About Captain Cole

Captain Cole is an editor at Adlard Coles Nautical.

Blown away by Bloomsbury Australia!

Bloomsbury Down Under meets Bailey’s humans – we can’t decide whether we’re more jealous of the cake and tea or of Jackson the office dog…

Bailey Boat Cat

Yesterday mum popped in to meet all the Bloomsbury ladies in the Sydney office. She sat down and had afternoon tea with Sonia, Kirstin, Bethia and Kate but she was very honoured to meet a very impawtant canine called Jackson! He quietly runs the office and keeps the humans out of mischief while he quality controls everything.

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They were all so friendly and very excited about my book. I hope I get to go over in cat one day and meet them all myself.

It was another example of what a small world we live in when mum and Bethia realised they were both Cornish. Once mum had left and was wandering around Sydney with dad she was very surprised to run into Bethia again! They got chatting about Cornwall and realised that not only had they gone to the same primary school, but they were both in the same…

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Bailey Boat Cat lands a book deal!

We at Adlard Coles Nautical have some VERY exciting news to share… about one VERY special little boat cat…

Bailey Boat Cat is already making waves across the global blogosphere, thanks to his devilish good looks, feline philosophies of life aboard and, above all, his impossibly stylish little cat lifejacket.

And we are delighted to announce he has now given his official paw of approval to the contract for his very first book deal…

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Bailey practises his pawtograph

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After all that exertion, Bailey treats himself to a little rest

We can safely say that Bailey is the furriest, whiskeriest Adlard Coles author to date! And possibly the most photogenic – no offence to any of our other winsome writers, of course…

Fans of Bailey will have to wait until April 2014 to get their paws on a copy of his book – but watch this space for more tantalising tidbits to come!

And, until then, here’s a sneak preview of the cover… MIAOW!

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Take our survey and WIN a Reeds Nautical Almanac 2014!

Over here at Adlard Coles HQ we are keen to learn more about our readers, what sort of books you love, and what you want to read more about!

Help us out by taking our super speedy survey now, and you’ll be in with a chance of winning a copy of the coveted Reeds Nautical Almanac 2014, or a bundle of gorgeous nautical books fresh from our offices…

Click here to take the survey today!

The inimitable Reeds

The inimitable Reeds

Editors let loose on Southampton Water

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No one on the water was safe on Friday as the Adlard Coles Editorial team enjoyed a Big Day Out, sailing aboard Director Janet’s yacht, Caprice.

Waved off by a triumvirate of swans from our pontoon in Shamrock Quay Marina, Southampton, we beat upwind, tacking, tacking, and tacking again, until we almost appeared to know what we were doing. The breeze was scarce and cruising was slow, but our wonderful hosts took advantage of the conditions to set us to work helming, trimming the sails and perfecting our bowlines – all to varying degrees of success. Near Calshott, we picked up a mooring buoy for lunch, before pottering back to the marina.

Jess, Jenny and Liz even braved the water for a quick dip post-lunch. With bellies full of sandwiches and cake we jumped in, and promptly regretted it as it dawned on us just how cold and salty seawater actually is. But who can resist a spot of wild swimming amongst friends…?

L–R: Jess, Janet, Kirsty, Jenny, Liz, Jonathan

L–R: Jess, Janet, Kirsty, Jenny, Liz and Jonathan

Henley Royal Regatta: a spectator’s view

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Henley-on-Thames

For the morning commuter, London Paddington station’s platform 14 might have seemed a rather peculiar place this week. Across the station, whiffs of an imminent occasion were evident: a hatted lady ordering a flat white at Delice de France; a dapper chap queuing to buy Bombay Sapphire in M&S. But it was on platform 14 that they convened, in a startling blaze of red chinos.

For me, Henley Royal Regatta is something of a family tradition. My stepsisters’ grandfather rowed in it for over 30 years and, ever since, the family has taken it upon themselves to attend. Not that there’s anything arduous about it. Pimm’s and picnics, promenades and Prosecco – this is undoubtedly a most civilised way to spend a day. Just so long, that is, as you can navigate the strict dress code – dresses below the knee, please, ladies (this is the Stewards’ Enclosure, darling!) and not too revealing; wedges to prevent grassy foundering – it’s all something of a minefield. If you’re me, that is.

