Arwen's meanderings

Hi everyone and welcome to my new blog. My name is Steve and i am the lucky owner of a John Welsford designed 'navigator' named Arwen. I built her over three years with the help of my father, father-in-law and two children. She was launched in August 2007 at Queen Anne's battery marina in the barbican area of Plymouth. This blog is a record of our voyages together around SW England.
Arwen has a YouTube channel of her own. Search "plymouthwelshboy".

Friday, 2 May 2014

'The Dinghy Cruising Companion' by Roger Barnes

Normally don't like to review books because I'm useless at it.
Wish I could write well - but can't do that either. Don't feel I should step into being a critic if I can't actually write myself....sounds somewhat hypocritical to do that but maybe that's just me.

However, I have just finished this book.....and guess what.........I LOVED IT!

The blurb about the book on Amazon says
'You will venture into the fringes of the wilderness with the minimum of simple gear, to live with it on its own terms. You will know that one of the sure ways to contentment in this life is a small boat, a fair wind, and a new coast to explore.' Dinghy cruising is a wonderful way to experience nature and new coastlines at close quarters and low cost. Sailing where larger boats cannot reach, and sleeping under canvas on board or ashore, this is boating taken right back to the basics, and all the better for that. This guide, for all aspiring or already-enthusiastic dinghy cruisers, shows how to get started and how to expand your horizons. The information and advice is interwoven with wonderfully evocative stories of the author's adventures afloat, from idyllic weeks pottering around secluded rivers and coastlines to hair-raising voyages to remote islands. The text covers: Finding a good boat Fitting out for daysailing Boatcraft under engine and oar Mooring and anchoring Preparing for open water Out at sea Coastal navigation Dinghy homemaking Keeping comfortable and safe Illustrated throughout with inspirational colour photos and helpful illustrations, this book shows just why small boats are the perfect passport to remote and beautiful places.

The green slips are pages where I have discovered something I didn't know. Its a reference point to go back and re-read that section again because I discovered some little nugget or pearl of wisdom........lots of green slips......either because it was extremely informatively written.......or because I'm stupid and don't know much. I'll go with the former point!

Now I don't know Roger personally. I know he is president of the Dinghy Cruising Association; I have seen him in passing at the Beale Park Boat show on odd occasions. I read his comments on the DCA forum and often find them interesting and/or pedantic in a fun way; or playing 'devils advocate' with other members. I do know he is incredibly experienced a sailor and whatever he says, whether you'd agree or disagree with it, it is worth listening to. Forum members clearly respect his opinion and advice. It will come from experiences hard won over many, many years sailing. I am a member but lack confidence in my own abilities to sort of engage yet face to face with DCA members......and that is me; nothing to do with them because they are a lovely welcoming bunch. But since most trips I do have some disasters, I haven't quite got to the stage where I'm prepared to do the disasters under close scrutiny! There is an argument of course which goes like this......if I became more sociable and joined some DCA rallies, I'd learn much quicker under expert guidance and therefore have fewer disasters in the future........I know!!

Anyway, digressing as what did I LOVE about this book?

  • Its charming, well written, enthusiastic, encouraging tone? yep!
  • Its wonderfully illustrated pages with classy line drawings and stunning photos? Yep!
  • Its 'go on get out there and give it a go' persuasive style whilst at the same time its careful emphasis on developing the skills to keep oneself safe? Yep!
  • No, I know, it must have been the STACKS of quality advice on virtually every page;
  • or was it the lovely descriptions of different dinghies that you could sail; each description illustrated by way of an anecdote.
  • No I finally know what it was; Roger's use of his own logs to illustrate the points he was making; to share with the reader his passion for sailing in small open boats.

I read an amazon review which said 'hard to put down'. Another said 'great for dipping back into whether you be inexperienced or experienced a sailor'
I think those gents summed it up perfectly!

Roger, never met you....but....well done and thank you so much! From the tiny, limited and insignificant little bit of sailing experience I have, I think this is a cracking book. I hope it becomes a best seller for you.


Roger Barnes said...

Thank you Steve. I am very glad you liked the book. Roger

steve said...

You are welcome
I keep dipping in and out of it constantly. There is so much practical advice to think about and go out and try.