After a lifetime spent at sea, Tom Cunliffe has become one of the UK’s leading speakers on all things nautical. Combining his knowledge of maritime history and seafaring expertise with humour and motivation, he tailors his speeches to each audience. Equally comfortable as a motivational speaker to corporate gatherings in which he recounts his incredible experiences, he is also a fine after dinner speaker who entertains with his extremely funny anecdotes.
"Just to let you know that folks here are still buzzing about your talk. It almost recalls Henry IV And gentlemen in England now abed will think themselves accursed they were not here."
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Read more about Tom Cunliffe
Tom Cunliffe is a man of many talents. Growing up he wanted to become a barrister so chose to read law at the University of Liverpool but his passion for the sea which had developed from an early age soon engulfed him. So he took a huge leap of faith and abandoned the Inner Temple to make the sea his life’s career, working on vessels of all shapes and sizes.
He has served before the mast in small sailing ships, skippered yachts for private owners, raced offshore, and been to sea as mate on a British-registered coasting vessel. He has taught sailing, seamanship and navigation at all levels and sailed the oceans on his own yachts with a shoestring budget.
Today Tom Cunliffe is a senior Yachtmaster Examiner and has been a consultant for the governing body of sailing in the United States, where he has also lived and worked.
Specialising in vintage sailing craft, he has become a world authority on traditional rigs, addressing international seminars in Britain, Europe and the USA.
He is a columnist for Yachting Monthly and Yachting World and writes for magazines in America, Australia, France and Germany, as well as being the author of over twenty books, two of which have won literary awards. Good Vibrations, a travel book about riding the plains of America on a motorcycle in the company of prospectors, strippers, gamblers, preacher-men and his wife (on her own motorcycle), was the best-selling book at a recent London Boat Show.
Tom Cunliffe’s face is familiar to many as a TV presenter. In recent years he has fronted the popular Discovery and Quest series Boat Yard. He also wrote and presented BBC's 6-part series Boats that Built Britain.
Tom Cunliffe is considered to be one of Britain's leading speakers on maritime matters. He is a fellow of the Royal Institute of Navigation who uses his high level of expertise and hands-on ocean experience to entertain and inform a wider audience.
His historical lectures are authoritative as well as highly entertaining. He can be downright hilarious on subjects such as how to survive storms in the bank balance as well as those at sea, based on the outrageous experiences of his early years as a penniless ocean gypsy.
Tom’s motivational message is so strong that even his narrative lectures have been described as a life-changing inspiration.
The Boats that Built Britain BBC 4/2
Island Race – Round Britain with John MacCarthy and Sandi Toksvig
Sea Stories with Trevor Fishlock
The Great British Story: Regional Histories - The River Trent for BBC Nottingham
What it is to be English for Southern TV
The Jubilee Festival BBC1 Technical Commentator (I was not happy)
Various local radio interviews
After-dinner speeches: Tailored to each individual client, Tom Cunliffe is able to draw from his life experiences and the high seas both good and bad to create stories of laughter, wonder and excitement which will leave you in amazement and full of laughter by the end of the night.
Man is Not Lost
This mix of yarns and solid information is an irreverent look at the changes electronics have wrought in all our lives. It goes from the early 1970s when I found Barbados after 42 days at sea with no chart and no radio, to TomTom, instant communication everywhere and the marine chart plotters that promise much but sometimes deliver surprisingly little.
The Boats that Built Britain
An outsider's guide to how TV documentaries are made. You meet the people others never see and are shown one or two out-takes the producers wanted left on the cutting-room floor. It's an insight into the presenter’s lot as you sail the replica of Cabot’s 1497 Matthew, an original 1895 Scottish fishing boat and a WWII landing craft which sent me to sea in a skip!
Ice With Everything
Three voyages to Greenland. One successful, one a failure, one historic. The winner was in a boat bought for £14,000 on eBay. The failure was a pass at Greenland in a 1911 pilot cutter only to be turned back by pack ice. The third takes in rape, pillage and Erik the Red's North Atlantic voyaging in the Middle Ages. The lecture combines all three expeditions in a rollicking tale.
What ship? Where Bound?
A two-level lecture – part autobiographical, part historical. My lifetime involvement with ancient pilot boats gave me a head start when writing my most recent book about the history of the sailing pilots in northern Europe. Hair-raising tales of the everyday life of a pilot are interwoven with my own adventures to Brazil, Greenland and Soviet Russia. a lat/long to shoot for, a sextant and my grandfather’s pocket watch – to my current chart plotters that sometimes manage to lead me astray. watch – to my current chart plotters that sometimes manage to lead me astray.