A new beginner’s guide to sailing

When all of this is over, we’ll be desperate to escape our homes! Read on for some great advice from our author Simon Jollands – all the sailing essentials, perfect for sending on to any would-be sailors in your life dreaming of days of freedom, preferably on the wide open waves…

I was inspired by my daughter Freya to write Go Sailing. For the past few years, she and her husband Chris have been on annual bareboat sailing holidays with a group of friends, some of whom have limited sailing experience. “Dad,” she said, “how about writing a book that covers the basics for sailing novices who want to join in the fun? We have several friends who would like to give it a go.” So I sat down with Freya and Chris and we made a list of things to cover in the book. They kindly took loads of photos on their next holiday, many of which are included in Go Sailing.

With events cancelled and sailing clubs closed due to Covid-19, it doesn’t look as though many people will be able to go sailing over the coming months. However, I hope those with limited experience might instead have the time to enjoy reading up about some of the sailing theory covered in Go Sailing, so that when they eventually do have a chance to get out on the water they will be able to make the most of it and gain maximum enjoyment from taking part. Here’s an extract from Chapter 6: ‘Crewing Tasks Underway’…

SAIL BALANCE
Keeping the sails balanced involves making adjustments to the sails as the wind gusts or changes direction. This is the job of the sail trimmer.

Having the sails balanced and trimmed correctly for the course that is required will result in the most smooth and efficient ride possible, allowing the person on the helm to focus on steering to the desired course.

SAIL TRIMMING
When a cruising yacht is underway, most of the time it will have two sails hoisted – a headsail and the mainsail. Once hoisted, the two sails need to be adjusted so that their shapes harmonise and work together, resulting in the most efficient performance and a balanced helm. A balanced helm is where the boat is not being pulled either towards the wind, known as weather helm, or pushed away from the wind, known as lee helm.

Handy tip: You will find that some yacht crews and skippers are continuously adjusting their sails while others hardly seem to touch them. If you are aboard a racing yacht, the adjustments will tend to be continuous, as the wind shifts and varies in strength. In these circumstances the whole crew concentrates on getting the absolute maximum performance from the boat. If on the other hand you are sailing aboard a laid-back cruising yacht, you will probably find that once the sails are hoisted and a course is set that sail adjustments are kept to a minimum. A well tuned boat will sail faster and will tend to heel less than a boat with badly adjusted sails.

Adjusting the sails
The sails are adjusted by “easing” or “sheeting in” the jib sheet and main sheet, in other words by either letting out or pulling in the sheets. This action causes the sails to change their shape to take advantage of the direction of the airflow over them.

As the boat sails closer towards the wind’s direction the sheets are pulled in, which flattens the sails. As the boat sails away from the wind the sheets are eased, allowing the sails to be more curved in shape.

Most sails have telltales to help the sail trimmer see how the air is flowing both sides of the sail.

Telltales
Sails have short lengths of ribbon or wool attached to them, called telltales. Telltales indicate how the airflow is moving over the sails and whether they are working at maximum efficiency. If the telltales are streaming horizontally, then the sails are correctly trimmed.

Once the boat is heading on the correct course, then the trimmer adjusts the sails until the telltales are flowing horizontally. If the telltales stop streaming correctly, this indicates the boat has either gone off course, in which case the helmsperson needs to steer back on course, or the wind has changed direction, in which case the sails need to be re-trimmed.

Mainsail trimming
• Telltales flying horizontally, luff slack – correctly adjusted.
• Sail flapping – sheet in.
• Sail tight up to the mast – ease the sheet.

Genoa / jib trimming
• Telltales flying horizontally on both sides – correctly adjusted.
• Telltale on the inside of the sail is lifting – sheet in.
• Telltale on the outside of the sail is lifting – ease the sheet.