That aside, let’s not forget the point of the whole thing. Rowing. The regatta has been held annually ever since 1839, barring the two world wars. Henley is the perfect location, being the Thames’ only straight stretch of water this long (a mile and a half, or thereabouts). Races set off every five minutes, so it’s hard to miss the crews sculling their way upriver, accompanied by a smattering of applause from deck-chair spectators on the banks.

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The competitors work somewhat harder than the spectators

The particulars of the sport may likewise pass me by (for shame), but it’s difficult not to be seduced by the occasion. The glittering River Thames and its immaculate, verdant banks; the sunshine, so maddeningly bashful; the inevitable spots of rain, subject of wry, good-natured smiles between strangers.

Stripes and cravats, flannel and old boys’ caps; flowery flocks and wide brimmed hats – we spectators form a fellowship of sorts, like that between football fans on match day or fancy-dress party guests. We may be cold, unfriendly Londoners on any other day of the year, but today, lubricated by familial chatter and gin, we might just offer the neighbouring car a Waitrose sausage roll or two. Might.

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Not a lady-knee in sight, thankfully

The regatta continues for four more days of hard-fought rowing. Me, I’m back in my scruffy jeans in central London, with my no-longer-banned mobile phone by my side – back to reality with a bump. But a day spent on England’s riverbanks, with family and (to quote Mr McEwan) the comfort of strangers – well, it’s a bit of a magical thing, somehow. And, as it turns out, we don’t scrub up too badly after all.

Read Adlard Coles Nautical’s books on the glorious River Thames – click the cover to buy.

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Nightmares and rainbows

An ode to the prospect of a new boating season, by the Grand Mariner

There are nightmares and pitfalls everywhere in the boatyard at this time of year!

• A helpful rain shower just after completing the antifouling

• The boat next door spraying off after you’ve nicely polished & buffed the hull to a gleam

• Not realising you are tramping dark blue antifouling spots from the bottom of your shoes all over your nice white fibreglass deck

• Getting distracted and antifouling part of the prop in error

• Losing a critical tiny screw in the gravel

• The nearby hosepipe springing a leak and soaking your trolleyful of tools

• Worst of all – running out of teabags!

And then you look out over the water and see what awaits and the anticipation is almost tangible. The nightmares fade into an array of rainbows, beckoning all manner of pots of gold in the form of exhilarating passages, interesting landfalls or even just peaceful anchorages offering simple swimming and fishing opportunities – and watching the sun go down with glass or mug in hand of course. Bring on those days…!

No such lovely weather this year… but the anticipation is just as high

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The pay off for all that hard work…

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And here, in a nutshell, is what makes all the hard work worth it.

In pursuit of wild trout

We are delighted to publish a guest post from the author and blogger of Dartography. To read more of his musings on the pursuit of wild river trout in Dartmoor, click here.

IN ITS UPPER REACHES the East Dart flows out of high moorland, past the remains of Bronze Age hut circles scattered in the grass. The river tumbles over granite boulders in the wild valleys, as the land softens to rough grazing the river softens too. It winds under thickets of yellow flowered gorse and purple foxgloves. It carves out pools and glides in the peat.

At the head of a pool the river runs fast and shallow over gravel. At the tail it narrows again and the surface of the water is rough and broken. In the middle it is deep, the flow of water slow. In the food-poor water of a spate river fish can’t afford to be fussy eaters. The shortage of food is the likely reason many trout leave the river for richer feeding grounds at sea. They return as silver sea trout to spawn in the gravel beds of their birth.

The banks of the East Dart are high from the torrent of floodwater that ploughs through the course in winter. The summer level is lower, making it hard to stay out of sight. The clear water and many predators make the trout flighty. It is vital to keep out of sight if you want to see or catch them. The deeper water, shaded from the full strength of the sun, should hold the better fish. I crouch between the tall grass and watch. An olive mayfly drifts in the current, trapped by the surface film. A trout rises and it disappears.

