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“A wise, experienced, interesting guide” - sailing the world with Jimmy Cornell’s books

Jimmy Cornell’s memoir Sail the World With Me, as well as new editions of World Cruising Routes and World Cruising Destinations, have all been published in the last 12 months. Reviews have been very positive, in Flying Fish, Practical Boat Owner and Yachting Monthly.

Practical Boat Owner’s review of Sail the World With Me

Sail the World with Me: Our review of Jimmy Cornell’s latest book

 by Marsali Taylor

September 26, 2022

By the end of the book, between the vivid writing and gorgeous photographs, you really feel as if you have sailed the world with Jimmy Cornell as a wise, experienced, interesting guide, says Marsali Taylor.

This beautifully-produced book condenses the lifetime experiences of writer, broadcaster and sailing legend Jimmy Cornell into one volume.

It begins with an introduction to his newest boat, Aventura Zero, designed to be completely self-sufficient, and explains his thinking on zero emissions, then returns to his childhood in Romania, the loss of his father after a regime change, his first jobs, including working with Orson Welles on a film set, meeting his wife, fatherhood, coming to London and his first boat, Aventura.

Each voyage is illustrated with a map at the start of the chapter, and the frontpapers combine these maps to show all his voyages.

The descriptions of the places he went and the people he met are vivid and lyrical, and they’re accompanied in the text by beautiful black and white and colour photographs – the book is printed throughout on quality photographic paper.

However this isn’t just a travelogue – between adventures Cornell gives chapters on:

  • sailing to the Antarctic
  • passage-planning for long distance voyagers
  • navigation
  • weather and weather-forecasts
  • self-steering gear
  • cruising in stages
  • sailing in the tropics
  • crew and watches
  • engines
  • maintenance and spares
  • practical aspects of cruising
  • dealing with emergencies
  • offshore utilities
  • anchors and anchoring
  • sails and sailing routines
  • family sailing,
  • safety afloat and ashore
  • and finally, life afloat.

All these chapters are illustrated with his learning from his own or others’ experience, and each one ends with a red summary box of tips.

He also reflects on the changes he’s seen in his time sailing round the world, and Aventura IV was built for the 2012 Blue Planet Odyssey, whose message was ‘The oceans – our future’.

This is the boat that took him to the Arctic Circle and his first shot at navigating the North-West Passage – a voyage he completed in Aventura IV.

The book ends with Cornell recalling the rallies he’s been involved in, including the first ARC and the Millennium Odessey, both of which he created.

By the end of the book, between the vivid writing and gorgeous photographs, you really feel as if you have sailed the world with Cornell as a wise, experienced, interesting guide.

The book is especially aimed at sailors planning long voyages, but creek potterers and armchair dreamers will enjoy it just as much.

Yachting Monthly Sail the World with Me: book review

 by Julia Jones

March 20, 2022

Sail the World With Me is a fascinating account of Jimmy Cornell’s life and his attempt to create a zero-carbon yacht.

Sail The World with Me supersedes Cornell’s earlier memoir 200,000 Miles: A Life of Adventure.

It opens – fascinatingly, I thought – with Cornell’s unsuccessful attempt to develop a zero-carbon, fully-electric yacht, perhaps for yet another circumnavigation.

Cynics might say all that’s needed is to use sails and do away with gadgets.

But when even cooking on kerosene – as in the Golden Globe Race – adds a mite to global warming it’s hard to imagine many 21st century circumnavigators voluntarily adopting this approach.

Transiting the Panama Canal is closed off for those without effective mechanical propulsion, so Cornell’s experiment is relevant to any global cruiser who quails at rounding Cape Horn under sail alone.

Typically, his approach was innovative and high-end.

His new boat, Aventura Zero, was a modified Outremer catamaran with a Servoprop variable pitch propeller and an array of complex, carefully-thought-out systems.

The yacht sailed beautifully but, as Cornell was forced to realise without some hybridisation – such as including a diesel genset – the balance of electrical consumption and generation just didn’t work.

And by then the pandemic was adding its own complications.

Cornell’s desire to find a more climate-friendly approach to world cruising had been stimulated by his 2015 experience of the North West passage and also, perhaps, by his observation of the environmental damage that had been done elsewhere in the course of his cruising life.

That’s why, for me, these first two chapters of abortive experiment work well as the introduction to a memoir that is largely about success.

Sail the World with Me begins with Cornell’s birth and upbringing in communist Romania, family tragedy, hardship and hard work, then the great good fortune of meeting his future wife, Gwenda who was touring Eastern Europe with a group of other young English people.

Those who have read the earlier memoir will be familiar with developing story of his work for the BBC, then the six years world cruising with Gwenda when their children Diona and Ivan were young, founding the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers and developing many subsequent offshoots of that idea.

There were new yachts, new voyages, new learning.

This book, like 200,000 Miles, intersperses chapters of advice about long-distance cruising with chapters of narrative.

It’s also very well illustrated, though occasionally I would have welcomed more captions to the photographs.

Cornell is now in his 80s and there’s a poignancy to this story as he realises on more than one occasion that he is seeing somewhere, likely for the last time.

But with Jimmy Cornell can one be sure?

Might there not yet be another voyage to be attempted, another Aventura yacht to be designed…?

Meanwhile this nicely produced, 496 page book will give us lesser sailors plenty to think about.

You can read reviews from Flying  Fish magazine:

Flying Fish Review of Sail the World

Flying Fish Review of World Cruising Routes and Destinations

 

Jimmy Cornell’s books are available for sale world-wide. Visit each individual book page to find out how to purchase them at your convenience:

For other Cornell titles, visit our “All Books” page.

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