Yachtmaster book out

The new, updated and expanded edition of Pass Your Yachtmaster is in the bookshops. It’s the best primer around for the RYA sailing qualification, and the only one with jokes – the serious stuff by David Fairhall and myself is leavened with lots of hilarious cartoons about sailing by the late Mike Peyton.

There’s a new chapter on electronic charts and fresh material on weather forecasting, safety equipment and other aspects of sailing offshore that have been changing in recent years as the technology improves.

Pass Your Yachtmaster was first published in 1982, and is the longest established and certainly best book of its kind, now in its 6th edition after selling steadily to exam candidates over nearly 40 years.

It is not one of those long coursework manuals stuffed with detail and exercises you find on the nautical bookshop shelves to use in classes. Neither is it padded with personal reminiscences and anecdotes. Instead it is a concise revision text to keep in your pocket in the run-up to the shore-based RYA exam, and also to use as a refresher on techniques and questions before the practical.

For experienced sailors who may be catching up with their certificate paperwork by going straight to the practical exam, it can also serve as a reminder of things that might have slipped the memory.

I used an early edition myself when I did the Yachtmaster shore-based course and the practical exam several years later, a few months after racing as navigator on the Guardian Fastnet Challenge with David Fairhall, then a colleague, as skipper.

I had been sailing offshore for quite a few years by then, but some important issues had passed me by – the downside of learning on the job just by going to sea on small boats, and not accompanying it with systematic training, which would have been much better. (Sailing schools were rare when we first crossed the channel, getting home more by luck than judgement.)

So it’s been a privilege to bring the book up to date again, at David’s invitation. I much enjoyed doing the research by reading a lot and talking to experts, as well as attending a couple of conferences which luckily took place just before Covid 19 emerged.

The text was delivered in June last year, so the job was a great help in getting through the first lockdown, but publication was held up to resolve some copyright issues. The updating task brought me up to date as well on quite a few things, not least the current state of play with satellite, chart and chartplotter accuracy.

The 6th edition is available as a paperback, ebook or PDF direct from its publisher Adlard Coles, which is part of Bloomsbury, or from other booksellers including Bookharbour and Amazon, all of which already have the updated book illustrated on their websites.

It can also be bought through any general or specialist bookseller, but note that at the pre-order stage, at least, bookshops such as Stanfords, Waterstones and Foyles were still illustrating the previous edition on their sites – look for the 6th.

I’ve just returned to Cowes from cruising on the Essex and Suffolk coasts, and I should add that anyone enjoying that area would do well to have a copy of David’s delightful East Anglian Shores with them. It will tell you much about the places you visit, including some fascinating historical anecdotes, and it is illustrated with attractive drawings. The publisher is also Adlard Coles.

Pass Your Yachtmaster by David Fairhall, Mike Peyton and Peter Rodgers, Adlard Coles (Bloomsbury Publishing), 128 pages, £14.99 paperback, ebooks (Epub and MOBI or PDF) £12.14.  ISBN 9781472981981

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