Saturday 1 August 2009

More Sailing Days

I recently found an old copy of “More Sailing Days” by Adlard Coles in a charity shop. Published in 1947, it tells of Coles sailing adventures on the south coast of England immediately following the end of World War Two.

Leisure sailing in the Solent had been stopped by the military during the war years, but Coles was fortunate to have been granted an early permit to sail during 1945 in order to update his pilot guide and sailing directions “Creeks and Harbours of the Solent”. His first trip was to bring his pre-war yacht Zara, a diminutive 19 foot Tualare class sloop, from Itchenor, where it had passed the war years safely, back to her home mooring in Bursledon.

Coles entered Zara in Bursledon regatta in 1945, the first to be held since the outbreak of war. He tells of sailing the vivid red, and newly painted Zara; down the Hamble river, past sailors and marines watching from the drab, grey naval launches and landing craft which used the river as a wartime base.

Navigation at night was forbidden as a safety precaution since there were no lit navigation marks and the additional hazard of unmarked ship wrecks all along the south coast. Coles gives a good description of finding his way into the unmarked Newton Creek using the transit of a tower which was visible up on the Wight downs. Despite our best efforts we couldn’t find it on our recent visit to Newton, presumably it hasn’t survived the intervening 60 odd years since the war.

Further west there’s a charming account of Coles anchored in fog outside on Babbacombe in Devon. A fisherman appeared out of the fog rowing a small boat and after some banter and negotiation towed Zara into the harbour and safety.

At 19 feet, Zara eventually proved too small for the growing Coles family and she was sold initially replaced with the Fred Parker design Mary Aidan. She in turn was quickly superseded by the famous Cohoe, in which Coles cruised and raced extensively during the post war years.

For those of us who sail the Solent and the South Coast of England, More Sailing Days gives us a view of our favourite cruising grounds, a view which is familiar yet distant; un-crowded and less hurried. When fisherman still earned their living, working out of the small harbours and us yachtsmen were in the minority.


  1. Max, around Christmas 2007 my brother and I were making the annual trek from PA to Kentucky to celebrate the holiday with family. It's a 12 hr. drive and we read aloud from Heavy Weather Sailing, which I had picked up at a library sale for $1.00. My brother at the time was not a sailor and found Mr. Coles prose hyperbolic and began to parody. I, on the other hand, found the 'lessons ' instructive and entertaining. I am sure I would enjoy this book which sounds a bit more relaxed.It would be a lovely read, I'm sure. I'll never find it here for sale but the Independence Seaport Museum in Philly has a copy and my brother volunteers in the library , so I will read it. Thanks for the heads up.

  2. Tom, I understand your brother, Coles is very old worldly especially about the racing.

    More Saing Days, describes all the places which we have sailed and know well, there's a part where Coles anchors half way across Lyme Bay as there is no wind and a foul tide. It's remarkable - the bay is 45 miles across, so he was anchored out of sight of land in a bay which can be horrible at times!

    I've got an old 1967 copy of Heavy Weather Sailing, but I have to say from personal experience I go with the Pardy's Storm Tactics - they worked for us hove to during a 48 hour gale 1000 miles from land


COMMENTS - If you would like a reply to your comment please leave your email address