Even in July the evenings are cool on Dartmoor. The sun sets early behind the tors. I slip into the river in the noisy fast water at the tail of the pool, hoping it will mask the splash from my wading boots.

I wait to see if I have disturbed my fish. It rises again to another trapped insect. I unhook an olive pattern from the cork handle of my fly rod, pull some line from the reel and flick it out in front of me. The rod comes up and the line peels out behind; I push it forwards and send the fly through the air towards the bend in the river beneath the gorse.

It lands a little short. I let it drift back to me so as not to disturb the pool, strip off a few more handfuls and cast again. The fly lands in front of the rising fish, drifts for half a second on the current and disappears in a swirl of broken water. I set the hook with a flick of the rod. The line zips tight and cuts the water as the trout takes off around the pool.

I bring him to the net and move into the shallows where I can slip the barbless hook out. A quick photo and back he goes. I hold him in the current to recover his strength in my fingers until he flicks his tail and shoots upstream. A blur of red spots on brown and gold flanks.

The ancestors of my trout swam up the estuary from Dartmouth as far back as 20,000 years ago. Some stay in the river and others follow the current back to saltwater and richer feeding. Under the stars on short summer nights the sea trout come back to the river.

A revolutionary new edition of Operation Sea Angler by Mike Ladle and Steve Pitts will be published by Adlard Coles Nautical in summer 2013.

Ten films that float our boat

Guest blog by ArrJimLad

Tired of being stuck ashore? Restless to get out on the ocean waves?

Here at Adlard Coles, understanding seamen that we are, we know how fighting the urge to hoist anchor can sometimes seem unbearable. Fear not though, help is at hand…

We’ve put our heads together to compile an absolutely non-definitive list of sea-themed films for you to trawl through – a veritable life raft for those of you unsure of being able to cope without the water’s ebb and flow until you’ve spoken to your boss and booked some time off work.

There are, of course, dozens that didn’t make the cut (some rather controversially, although few tears were shed over some of the other omissions) but that’s where you come in. If you’ve got your own take on things, if you think we’ve got it wrong or you just downright disagree, feel free to post any of your thoughts below. Right, let the debate begin!

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10. Titanic

Let’s get this one out of the way first, shall we? Yes, we know it’s not cool. Yes, we know it’s received more than its fair share of press this year. And yes, we know its existence comes hand in hand with Celine Dion going on and on… but all of that, dear cynics, would mean overlooking a few bare-faced facts.

Made directly before James Cameron holed himself away to create Avatar, on its initial release Titanic did the following: earned over $600 million at the US box office; launched Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet onto the A-list; and possessed some genuinely (and under-rated) spectacular special effect sequences that left audience jaws on cinema floors.

Yet, beyond all of the Oscars, tears and an ability to put bums on seats, arguably Titanic’s greatest achievement is that it has continually managed to capture the imaginations of a worldwide audience on a scale rarely encountered before. And for that reason alone, it’s got to be on our list.

9. The Little Mermaid

It’s easy to forget that in the few years leading up to Pixar’s game-changing computer animation hitting our cinema screens, Disney were producing smash-hit traditionally animated films that captured the imagination of audiences all over the world.

The Little Mermaid is as bright, colourful and, dare I say it, twee as you’d imagine, but it would be ludicrous not to acknowledge its standing as a firm family (and office!) favourite responsible for taking generations under the sea for the very first time.

8. Das Boot

I haven’t seen this. People in the office tell me I should. That is all.

7. Jaws

Understandably criticised by marine biologists and shark enthusiasts the world over for demonising one of nature’s greatest surviving predators, but it’s impossible for this almost entirely sea-based film NOT to make our list.

Adapted from Peter Benchley’s novel, Jaws was Steven Spielberg’s big screen breakthrough and was directed on a smidgen of the astronomical budgets his productions now command. Assisted by John Williams’ iconic score, Spielberg creates a Hitchcock-like thriller-horror via clever use of underwater camera shots which left audiences lifting their feet onto their chairs in fear of being gnawed on by an eternally hungry great white shark which, for the vast majority of the film, remains unseen.

