‘Refreshingly down-to-earth…one can’t help admiring the combination of craftsmanship and ambition’
– Times Literary Supplement
'This book tells the inspiring story of how even the least skilled of us can make something wonderful if we invest enough time and love.'
– Daily Mail
'Both the book, and place, are magical.'
– Sunday Telegraph
'When Jonathan Gornall decided to build a boat for his daughter, he had no experience and no practical skills. What followed was a very real labour of love.'
– The Scotsman
'In an age of instant everything, this is a charming book about handcrafting something that does not arrive in a cardboard box and snap together. It is a story about taming impatience, facing fears, and softening skepticism. With love as a motivation, each of us may undertake things that seem impossible.'
– Tori Murden McClure, author of A Pearl in the Storm, President of Spalding University, and the first woman to row across the Atlantic Ocean
'There are few sailing books that a sailor could recommend to anyone, but How to Build a Boat is one of them, a first-person narrative about boatbuilding and fatherhood...moving, funny and perceptive...it is Gornall's biggest achievement to turn a detailed description of building a timber dinghy into a real page-turner.'
– Classic Boat
'The inspiring story of how even the least skilled of us can make something wonderful if we invest enough time and love.'
– Irish Daily Mail
'Beautifully documents the year [journalist Jonathan Gornall] spent building a wooden boat for his young daughter…Owning almost no tools and having no woodworking skills, Gornall, living on England’s eastern coast, gave himself a crash course…[His] prose is amusing, personal, and informative…[He] acknowledges he has ‘created a vessel of a father’s love, a gift to inspire his daughter.’ The very same can be said of his book, a testament to hard work and a soft heart.'
– Publishers Weekly
'An utterly captivating, richly poetic account of building a traditional wooden boat for the first time – and a paean to the awesome responsibility and reward of fatherhood.'
– Matthew P. Murphy, Editor, WoodenBoat magazine
'This rich, beautifully crafted book is funny, heart-warming and stuffed to the gunwales with fascinating information. Jonathan Gornall’s quest to build a sailing boat navigates the crosscurrents of his life story – the challenges of fatherhood, his difficult relationship with his mother, his lifelong love of the sea. It’s a compelling narrative that sweeps us along as Gornall battles his demons while simultaneously tackling the tough physical challenges of building a vessel from scratch.'
– Benedict Tufnell, Editor, Row360 magazine
'Being a parent, a sailor and an occasional DIYer, I know that boat building, like fatherhood, is not for the faint of heart. Packed with details, both historical and personal, How to Build a Boat wonderfully captures the tensions, the tightrope walk between reward and dismay. In the end, I wanted to cheer: the boat floats and a daughter's adventures can begin.'
– Mark Pillsbury, Editor, Cruising World
'Engrossing...Gornall's prose is buoyant and watertight and his book shipshape.'
– Kirkus Reviews