POINTS OF SAIL
Aside from being head-to-wind, a boat can sail at any other angle relative to the wind. In order to do so, a boat’s sails have to be adjusted to create the best aerodynamic shape for the sails to work efficiently.
Together, the different angles are known as points of sailing and a number of terms are used to describe the boat’s course relative to the wind direction, not unlike the points of a compass.

The points of sailing are:

Head-to-wind – a sailing boat cannot sail directly into the wind as its sails do not fill, begin to flap and have no effect. When this happens the boat is referred to as head-to-wind and the boat slows down and stops. Depending on the design of sails and boat, the sails will not usually fill until the boat is pointing at an angle between 40º and 45º away from the direction of the wind.
Close-hauled – as close to the wind as possible. Sails are pulled tight. The boat heels away from the wind but is prevented from being blown over by the counter balancing effect of the keel beneath the hull which not only holds the boat upright but prevents it from sailing sideways.
Close reach – the wind is forward of the beam. Sails are eased out a little. The boat continues to heel over away from the wind.
Beam reach – the wind blows directly across the side of the boat. The sails are eased further out. The boat continues to heel.
Broad reach – the wind comes over the rear quarter, aft of the beam. Sails are eased well out. The boat no longer heels.
Training run – the wind is almost directly behind the boat. Sails are eased well out. The boat does not heel but may rock from side to side, known as yawing.
Run – the wind is directly behind the boat. The sails are eased right out and the head sail is pulled onto the opposite side to the main so it can catch the wind. The boat may continue to yaw from side to side.

GO SAILING is published on 30th April (RRP £12.99). You can pre-order it with a 10% discount direct from our website here. Simon’s earlier books (Safe Skipper and the Reeds Lights, Shapes and Buoyage Handbook) are available for a 30% discount (45% for ebooks) for a limited time only.

Scotland – finest coastline in Europe?

2020 is Visit Scotland’s Year of Coasts and Waters, and on 2nd April we are proud to publish Stuart Fisher’s new book, Coastal Scotland. Stuart wrote our perennial bestseller, Canals of Britain, and last year we published Coastal Britain: England and Wales, in which he completed the most comprehensive survey of the English and Welsh coastlines. Now he has done the same for Scotland’s coast, one of the most diverse and attractive shorelines in Europe. In this exclusive extract he paddles in the magic of Skye.

To Ptolemy it was Scitis Insular. To the Norse it was Skuyo, the isle of clouds, because of its cloud cap. To the Celts it was the winged isle, An t-Eilean Sgitheanach. In Gaelic it is also Eilean a’ Cheò, the isle of mist. At 77km long and covering 1,740km2, it has over 1,600km of coastline yet nowhere is more than 8km from the sea. It is the largest of the Inner Hebrides, inhabited for at least 4,000 years and under Viking control until 1263. In the mid 19th century, before the Clearances, the population was triple its present 10,000. It was opened up by the Victorians when they brought the railway to Kyle of Lochalsh but nearly half still speak Gaelic and the Sabbath is widely kept, including by most of the few petrol stations. It is mentioned in more songs and poems than any other place, including in Somhairle MacGill-Eain’s The Island. Dog enthusiasts know it for the Skye terrier.

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From the Point of Sleat the Cuillin hills come into view, first the Black Cuillin to the west and then the Red Cuillin as well to their east. With the sun on them or a changing pattern of sun and clouds there is no better view in Britain. Moving north brings them ever closer. The Black Cuillin with their jagged frost 990m shattered crown of peaks consist of 50,000,000 year old gabbro with plutonic intrusions, elsewhere only found in northern Norway. The Red Cuillin are more rounded granite with acid plutonic intrusions, often looking more white than red. The name is thought to come from the Norse kjölen, high rocks or kjöllen, keels. This is the incomparable backdrop to this route. Also visible are various combinations of the Small Isles to the west.

