and will be well known to anyone who reads the sailing press as he is a regular columnist in a number of the magazines, and South Coast sailors will know him through his invaluable Channel Pilot. While Cunliffe is the first to say in his introduction that this book isn't intended to be complete (there's nothing on maintenance for example), it covers everything you need to get through the Yachtmaster exam (and be a better skipper).

Cunliffe has an informal style of delivery and I can understand why some reviewers dislike it. Personally I'd find a dry and anonymous text on the subject very dull to work through, and it's Cunliffe's salty phrases, rich way with anecdotes, and humour that in my opinion make the key lessons much more memorable.

To address a couple of specific points mentioned in other reviews: I had no problem with the illustrations or graphics. To say that the publisher/author assumes far too much of its potential readers rather misses the point that the RYA/MCA Yachtmaster ticket is the pinnacle of UK sailing qualifications. This book is for already experienced skippers who want to make sure they're ready for the exam. While the basics are covered in this volume it's done quickly, and beginners or intermediate sailors might be better off with a book aimed at their level.

In summary a rare book that entertains as much as it informs, and is highly recommended.
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on 19 April 2012
Tom Cunliffe writes in a very readable and humorous style that provides knowledge on technical subjects in an entertaining manner that is both very informative and easy to understand. This book covers most subjects that any yacht skipper needs to know, with scope for the more advanced subjects to be picked up as the reader's overall knowledge improves. It does assume some basic knowledge of sailing, and applies this to build the confidence and knowledge of a Day Skipper, so they can understand their role and responsibilities. It then goes on to cover the knowledge and subjects required for the more advanced Yachtmaster. This book allows the reader to learn at the pace which suits them individually and with which they are comfortable, and then enables them to develop their technical knowledge as their experience increases. This book is a must for any skipper developing their skills and knowledge, from the basic to the advanced, to learn from and as a book of reference on technical matters.
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on 11 January 2011
This is a book which repays reading again and again - and it's a pleasure to do so. Tom Cunliffe has a practical, chatty style which makes his topics come alive - it's almost like sailing with him must be. He tells you not just the dry facts, but shows you how they relate to real sailing. His chapters on passage planning are full of good tips and advice - what he would really do rather than what the manual says. Up to date, too - covers the way in which advanced electronics should be used to best effect, and when it is essential to use the good old ways instead. I feel better prepared to skipper successfully and enjoyed being treated as a fellow sailor rather than as a pupil. As others have said, the book is aimed at people who have already got the basic sailing skills - I think it wouldn't be so useful to a beginner. For someone like me looking to progress beyond day skipper it's absolutely excellent - the best I have found.
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on 21 October 2014
I read this book while preparing for the RYA Yacht Master exam, finding it well written, enjoyable to read and full of useful and relevant information and insights covering a broad range of topics covered in the RYA Yacht Master assessments.

If you are considering taking the RYA YM exam in the near future then you should already have a good working knowledge of most of the topics covered in the book, with the book providing a helpful revision aid. If you working your way through the RYA’s yachting syllabus or considering taking the YM exam at some stage in the future then the book will provide you with a good overview of the subject and an insight into the level of knowledge expected by a YM assessor.
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on 1 December 2012
This book covers the same theory aspects as the author's Day Skipper course. There is just a tiny bit more on some of the practical aspects of sailing which everyone above Competent Crew should know anyway. So as far as insights are concerned, not a lot going for it but Tom's style of writing and teaching is never to talk over the heads of his readers. He explains the subject matter without the need to show off to the reader how much he knows; rather like a finely aged vintage wine he oozes the complex flavours of his vast experience and with a sense of humour and salty-dog experessions takes us on a welcome journey through the subject matter. A nice easy read tome for those coming to the subject for the first time.
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