Tag Archives: WE Sinclair

Get the Lodestar Books catalogue now – there’s just time to place an order before Christmas

Lodestar Books catalogue

I’m loving the Lodestar Books catalogue – partly because it’s a lovely piece of work, but also because of what it contains.

First of all there are the books Lodestar has already published, including artist Tony Watts’ collection An Eye for a Boat; the H Alker Tripp collection Tripp Under Sail; the Ken Duxbury collection The Lugworm ChroniclesFrancis B Cooke’s superb Cruising Hints; 7th edition; Tony Watts’ magnificent volume Holmes of the Humber; H Lewis Jones’ wonderful Swin, Swale and Swatchway; WE Sinclair’s half-crazy Cruises of the Joan, and Conor O’Brien’s instructive but splenetic On Going to Sea in Yachts.

And then there are the volumes to come in 2013: In Shoal Waters by East Coast small boat sailing guru Charles Stock (February 2013);  Under the Cabin Lamp by Alker Tripp (March 2013); Catalan Castaway by Ben Crawshaw (April 2013); Sheila in the Wind by Adrian Hayter (May 2013); Racing the Seas by Ahto Walter and Tom Olsen (May 2013); Sea-Boats, Oars and Sails by Conor O’Brien (May 2013); and a new book from Will Stirling, Details of Dinghy Building.

Congratulations to Lodestar’s Dick Wynne for establishing such an impressive collection of published in an amazingly short few years!

Cruises of the Joan by WE Sinclair

Cruises of the Joan is a well made and often very funny account of WE Sinclair’s travels in his tiny 22ft Falmouth Quay punt, Joan.  It’s published by Lodestar Books.

The cruises described took place in the 1920s, and are a circumnavigation of Great Britain, a trip to Vigo and back, and an attempt at crossing the Atlantic to North America via the northern route.

It’s a good read and I enjoyed it greatly – but can’t recommend it for everyone, as I’ll explain in a moment.

For some reason I particularly enjoy whacky stories about unusual people, and this has a few good ones – for example, there’s a great tale about a man who keeps crabs in his hat. Arguably, though, the most eccentric character to be found in this book is its author.

But while I enjoyed Cruises, I will be very careful about lending it to anyone: it really can be recommended only for the historically minded, tolerant and somewhat experienced sailor.

One reason is that in one or two places Sinclair uses language that seems quite appalling in these days. Some might consider that it was normal for his time and therefore something to be quietly ignored – but others will be less forgiving. Both groups will have a point.

Another cause for concern is his tendency to do stupidly dangerous things. Sailing huge distances in a tiny boat in the days before small yachts had radio was daft enough, but he often without charts and always using a wristwatch in place of a chronometer.

It’s just the kind of thing that gets some of my sailing friends very heated indeed, and it was one of these mad exploits that led to Sinclair and his crewman known only as Jackson finally losing Joan in the North Atlantic after being damaged by a particularly large wave. They very nearly lost their own lives in the process.

The Joan seems to have been an excellent boat in bad weather, but nevertheless there are limits to what a small timber-built cruising boat can reasonably be expected to withstand.

I really fear for what might happen if a copy of Cruises of the Joan ever falls into the hands of someone who has only done a little sailing. The nervous might decide to restrict themselves to the local boating lake, while the more intrepid might decide Sinclair has a point when he decides cross the Irish Sea and sail down the coast until he sees somewhere that looks like a port…

There’s a sample chapter here that provides a nice example of his style.

Sinclair is an intriguing character, and someone I’d like to find out more about. Those who have read Bob Roberts will know that he crewed with the barge skipper on an epic journey to the island of Fernando Pó off the West Coast of Africa, but what I hadn’t realised is that Sinclair himself also wrote and published an account of it. My hope is that it will reveal a little more about the man himself. Also, I wonder – do any readers have memories to share of Sinclair as a man and sailor?

Cruises of the Joan is the second of a series of uniform volumes now available from the Lodestar Library – the others are Swin, Swale and Swatchway by H Lewis Jones (which I read a little while ago and thoroughly recommend) and On Going to Sea in Yachts by Conor O’Brien. I gather many more are to come.

The books are priced at £15 each including postage – but Lodestar is currently offering them a three for the price of two offer that seems hard to resist.

Fabulous new publications from Lodestar Books include classic yachting authors Conor O’Brien, H Alker Tripp, H Lewis Jones and WE Sinclair

Inshore of the Goodwins sample

Shoalwater and Fairway - H Alker Tripp - Christmas gifts from Lodestar Books Swin, Swale and Swatchway  - H Lewis Jones - Christmas gifts from Lodestar Books On Going to Sea in Yachts - Conor O'Brien - Christmas gifts from Lodestar Books Cruises of the Joan - W E Sinclair - Christmas gifts from Lodestar Books

I have good news as we come up to the Christmas season – Dick Wynne’s wonderful Lodestar Books is republishing four more sailing classics that will make great gifts for the sailing man or woman:

  • Shoalwater and Fairway – The casual explorations of a sailing main in the shoal seas and tidal waters of Essex and Kent by H Alker Tripp, illustrated by the author. Click on a the image at the top of this post for a sample chapter
  • Swin, Swale and Swatchway by H Lewis Jones – Jones pre-dates both Maurice Griffiths and Francis B Cooke, and gives us the the Thames Estuary and the boats and characters inhabiting it in late Victorian times. His charming adventures and human encounters have an engaging immediacy, and are enhanced by the author’s many photographs, which provide a priceless glimpse of a time long gone
  • Cruises of the Joan by WE Sinclair – the cruises of an engineless, 22-ft Falmouth quay punt in the 1920s, first around Britain, then to Madeira and to the Baltic, and finally across the North Atlantic to Iceland and Greenland. Sinclair’s dry, phlegmatic humour and observation makes his accounts highly entertaining account – and one we might not have today if luck had not played its part
  • On Going to Sea in YachtsConor O’Brien’s distilled experience in selecting, equipping and handling sailing craft from the smallest beach cruiser to the ocean-going yacht. The author’s choice of topics and anecdotes, all related in a characteristically down-to-earth manner, makes valuable and engaging reading. His many clear drawings leave us in no doubt as to the practical details, which are born of his own experience over many years and many thousands of sea miles

If these aren’t quite what’s needed, don’t forget Lodestar’s previous publications, Francis B Cooke’s classic Cruising Hints – The Traditional Yachtsman’s Compendium and the outstanding Holmes of the Humber collection of material by and about legendary canoe yawl sailor, boat designer, artist  Humber Estuary figure, George Holmes. Get your great boating reading here!