Reeds Almanac 90th anniversary

It’s going to be quite a special year for the Reeds Nautical Almanac. Not only is it the year the Almanac comes of age with Adlard Coles, having been part of our nautical family for 18 years now, but we are also celebrating the Almanac’s 90th anniversary.

The Almanac was first published by Harold Brunton-Reed in 1932. He commissioned Captain Oswald M Watts (one of the youngest Merchant Navy officers to hold a Master’s certificate, at the age of 23) to compile the very first edition, and Watts continued to edit it until his retirement in 1981. The first edition was published on 1st January 1932 and cost 2/6 (12.5 pence in today’s money).

The Almanac’s finest hour undoubtedly came in 1944, when the Admiralty ordered 3,000 copies of the Almanac so that all the vessels involved in the D-Day landings would have a copy to take to Normandy. We have a copy of most editions of the Almanac dating back that far, but the D-Day edition is one of the notable exceptions – they are exceptionally rare beasts these days, so if you do have one, we would love to see some photos.

The 2022 edition of the Almanac will be published on 19th August at an RRP of £49.99, but you can buy it with a 10% discount direct from our website: Reeds Nautical Almanac 2022: : Reed’s Almanac Reeds (bloomsbury.com)

To get the best deal on the Almanac each year, you can subscribe by direct debit for only £32.50. This way you will be sent your Almanac as soon as stock hits the warehouse, and you are guaranteed our best price. What’s more, you will get exclusive subscriber benefits, including 5% off purchases over £50 at GaelForce, 30% off any books bought at Bloomsbury.com, with more offers set to be announced soon. You can read more about the subscription offer here: Reeds Nautical Almanac 2022: : Reed’s Almanac Reeds (bloomsbury.com)

For those who prefer to have all the Almanac information on their tablet or laptop, you will probably be more interested in the PDF ebook (which also incorporates the Reeds Marina Guide that comes separately with the print editions).

Finally, don’t forget that we provide important updates for the Almanac every month between January and June. To receive the latest PDF(s), email adlardcoles@bloomsbury.com with a proof of purchase, and let us know whether it is the main Almanac, regional edition or the Reeds PBO Small Craft Almanac you need the information for.

A farewell to puffins

Paul Heiney has been a familiar face to TV audiences for over 40 years, presenting That’s Life alongside Esther Rantzen, Watchdog, and more recently Countrywise on ITV. However, Paul is also a highly experienced yachtsman, and has written on the subject many times, including the sublime narrative One Wild Song, and his guide Ocean Sailing. His new book, Farewell Mr Puffin, started off the story of his voyage to Iceland, but became about a lot more when Paul found things had changed en route since previous trips. In this blog he sets the scene.

It wasn’t my initial idea to sail to Iceland to look at puffins; that was to come later. I simply wanted to discover why all the fuss about this lonely, volcanic island within spitting distance of the Arctic circle. Suddenly, it seemed, everyone was talking about Iceland as it became one of the world’s fastest -growing tourist destinations. The whole island found itself bursting with visitors; the coffee shops packed, the sole international airport bulging at the seams. It’s a tourist boom like no other.

I’m not into that kind of tourism. I am, however, into sailing, and going by small boat is a kind of travelling like no other. The harbours you visit and the places in which you shelter often have none of that brochure-like glamour, and that’s the way I prefer it. On a boat, you plug into communities in ways that no tourist would ever think about. For example, in a remote spot on the north west coast, I found myself in urgent need of stout, but flexible, pipe to repair a broken lavatory – such things can be seriously urgent. It required a conversation with a harbourmaster, a cup of coffee, a visit to a distant workshop and another a cup of coffee, plus many conversations along the way – of a kind that a conventional tourist would never have. That’s what I call travelling.

And there’s another reason to head north: I like the ‘edge of world’ feel of places like Iceland. After all, I have sailed, partly solo, as far as Cape Horn (as told in my book One Wild Song, also published by Adlard Coles), which is probably the closest you can get to the end of the earth. I like the clear, vivid landscapes, and I feast on the chill, high-latitude air that never fails to lift the spirits. And although I am the very last person to seek out danger, there is a sense in these places that when things go wrong, they can turn seriously bad indeed, and that keeps your mind focussed and your senses tuned to the nature of the sea.

Puffins didn’t come into it until I stopped at the Farne Islands, off Northumberland, on my way northwards from my home port on the East Anglian coast. These islands are famous to the abundance of seabirds, puffins amongst them. I remember the first flock of puffins I came across, way back in my early sailing years, off the west coast of Ireland. Puffins there were so thick on the surface of the sea that it was like trying to steer a boat through an ever-shifting football crowd. I have always found it impossible not to raise a smile when I see a puffin. They’ve been called the ‘clowns of the sea’, and that’s partly true. That multi-coloured beak, always vivid when set against the grey of the north Atlantic, is always a cheerful sight and to watch them duck and dive as the boat heads towards them makes me chuckle. Almost as much as that swaying gait they display when ashore and walking on land. They are simply funny to watch, there’s no more to it than that.

But delve deeper and read of the truly remarkable life of the puffin and you will find that it is no fool. Their winters are spent entirely at sea; come storm or calm they will ride the waves until the spring when they come ashore to breed, at the same place they visited the year before and for many seasons before that. And always with the same mate. They will fly hundreds of miles in search of food to feed their young, and once the chicks have fled the nest it is back to the harsh Atlantic for yet another winter. It’s an unusual combination of courage and dedicated domesticity.

