Yachting Monthly's literary reviewer, Julia Jones, reviews Around these Islands in 12 Ports by Jonathan Winter, a 2,500 mile journey around the British Isles in a GT35 yacht Nova, staying in 69 places over 155 days

Around these Islands in 12 Ports is an attractive and sophisticated production by Jonathan Winter.

It is published under the aegis of a think-tank dedicated to the concept of the British Isles as both a union and a complicated archipelago.

Anne and Jonathan Winter began and ended their journey at the Beaulieu River having covered more than 2,500 nautical miles in their British-built GT35 yacht Nova, staying in 69 places over 155 days with additional overnight stops.

For each leg of the voyage the stops, distance, passage time and winds encountered are unobtrusively recorded (plus engine hours) but this book is generally more focussed on the experience and knowledge gained than the sailing detail.

Nevertheless the project was also a proving time for the Stephen Jones-designed performance cruiser.

Nova appears to have behaved impeccably throughout.

A main theme of the Winters’ journey is the juxtaposition of industry, history and landscape which they discover through their own observations and questions and also via essays specially commissioned for this book.

Which 12 ports?

Southampton, London, Hull, Dundee, Stromness, Oban, Belfast, Dublin, Holyhead, Milford Haven, Bristol, Falmouth are explored by local historians offering insights into cultural diversity as well as varied histories and patterns of trade.

Who would have expected to read about the Canvey Island Charedim (community of Orthodox Jews), the 2.2 million migrants who passed through Hull between 1840 – 1914 or Nelson’s high-profile 1802 visit to Milford Haven all in a single slim cruising account?

The Winters had expected to encounter wildlife and beautiful scenery but not the continuing scale of commercial maritime activity;

Winter recognises ‘all those buoys, lights and rescue services were not primarily put in place for us but for the ships – large and small – that ply our coastal waters day and night.

Unseen to most of us, ports and their associated trade routes are our nation’s umbilical cord, a symbol of our interdependence with other countries.’

This thought-provoking book costs £25 and is published in aid of Mission to Seafarers.

An ebook donation can also be made.


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