Category Archives: Sailing ships

Pilot Cutters and the Victory: books from Seaforth Publishing

Layout 1

I must read this book by seasoned sailor and writer Tom Cunliffe some time. Here’s what the Seaforth Publishing’s blurb says…

‘The pilot cutters that operated around the coasts of northern Europe until the First World War were among the most seaworthy and beautiful craft of their size ever built, while the small number that have survived have inspired yacht designers, sailors and traditional craft enthusiasts over the last hundred years.

‘They possessed a charisma unlike any other working craft; their speed and close-windedness, their strength and seaworthiness, fused together into a hull and rig of particular elegance, all to guide the mariner through the rough and tortuous waters of the European seaboard, bought them an enviable reputation.

‘This new book is both a tribute to and a minutely researched history of these remarkable vessels. The author, perhaps the most experienced sailor of the type, describes the ships themselves, their masters and crews,and the skills they needed for the competitive and dangerous work of pilotage. He explains the differences between the craft of disparate coasts – of the Scilly Islesand the Bristol Channel, of northern France, and the wild coastline of Norway – and weaves into the history of their development the stories of the men who sailed them.’

I notice that whoever wrote it has managed to capture the characteristic Cunliffe persuasive and salty style.

PS – A more recent release from Seaforth is Brian Lavery’s book Nelson’s Victory: 250 Years of War and Peace, which is published this month to coincide with the 250th anniversary of her launch.

Brian is also guest curator of an exhibition at the Chatham Historic Dockyard, if you have time to get over there.

The publisher’s notes promise the book is the most comprehensive book yet published on the topic and includes new and surprising revelations, including that:

  • she was almost wrecked on her launch
  • diplomacy conducted onboard her played a crucial role in provoking Napoleon’s invasion of Russia in 1912
  • 1914 Kaiser Wilhelm set the First World War in motion sitting at a desk made from her timbers

The book also tells the story of Horatio Nelson, who was born a few weeks before his most famous ship was ordered.

A weekend of shanties and sea songs aboard Morning Star

Fancy a weekend of sailing, shanties and sea songs aboard the fabulous Medway-based sail training ship Morning Star in a few weeks time?

Boarding is at 6pm on Friday 29th May 2015 at Chatham Maritime Marina and disembarking is at the same place at 3pm on Sunday.

You’ll learn to sing and sail you go, using old hauling and heaving shanties, as well as raucous songs of ‘Jack Ashore’ and haunting homeward bound melodies sung by sailors past and present.

The costs are £144 under 26 years and £180 over 26 years; all meals from supper on day 1 to lunch on day 3 re included, along with use of life jacket, waterproofs and boots, and all sailing and singing tuition.

For more information contact the Morning Star folks at support@morningstar.org.uk .