Overlooking Ob Guascavaig is Dunscaith, the castle of gloom, ruined but well preserved with a drawbridge. This is one of the longest fortified headlands in the Hebrides, built by the MacAskills in the 14th century, the home of the MacDonalds from the 15th century until 1570, when they moved to Duntulm. The site had been home to the legendary Queen of Skye, Scathach, who taught warfare to the 3rd century Irish hero Cuchulainn and who had ramparts protected by an iron palisade with severed heads, then a pit of poisonous snakes and then a collection of beaked toads. He beat them all then married Bragela, the lonely sunbeam of Dunscaith, and the large Clach Luath stone is where he tied his dog after hunting.

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He then left to defend Ulster against the Vikings but was killed and Dunscaith became a ruin. The present castle was built in a night by a witch or by Cuchulainn and his Fingalians. A young MacDonald daughter, married in the castle to a MacLeod against her wishes, fed her two sons to her husband and father in law. A Summer in Skye tells a long story involving the musician Ossian who one day fell asleep for a century in a fairy hillock, giant deer, a magic whistle and much more fantasy. In 1506 Donald the Stranger, the chief of the MacDonalds of Sleat, was stabbed by his illegitimate brother while inspecting a galley being built on the beach.

By comparison, the fort on Eilean Ruaridh seems to have been a much more placid and straightforward place. Fishermen in oilskins turn out to be cormorants that are perched on yellow rocks and the water contains nothing worse than seals.

At the end of Glen Lorgasdal there are stacks on the cliffs and in the water. Between them is an arch, behind which is a powerful waterfall and near which is a cave with a curtain of water across its entrance, a feature of a number of caves along this coast. It lacks only a sandy beach, the boulders being slippery except under the waterfall where there is dense weed like moss on the rocks, so a cold power shower can be taken standing or seated on a hot day. In the middle of the day the sun lights up the fall through the arch and there is not just a full circle of rainbow but much of a second ring. This has to be the most magical spot on the entire British coastline.

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Coastal Scotland: Celebrating the History, Heritage and Wildlife of Scottish Shores is published on 2nd April (ISBN 9781472958709, RRP £25). You can buy it from any good bookshop, or for a 10% discount direct from us here: https://www.bloomsbury.com/uk/coastal-scotland-9781472958709

From Rescue Pilot to moviemaker…

One of our bestselling books of 2015 was RESCUE PILOT, the story of Jerry Grayson, who at age 19 was the youngest helicopter pilot to ever serve in the Royal Navy, and by 25 was the most decorated peacetime naval pilot in history after his courageous rescue efforts during the 1979 Fastnet Race. After leaving the service Jerry embarked on a new career – flying the lens to capture aerial footage for the likes of Ridley Scott, Werner Herzog and James Bond movies. His new book, FILM PILOT, is published in the UK today. He writes:

When I first picked up the diary in which my Mum had written a page for every day of her life since the age of nine I realised that it had been both a discipline and a labour of love for her. So it has been for me in writing Film Pilot.

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How many people even get to do a job that they really like, let alone one they look forward to every day? My eight years of flying in the Royal Navy had taught me how to pilot a helicopter to good effect, but as soon as I started to use my machine as a camera platform a whole new canvas of opportunity opened up before me.

WATCH THE SPECTACULAR BOOK TRAILER HERE: https://youtu.be/aZGxq6JUgZw

It was the opportunity to share with others the privileged perspective I had from a vibrating seat above the ocean; racing yachts and power boat scything through the dawn, the first hot-air transatlantic balloon flight diving into the cold Irish Sea, Tall Ships catching the east wind in their huge white sails, and submarines appearing from the depths like mythical leviathans.

Then came the fresh skills of co-ordinating an aerial ballet in order to capture the power and majesty of other flying machines; a Spitfire, a pair of Tornadoes and a young girl making the first crossing of the English Channel by hang-glider. The latter not only went down in the history books but also nearly caused my heart to stop when the flimsy aerofoil was released from beneath the hot air balloon that had been carrying it. The balloon pilot employed nothing more technical than a hunting knife to cut the rope by which she’d been lifted, at which point the hang-glider tried to roll upside down.

