The lack of any biographical detail about the author or the name of the translator meant that I wasn't wholly convinced of Von Haefton's credentials to write the book from experience. I do know that it has become a classic over the past 15 years and probably has pride of place on several yacht's bookshelves.
How to Cope with Storms was first published in 1992, in German, by Delius Klasing Verlag GmbH and the English translation by Adlard Coles in 1997. Jonathan Eyers of Adlard Coles reported that Dietrich Von Haeften, is an ex-fighter pilot who has been sailing for over 35 years, he lectured at the Academy in Blankenesse and taught sailing on the River Elbe, subsequently ran his own sailing school and now writes practical sailing books. This made me think that the book might have been written on commission and not necessarily from extensive experience, however, reading between the lines, he might have crewed for Van Rietschoten on his yacht Flyer during one of the Whitbreads? He is certainly old enough to have done so and the book is written with great authority.
The author’s fighter pilot background is clear from the fact that the first 8 chapters are an excellent Meteorological primer, whereas Active and Passive Storm Tactics are covered in just one of the 19 chapters. However, the other 10 chapters provide plenty of food for thought and act as a good checklist for anyone contemplating an ocean passage where storms are likely to be encountered but I would recommend that his piece on sea anchors was ignored. It seems to be based on myth rather than reality…
The myths about sea anchors were the result of Captain Voss’s experience in a 38 foot dug out canoe called Tilikum (Friend) in which he circumnavigated the World with his sponsor Norman Luxton: The Tilikum had quite different handling characteristics from any deep keeled yacht.