Adventures of a Feline Afloat

Choo Choo & Martha are so excited to get their paws on their copies of Bailey Boat Cat. That they have kindly sent us here at Adlard Coles Nautical towers pictures of them reading the book.

Choo Choo11   Martha

Publishing today Bailey Boat Cat is a fantastic book which reveals the adventures that Bailey gets up to aboard his boat Nocturne. Where he loves nothing more than gazing wistfully out of portholes, lounging on the sun deck wearing his cat lifejacket, climbing the mast and generally fulfilling his important boat-cat duties – and blogging about them at


Check out the Bailey Boat Cat Map, to see other cats reading their copies of the book.

To get your cat on the Bailey Boat Cat Map, please send us pictures of your cat reading Bailey Boat Cat to

Editors let loose on Southampton Water


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

Reeds Almanac Editors – a jolly jamboree

The sun was shining on Friday as three generations of Reeds Almanac Editors gathered together to bid a fond farewell to Rob Buttress, editor of the Almanac for five years. Andy du Port, retired editor, Rob Buttress, retiring editor, Perrin Towler, current editor, and Mark Fishwick, incoming editor, were joined by Chris Stevens, the Almanac Manager, and Janet Murphy, the Almanac’s Publisher.

It’s a rare sight to see so many Reeds Editors together in one place. Normally occurring only annually to celebrate the publication of a new edition of the Almanac, the yachtsman’s bible, Rob’s retirement after five years of sterling service proved the perfect opportunity for another jolly jamboree. The group gathered at the appropriately named Jolly Sailor pub at the Hamble to bid Rob farewell and to welcome Mark into the Reeds family.


Reeds Editors: like London buses – four come along at once. L-R: Chris, Perrin, Rob, Janet, Mark and Andy.

Transatlantic Forum Weekend

Cruising Association House, London 11th & 12th May 2013

Sailing Rallies LogoAdlard Coles Nautical are pleased to be working with Sailing Rallies Ltd the new offshore sailing rally organisation which burst on to the UK sailing scene last year.  Sailing Rallies would like to invite you to attend a Transatlantic Forum which will take place on Saturday 11th and Sunday 12th May 9.30am to 5.00pm (both days) and will be held at the Cruising Association, Limehouse Basin, London E14 8BT.

The weekend is a great opportunity for anyone interested in ocean sailing and promises to be informative and fun, covering preparation, planning and what you are likely to experience during an Atlantic crossing. Adlard Coles Nautical author Jane Russell will be talking about her book The Atlantic Crossing Guide.

Sailing Rallies are pleased to be able to offer you a reduced entrance fee of £50 for both days of the forum in place of the advertised price of £75.  Please quote Adlard Coles Nautical when booking to receive the discount.  Places are strictly limited so Sailing Rallies are recommending to those who would like to attend to book early to avoid disappointment!

All booking enquires can be directed to Marcus Bagshaw on 0845 2575004 or

Full details of the forum can be found on the following link:

For more information on Sailing Rallies Ltd go to

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


The pay off for all that hard work…


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

A Christmas at Sea

We are excited to host a special guest blog from Sandra Clayton, author of our new book A Thousand Miles from Anywhere.

A Christmas at Sea

David and I had spent Christmas in some unusual places even before we became offshore sailors. But one of the more memorable occurred a thousand miles from land in any direction during a two-handed Atlantic crossing on a 40-foot boat.

Before we left the Canary Islands I had surreptitiously bought a Christmas card for David and while he slept in the aft cabin I sat down at the chart table to write it. He had lost a lot of sleep through bad weather during the previous few nights so I was trying to make as little noise as possible during my watch.

As I opened the card a terrible screeching sent me rushing across the bridge deck to the gas alarm. It makes that kind of noise to warn you that gas is escaping into the bilges and if you don’t do something about it fairly quickly your boat can blow up. Even as I stared at it, however, I realized the awful noise wasn’t coming from the gas alarm but the chart table I’d just left. I had unwittingly bought a “musical” card and it was shrieking “Jingle Bells” fit to wake the dead.

Despite a tumultuous sea we celebrated the day in festive style. We had a tree in the corner of the saloon, although every so often the decorations fell off as Voyager rose and fell on huge Atlantic rollers. We had cards from family and friends, collected en route, strung between the barometer and the boathook. And on Christmas Day we had as near as possible the traditional dinner, even if our plates did occasionally get away from us and the wine glasses had to be wedged to stop them falling over.

Something a three-week sea passage gives you is plenty of time for reading and among the books we had on board was A Christmas Carol. As quite often with Charles Dickens, the central theme is materialism. Two years earlier David and I had opted out of a conventional lifestyle but when I’d picked up the book I’d had no thoughts about it being relevant, only seasonal.

For Dickens, Christmas represents those qualities – generosity, kindness and compassion – which make us fully human. Accordingly, the three Spirits of Christmas reveal to Ebenezer Scrooge the kind of world he is helping to create by devoting his life to the counting house; and by consigning the poor and afflicted Tiny Tim to an early grave because he has no value on a balance sheet. Whereas the little boy’s immeasurable gift is the life-enhancing effect he has on those around him.

It is interesting how the small details that lodge in the memory tend to change with your own changing circumstances. For instance, although I’d read this book several times before I had not remembered that the Ghost of Christmas Present takes Scrooge out over a raging sea, to show him how even on an isolated lighthouse the spirit of Christmas touches the two hardened men who tend the light. Or onto a heaving ship, where every man at his station has a kinder word for his fellows than on any other day.

