IF YOU’D LIKE THIS BOOK SIGNED, WITH/WITHOUT A MESSAGE, PLEASE FILL IN THE BOX UNDER ‘PERSONALISE THIS BOOK’ AND LET ME KNOW
This is the long-awaited second edition, published by Adlard Coles. With new images and updated sections, including sailing super-gaffers, it is a beautifully illustrated text book on gaff-rigged craft. Even if gaffers aren’t your ‘bag’, any sailor must surely be fascinated by the traditional boats we see more and more. Numerous fine replicas are now swelling the fleet of originals, and the number of owners building new cruising yachts with the old rig is quietly increasing. For most of my life, I’ve had connections with gaffers. I’ve crossed oceans in them, raced them, loved them, cursed them, then gone out and bought bigger ones. They can be absolute bears to sail, or they can be surprisingly easy. Much depends on you, but in either case the emotional rewards of getting it right are enormous.
Hand Reef and Steer is not a dry statement of every kind of gaffer, it is a hands-on manual of how to survive gaff rig and to glory in getting it right. It can help you make a cutter point higher, or a schooner reach faster, and even if you never intend to sail either, it will certainly enrich your understanding.
By the way, the title is a quote from a long-forgotten definition of a proper seaman – ‘handing a sail’ is taking it in – and a sailor of calibre was said to be able to ‘hand, reef and steer’.
Winner of The Best Book of the Sea Award
Setting up the rig
Heavy and light air sailing
Manoeuvring a long-keeled boat and dealing with heavy displacement
Losing way, scandalizing and steering with the sails
Topsails, watersails, single-luff spinnakers and fisherman staysails
Illustrated with colour photographs and water-colour sketches of the rig
Paperback 174 pages
Recently a sailing friend gifted me a copy of Tom Cunliffe’s ‘Hand, Reef and Steer’, and the veil has fallen from mine eyes. This book extols the virtues of (primarily) gaff cutters, advice and wisdom forged by decades of experience on every ocean in many boats. His insights aren’t the apologia of quaint nostalgia, but rather the Bristol polish of boat design that is tried and true and unsullied by considerations of speed, carbon-fibre, and the configuration of galleys and saloons.
Cunliffe systematically addresses setting and dousing sails, how to get the best from your rig, why your stays’l is so important and your tops’l can be the hardest working canvas on the boat. Sail-trim, reefing, storm tactics, and much more are laid out in the historical context of why sloops and cutters and schooners are sailed the way they are (with a nod to yawls and ketches along the way). He’ll make you feel better about your long-keeled, deep-footed hull that brings you last to every moorage. You’ll even learn how to set dead-eyes: I’m half a mind to deep-six my rigging screws! But only half. Cunliffe’s style is witty and evocative of the salt air itself. His authenticity is unimpeachable. There are diagrams throughout, though I occasionally wished for more, and the boat-porn… oh my, there are photographs of great classic schooners and racing yachts that will have you singing chanteys. I will read and re-read passages of this book until I know my boat as well as Cunliffe already does. Don’t expect to borrow this one… It won’t leave my side.
Stuart Weibel ~ Master and slave to S/V Ripple