Tom Cunliffe Sailing Expert Advice Tuition Lectures and Speeches

the salty road to freedom

~ pilot cutters to high-performance cruisers,

journalism, books, film ~

and the sea…


I’ve been Mate on a coasting merchant ship and run yachts for gentlemen. I’ve operated charter boats, delivered all sorts of vessels, raced at quite high levels and have been teaching sailing intermittently for thirty-plus years. I became a Yachtmaster Examiner in 1978.

Classics have been my passion and for forty years I owned wooden gaffers.  My wife Roz and I have sailed them all over the Atlantic, from southern Brazil to Iceland and from the Caribbean to Russia, with a number of trips to the US and Canada thrown in. I love traditional craft, but now I’ve finally gone bermudan. I’m happy sailing anything though that does the job properly.


24 September Chipping Norton Yacht Club
7 October Northants CA
8 October Gerrards Cross SA
10 October CSSA
MASTERCLASS on board Lady Emma
9 May 2014
20 October 2014

‘Pilots Cutters Under Sail’

Shell Channel Pilot (7th)



Nautical Book Corner ~ Books I’ve enjoyed

I’ve just read ‘First Lady’ by Kay Cottee for my Great Seamanship column in Yachting World. She’s girl with a wonderfully wholesome outlook. I was dimly aware of her before I read her book, but she really is a pippa. She writes well too. So many modern writers just don’t seem to get it, but reading Kay makes you want to sit down and drink whisky in the cockpit with her while hove-to in a North Atlantic gale.

She was the first woman to sail singlehanded around the five great southern capes – an achievement which often gets overlooked or forgotten, more’s the pity. Women circumnavigators have it so much easier now, but back in those days it was really something and took a will of steel.

Highly recommended armchair sailing

First Lady by Kay Cottee published by MacMillan Australia 1989


Skipper's Tips

Use longer bowlines

GPS is the best friend we’ve got, but we all know that it suffers from the ‘rubbish in –  garbage out’ problem.


» New book 200 Skipper's Tips