I am no ornithologist, but to see puffins you shouldn’t need to be. If you are in the right place, they come to you. Except, in the Farne Islands, they failed to appear. That made me sad. Assuming bad luck, I sailed on. I don’t want to spoil for you my subsequent puffin encounters, but the title of my book (Farewell Mr Puffin) may give you a clue.

I found my journey north took me through a richer variety of cultures, waters and landscapes that I could ever imagine. When the North Sea gives way to Scottish waters, and the landmass fragments into the Orkney Islands, there is much to discover, and not all of it on an intellectual plane. In Kirkwall, the Orkney capital, I found a gem of a watering hole where tea is brewed as thick as treacle and the scones as hard as granite, but with an inspiring character that no modern coffee house could match. Tourists don’t go to such places, but sailors need them. The Faroe Islands are different again, and are not the rehearsal for Iceland that I had expected. The Faroes are ancient, Iceland is quite new. The Faroes are rocky and green with lush grass; Iceland is volcanic, covered in black dusty lava and trees are as rare as sunbathing weather. There were many surprises along the way.

I have tried in this book to convey the voyaging experience, and share with you the richness of the places I visited. I have tried to convey the ups and downs of sailing life, and the pleasures that ever-changing crews (usually) bring.

Most of all I want to convey what a lovely little creature the puffin is, and what the puffin stands for. We are being endlessly told of the dangerously changing world in which we live, and often the warnings wash over us because the scale of them is beyond our understanding. But when you head north and see the puffins, it is then you realise that things really are changing. The puffin is often called a ‘comedian’ of the bird world. All I can say is that, at the moment, the jokes are running out.

Farewell Mr Puffin: A Small Boat Voyage to Iceland is published 8th July, RRP £12.99. You can order it with a 10% discount direct from our brand new website here: https://www.bloomsbury.com/uk/farewell-mr-puffin-9781472990976 (please note that following the launch of our new website, all Bloomsbury account holders will need to reset their passwords).

How to become a nautical nomad

Husband and wife team Patrick and Sheila Dixon are two philosophers who went to sea – though their philosophies are often very different! Patrick was once a consultant working with cancer and HIV patients, and is now a consultant of another kind – a futurist working with corporate clients including Google to help them understand current trends and predict future ones. Sheila is a magistrate, juggling the differences between law and justice on a daily basis. When they decided they needed a break, they knew the ocean would provide it. But they were surprised to discover how their philosophical approaches helped in unexpected ways, and how the sea challenged those philosophies.

In this extract from their new book, Salt in the Blood, Sheila details how their family reacted to her and Patrick’s plan to become nautical nomads for the next few years:

Our four children and spouses happened to be with us for lunch the following Sunday, sitting around a glass table in the kitchen. We began to explain what we had been thinking about. At first there was stunned silence and blank faces.

‘It’s a great idea, and I get why you want to do it, but what about your pension?’ pointed out John, our oldest, who has always been a careful saver, unlike us. ‘It could kill the lecturing. And the last time you hired a yacht, you had to be rescued by two lifeboats and thirty nine crew. It doesn’t sound very well thought out.’

‘I admit we went aground,’ replied Patrick. ‘But –’

‘Mum had to make a Mayday emergency call.’

‘I know we may not be the best sailors in the world,’ I continued smoothly. ‘But to be fair that was over a year ago. Dad and I have sailed smaller boats a couple of times since. And it wasn’t that many rescue crew, twenty nine to be exact.’

And you nearly decapitated the entire crew of another yacht on the Norfolk Broads, with most of us on board. We saw it all with our own eyes,’ interjected Caroline.

‘We didn’t actually hit anyone or bash the other boat, as it happens.’ I replied. ‘It was a little scary, turning under a very low bridge with that huge lowered mast sticking out forty feet behind us. But it was a few years ago. And we have done a Day Skipper course since then.’

Our younger son Paul leaned forward. ‘Well, I hope you’re getting insured. And please don’t expect me to sell our flat to pay a ransom to pirates! I’m not saying the whole idea is bonkers, far from it, but –’

‘We have no intention of being captured by pirates,’ I blurted out.

Caroline, a family doctor, asked earnestly, ‘But what about your health, Dad? You need to think about it if you’re doing some serious sailing. But I get why you want to, and it might do you both some good.’

Lizzie then asked how I really felt ‘deep down,’ her social work training kicking into gear. ‘Are you sure this is what you want to do, Mum? It’s quite a change. And how will you manage such long periods together? Won’t you miss your friends, the church and everyone? What about being a magistrate and being away from court?’

‘As it happens,’ I replied, ‘I’m more positive about it than Dad. And it’s not as if we would be on the boat all the time. Far from it.’ I was trying not to be defensive under their gentle and loving interrogation. It felt as if family roles were being reversed. Our sons sounded just like Patrick or me lecturing one of our own children about acting responsibly in the past.

‘We do need to find a new interest in life, now you’ve all left home, or we will become grumpy and boring,’ explained Patrick. ‘We’re looking for adventure, a challenge. We both enjoy sailing and love seeing new places. I also need new insights for lecturing. I wrote ten books in ten years, but I’ve since had ‘severe writer’s block.’ He omitted to add that we thought it might also be quite romantic, even a spiritual experience.

Our children’s spouses were, by comparison, very affirming.

