The Royal Cruising Club - Book Reviews

The Royal Cruising Club Pilotage Foundation publishes pilotage information through books and a range of media acessible through its own website

Reviews of the most recent RCCPF Publications and other books written by RCC members are listed below.

Inland Waterways of the Netherlands (2nd Edition)

For such a small country The Netherlands has an amazing 6,000km of navigable waterways and there is something there for everyone.

Whether it is a transit route to the Baltic in bad weather, a short break from the East coast of England or as a base for your craft The Netherlands has it all. And if you are a first time visitor to the country and its cruising potential this book is a good place to start before you even set off, and even if you have been before as most places there are endless developments.

The introduction to Inland Waterways is very thorough and will bring you through the essentials to have on board, the logistics of getting there for crew changes and the like, plus a flavour of the towns and villages you are likely to visit. There are suggested routes and circuits you might take including the famous “Staande Mast” routes (literally Mast-up route).

As someone who lived and sailed in the Netherlands for many years if I were to take a boat there today I would certainly have this book on board.

Reviewed by Hilary Keatinge

The Arctic and Northern Waters Pilot

The revised edition of the Arctic and Northern Waters Pilot is a compelling volume that takes the reader into waters that few will travel, for those who go there it is essential reading.

The editor, Andrew Wilkes, has compiled the pilot that spans the northern high latitudes ranging across Faroe, Iceland and Greenland and then to the North West and North East passages with fresh information about anchorages and routes, many of these photographed by his wife Máire to give instant recognition to remote places.
Some of the harbours and anchorages are familiar to me after several sailing seasons around these waters but the quality and clarity of the information adds significantly to qualify this as a vital part of the library for any skipper heading in that direction.
Of particular interest is the chapter on ice navigation. We learn that the proximity of land and shallow water affect the ice life-cycle, it forms and melts quicker in shallow water where the contours of the seabed affect the current. Wind creates rapid changes in ice conditions, the bigger floes are more susceptible to currents generated by ocean, tide or run-off. Satellite monitoring shows the continuing reduction of sea ice cover due to climate change. This does not necessarily mean that passage making will be easier, local factors such as wind are important. For instance, sea ice concentrations remained dense off East Greenland during the 2015 season because the northerly gales needed to break it up failed to occur. In contrast, the way was clear across the Denmark Straight by early 2016 and we motored in thick fog from Isafjordur in Iceland across to Scoresbysund before meeting big ice.
The Egg Code gives basic data on the development or age of the ice and its floe size along with the anticipated direction of travel so it is possible for the navigator to shape a course to avoid hazard. A useful hint in the Pilot is to avoid hitting ice if possible, but if collision is inevitable it is better to strike new ice which is compared to hitting solid wood whereas old multi-year ice is as unyielding as solid iron.
Icebergs that collapse without warning, katabatic winds that come screaming off the mountains, fog as a constant menace, poor charts and little prospect of help if things go wrong not to mention potentially fatal encounters with polar bears all add to emphasise the addictive nature of these waters along with their attendant risks make this volume a core part of passage planning.
In the preface to the ANW, Andrew reminds us of the huge contribution to Arctic sailing made over many years by Willie Ker. Credits also go to Paddy Barry and Jarlath Cunane for their North West and then North East passages as well as many other brave souls who have ventured in these waters.
The book is part of the RCC Pilotage Foundation which deserves great credit for this and other publications in the series.
Brian Black – Irish Cruising Club
Jan 31st 2017

The Pacific Crossing Guide 3rd Edition

This RCC Pilotage Foundation book is a beautifully produced and extremely well structured guide to the vast cruising area that is the Pacific Ocean

Kitty Van Hagen not only draws on her own considerable experience of cruising in the Pacific, but also on the experiences of other Pacific cruisers including many Royal Cruising Club members. As a result the reader benefits from a very comprehensive, well researched, knowledgeable and enthusiastic read.

It is packed full of all the practical information you need to prepare for and execute a cruise across the world’s biggest ocean. It is difficult to imagine anything that is not covered for: Communications, navigation, health, equipment, weather, passage planning, types of yacht, safety are just some of the topic covered. Each topic has useful tips and warnings as to how to avoid and prepare for pitfalls that may take you by surprise. At every turn Kitty has included personal accounts from experienced Pacific cruisers, and how they have solved the difficulties encountered by them and others.

Each section is also accompanied by pointers for further reading, web links, websites and other guides and books. All of these have been found useful to sailors crossing the Pacific and, as well as covering all the useful types of information you would expect, they also include fascinating accounts, blogs and experiences of other cruising vessels.

The book covers a huge cruising area yet manages to be the perfect balance between cruising information and route planning on the one hand, and detail on a few strategic and specific approaches, harbours and anchorages on the other. All of the countries you are likely to visit are touched on with interesting facts and advice, pilotage information on key ports, and further reading recommendations.
However, on top of all the wealth of information, the book is populated with stunning photographs, collected from all corners of the Pacific. These not only provide useful pilotage information, but also emphasise the contrasts and experiences on offer for anyone wishing to venture there, as well as making this a beautiful book!
Anybody, planning an imminent voyage to any part of the Pacific will benefit hugely from having a copy of this book with them but, equally, it is a must have for anyone planning and dreaming of an adventure in the future!
Katharine & Peter Ingram

The RCC Pilotage Foundation is a charity sponsored by the Royal Cruising Club. Close collaboration among its experienced sailing authors make it the authoritative provider of the famous pilotage books and passage planning guides for cruising areas worldwide. Its books and downloads about ocean passages, ports and anchorages can be found for purchase or download on their website

Solent Cruising Companion

The 3rd Edition of this very useable cruising companion is brought right up to date (2016) by Derek Aslett. Published by Fernhurst Books and available through Imray and many local chandleries.