As time went by the tempo and profile of being a Film Pilot increased with every new assignment. The synchronicity of time and place took me to my first movie – a James Bond film for heaven’s sake! – and my first sports gig; the Winter Olympics.

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Eventually I began to actively seek out the hot spots of the world to capture on film and share with those who would never otherwise have the chance to see New Orleans under water, the deserts of Kuwait on fire, or the surface of another celestial body. As I morphed from a Film Pilot to a Film Director I began to tell cohesive stories with my hands on the controls of a flying machine.

With the advent of drones and an entire generation who think nothing of controlling a flying machine with just their thumbs, I hope that my book provides the inspiration to get out and create an image that changes the world. As I’ve learned at every stage in this remarkable journey; a picture doesn’t just speak a thousand words, it has the potential to change minds.

FILM PILOT is published in the UK today, RRP £12.99 (or buy direct from us at a 10% discount: http://bloomsbury.com/uk/film-pilot-9781472941077/)

How the all-seeing airship saved the Royal Navy in the First World War

Bloomsbury Publishing recently acquired Conway, the leading publisher of maritime and military history. Sitting beside Adlard Coles Nautical, Conway makes Bloomsbury the foremost publisher of books related to maritime subjects, from practical sailing handbooks to guides to warships past and present. To celebrate the arrival of our new sister imprint, we feature this blog from Conway author John Swinfield.

In the age of the unmanned drone, the role of its pioneer predecessor is easily overlooked. The early airship had a crucial, largely unheralded role in the First World War. Its task was that of Navy escort, reconnaissance craft and U-boat spotter – functions it performed with élan.

The growth in the Great War airship service was rapid. In 1914 the Admiralty had seven airships, with one in disrepair. It might have been marginally more; records are incomplete. By 1918 it had 225 airships. As the numbers of airships grew, so did the hours spent on patrol. In 1914–15 they sailed for 3,000 hours. In 1917, with German U-boats causing mayhem, the figure leaped to 22,000 hours. In 1918 it was 56,000 hours.

Unfettered U-boat warfare, which led to maritime carnage, threatened to starve Britain into submission, choking off its sea lanes and vital supplies. The Great War strategy had parallels with the U-boat menace in the Second World War, when, again, German submarines brought Britain perilously close to the edge of calamity.

Airship SSZ 37 guards a British warship (Photo: Imperial War Museum/Wikipedia)

In the First World War, as in the Second, it is acknowledged that the Admiralty’s eventual institution of the convoy system would become key to thwarting the U-boat danger. Less appreciated, however, is that in the First World War, it was the aerial guard provided by airships which discouraged U-boats from getting within striking distance of a target.

It was usual for U-boats to immediately dive on seeing an airship. As with the submarine, the airship induced a terror in excess of its capability; nobody knows how many U-boat attacks were deterred by the presence of an airship, but it’s likely to have been considerable.

There are examples of airships bombing U-boats, some with success; in the main, though, their bombing was woefully inaccurate. In acting as the eyes of the surface navy, however, they were highly effective. They could stay aloft for hours; their range exceeded aeroplanes of the time; they were swifter than surface ships, and far more so than submarines. Doughty crews, often blue with cold in their open gondolas, could see to the furthest horizon, far in excess of anything possible by a surface reconnaissance craft. Aviation was still in its infancy, with breakdowns being commonplace; but airships, when judged by the standards of the time, proved relatively reliable.

Early submarines sometimes lay just under the surface, their dive capacity being limited. This left a tell-tale impression on the surface, especially when viewed by an airship close to or directly overhead. They were further hampered by being slow to dive, which again made them vulnerable to sharp-eyed spotters in a dirigible.