That said fish actually turns out to be quite a turgid rubber-tyre of a creation when you get a closer look at it matters not; packed with classic cinematic moments, Jaws deserves its inclusion.

6. Master and Commander

Now to a film lauded for its accuracy. Starring Russell Crowe and Paul Bettany, Master and Commander (based on the novels of Patrick O’Brian) raked in ten Oscar nominations and countless plaudits from the critics. As gnarled and gritty as you’d expect the Napoleonic Wars to have been, this epic portrayal of soldiers’ lives at sea during the early 1800s comes with humanity, but isn’t for the faint of heart.

5. Adventures of Robinson Crusoe

Not technically sea-based for the majority, but it’s difficult not to mention a film that comes loaded with the idea of the ocean’s supremacy and how it can, if it so wishes, leave one at its mercy.

Actor Dan O’Herlihy received an Oscar nomination for his interpretation of Daniel Defoe’s most famous character in a story that has inspired countless other productions to employ the ocean’s strength as a means of throwing characters into seemingly unassailable, despairing situations.

4. March of the Penguins

Not since The Shawshank Redemption has Morgan Freeman put his silky smooth Tennessee voice to better use. Freeman narrates the English version (the original documentary is in French) of a stirring story of the annual hardships the emperor penguins of Antarctica must face in order to mate.

There has, of course been other successful sea-life-based schmaltz on our cinema screens over the years, but March of the Penguins trumps them all because, not only does it manage to tick the ‘oh sooo cute!’ and ‘heart-warming romance’ boxes, but because it’s real.

Take that, Keiko.

3. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea

It’d be difficult not to include a submarine-based film on our list, so we’ve gone for a classic. Other films might lay claim to being tense, successful sub-based thrillers in their own right, but the impact of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea had on its audience shouldn’t go underestimated.

An adventure based on Jules Verne’s novel, it has become regarded as one of Disney’s classic non-cartoon productions which, alongside adding greater intrigue into the wonders of the sea, also brought about a terrifying monster of the deep onto our screens.

2. Treasure Island

Back when Johnny Depp was still in short trousers little could he have known how his bank balance would prosper from a story to which all other pirate adventures owe their pieces of eight.

Jim Hawkins, Billy Bones, Long John Silver, yo-ho-ho, fifteen men on a dead man’s chest, parrots, wooden legs and bottles of rum… this film adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic novel is the cinematic blueprint for every pirate who’s sailed the seas ever since.

1. Finding Nemo

The Little Mermaid looked spectacular on its release but the animation seems stone-age in comparison with this, a sensory overload that’s, arguably, Pixar Studios’ greatest work.

By deciding to cater for the adults of the children clamouring to see their films, Pixar’s productions are known not just for their heart, but for their intelligence too, and Finding Nemo is no exception (for example, how many average 5 / 45 year-olds knew about anemones or the EAC before Nemo and Dory showed them?). A production that makes you want to go out and explore for yourself what the depths of the ocean have to offer, this masterpiece deservedly floats to the number one spot on our list.

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Memories of a Clipper Race Victory

The Clipper Round-the-World Yacht Race 2011/12 is drawing to its end. Over its ten months and 40,000 miles, the 450 crew members of these ten 68-footers have witnessed first-hand both drama and danger; they have battled through fierce competition and forged intense bonds of friendship that will last a lifetime. And it’ll all be celebrated in epic style this Sunday, 22 July, when 15,000 members of the public will descend on Southampton’s Ocean Village to welcome back the fleet and their crews, and crown Gold Coast Australia the overall victors.

And while we all cheer their success, it’ll be a moment that resonates especially deeply for one onlooker. Brendan Hall was the winning skipper of the last Clipper race in 2009/10 in Spirit of Australia. It was a hard-fought and dramatic race that inspired him to write the remarkable Team Spirit – now published by Adlard Coles Nautical.