The book is simply set out with text illustrated by many photographs that give not just the detail but also the flavour of the area. There is something for everyone, either the crew who think they know everything about the area, or the visitor sailing in for the first time. There is approach information well illustrated with chartlets and a good range of contact details from coastguard to dental helplines. There is a good selection of information on transport, supermarkets, pubs and restaurants. All round a useful addition to the bookshelf of any Solent bound cruising craft.

Hilary Keatinge

Norway Pilot - 3rd Edition

The newly published third edition of the RCC Pilotage Foundation Norway pilot book by Judy Lomax is reviewed below by Madeleine Strobel


Norway 3rd Edition
Covering mainland coast, fjords and islands, including Svalbad and Jan Mayen

In this recently published, fully revised and thoroughly supplemented 3rd edition of the RCC Pilotage Foundation Norway pilot book, Judy Lomax describes one of the most complex coastlines in northern Europe. She embarked on this epic task in 2007 after many years spent sailing together with her late husband David and her family along the whole length of this fascinating coast, from the Swedish border in the south all the way to Jan Mayen (71ºN), Bjørnøya (74ºN) and Svalbard, Kvitøy(80ºN).
The Norway pilot, 3rd edition will be an essential companion to all those who wish to embark on a Norwegian voyage. The book has 321 pages, with many new photographs, revised and comprehensive area plans, new harbours, anchorages and routes. The most remarkable feature of this sailing companion is the logical and clear description of many possible alternative ways across the myriad of islands, skerries and fjords that form the Norwegian coast.
Having used the 2nd edition myself and comparing it to the 3rd, I found that some interesting changes had been made to extend the coverage and to clarify some of the most tricky passages, notably in South Norway East of Lindesnes, in the fjord region north of Bergen, between Statt and Kristiansund, in Trondheimsleia, Hitra and Frøya.
But most of all, the description of the northern regions of Norway between the Lofoten, Vesterålen, Ofoten and Tromsø has been significantly expanded as has the farthest North: Bjørnøya, Svalbard and Jan Mayen. For the farthest North you can find up to date cruising information on around 90 places, mostly but not exclusively anchorages. A comprehensive introduction to the area includes information on permits and regulations, ice reports and glaciers, weather forecasts, polar bears and everything you need to know before you embark on this Arctic challenge.
Only someone like Judy Lomax with her remarkable attention to detail is capable of updating and revising such a complex pilot book. I am certain that everyone who uses it will find it as informative as it is enjoyable.

Published by Imray at £47.50
Available through

The RCC Pilotage Foundation is a charity sponsored by the Royal Cruising Club. Close collaboration among its experienced sailing authors make it the authoritative provider of the famous pilotage books and passage planning guides for cruising areas worldwide. Its books and downloads about ocean passages, ports and anchorages can be found for purchase or download on their website

Atlantic Islands Pilot

A Sixth Edition of the RCCPF Atlantic Islands Pilot has just been published by Imray. It is reviewed by Alan Spriggs (RCC) below.

It is remarkable quite how many changes have taken place in the last five years that effect Atlantic sailors. But it is not for this reason alone that this revised edition is both timely and welcome.
The new chapter on Bermuda, probably the Atlantic island with most navigational challenges, will be a boon to transatlantic sailors many of whom have given these beautiful islands a wide berth in the past. The information is clear and where costs are involved they are happily not accompanied with such weasel words as swingeing.
The established chapters have all been fully updated with more diagrams and are even more richly illustrated with photographs. The information takes into account modern electronic aids without ignoring the traditional navigational skills.
I have visited, by sail, all of the island groups in this volume and most of the islands within them, always with the Atlantic Islands guide on my chart table. To do otherwise I would regard as foolhardy. However, this is not simply a reference book for pilotage but a fascinating and absorbing read for those fire lit winter evenings.
Alan Spriggs
S/Y Pennypincher
Puerto de Mogan

Heavy Weather Sailing

This is the 7th edition of this well-known and popular book. There is much that is new in this edition, all beautifully explored and explained.

The first edition of Adlard Coles’ Heavy Weather Sailing came out in 1967. Most of us, if we were around then, were sailing more primitive boats than we are now, and knowledge and experience were in short supply. The book exerted a profound influence, even on those of us who had yet to venture offshore, let alone experience ocean sailing.
The book underwent several reprints, and all the time offshore racing and passage-making were becoming less esoteric. More experiences of extreme conditions were logged, and more conclusions drawn.
In consequence, Adlard produced two further editions, each wiser and more informative than its predecessor. By the time a need for a fourth edition became apparent, Peter, son of Adlard’s friend, sailing rival, and co-publisher Erroll Bruce, took it over. And now Peter Bruce has produced the 7th edition. It is hugely more informative and better suited to our times and our boats than the first edition, obviously, but also than the 6th. Yacht design and construction continue to change, and new equipment is developed. But a storm at sea is still a fearsome thing, and anyone encountering one will want to be armed with as much information about how to deal with it as possible.
The book is split into two sections, Expert Advice and Storm Experiences. Each is as enlightening as it is comprehensive. But only the second section makes you feel seasick. Contributors to both parts are drawn from the ranks of those who know what they’re talking about, and though some of the topics – meteorology, seasickness, waves, and preparations for heavy weather – are of universal interest, there is also specialist advice for powerboats, RIBs and multihulls.
If this latest edition of Heavy Weather Sailing was the first, the book would be hailed as ground-breaking, extraordinary, and essential reading. Well, most of us have read previous editions and may be excused for thinking we don’t need to read more of the same. This would be a mistake. There is much that is new here, and so beautifully explored and explained that the prudent mariner (a description which surely fits all RCC members) will no more ignore it than neglect the latest weather forecast.