This book is a treat. It is well written and well illustrated, but above all the author has a great deal of experience of the subject and a great feeling for it. If the reader only intends to buy one book on Pilot Cutters, this is the book to buy.
NAME: Pilot Cutter Under Sail, Pilots and Pilotage in Britain and Northern Europe
AUTHOR: Tom Cunliffe
PUBLISHER: Seaforth, Pen & Sword
BINDING: hard back
GENRE: Non Fiction
SUBJECT: Pilot cutters, gaff rig, technology, classic boats, wooden boats
DESCRIPTION: This book is a treat. It is well written and well illustrated, but above all the author has a great deal of experience of the subject and a great feeling for it. If the reader only intends to buy one book on Pilot Cutters, this is the book to buy.
The author has provided an excellent historical review of pilot cutters from their early use through into a new millennium and that spread of history has been illustrated, with some outstanding colour photographs from more recent times.
The pilot cutter is essentially a working boat that was originally intended to take pilots out to vessels seeking safe haven in port and requiring the local knowledge of the pilot to navigate them safely into a strange port. As a result, the pilot cutter had to be a handy vessel that could come up to the vessel requesting the service of a pilot in all weathers, and to operate in busy anchorages, estuaries and rivers. That suggests that the pilot cutter is essentially a river and estuary craft that is unlikely to venture far offshore. The history is different and pilot cutters have been used for communication across oceans and in some of the most dangerous waters available.
The author has sailed more miles in original and replica cutters than almost anyone. In the process he has sailed across the Atlantic, down to Brazil, up to the Arctic, from the Caribbean to Russia. That experience shows in the text.
The coverage of seamanship and the rig is worth buying this book for on its own. The review of history and the accounts of some of the pilots who used this type of craft for their daily work fits well with the descriptions of living aboard and working on the craft.