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

  1. ‘Confessions of a Yachtmaster Examiner’.  This talk takes a look at the top end of the yachting qualification world from well outside the box. How did the examiner’s motorcycle end up in a hedge on the Isle of Wight? Had he lost the will to live? And how did he fetch up at dawn in Cherbourg with two lively girls in his saloon who weren’t on the crew list – without touching land! All will be revealed, and much more in this exposé.

  2. ‘Man is Not Lost ‘.  One of my most popular club lectures. The talk is about the development and safe use of navigational electronics. It combines a mix of yarns and solid information. This 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

  3. Ice with Everything ~ to America with the Norsemen. The early 1980s saw me setting off in a 1911 sailing pilot boat, with my wife and 4 year-old daughter as part of the crew, to follow the old Viking route from Norway to America. I only partly succeeded and it was to be many years before another chance came my way when a mate offered me a berth to Greenland in a boat that he’d bought for £14,000 on eBay. In this talk I weave the modern day and ancient expeditions into a rollicking tale you really won’t want to miss.

  4.  ‘What ship? Where Bound?’.  A talk on two levels – part autobiographical, part historical. My lifetime involvement with cruising ancient pilot boats gave me a headstart when writing my 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.

  5. ‘In the Wake of Heroes’. In this lecture, I open the porthole on a cast of maritime characters from my book of the same name including the famous to the obscure. I also talk about my own genesis from a knockabout sailor to a writer and what it’s like to face a blank page.

  6. ‘The Life and Times of the Shell Channel Pilot’. I inherited this well-known guide for yachtsmen in the English Channel from the swashbuckling Commander Johnnie Coote, who in turn had it from the legendary Adlard Coles. In this lecture I combine the history of the book with some of the misadventures the current Pilot  has to go to for his readers. Fully illustrated.

 Some feedback on lectures:

  • I have had nothing but great comments from all who attended  London Corinthian Sailing Club
  • An entertaining and informative evening. We had a record audience. Gerrards Cross Sailing Association
  • Your enthusiasm for the subject inspired the audience. I received many good feed-back comments . Henley Offshore Group
  • Thank you very much for your superb presentation last evening. The members have all told me how much they enjoyed it. Newhaven Yacht Club
  • 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 for a wonderfully entertaining talk. Your passion is highly infectious. Bray Sailing Club
  • What a success and the feedback on the workshops was fantastic. RYA
  • Everybody loved the evening. This is borne out by the laughter following some of your navigation stories. Ashdown Sailing Club
  • 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
  • Thanks for speaking at our RYA North East Conference. We much appreciate 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
  • All the proper sailors reckoned the theatre at Excel warehouse was the best part of the show – and your talk was the most popular by far. John Goode
  • A hugely enjoyable, funny, engaging, inspiring and informative talk at the London Boat Show. Michael from Faringdon
  • Huge thanks for a splendid evening Tom, I’ve already been asked ‘Are you coming back next year!’  Channel Sailing Club 

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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, speak at boat shows, run a nautical quiz and be the surprise guest at a special birthday party. 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
  • How grateful we were for your guest appearance at our Quiz. You were wonderful. 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
  • Thank you for being one of our speakers in the Knowledge Box at the 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 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 and everyone 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.


  • Thank you for a tremendous presentation at the Athenaeum. What a tour de force! Witty (verging on the hilarious even), informative and so easily delivered – with no notes.   The Athenaeum
  • I just wanted to say, thank you so much for being the guest speaker at the CA Open Weekend. The feedback from people has been brilliant, with them saying that you gave a fantastic talk, and kept everyone completely enthralledCA Open Weekend London
  • A big thank you from all the Mess members for a great night. I have had lots of e-mails to say what a great night it was. You went down a storm.  Mess President HMS Victory
  • A brilliant speech. 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
  • A fine addition to our evening. Your stories had the desired effect and ended the ‘below decks’ event in style.  Sportcell
  •  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
  • A fantastic evening and we really enjoyed your tales of gin bottles and sheds! We have had great feedback which has 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
  • Thank you for the most memorable of talks. I am sure that you must have picked up the good vibes for the presentation that were in the room 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. 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

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