Lectures ~ Speeches ~ Events

I’m available for club lectures, after-dinner speeches, motivational speeches, special events and much more.

I’ve been invited to talk to yacht clubs not only in England, Wales and Scotland, but also in Ireland, Holland and Norway. These include, amongst others, The Royal Yacht Squadron, Bromsgrove Boaters, The Royal Channel Islands YC, Rudyard Lake, The Irish Cruising Club, Poolbeg YC, Nederlandsche Vereeniging van Kustzeilers, Chipping Norton YC and Cardiff Bay YC. There is a fee for my talks, but if you’ve only got a few members, don’t despair. Small groups sometimes get together with a neighbouring club and I’ve been known to donate a book for a raffle prize to help swell the coffers. 
All these lectures are richly illustrated and last about 50 minutes with a question-and-answer session afterwards.  If your club is outside the Solent area, there may be some modest travel expenses.

Current Lectures

  • ‘Man is Not Lost ‘.  One of my most popular club lectures, this is about the development and safe use of navigational electronics. This talk combines a mix of yarns and solid information and is a friendly and irreverent look at the changes many of us have seen from the early 1970s when I found Barbados after 42 days at sea with no chart at all – just a lat/long position, a sextant and my grandfather’s pocket watch – to my current chart plotters that sometimes manage to lead me astray 

  •  ‘The Boats that Built Britain’.  This is based on my popular BBC2/4 TV series. It introduces you to the team behind the programmes, gives an insight into the presenter’s lot and includes a few out-takes. Among the boats shown you’ll see the replica of Cabot’s 1497 ship, The Matthew; a lug-rigged 1895 Scottish fishing boat; pilot cutters from the Bristol Channel; and a LCVP which involved me going to sea in a skip!

  •  ‘Ice With Everything’.  I recently made a trip to Greenland in a mate’s boat that he bought for £14,000 on eBay.  Back in the early 1980s, before electronics, I had made a pass at Greenland in my 1911 pilot cutter, following the route of the Vikings’ westward voyaging in which I’d become deeply interested. This talk combines all three expeditions in a rollicking tale.

  •  ‘What ship? Where Bound?’. This is a talk on two levels – part autobiographical, part historical. My lifetime involvement with cruising ancient pilot boats gave me a headstart when writing my recent book about the history of the sailing pilots in northern Europe. Hair-raising tales of the everyday-life of a pilot are interwoven with my own adventures to Brazil, Greenland and Soviet Russia. The reason this form of vessel was so popular is explained – all backed up by a load of images from the era of magic lantern slides to digital pictures of today.

  • ‘To America with the Norsemen’.  I originally wrote this talk for the National Maritime Museum Cornwall to coincide with their Viking exhibition. It involves lots of pillage, serial killings and a trip of my own in the wake of the Vikings. There’s great seafaring mixed with serious analysis of how these extraordinary people made it to some astonishing places.

 Some feedback on lectures:

  • I have had nothing but great comments from all who attended and I am sure we will be booking you again next year. London Corinthian Sailing Club
  • On behalf of the GXSA, I’d like to say thanks to you for giving us such an entertaining and informative evening last Wednesday. As you saw, we had a record audience. Gerrards Cross Sailing Association
  • A big thank you for your presentation last night. Your enthusiasm for the subject inspired the audience. I received many good feed-back comments and your book boxes were considerably lighter on the way back to the car. Once again, thank you. Henley Offshore Group
  • On behalf of NYC thank you very much for your superb presentation last evening. The members have all told me how much they enjoyed it. Newhaven Yacht Club
  • Just to say a huge thanks for Monday evening which was exactly what we needed. Several said we should capture your delivery on film. Sea-Change Trust
  • I thought you would like to know that we have received a lot of bookings for your talk, about 50, max is 70. Only been advertised for 2 weeks! North Norfolk Boatyard
  • On behalf of all of your friends in BSC, thank you so much once again for a wonderfully entertaining talk. Your passion is highly infectious. Bray Sailing Club
  • What a success and the feedback on the workshops from those I spoke to was fantastic. RYA
  • Thank you for a very enjoyable talk last night. Everybody loved the evening. This is borne out by the laughter following some of your navigation stories. Ashdown Sailing Club
  • Thank you so much for coming to Cardiff Bay Yacht Club to give such an interesting and amusing talk. All thoroughly enjoyed listening to you. Cardiff Bay Yacht Club
  • A huge thank you for your talk on Saturday. The feedback was amazing; you absolutely knocked their socks off with your thrilling tale of the race to get the Trafalgar dispatches to London. Both academics and lay members alike were entranced.  The Nelson Society
  • Many, many thanks for speaking at our RYA North East Conference. We much appreciate your time and effort and the incredible entertaining, enthusiastic, intelligent and informative manner of your two presentations. RYA North East Conference
  • Man is Not Lost ~ A  salutary talk, and a great evening’s education and entertainment.  Chipping Norton Yacht Club


Events and Public speaking

I’m available for special events.  I’ve been asked to open chandleries, take part in a yacht club debate, chair seminars and run a nautical quiz. If there’s something you’re planning that you think I could help with please contact me via the contact form.  Or, if you need someone to inspire and motivate, I can work up a talk just for you.