Early submarines were frail and, as with aeroplanes, prone to breakdown. Repairs had sometimes to be conducted on the surface, making the craft highly vulnerable to both surface and aerial bombardment. A crippled submarine stationary on the surface was a sitting duck. It usually had very limited deck armoury and was ripe for attack from the air by an airship. In the main, rather than trying to bomb them, it was likely that the airship would direct a warship to the location, which would then administer the coup de grace.

Emphasis was given to airships by Jacky Fisher, the volatile reforming admiral who kicked Britain’s fossilised Victorian navy into an effective force. Fisher’s creation of the big-gun Dreadnought battleship, which spelled virtual obsolescence for most competitor types, was far from his sole contribution. He was an enthusiastic supporter of what I have termed the ‘new arsenal’, to the resentment of his more crusty peers, those not in Fisher’s famous ‘fish-pond’, a coterie of progressive (it is alleged) naval thinkers.

Sir John ‘Jacky’ Fisher

Fisher overcame his initial suspicions of the submarine, something widely felt in the Navy. His doubts were quelled by one of his favourite officers, the cerebral, cautious, sometimes controversial, Reginald Bacon. Bacon would become the first leader of Britain’s fledgling submarine service and, subsequently, the first captain of Fisher’s much-vaunted Dreadnought.

Fisher became an eager backer of mines, torpedoes, submarines and airships: the ‘new arsenal’. Once persuaded of their merit, he would throw himself into their promotion with a characteristic, messianic gusto. His endorsement was cardinal. Fisher was one of the few influential voices in support of the airship. As with the submarine, the military airship was subject to a sustained level of derision and disdain, much of it emanating from naval grandees.

Fisher initially saw the submarine as an addendum to the Fleet; an oddly eccentric bolt-on to be deployed primarily for home defence and harbour protection. Later, he recognised it as a weapon at its most deadly when it was unleashed, stealthily tracking its prey in distant waters, unfettered by Navy chaperones.

As the conflict dragged on, draining government coffers as wars do, the Navy needed new reconnaissance craft to help counter the worsening U-boat threat. But the money was running out. It couldn’t afford them.

Airships were a plausible alternative. Inexpensive and quick to build, they were cheap to fuel, run and crew. Sometimes, though, a small army of ground handlers were needed. This was especially so as ships grew bigger. In trying to tether airships which had become wayward through capricious winds, all types of hold-fasts were tried – from elephants (so it’s said, but I’ve never found much proof) to obsolete military tanks. Such was the phenomenal lifting capacity of an airship.

The First World War saw a frenetic period of development. A diversity of new airship types were built, each successively more capable. A total of 41 airship bases and smaller mooring-out sites were constructed across Britain. Airships sailed on near non-stop missions, covering two million miles in the First World War, sailing for almost 90,000 hours.

While the submarine grew into one of the world’s most potent weapons, the airship is scorched into the pages of maritime and aviation history. Those which came to grief were the leviathans which came later: Britain’s ill-fated R101, and the German Hindenburg, whose fiery pyre effectively finished world airship production. First World War airships, with a different role to the intercontinental behemoths which followed them, were undoubtedly far more primitive, but markedly effective.

A century on and the European and US airship industry is stirring once more. Myriad manned and unmanned craft are being developed. Today’s creations bristle with innovative electronics. Their designers are following in illustrious footsteps.

John Swinfield is the author of Airship: Design, Development & Disaster, first published by Conway in 2013. You can buy it through all good high street and online retailers, or direct from us here: http://bloomsbury.com/uk/airship-9781844861385

Discover how Emma Bamford went to sea and came back an author

A book about sailing, written at sea by Emma Bamford

All too often, when you are sailing, the wind and tide seem to be against you. At first, it seemed that way with my writing.

Shortly before I left my job at the Independent newspaper to go sailing, in the summer of 2010, a colleague suggested there might be a book idea in my upcoming trip and put me in touch with an agent.

I’d always loved books, and even tried writing a novel and a book about dating in London but was rejected by publishers and agents for both.