‘Sounds great!’

‘What make of boat did you say?’ They started Googling.

Some close friends we shared with were very positive and encouraging. But others were puzzled, bemused or worried.

‘Can’t imagine anything worse. Puking over the side, freezing cold, wet through. What if you’re caught in a storm?’

‘I read that most people buying boats regret it from the day after, until the day they sell,’ said another encouragingly. ‘Like tearing up loads of fifty pound notes in the shower.’

My sister Grace began sending Patrick books through the post with ominous titles such as Disasters at Sea, Sunk Without Trace, or How I Nearly Died Crossing the Atlantic, each one inscribed with a little friendly note that made it quite clear that each book was her personal plea to us, designed to save us from certain drowning.

But they had the opposite effect. Her gifts turned out to be engaging, exciting and informative. And we could see that there were wider lessons to be learned, from all these stories of being blown by the wind.

They were also amusing at times. There’s comedy aboard any boat. Hats or vital papers blow into the sea, things break at funny moments, dinner slops down the hatch, someone gets stuck upside down in a locker, doors fall off, bad eggs explode, the heads erupt, and life aboard generally lurches from one small calamity to another.

Shortly after that family lunch, we also shared the news with my mother-in-law, Anne, the matriarch of our family. Patrick’s mother was living on her own at the age of 78, entertaining more than 25 regularly at home on Christmas Day, as well as providing lunches and dinners for many of her friends, her 20 grandchildren and an increasing number of great grandchildren.

At first she appeared not to have heard. She was far more interested in explaining to us about her last visit to the doctor, plus her latest plans for reform of the entire NHS. She paused. ‘Oh, are you? On a yacht?’ and thereafter returned to another continuous stream of words on other matters.

Anne reached for a huge earthenware bowl of brown sugar and shovelled six heaped teaspoons into a large cup of Earl Grey tea.

‘WHALES!’ she exclaimed, staring into the mid-distance between sips.

‘Yes, I expect we will see some whales,’ agreed Patrick

‘CONTAINERS!’

‘Well, hope not.’

‘YOU WILL HIT ONE AND SINK!’

‘Well, not very –’

‘And what is more, every time your father went out with Sheila’s father in that yacht of his, he came back with another story of some terrible disaster. Propeller fell off. Engine blew up. Sounds a terribly bad idea that will cost an awful lot of money… Not sensible at all if you ask me.’

The feedback from family did make us pause for thought for a short while, but after yet another speaking event involving long haul flights, Patrick remarked: ‘I do need to slow down. I can’t keep on going like this, without something snapping. I’m completely trashed.’

‘Well then, let’s have another look at that boat,’ I replied.

Salt in the Blood is Patrick and Sheila’s story of how they made changes (some more challenging than others) that they knows other sailors could make too, regardless of where they are at the moment – how they changed their priorities but managed to sustain a new career that fitted in around life rather than the other way round. It is the story of their personal journey, both physically (across the Atlantic and to little-visited corners of the Mediterranean) and metaphorically – how a doctor who treated cancer patients coped with a partner facing the same battle.

Through their personal story, with plenty of mishaps that led to insights (both about sailing and life in general), and encounters that turned into opportunities, Patrick and Sheila explore the importance of prioritising the right things in life, and the simple benefits of travel. The book is packed with inspiring but practical advice for all those who have salt in the blood.

We publish Salt in the Blood (9781472986269) later this month. You can pre-order it via our website with a 10% discount on the RRP (£10.99): https://www.bloomsbury.com/uk/salt-in-the-blood-9781472986269/

Taking the stress out of sailing

Next month we publish a brand new edition of Duncan Wells bestselling Stress-Free Sailing. Since the first edition was first published in 2015, Duncan has taken the same approach with a whole range of boating topics, packed with practical advice and QR links to videos, giving you a taste of the one-on-one tutoring he gives students at his sailing school. In this blog he gives a stress-free guide to all the books, existing and upcoming.

Stress-Free Sailing

Who is it for?

All sailors from novices to old salts.

USP?

It doesn’t matter if you are new to sailing or have been at it all your life, getting your boat off the dock and back on again will always raise the heart rate and merit care and attention. Stress Free Sailing gives you ground breaking, robust techniques to ensure you execute the perfect casting off and the perfect coming alongside, every time, whether single-handed or fully crewed.

Plus there are host of tips and techniques from getting the best out of your sails in light airs and heavy weather, to peace of mind anchoring – even how to tie your leather deck shoe laces. And there are videos of the techniques in action. A photo is all very well but a video really shows you how it’s done.

Stress-Free Motorboating

Who is it for?

As it does for the motorboaters what Stress Free Sailing does for the sailors, it is for all motorboaters.

USP?

Close quarter manoeuvring of your boat mastered. Getting her on and off the dock single handed in a relaxed fashion using ground breaking robust techniques – that’s what you get from Stress Free Motorboating. Plus tips to make things easier for you and the crew, how to coil and finish off lines neatly, lighter lines for coming alongside, how to care for the engines so they won’t let you down, thinking ahead, planning, everything to make life on board as stress free as possible. And the videos of course.

Stress-Free Navigation

Who is it for?

All budding Day Skippers and Yachtmasters – and their crew.

USP?

