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The second edition was 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, scandalising and steering with the sails
Topsails, watersails, single-luff spinnakers and fisherman staysails