The agent, it emerged, wanted an update of Lucy Irvine’s raunchy Castaway. ‘Not likely,’ I thought, but I saved his email address anyway, in case I came up with a better idea.

After that, having adventures – sailing into the heart of the Borneo jungle, anchoring amid beautiful coral gardens, crossing oceans and visiting remote islands peopled only by hunter-gatherer tribesmen – absorbed me so completely that writing a book was furthest from my mind.

Fast-forward a couple of years and you’ll find me finally starting to write, stretched out in the cockpit of a sailing yacht anchored in Malaysia. Each morning, before it got too hot, I dug out my diaries and expanded on them, amazed at how easily the words flowed.

Perhaps they flowed too easily because the agent hated the 10,000 words I sent him, saying I’d ‘never get a publisher interested’.

Luckily, he was wrong. ‘Send me everything you’ve got,’ said Adlard Coles’s commissioning editor, Liz Multon. I did – and she turned me down, but kindly offered to read my manuscript again if I felt like re-writing it.

When I got her email I was living in a marina in St Petersburg, Florida, waiting for a new engine to be fitted to a 40ft Choate I was helping to deliver from Texas to St Lucia. I had time to kill, so I parked myself in the Captain’s Lounge, pencil in hand, and re-did the whole thing. Six months later I got an email from Liz saying Adlard Coles would be publishing Casting Off.

It’s been a whirlwind but now my beautiful paperback is here and I am officially an author – with my own website, Facebook page, Twitter account and appearances at literary events.

Proof that perseverance in whatever you do – whether it’s following a dream or simply tacking your way into a headwind – works. Keep at it, and you’ll get there.

 

Our guest blogger today is Emma Bamford, author of Casting Off. Read a few pages from her fantastic new book.

Casting Off

Order your copy today! 

 

 

Win £100 worth of Books in our Name Our Book Competition

For the first time ever here at Adlard Coles Nautical we are letting you the readers pick the title of a forthcoming book by author Justin Tyers. This is a sequel to his fantastic book Phoenix from the Ashes.

Title 1 Title 2 Title 3

To pick your favourite title, simply visit the Adlard Coles Nautical Facebook page and select the like button on the title of your choice. The title with the most likes will be the winner.

All entries will be placed in a free prize draw and a winner will be selected at random, for the chance to win £100 worth of Adlard Coles Nautical books.

Competition ends 28th February 2014

*Please note that these are not the final images for the book cover.

Bob Shepton: Yachtsman of the Year

Today the Yachting Journalists’ Association announce their Yachtsman of the Year in a ceremony at Trinity House. Past winners have included Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, Ellen MacArthur and Ben Ainslie (all three of them having won on more than one occasion), Ted Heath, our authors Les Powles and Dee Caffari, as well as Adlard Coles himself.

This year we are very pleased that one of our forthcoming authors, Bob Shepton, is nominated. Bob is nominated for being the first skipper to sail through the North West Passage in both directions in successive years at the age of 78, but that’s just one particularly notable adventure in a lifetime of sailing and mountaineering (and, most excitingly, combining the two – climbing Arctic mountains only accessible by boat).

He has led schoolchildren on voyages around the world, sailed through iceberg-strewn waters and was also once stranded in Greenland when his ice-bound yacht was destroyed by fire.

Oh, and Bob is also a vicar.

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His new memoir, ADDICTED TO ADVENTURE: Between Rocks and Cold Places, tells of all his most hair-raising escapades, but also reveals more about his childhood. Bob grew up on a rubber plantation in Malaysia, and after his father was shot by the Japanese during the Second World War, he returned to boarding school in England, before going on to join the Royal Marines, and then the Church.

It is published on 8th May this year at an RRP of £12.99, but you can currently pre-order it at a 30% discount (£9.09) direct from our website: http://bloomsbury.com/uk/addicted-to-adventure-9781472905864