But then, until comparatively recently, lighthouses and raging seas had not loomed very large in my experience. Nor had the kind of selflessness of two distant yachtsmen, whose actions were conveyed to us by a third party that morning over a crackling radio receiver. The couple had turned back thirty miles in awful weather and begun towing another yachtsman whose boat had been dismasted in a squall the previous day. Out in Voyager’s cockpit that Christmas night, on watch on my own solitary stretch of a dark and heaving sea, A Christmas Carol resonated more than ever before.

And then a whale turned up. But that’s another story. In the meantime, may the spirit of the season be with you and yours and throughout the coming year. Or, as Tiny Tim observed, “God bless us, every one!”

In the late ‘90s Sandra Clayton and her husband David sold up their home and set sail in a 40-foot catamaran called Voyager.  Her third book, A Thousand Miles from Anywhere, will be published by Adlard Coles on 6 January 2013 and charts their Atlantic crossing to America via the Caribbean Islands – plus a few eventful days in the Bermuda Triangle.Christmas - DavidChristmas - Sandra

It’s never too damp to camp

Moaning about the rain might be a national hobby, but why not be original and embrace our soggy weather instead? This week’s guest blog by camping guru Stephen Neale (author of the forthcoming guidebook Camping by Water) shows you how to do exactly that, and make the most of our amazing watery locations in any weather (but especially the rain).

Flights abroad are almost back in vogue. The wettest April on record followed by a miserable May bank holiday means camping and canvas suddenly seem about as exciting as hard boiled eggs and ironing. But there’s still a chance to make the most of a holiday at home. Beat the rain…by staying wet.

The UK waterways, lakes and coast have fascinated me since I was a kid. I got talking to a canoeist one day. ‘Imagine this,’ he said. ‘Slide the canoe onto the river from next to your tent. Jump into the sea from the bonnet of your motorhome. Or throw a fishing line into the lake from your caravan pitch.’

Fun on the water in warm wetsuits has a unique appeal in Europe’s unsettled weather zone, because it doesn’t matter if the heavens open. No bad weather – just bad clothes. Investing in wet gear is priority number one for clean, inland and coastal waters, which can remain cold all year round.  Good wetsuits cost less than £250 and last for years.

All of my own favourite campsites sit right next to lakes, rivers, beaches and canals. Go invest in quality wetgear and waterproofs, forget about the weather, and enjoy.

Here are five great waterside sites (from the small to the large) to visit this year, whatever the weather.

1) Tiny campsite with just five pitches

Caravan Club CL, Traigh Camping CL, Traigh Golf Course, Arisaig, Inverness-shire, Highlands PH39 4NT. Tel: 01687 450645

Next to a Highlands golf course, the views over Eigg and Rum, and the Cuillins of Skye, are worth the modest pitch fee alone. The white, sandy beach stretches way beyond the Traigh cove. The clear waters are great for snorkelling and are warmed by the Gulf Stream.

2) Small site without power

Rushbanks Farm, River Stour, Bures Road, Wissington, Suffolk CO6 4NA. Tel: 01206 26235

For the wild swimmers with a passion for back to nature. If you’re willing to share the River Stour with canoes, lily pads and swans, everyone gets along just fine.

3) Medium-sized site with power

Bosworth Water Trust, Nunneaton, Warwickshire CV13 6PD. Tel: 01455 291876

Bosworth is a rare lakeside site, with its own small beach. Sailing, fishing, swimming, canoes, kayaks and windsurfing are all available, with equipment to hire. Kids love the adventure playground and feeding the giant carp.

4) Large campsite with power

Coniston Hall Camping Site, Coniston Water, Haws Bank, Cumbria LA21 8AS Tel: 01539 441223

Coniston Hall is a working farm looking out across the lake, and here you can camp in the shadow of the Fells. Fishing, swimming, snorkeling and boating are available directly from the campsite shore. Twenty pound pike and perch are most commonly caught on lures and spinners from small boats or kayaks. The site shop sells a few basics.

5) Biggest campsite by water with power

Shell Island Camp Site, Shell Island, Llanbedr, Gwynedd LL45 2PJ. Tel: 01341 241453

The UK’s largest campsite is an island on the north edge of Cardigan Bay. Choose to launch your own craft, or swim from one of three bathing beaches. The main beach stretches six miles to Barmouth, and has some of Wales’ highest dunes. This is a great site for sailing, and for kids who want to while away the hours crabbing.


Camping by Water by Stephen Neale is being published by Adlard Coles Nautical in March 2013. For more info now, visit Stephen’s website or listen to him on BBC Lincolnshire here.

The song of the boatyard

A guest post contributed by The Grand Mariner

Hard graft at fore and aft

At this time of year I really love the song of the boatyard – drills, grinders, power washers, sanders – and the groan of aching backs! It’s the sound of boats being readied for the water; being scraped, repaired, spruced, buffed, and protected for another season on the water. So none of the hard work, pain or aching really matters because there is the delicious prospect of another year’s sailing to be had. And the satisfaction of seeing your boat smart and gleaming like she never will be for the rest of the season once the weather gets to her!

The boatyard is abuzz

Whilst the elbow grease goes on the talk is of when, where, who with, for how long – all couched in the perennial seafarer’s caution (superstition?) – ‘If the weather is right / if we can make it / if we can get away’ etc etc. No-one wants to be so definite in their plans that Neptune steps in and says, ‘We’ll see about that…’

Ah, the prospect of time afloat, what a tonic it is. Roll on launch day!