  • We had a grand party at the beginning of October to celebrate the re-launch of our elegant upstairs showrooms. Tom Cunliffe did the honours and kept everyone chuckling with his tales of quirky chandlers that he has encountered over the years. Arthur Beale’s Chandlery
  • I just wanted to drop you a note to say how grateful we were for your guest appearance at our Quiz last week. You were wonderful and your support of our work at the show was really appreciated and the feedback on the quiz has been great. It was also lovely to hear you describe Sea-Changers in your introduction in such a relevant and thoughtful way. Sea-Changers
  • ‘I would like to take this opportunity to say thank you for being one of our speakers in the Knowledge Box at the Tullet Prebon London International Boat Show 2011. The Knowledge Box was a great success and it would not have been possible without your contribution. London Boat Show
  • ‘Our instructors found your talk fascinating and immensely entertaining. The conference was a great success. The Royal Yachting Association
  • Thank you very much indeed for your superb performance at the Classic Boat Awards. I am only sorry I was standing behind you during your two speeches – I would like to have watched as well as listened, but I at least could see peoples’ rapt expressions! You absolutely nailed it in terms of what you said and everyone I have talked to has said of their own accord that you were totally the star of the evening. Your opener really gave the evening a high point. Classic Boat magazine  


After-dinner Speeches

I tailor these to the needs of each situation, lands-folk or sailors, but they are agreed by all to be first-class entertainment with solid material backing up the laughs. I have addressed diverse groups ranging from the august members of The Atheneum to the outstandingly ‘non-PC’ Southwest Shingles Yacht Club. Generally, I rope together a number of anecdotes from my life at sea, either to follow the theme of the evening, to reinforce some point I’m asked to make, or simply to entertain the diners as they enjoy their port. Send me an enquiry, stating expected audience numbers, to enquire about fees and availability.



  • I just wanted to say thank you for a tremendous presentation at the Athenaeum last week. What a tour de force! Witty (verging on the hilarious even), informative and so easily delivered – despite the lack of notes. We all had a great time listening to you and, of course, how true everything was that you had to say.  The Athenaeum
  • I would like to say a big thank you from myself and all the Mess members for a great night on Saturday. I have had lots of e-mails to say what a great night it was. You went down a storm and I hope that we will have you back again to celebrate such a prestigious event.  Mess President HMS Victory
  • Thank you for your brilliant speech on Saturday. It was great to see the numbers up again and the crowd avidly listening to your enthralling stories of the Hamble in the 70s. You gave the evening humour, perspective and warmth. Everyone left with a big smile on their faces.’Solent Old Gaffers
  • Just wanted to send a quick note now the dust has settled to say thank you for a fine addition to our evening on Tues. Your stories had the desired effect and ended the ‘below decks’ event in style. We hope to welcome you aboard Kaskelot again in the not-too-distant future.   Sportcell
  • Thank you for making last evening’s dinner such an enjoyable event. Everybody really enjoyed the tales of seafaring dare and do. You judged the mood to perfection and we could not have wished for a better finale for our AGM.  Westerly Owners Association
  • We had a fantastic evening and really enjoyed your tales of gin bottles and sheds! We have had great feedback which has really encouraged club bookings. So a positive sales angle too! The Metropolitan Police Scotland Yard
  • Just to let you know that folks here are still buzzing about your talk. It almost recalls Henry IV – “And gentlemen in England now abed will think themselves accursed they were not here….” Dublin Bay
  • Every time you come to Manchester it is better than the last and the feeling is that your visit last week will never be bettered. The temptation is to make it an annual event. Manchester Cruising Association
  • I would like to take this opportunity of thanking you on behalf of our President, members and their guests for giving us the most memorable of talks. I am sure that you must have picked up the good vibes that were in the room for your presentation by the sailors and non sailors alike. Torbay and District Medical Society
  • Just a note to congratulate you on a really funny speech on Saturday. I shall dine out on the shed on your bowsprit for years!  Royal Lymington Yacht Club
  • This highly anticipated sold-out event exceeded all expectations in every regard. Tom’s after-dinner talk, based around “cock-ups” in his sailing life, was hilarious and for those attending could have gone on for several hours longer. The evening was over in no time and the general buzz in the club afterwards was electric. One of the best-ever evenings at the club.
    Dell Quay Sailing Club