I teach RYA navigation all day long and I have ways of explaining the fundamental disciplines to students that make sense to them so they get the idea straight away. Some people learn by picturing things, some by hearing things and some by getting hold of things and exploring them with their hands. I understand that and I give my students what makes sense for them. And that’s what you get in Stress Free Navigation, all the techniques, tips and aide memoires for remembering things, plus the simple short cuts for things that people have always been told are complicated. There’s no need to get brain fade when thinking about Secondary Ports, I show you how to work them out in your head. Straightforward, really. Plus handy videos.

Stress-Free Mooring

Who is it for?

Everyone. I have combined the techniques for sailors and motorboaters into one book.

USP?

Exactly as for Stress Free Sailing and Stress Free Motorboating from the casting off and coming alongside perspective whether you be mooring to a dock, a mooring buoy or anchoring. It was inspired by an American who wanted a handy book for the cockpit when he was mooring.

101 Tips for Stress-Free Sailing

Who is it for?

All sailors and motorboaters – the ideal Christmas present for anyone who already has Stress Free Sailing, Stress Free Motorboating, Stress Free Navigation and Stress Free Mooring.

USP?

101 neat tips, some from the existing books and some new.

When is it published?

September 2021.

Stress-Free Engine Maintenance

Who is it for?

Sailors and motorboaters alike. Anyone who has an engine in their boat.

USP?

To make sure that engines operate reliably and do not let you down you have to look after them. This book tells you what to do. It won’t train you to become a mechanic or to strip a 4 cylinder diesel engine but it will train you to stay on top of the needs if your engine to give you stress free reliability. Full of tips and handy hints of course, like how to syphon diesel from a can without getting a mouthful! And handy trouble shooting flow diagrams if anything does go wrong. And there will be videos.

When is it published?

April 2022.

You can order all of the Stress-Free books that have already been published direct from our website with a 10% discount code: https://www.bloomsbury.com/uk/search?q=stress-free&Gid=1

Treasured Islands

The British Isles comprises some 6,000 islands, though only 194 of them are inhabited. In his new book, Treasured Islands, Peter Naldrett explores 200 of the most beautiful and most interesting, making it (to quote TV presenter and writer Ed Stafford), ‘The definitive guide to Britain’s quirky and rugged islands. Islands have always had a mysterious allure – Peter has managed to capture the magical essence of our old favourites and lesser known gems.’ In this blog, Peter looks at some of the most remote and isolated.

On Lindisfarne it comes with the twice-daily rising of the tide.

Islands such as Eigg off the west coast of Scotland find it arrives when the ferry departs for the fall time of the day.

However the quiet hush of isolation greets you, it’s something you’re not likely to forget. Being cut off from the bright lights of the nearest mainland town or village has an allure of discovery, the adventure of surviving in an environment you’re not used to.

Island life is not for everyone, I’ll readily admit. Don’t think about moving to Barra if you’re the type of person who has to pop out to the nearest Tesco Express every night. But even the most ardent urbanite will find magic in the silence that descends on many of our British islands at night – even if it’s only for a short stay.

And there is no shortage of opportunities for a trip to a British island. There are literally thousands of them, with a couple of hundred being home to humans. And if you’re looking to explore, you’ll find there are islands in our waters to suit all tastes.

If theme parks and ice creams are your thing, head to the Isle of Wight or Canvey Island. For beaches and fine weather, venture to the Scillies. Rugged beauty can be discovered on many Scottish isles, with food treats waiting in Wales and traditional music among other attractions in Ireland.

Whilst travelling around Britain, Ireland and further afield to write this book, I focused on just over 200 of our finest, most treasured islands and exactly what their allure is.

And all the time I kept coming back to that one constant feature; isolation and a break from the mainland rat race.

Lindisfarne, a tidal island in the north east of England, experiences this solace twice a day. Huge posters remind day trippers to set off back in time to beat the racing tide and photos of flooded vehicles urge them not to leave it too late. After they have deserted the island – and many of the island’s workforce have left, too – the place takes on a completely different feel, taking you back in time to experience a peaceful kind of silence.

Eigg is not a tidal island, but it experiences a similar kind of isolation every day when the ferry leaves the jetty, and a sense of excitement when it returns with new supplies and visitors.

Bad weather can – and frequently does – bring an end to the timetable and sometimes it can mean folk are stranded for days by the harsh weather felt in these parts. When I was making my trip, I met people who had visited the vets on the mainland and had to stay an extra couple of days because of a storm. Even the simplest of tasks need a risk assessment on some of our islands.

Writing this book has been a fabulous challenge over the last three years and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed visiting these incredible places, revisiting some but heading to many for the first time. The people who live on our islands face tough challenges, that much is clear, but they are also blessed with inspiring landscapes and a superb array of wildlife. They are often serene destinations, and I could see myself living on some of them in the future, so much was I smitten by the character of places like Orkney. More than once I found myself looking longingly at an estate agent window weighing up the opportunities.

Island life often reminds you that you’re part of a bigger picture where nature is king. I’d urge you to spend as much time as possible in that bigger picture and explore as many of these fantastic places as you can.

Here is a sample of the types of places you can expect to read about in the book – so check out my brief guide to some of our quirkiest island destinations.

TOP TEN ISLANDS FOR PURE ESCAPISM

1. Spend a night on the tidal island of Lindisfarne, enjoying the quiet when the day-trippers go home.

2. Climb the ancient steps of Skellig Michael to discover the stone buildings made famous in the Star Wars series of films.

