Stress-Free Sailing (2nd edition): book review


Julia Jones, Yachting Monthly literary critic discusses Stress-Free Sailing (2nd edition) by Duncan Wells

Certainly, the most attractive and characteristic image of Navigate stress-free is the author in his garden lasso a cleat.

There will be readers who will question the idea that there is such nirvana as “stress free sailing”;

some would say that a little stress is part of the challenge that leaves us satisfied at the end of the day;

others will say that stress comes from things over which we have little control – an unreliable engine, for example, or close incompatibility.

Wells believes, pragmatically, that “no one is ever born a master sailor” and that preparation and anticipation are the key to success – with a fair amount of shared experience and thinking.

Stress-free navigation is part of a series that includes Stress-free mooring, navigation and motorboat and there is of course some overlap.

In this volume, the emphasis is on techniques and tips that will be particularly useful for solo sailors or with a small crew.

Hence the need to be able to lasso reliably.

Complementary Videos

The book has instructional videos accessible via QR codes or at, but the printed photos and the explanations themselves are admirably clear.

Topics covered include ropes – because hanging ropes are stressful – and Wells has some new ideas to offer even on this frequently discussed topic.

Some of his ideas, like using a color coded billiard table to mark an anchor chain, can make people smile, but it is also an effective encouragement to develop his own.

(However, take Wells’ advice and paste the code somewhere near the anchor locker for those who don’t have billiard colors in their DNA.)

Others of his ideas, such as the MOB Lifesaver, are truly impressive and are clearly the result of prolonged direct thought.

Wells features a group of other yachts that helped him test his techniques – but were they so disparate, in fact?

No multihulls, no gaffers, no small yachts propelled only by speedboats.

Exceptions to each rule

There are times in his text where he stops to say that there are exceptions to every rule – a ketch will stretch or balance its sails quite differently from a sloop – but I’m starting to think that all Authors of boating skills books sometimes have to remember the diversity of sailboats, despite the obviousness of too many marinas.

There is no point in assuming that everyone has a spinnaker halyard when developing a MOB recovery strategy.

Although it may sound like a growl, it is one that Navigate stress-free can easily refute.

Wells’ holistic approach is to offer his advice, demonstrate which method has worked for him on his Hallberg-Rassy, ​​and then challenge others to take the time to play and train until that they discover the best techniques for their own vessels.

If it is only you who are available to lasso this cleat, you are the one who must develop that individual flick.

Buy Stress-Free Sailing (2nd Edition) on Amazon (UK)

Buy Stress-Free Sailing (2nd Edition) on Amazon (US)

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