New edition of John Leather’s Albert Strange now available from Lodestar


A new edition of the long out-of-print book Albert Strange — Yacht Designer and Artist, by John Leather and members of The Albert Strange Association, is now available from Lodestar Books and all good maritime bookstores.

Strange was seminal figure in the development of the small cruising yacht, and the book includes many of his design drawings, together with newly located works of art, delightful illustrated cruising yarns from century-old editions of Yachting Monthly of a century ago, and more recent boat photos. And there’s also a foreword by Iain Oughtred.

The book is in a large format, with 224 pages and 12 pages of plates, and costs just £20 post-free in the UK (a little more to other countries).

The ASA owns the copyright of the book, and will receives the author royalty on all sales.

If you’re short of a present, there might just be time… Lodestar Books

If you are short of a present at any time, can I suggest you turn for help to one of the best new publishing ventures for years – Dick Wynne’s outstanding Lodestar Books?

Three new books are Martin O’Scannall’s For the Love of Sauntress,
Robb Robinson and Ian Hart’s Viola From Great War to Grytviken — The Life and Times of a Hull Steam Trawler, and Creeksailor Tony Smith’s Sea Country. They’re all paperbacks and a good price – and if you order before Christmas postage and packing is free. And, of course, you aren’t buying from Amazon!

Sea-Country is Creeksailor Tony Smith’s account of sailing the Thames Estuary from the River Blackwater in Charles Stock’s famous 16ft gaffer Shoal Waters. He takes in London, Kent, Suffolk in the east to acquaint us with those shorelines and some of the people, occupations and curiosities to be found there. Learn more and read a sample here.

The steam trawler Viola had an extraordinary working life, which is recounted in Robb Robinson and Ian Hart’s splendid book or the same name. She was first a trawler, then a U-boat hunter during WWI, then a whaler, and then a sealer before being abandoned on the shores of in South Georgia. In 1982 she became quarry for the infamous Argentine scrap metal expedition that led to the Falklands War – Robinson and Hart’s book covers all this. By the way, the latest news about Viola is perhaps the most amazing of all – she is to be rescued from the South Atlantic and returned to Hull. Find out more about the book and read a sample here.

Sauntress recounts a series of entertaining sailing adventures around North-Western Europe in a restored 28ft gaffer from the golden age of Edwardian yachting, complete with beautiful photographs taken on a single, perfect August evening off the Galician coast. Find out more and read a sample here.

Swin, Swale & Swatchway by the Victorian era sailor and author H Lewis Jones isn’t new, but it’s about my home sailing area it’s such a favourite of mine that I’d like to recommend it anyway.  Jones’s book provides the kind of entertainment we’re used to from Francis B Cooke and Maurice Griffiths, yet he was writing years before them and very much created the style. And yet he is still very fresh today – through much of Swin, Swale & Swatchway’s the reader could be mistaken for thinking they were reading a book that was written last year, but for the lack of any mention of autohelms, GPS and VHF. There’s a review by Dylan Winter here. Find out more and read a sample here.

And finally… I’m absolutely delighted to learn that the rest of the world is finally catching up with Catalan Castaway, Ben Crawshaw’s excellent, dreamy little book about sailing the Western end of the Mediterranean in his little Light Trow, Onawind Blue. It has taken a while, but finally his book has started to pick up the reviews it richly deserves, first in the Dinghy Cruising Association’s magazine, and now in Yachting World – which Tom Cunliffe persuaded to devote an unheard-of three pages for a long review and an extract in this month’s issue.  Find out more and read a sample here.


Sea-Boats, Oars and Sails by Conor O’Brien


Many readers will know that gun-runner, naval officer and circumnavigator Conor O’Brien’s book Sea-Boats Oars and Sails is a classic of small boat sailing and cruising – the good news is that it is now available again in an elegant paperback format from the Lodestar Books.

The prices are £12 sent to the UK, £13 to Europe, and £15 to areas of the world beyond Europe.

The photo above is of a François Vivier-designed Ilur, which is said to embody the qualities advanced by O’Brien in this book – the boat in the shot belongs to Tim Cooke and is sailed by him in the waters of south-west Ireland.

If you’re not convinced you need a copy, perhaps the following few sentences (and the link to a chapter below) will help demonstrate why it deserves a place on the bookshelf.

Just in these few lines, you’ll likely find he’s dogmatic about something he has experience of, reveals a little sense (on luffing) that may not be as common as it should be and, of course, in his spare style, he draws a picture that’s only too easy to conjure in your imagination. (He was writing in 1941, a time when taut writing was coming much more into fashion.)

‘The sailing boat referred to in this book, which excludes all racing craft, is not a miniature yacht. Their functions are different; the boatman is dependent on the shore, and has to make his port in good time, the yachtsman can keep the sea as long as he likes. But a sailing boat, as I define the term, is not merely a small yacht stripped for action; the significant difference is in the method of handling them. The yacht is almost uncapsizable, and, if luffed head to wind, heavy enough to carry her headway for some little time after the sails have ceased to draw. The boat stops immediately the propelling force fails. In a yacht the main sheet is belayed, keeping the sail at a constant angle with her keel, and to spill the wind out of the sail in a squall she is luffed, or turned towards the wind’s eye with the helm. In a boat the main sheet must be held in the hand, and with it she is played through a squall as a fish is played with rod and line, while she is kept sailing smartly all the time. It is fatal to luff, for if she loses headway she will not recover it till she has fallen off broadside to the wind, and if she is caught in that position with no way on she is easily capsized. Then, if the boat’s sails have to be taken in, they must come in at once, while in a yacht there is never great hurry about reducing canvas. These considerations limit the size of a boat’s mainsail and enjoin simplicity and certainty in working on her gear. As a set-off it should be remembered that the crew can get about their work with far more ease and safety in an open boat than on a small yacht’s deck.’

Read more on this topic in a chapter from Sea-Boats, Oars and Sails here.