3. Book an overnight stay on Lundy to find tranquillity in the Bristol Channel.

4. Peace, quiet and fabulously dark skies make Coll the perfect island for stargazing.

5. Leave your car on the mainland and take your tent to Bryher for an idyllic stay on the Isles of Scilly.

6. Soak in the views of the Old Man of Hoy, standing on the cliffs of this quiet island in Orkney.

7. Walk along the gorgeous white sand beaches of Berneray to give your travels a tropical feel.

8. Iona is famous for spiritual solitude and personal retreats, but even a day trip here will nourish the soul.

9. Walk on the magnificent limestone pavements of Inishmore, enjoying fabulous views of the Atlantic Ocean from the west coast of Ireland.

10. Spend a few hours rummaging through the creative and artistic wares on sale during the open days on Eel Pie Island.

Treasured Islands is published on 26th June, RRP £18.99. You can pre-order it with a 10% discount direct from our website here: https://www.bloomsbury.com/uk/treasured-islands-9781844865925/

Our spring reads highlights

With Europe’s most successful vaccination programme and the coronavirus now apparently in full retreat, Britain can hopefully look forward to a long, hot summer of largely unrestricted freedom to enjoy time out on the water. In this spring reads blog we highlight a carefully curated selection of our books, both new and well established, all of which will help you and everyone else get the most from sailing in 2021.

All of these books are currently available at a discount price if you buy them direct from the Bloomsbury website. Just click on the promo price links to take you to the right pages.

BOOKS FOR NEW SAILORS – AND ANYONE WANTING TO PERSUADE FRIENDS TO JOIN THEM

Go Sailing (RRP £12.99, promo price £11.69) is our new guide for complete beginners. Assuming no knowledge of what to do when sailing, this is a practical, inspiring and accessible guide to all the basics (and beyond), packed with colour photos and other helpful illustrations. If you want to encourage anyone to join you on the boat, or take up sailing as a new pastime, then this is the book you – or more importantly they – need.

The Sailing Bible (RRP £25, promo price £22.50) is exactly what it says on the cover. It is the complete hands-on manual packed with detailed step-by-step diagrams, lively photographs and helpful advice on getting the most out of sailing, at whatever level. It covers everything from knots to navigation, racing to rules of the road, maintenance and repair to reading the weather, plus lots more besides.

ESSENTIAL AIDE MEMOIRES AND CLASSIC REFERENCE BOOKS

Reeds Skipper’s Handbook (RRP £8.99, promo price £8.09) is one of the best-selling books we have ever published because it is quite literally the book every sailor (whether skipper or crew) needs in their pocket. It is the essential aide memoire to everything you need to know when on board, written in a concise fashion for quick and easy reference, with clear colour illustrations throughout.

Complete Day Skipper (RRP £25, promo price £22.50) is the book you need if you have decided this year is the year you finally go for your Day Skipper qualification. Written by sailing legend Tom Cunliffe, and updated only last year, he covers everything you need to know, following the Day Skipper syllabus but also adding his own personal insights so you get the full guide to getting the qualification but a lot more besides.

BOOKS FOR THOSE ITCHING TO CRUISE THE COAST

Around the Coast in 80 Days (RRP £16.99, promo price £15.29) is the perfect guide to anyone heading to the coast this year, regardless of whether they arrive by car, bike, foot or boat. Author Peter Naldrett has selected 80 locations around the British coast that represent the very best of what our country’s seaside has to offer, whether that is an exciting coastal town or a remote and tranquil spot ideal to unwind after the stresses of the past year.

The Boat Cookbook (RRP £18.99, promo price £17.09) is just what you need before the restaurants reopen properly again – and perhaps afterwards too. Going beyond the usual pre-packaged approach to preparing meals on board, this book is full of tasty, inspiring and filling recipes that can still be prepared in the smallest of galleys with the minimum of washing up. Many of them are so good you’ll want to make them at home too.

EXPLORING THE INLAND WATERWAYS NEARER TO HOME 

Canals of Britain (RRP £30, promo price £27) is the most comprehensive survey of Britain’s canals ever compiled. Uniquely drawn from author Stuart Fisher’s travels along the entire network by canoe, it is packed with colour photography, maps and fascinating text covering everything from history and architecture to folklore, wildlife and art. All key attractions close to the canals are featured, for a great day out.

Great Waterways Journeys (RRP £16.99, promo price £15.29) is even more of a travel guide to the canals, focusing on specific routes, through cities, spectacular landscapes and idyllic countryside. With route maps and practical information for boaters, cyclists and walkers, however you’re thinking of visiting Britain’s inland waterways, this is the one-stop guide to the many stops en route.

An Unsurprising SUPrising

Later this month we publish The Paddleboard Bible, just in time for spring and the gradual relaxing of Covid restrictions as we head towards the summer. In this blog, author Dave Price explores how a niche pastime a couple of decades ago has become the fastest-growing watersport, even before it became the ideal staycation activity last year.

2020 saw an explosion on our coasts and inland waters, a massive boom in stand-up paddleboarding (known as SUP), which is a combination of surfing and canoeing. The lockdown-induced desire to break free, aided by a beautiful sunny late spring, led to this cocktail of watersports bubbling up to much greater popularity, with individuals, families and small social groups taking the plunge. With every man, woman, and in some cases their dogs, embarking on SUP trips, safety is a significant concern.