On the eve of this spectacular finale, Brendan offers below some reflections on his own memories of the race. He’ll also be at the finish on Sunday, signing copies of his book in the Recruitment Tent – so if you’re going to be there, do take some time out from the live bands, air display, flotilla and parade to pop by, say hello and get your own personalised copy!

Winning the Clipper Round the World Race was not an easy task. There were 10 highly competitive, determined teams at the start line, but when those teams crossed the finish line 10 months later, there was only one winner.

When my crew and I aboard Spirit of Australia crossed that start line in the River Humber in September 2009, we wanted to win the race. It had been my personal ambition and focus for nearly two years before the start. I prepared myself, my boat and my crew to the highest level to give us the best fighting chance. After circumnavigating the globe, we sailed back up that famous river at the end of the race. We were clear winners, 22 points ahead of our nearest rivals, Team Finland.

It was the race of a lifetime.

In the months since the race finish, I have been asked numerous times :

Why did we win?

What was it like being the skipper of such a competitive boat?

Did your crew always get along?

What were the highs and lows of the race?

The victorious crew of Spirit of Australia

It was these questions that made me realise my story was one worth writing down, not only to give a narrative account of the race from a skipper’s perspective, but also to convey some of the leadership lessons I learned on the race.

On a cold, January morning, I opened my laptop and began typing the first words of the book that I have titled Team Spirit: Life and Leadership on One of the World’s Toughest Yacht Races.

Slowly, at first, the story of our race took shape on the page. The big events and dramas of our race came easily: the colour and noise at the start – our 45-knot crash gybe in the South Atlantic – the towering steel-grey waves of the Southern Ocean – the punishing upwind sail up to Qingdao when I asked my crew to do the most dangerous of headsail changes. Our rescue of Hull & Humber, after their skipper broke his leg. Then the rescue of the dismasted California Clipper in the North Pacific. Sailing through the teeth of a hurricane. Powerful memories that were just as vivid to me as they day they happened.

Dismasted California speeding down the face of an enormous North Pacific wave

Articulating my own emotions and reflections was more challenging. The race had been an emotional rollercoaster for all of us, but as the skipper I had to keep my emotions closely guarded. I remember the low feeling after making a bad decision in the South Atlantic which resulted in us badly tearing two sails and sacrificing our race. I remember the elation of the race finishes, when we joyously celebrated the reward of our persistence. The stress and pressure of racing 24/7. The constant worry about the safety of my crew. Keeping myself and my crew motivated when I was mentally and physically exhausted. These were the things that took their toll on me, but which I think give an insight into the very unique world of a Clipper race skipper’s life at sea.

Writing about leadership was the most challenging part of the book. I learned a lot from the race, about myself, about being a good leader, about making mistakes and learning from them and managing a very diverse crew. Our success in the race came down to factors which were entirely human: energy, persistence and support. We had a fantastic culture on board Spirit of Australia, so as well as the story of the race, I want my book to give an insight into how that culture made us the winning team.

Buy your copy of Team Spirit here, or find us in the Recruitment Tent in Ocean Village all day on Sunday 22 July. 

EXCLUSIVE: Team Spirit extract available now!

Just because it’s Friday, and it’s still sunny here in London… We thought our readers deserved a special treat. So don’t delay – click here to read a free extract of Brendan Hall’s superb new book, Team Spirit: Life and Leadership on one of the World’s Toughest Yacht Races.

Fewer people have raced a yacht around the world than have climbed Mount Everest. It is the ultimate long-distance challenge, and none more so than the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race: a 35,000-mile circumnavigation of the globe, contested by amateur crews in identical stripped-down racing yachts. Taking part in it requires incredible teamwork, leadership, skill, courage and focus.

Winning it is a whole different game.

Team Spirit is a gripping account of a race on the edge, a young skipper’s crash-course in leadership under gruelling pressure, and a determined journey to victory against the odds.

Brendan began sailing at the age of four in his home waters off Brisbane, and was just 28 years old when he skippered Spirit of Australia to victory in the Clipper Race 2009/2010. But despite being the youngest and least experienced skipper in the contest, the win was no accident – it was the culmination of relentless training, skilled navigation and a leadership style way beyond his years.