A Tribute to Colin Jarman

Author, journalist, and popular East Coast sailor Colin Jarman has died after a four year illness. Based in West Mersea, Colin (65) was the inspiration behind East Coast Pilot (ECP) the yachtsman’s guide to the waters of the greater Thames Estuary.

Colin’s death at this relatively young age is a tragic loss but we will carry on his legacy into the future. As a close friend he will be sadly missed. His wise counsel and vision were crucial to the immediate success of East Coast Pilot. Our thoughts are with Mary, Barry and Annie.

Born and brought up on the East Coast of England, where he also learned to sail, the jest was that there was more mud than blood in Colin's veins. He was quite open about his love for these shallow, muddy waters and until only a few months ago kept his little cruiser, the junk rigged Kingfisher 20+ called May Morning, moored in Salcott Creek off the River Blackwater.

Colin was a sailing writer and photographer for over 40 years. He began his career on Motor Boat and Yachting before moving to the cruising magazine Yachting Monthly as Features Editor. He turned freelance in 1979 and set up a syndicated news and feature service for boating magazines worldwide. At its height Eyeline was by far the largest such service and contributed to every major boating magazine.

A chance meeting in the offices of Practical Boat Owner led to Colin's teaming up with fellow photojournalist Philip Dunn to start the magazine Sailing Today in 1997. Later the two of them also launched the first internet sailing magazine. His co-authors also met while working for Sailing Today.

Colin's first book, Coastal Cruising, was published in 1975 and was followed by a dozen or so books covering various aspects of sailing and seamanship. His most popular book, Knots in Use, is now in its fourth edition and is available in many different languages; including Russian! There are also 10 instructional videos linked to this book.

Colin wrote his popular Riding Light column in Sailing Today for 15 years and despite failing health continued to write regular book reviews and occasional features for Yachting Monthly until his death. A member of the Ocean Cruising Club (www.oceancruisingclub.org) since 1974, Colin edited and designed the club's quarterly OCC Newsletter.

In 2004 he approached Imray with the idea of producing a pilotage guide to the waters of the greater Thames Estuary, to be called East Coast Pilot, and asked Garth and Dick to join him in the venture, sharing the research, writing and photography. Now in its fourth incarnation, it is firmly established as the yachtsman’s bible for East Coast pilotage. Sadly, because of his failing health, Colin was unable to do much of the research afloat for this latest edition but continued in the role of editor and picture processor.

A spin-off from ECP was Imray’s Where Land Meets Sea, a largely aerial view of England's East Coast.

Hundreds of both local and visiting yachtsmen are grateful for the foresight and vision that prompted Colin to establish ECP. Of all the yachting publishing ventures we looked at, ECP is the one that gave us the greatest satisfaction and enjoyment. Dick and I will be continuing with the vision that Colin started, and we are already making plans for the fifth edition, while maintaining the highly popular web-based updating and news service.

Words and photos: Garth Cooper  

8th November 2016