As this spring begins it is vital that paddlers understand the role of flows, tides and different weathers. In some ways ‘Suppers’ may feel less at risk than kayakers, with not being trapped from the hips down. However, wind will have more effect on a paddleboarder, particularly when standing. Fortunately help is at hand! The Paddleboard Bible, being a complete guide to the activity, explains all the considerations necessary to plan a safe outing and many more things besides.

How long has SUP been going and where did it originate?

Many cultures and parts of the world could claim to have come up with the idea of paddling small canoe-like craft in a standing position. Much of the credit for originating the sport goes to Hawaii. It is believed that as early as the 16th century paddles were used with large surf boards. In the 1950s Hawaiian ‘Beach Boy’ surf instructors began paddling with surfboards to see swells earlier and to photograph their clients. In 1995 top surfers there began ‘Supping’ as a form of training and had paddles specially made. Around a decade later production paddleboards became available and SUP was diversifying from surfing into racing, touring, river paddles, yoga and fishing.

During the last ten years paddleboarding became the world’s fastest growing watersport, but last year took this to a much higher level. From leading brands like Red Paddle Company to budget-friendly boards at Decathlon, sales saw an increase of over 400% on the previous year. This is despite a growth in the number of brands. The explosion in inflatable boards (particularly but not literally) is also due to the ease with which they can be stored and transported, making SUP one of the most accessible watersports. The Paddleboard Bible has a chapter to help you choose the right equipment for your needs.

Why the sudden surge?

With more ‘staycations’, more time off work for some and less to spend money on for others, Supping became a source of joy in a challenging year.

Paddling is a great way to socially distance. Unlike walking or cycling, you’re not limited to tracks. You have the freedom to take your own path. Obviously steering helps and the book explains all the techniques you need! The air feels particularly fresh on the water and sunlight lowers the chances of virus transmission as well as providing valuable vitamin D. If you take a tumble, a refreshing dip will stimulate your immune system. The book has tips to help you avoid falling along with many games and challenges that could have the opposite effect, though laughter is the best medicine.

The benefits of ‘blue space’

Mental health has been in the forefront of people’s minds during lockdowns. Supping is particularly good for helping with this. ‘Blue space’ has become a term referring to the calming effects of water. Simply lying on a gently rocking board is wonderfully relaxing. A few minutes paddling on a river can wash your worries downstream. The physical side works off the frustrations of the day while communing with nature massages the deeper reaches of your emotional well-being.

SUP yoga is extremely popular. Yoga teachers sometimes suggest imagining a beautiful beach or lake. With SUP yoga you might not need to. Like yoga, SUP is particularly good for strengthening your core, realigning your spine and stabilising the muscles around problem areas like knees. The combination of the two activities is particularly beneficial and challenging! The Paddleboard Bible features SUP yoga but also more adrenalin fuelled branches of the sport including SUP surfing, racing and even white water.

Put the fizz in your physique

SUP is brilliant for physical health too, being a great all-round workout against the resistance of the water. You’ll feel and look your healthiest. For this reason it is very popular amongst celebrities such as actors and singers. Fortunately you don’t have to be famous to embrace this accessible sport. You’re not only in good company, you’re part of an inclusive, life-enriching, rapidly growing and undeflatable club! There are many local groups you can join too and the book’s final chapter describes the flourishing social side.

So it’s like walking on water; it’s a miracle cure for bad backs, dodgy knees and stress; sadly it can’t turn water into wine but it is pleasantly addictive and sociable and The Paddleboard Bible is your essential guide to enjoying it to the full!

The Paddleboard Bible (9781472981479) is published on 18th March, RRP £18.99. You can pre-order it with a 10% discount direct from our website here: https://www.bloomsbury.com/uk/the-paddleboard-bible-9781472981479/

Being prepared to handle an emergency on board

Next month we publish Seamanship 2.0, which, as the subtitle reveals, covers everything you need to know to get yourself out of trouble at sea. With fantastic illustrations, this practical handbook will help develop skills and build confidence in the most essential of seamanship skills. In this blog, author Mike Westin writes about being better prepared to handle an emergency on board.

Three out of the four authors of Seamanship 2.0 have been lifeboat coxswains and lifeboat volunteer crew for many years and in that job have seen a lot of situations, that in some cases could have been a ‘danger to human life’, which would be the basic definition of an emergency situation at sea (in an emergency at sea, every boat within the vicinity must try to help – unlike on land where the same laws do not apply).

When out there, what sometimes surprises us the most is how many boat owners react with apathy and/or indifference, instead of trying to proactively resolve a situation. It may be in very non-threatening circumstances, such as the engine won’t start when the wind is failing, or when a boat is nearing lee shore in a gale and a skipper really needs to react to save the boat and possibly lives.

There are various studies that have looked into how people react in stressful situations. They usually confirm that very few people feel ‘panic’ in its proper sense. Rather, it is fear combined with a measure of anxiety that gives an inability to act rationally.

The conclusion from these studies is that young men, and mothers with small children, are the ones who to the greatest extent act proactively. Trying to escape the situation is another reaction that a small percentage across ages will do.

