I think anyone who has sailed more than 200,000 miles has earned the right to reflect, inform, advise, entertain and encourage other sailors, and that is just what Jimmy Cornell does with this lavishly illustrated 400-page book.
Appropriately subtitled “A Life of Adventure,” it’s a combination of travelogue, autobiography, anecdote, reminiscence and how-to manual. Starting with Cornell’s early life in Communist-controlled Romania, the book spans five decades of offshore passagemaking in four different boats, including four circumnavigations.
Along the way, Cornell wrote a series of successful books, founded the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers (ARC), and became one of the world’s foremost authorities on cruising under sail.
Whether describing the intricacies of anchoring in tropical lagoons, weighing the merits of windvane gears versus electric autopilots, debating downwind sail choices or recounting the sometimes peculiar habits of crew (who “can cause the biggest problems on a voyage”), Cornell’s weighty experience shines through—even hardcore ocean sailors will learn a few tips from this book.
Not only that, it’s a fun read, for Cornell’s tone is never didactic; he knows full well there are many ways of dealing with issues at sea, and shares the methods and workarounds that have worked for him over the last 40 years rather than lecturing the reader on correct procedures. That said, there is no shortage of practical guidelines and hints, usually accompanied by an anecdote or two to drive the lesson home.
I’d recommend After 200,000 Miles to anyone thinking about embarking on an ocean cruise, whether as skipper of your own boat or as crew on someone else’s. SAIL readers can get a 25 percent discount on this book by going to paracaray.com and entering the code “SAIL” at checkout.
After 200,000 Miles
By Jimmy Cornell
Cornell Sailing, $39.95