The Dinghy Cruising Companion is a beautifully written account for both yachtsmen and dinghy sailors, evoking the romance and solitude of sailing, says Julia Jones

The Dinghy Cruising Companion (2nd edition)
Roger Barnes
Adlard Coles, £16.99

This is the second edition of a unique and important book which, somehow, I missed first time around.

There are new additions, which include a section on sailing in heavy weather and an update on electronics.

I discover that cruising dinghies now carry chartplotters and consider installing Navtex.

The central reason, however, that I hope this title will find its way onto many yachtsmen’s bookshelves, is that it is directly concerned with sailing.

Far too many yachting guides seem to have lost that essential feeling for wind, water and individual boat shape that should surely be at the heart of what we do.

Roger Barnes’s book recalls Maurice Griffiths’s titles of the 1930s – Magic of the Swatchways and Ten Small Yachts – where the romance of solitude and the challenge of self-reliance took people and their boats to unexpected anchorages, as well as into the warmth of the pub at the end of the day.

Like Griffiths, Barnes writes beautifully when he is describing his adventures, exploring different coasts or estuaries and setting out whenever the weather permits.

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He’s not slow to contrast the flexibility and freedom of his style of sailing with the constraints on those of us who lift out for the winter or who draw too much water to nose up a shallow creek.

As well as evoking atmosphere Barnes offers sound, experience-based advice, though with the awareness that he is preaching to an individualistic and opinionated group of people.

He recognises difference by discussing the positive attributes of a Wharram Hitra catamaran as well as the Drascomb Lugger, the Wayfarer and the traditional work-boat inspired designs such as his own Ilur dinghy Avel Dro, designed by Francois Vivier.

The book is attractively presented with different typefaces to express the different styles of writing.

I found the advice useful, the information interesting and enjoyed the passages of homily.

It was, however, the sight of cursive script denoting a true tale of sailing adventure that made my heart lift with delight.

I suggest we would all be better sailors if we listened to the wind and waves from inside the hull of a dinghy.

Buy The Dinghy Cruising Companion (2nd edition) at Amazon (UK)

Buy The Dinghy Cruising Companion (2nd edition) at Amazon (US)

Buy The Dinghy Cruising Companion (2nd edition) at Waterstones (UK)

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