On the other hand, a large percentage of middle-aged men seldom try to act on their own – instead they often become dead possums and wait for someone else to take the initiative. Even when this happens, it is common for this group to not respond actively, even after direct orders. Apathy at different levels has been described in the sinking of both the Titanic and Estonia

Without going into the incomprehensible underlying psychological causes that are partly (up to 60 per cent) genetically determined from hundreds of thousands of years ago, we can only confirm that we often see normal boat owners not do much other than possibly pick up the phone to ask someone else to remedy the situation. When we arrive with the rescue boat, they may have drifted ashore, even though if they had thrown into the anchor they may have been able to avoid this. Or, what happened to the paddle that would be on board according to the safety recommendations in the 1960s and 70s? Okay, maybe the last solution is only for smaller boats of which there are few today…

We suspect it is a combination of little real-life boating experience, stress and perhaps the expectation of always having rescue resources around the corner, that causes a skipper to expect that ‘someone’ (often the RNLI, Coastguard, SAR helicopter or similar) will always show up and fix everything.

Very few people know their stress-to-panic-limit because it’s extremely rare that we are exposed to excess (real) stress. And when we do, we can rarely do anything about the situation (eg in a traffic accident or in a robbery).

One of the advantages of working with SAR services is that you yourself are also exposed to substantial stress from time to time. Therefore, we can learn how we function in these situations. This is largely due to the fact that we as lifeboat crew (as well as firefighters, ambulance paramedics, lifeguards etc) try to recreate various emergency situations for training purposes. During training, we can make mistakes, we can stop and take a couple of deep breaths and afterwards we will get valuable feedback on what worked and what did not during debriefings.

How can this be transferred to regular boat owners? To begin with, you need to have a plan (and a plan B for backup) then practise, both on your own and with your crew. Where is the first-aid kit stored, what is the immediate thing to do if a crew member falls overboard or what to do if a fire starts in the engine compartment?

You can actually do quite a lot just by mentally going through a possible scenario step by step and thinking on how to act (this is where a book like Seamanship 2.0 will help!). Then run through the situations with your crew and practice, practice, practice.

Some tips:

  • Assume that it is you – as skipper – who must save yourself and your crew, though do call for help immediately if there is a danger to human life. if you solve it, you can later call back and cancel the emergency
  • While waiting for outside assistance, try to handle the situation; ‘buy time’ (drop an anchor before drifting into shallow waters when the engine has stopped, make a pressure dressing immediately to reduce bleeding (or just press a hanky on the bleeding wound while waiting for a bandage), start CPR straightaway when a person has fainted and no longer breathing normally, take down sails when you have run aground, tow a burning boat out from a full harbour, learn to get a position by taking bearing when the digital charts blacks out and so on
  • Take a training course (or several) to be better prepared for handling different stressful situations

After an emergency (or training session) always debrief to reduce the chances of after-effects from a stressful situation, and so you all learn something from what happened.

Saving a boat from sinking or burning out is not an emergency. An emergency is only when there’s a danger to life and a human life needs saving. The boat itself is for the owner or their insurance company to take care of. Often it is easier for us on the lifeboat to tow the affected boat, with its crew to safety, rather than trying to transfer them to the lifeboat…

Seamanship 2.0 is published on 18th March (ISBN 9781472977021). You will be able to buy it through all good bookshops and chandleries at an RRP of £14.99, but you can pre-order it with a 10% discount direct from our website: https://www.bloomsbury.com/uk/seamanship-20-9781472977021/

A preview of 2021 in books

Last year may have been tough for most of us, but here at Adlard Coles we’ve been busy commissioning, editing and printing books in the confidence that one day all our current problems will be behind us. So in anticipation of the moment when we can be free on the water once more, we thought we would highlight a selection of upcoming books we will be publishing in the first half of 2021. All of these books can be pre-ordered now (with a special 10% discount) by following the links to our website.

FEBRUARY

The Canal du Midi is the most popular waterway in France, and in her must-have compact travel guide, Andrea Hoffmann covers all the practical information and sightseeing opportunities boaters need to know about, including suggested itineraries for easy planning, insider tips for where to stop off, highlights not to miss, recommended restaurants, and essential practical information on how and where to charter, locks, bridges, berths and more.

Our popular Reeds Handbook series of pocket-sized guides to all manner of issues important to sailors is expanded this year with the Reeds 9 Language Handbook, which covers (with clear, annotated illustrations) all the topics and terms sailors will need to refer to when abroad, in English, French, German, Dutch, Spanish, Italian, Danish, Portuguese and Greek.

MARCH

Seamanship 2.0 by Mike Westin is a lavishly illustrated and comprehensive practical handbook covering essential seamanship skills – everything a skipper will need to know when the tech goes down, or when they encounter a challenge at sea. It includes best practice, problem solving, emergencies and first aid, helping you to either avoid issues or know how to cope with them if they happen.

Anyone going for their Day Skipper needs to get their Short Range Certificate, and the Reeds VHF Handbook by former Reeds Almanac editor Andy Du Port includes all anyone using a VHF DSC radio system needs to know, whether as part of the syllabus or to fully understand their new equipment. It covers everything radio procedure and channel allocation to VHF radio theory, along with a full explanation of GMDSS.

Last year accelerated the boom in paddlesports, and this year we will be launching our new list of books devoted to all manner of topics related to canoeing, kayaking and paddleboarding. Our first title, the Paddleboard Bible by Dave Price, covers absolutely everything you need to know about paddleboarding, whether a rank beginner, someone looking to buy, maintain or repair a board, or someone with experience looking for where SUP can take them.

APRIL

First published over 50 years ago and now in its fourteenth edition, Through the French Canals by David Jefferson is the bible for anyone cruising through the scenery of the French waterways, or on passage from the English Channel to the Mediterranean. Over 50 different routes are featured, with details of distances, depths, heights of bridges, tunnel lengths and stopping points, along with practical advice on everything from suitable berths to costs and waterway signals.

