When Robert Avis set out to write Superyacht Master - Navigation and Radar for the Officer of the Watch and Master (Yachts) Certificate - he had a clear objective; to provide a revision source for candidates studying to become qualified as Officers of the Watch and Masters aboard Superyachts (under 3000 tonnes).
Without doubt he has succeeded in that objective and in my view has even gone somewhat further.
Superyacht Master is published by Adlard Coles Nautical at £25, or £22.50 on line at the Adlard Coles website.

All the navigational elements that a prospective commercial mariner needs to know about are covered, clearly and succinctly, in a well structured format. Each chapter starts with some relevant background, whips quickly through the salient points in logical order and is sprinkled with “Top Tips” that offer either reinforcement of the important themes for the upwardly mobile candidate.

Top Tip: “Safe speed is a favourite question among MCA oral examiners. You should be able to reel off the six factors to be taken into account by all vessels and then the six by those with operational radar.”

And, drawn from the writer’s lifetime of experience at sea.

Top Tip: “There is little chance of hearing a sound signal from another vessel more than two miles away.”

The COLREGs and buoyage systems are neatly tabulated for quick reference; radar plotting and navigation, electronic chart systems and the good old paper and pencil basics are all covered thoroughly. Even the mythical monster that is the secondary port calculation is dealt with sympathetically but thoroughly. In fact sympathetically describes much of the writing here. There seems to be a determined effort to avoid hitting a lecturing tone and, as a result, the reader is left with the feeling that Robert Avis is very much on the reader’s side. Clear diagrams and photo’s reinforce the text when required.

So, is this just a dry and practical manual, for a very specific sector of the maritime community, or is there more to this book than meets the eye?

Modern yachts of all sizes are becoming more technical with the use of radar, chart plotting and sophisticated instrument suites becoming widespread. Increasing numbers are being operated on a commercial basis and by skippers keen to achieve a, if not higher level of competence, then perhaps a broader understanding of new techniques and good practise.

This then raises a question. Does the title, Superyacht Master limit the audience to just the Superyacht clique? In my opinion this book is a well rounded companion for the modern yacht skipper or watch leader sailing offshore. Barely 20 out of 218 pages are specific to the big boat sailor, so if “Superyacht” in the title is stopping this book being on the chart table of smaller vessels that is indeed a great shame.