JUNE

Duncan Wells’ Stress-Free series has proved very popular with readers, and we will soon publish the second edition of the book that started it all, Stress-Free Sailing. For those sailing single or short handed, this highly illustrated book is packed with step-by-step solutions to all manner of situations cruisers may face, including advice on sail-setting, reefing, mooring, anchoring, sailing in heavy weather, navigation and safety.

Described by TV presenter Ed Stafford as ‘the definitive guide to Britain’s quirky and rugged islands,’ Treasured Islands by Peter Naldrett features all 200 of the British Isles’ inhabited islands. Many you can sail to, and in this unique travel guide, Peter covers everything from must-see attractions to wildlife, history, local food specialities and places to stay.

Tied to the community

Many of our authors could tell a story about the writing of their books, but Nic Compton’s is particularly touching. His new book A Knot a Day is a wonderful collection of 365 knot-based projects (from mastering a bowline to making a garden swing for the kids), and is something all of us here would have liked to have had to see us through our time at home this year.

It was just after the start of the first UK lockdown that the commission for my new book came through. It was called A Knot a Day and was intended to contain 365 knots – a knot for each day of the year – with the accent firmly on the practical and the fun. It was the perfect lockdown project, or so it seemed. And so I buried myself in my garden office and started researching 165 new knots to go with the 200 I already had. And what a wealth of interesting knots I found to go alongside the standard knot fare: there were knots for ladders, swings and zipwires; knots for bracelet, necklaces and keyrings; knots for shoelaces, ties and scarves – and a whole raft of ‘magic’ knots, which proved especially challenging.

Trouble was, although lockdown was an ideal time for researching and writing about stuff, it wasn’t so good for getting hold of materials and, eventually, the models I’d need to take the photos – for I was determined as much as possible to take the knots out of the studio and into ‘real’ life. For a start, I’d need a lot more rope than I happened to have on my various boats, but it was hard to know exactly what sort. In desperation, I posted a message on social media asking if anyone could lend me some rope. Straight away I got a reply from the local forest school teacher, saying she would lend me what turned out to be a rucksack full of climbing rope, including several different coloured lengths of paracord (thanks Lisa!). Next, a crafty friend from up the road offered me a bag full of macramé string of different colours and sizes, mostly unopened (thanks Caroline!).

For the next few weeks I had a great time, heading off to the woods with my kids to photograph various outdoorsy knots, up to Dartmoor for the climbing knots, and to Bantham Beach for kite and three-legged race knots (thanks Betty and Sol!). My son even helped with the simpler magic trick knots, and my daughter obliged by modelling some strange and unusual shoelace knots (her pink trainers were just the trick!). When all else failed, my wife stepped into help, as well as providing invaluable styling advice (thanks Anna!). But, inevitably, after a while their enthusiasm waned and I realised I need some fresh blood. By then, the lockdown restrictions had eased and we were allowed to meet in small numbers and mix with friends at a social distance.

It started off with a couple of my daughter’s friends, who had heard about the book and were keen to have their photos in there too (thanks Daisy and Esme!). And, if they were going to have their photos in the book, then their parents weren’t going to be left out either (thanks Jo and Steve!). By then, I had cleared half my office and turned it into a photographic studio. To get more an age mix, I asked my daughter’s piano teacher and her sister (who also taught my daughter the piano!) to model some of the scarves (thanks Tabitha and Matilda!). To help redress the gender balance, the waiter at the local quayside café had been furloughed and was more than happy to spend four days with me trying out different tie knots and grappling with the harder magic knots (thanks Graham!). And that’s not to mention the important task of modelling the various cat and dog accessories (thanks Mitzy and Winnie!)

Help came in other forms too. I snapped up a rustic coffee table a friend was giving away on a community group, which became the default background for most of my studio shots (thanks Kate!). And, when I tired of that, my builder lent me a stunning black slate (thanks Steve!). The village shop had stopped stocking the lighters I needed to seal the ends of rope, but luckily one of the assistants had just stopped smoking and was delighted to offload some of her leftover lighters (thanks Kirsten!). And those aren’t just any woods featured in the photos; they belong to the grandfather of one of my daughter’s friends (thanks Anthony!).

In the end, more than 20 people in the village contributed to the book in some form – a genuine and generous community effort, for which I am hugely grateful. For most, their only payment was a paracord ninja turtle figure (see page 335 of the book) and a free copy of the book. And yet, strangely, this community involvement was only made possible due to the lockdown. At any other time, most of these people would have been too busy to spend time modelling photos of knots, but as it turned out the project provided a break from the monotony of lockdown.

By the time I finished, Jo was back at work training guide dogs for the blind, Steve was back providing educational facilities at the zoo, Tabitha was back in Bristol studying dentistry, Matilda was in Cardiff studying music, Graham was at Reading doing a PhD in maritime history… Life has returned to almost-normal, and it seems unlikely that the circumstances which created the book will never happen again. For, apart from being a fun and informative book of knots, for me A Knot A Day will always be a snapshot of Lockdown 2020 and of a community that came to help.

A Knot a Day is published on 10th December, RRP £16.99. You can buy it at a special discount direct from our website here: https://www.bloomsbury.com/uk/a-knot-a-day-9781472985163/