Tag Archives: nancy blackett

Good Little Ship – Peter Willis’s book about Ransome’s boat is out now

Just in time for Christmas, I’d say!

Here’s what publishers Lodestar have to say:

‘Generations of children and their parents have delighted in Arthur Ransome’s series of twelve ‘Swallows and Amazons’ books, but one of them stands out from the rest as being of a different order altogether. We Didn’t Mean to Go to Sea is both larger of theme and tighter of plot; it is a rite-of-passage tale quite unlike the others, and in describing the experiences of its protagonist John it illuminates much of Ransome’s own psychology.

‘Good Little Ship is a blend of literary criticism, maritime history and sheer celebration. Peter Willis combines an analysis of a classic of maritime literature (“a book of which Conrad would have been proud” – Hugh Brogan) with the story of the Nancy Blackett, Ransome’s own boat which appears as the Goblin in his story. He describes her life, near-death and restoration, and her renaissance as an ambassador for Ransome and his tales.’

On one point, I can’t agree with Lodestar. I think quite a few people who are neither children or parents have  enjoyed Ransom’s books…

For information, ordering etc, click here!


Thames Festival Classic Rally at St Katharine Docks, 2009

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Jim Vandenbos’s mobile phone photos of the 2009 inaugural Thames Festival Classic Rally. If anyone else has photos they’d like to share, please email me at gmatkin@gmail.com

The first Thames Festival Classic Rally at St Katharine Docks, London last weekend was a success and seems likely to be be repeated next year.

I couldn’t make it for reasons not unconnected with my broken ankle, but my pal Jim Vandenbos dropped by to see Lord Boris’s Thames’ Festival after the cricket at Lords finished early.

Among other things he was keen to see the rally at St Katharine’s Dock and beetled over to take a look. When pressed for numbers he guessed that there were something over 30 classic boats in the dock, including Arthur Ransomes’ Nancy Blackett as seen in the novel We didn’t mean to go to Sea, and a very nice Uffa Fox Fairey Marine yacht. He also says there were a good number of visitors strolling around the dock.

If Jim’s right, I’d say 30 boats was a good, healthy number.

Event organiser Ian Welsh told intheboatshed that the rally had been a success. ‘It went very well indeed, the entrants loved it and so it seems did the St Katharine’s people – so fingers crossed we’ll do it next year again. We already have lots of ideas for next year.’

More photos have been posted by the organisers on their website.

The rally also made The Times – see the story here.

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The amazing restoration story of the Nancy Blackett

The Nancy Blackett is a 28ft Hillyard cruising yacht that famous children’s author Arthur Ransome bought second-hand in 1934.

In fact, she was quite new, having been built in 1931, but in her young life had already borne two names when Ransome renamed her after a character in his children’s novels.

The story of how she came to be rescued by Mike Rines, who restored her and finally sold her to the Nancy Blackett Trust, is astonishing – perhaps the most remarkable aspect of it is that he lived only doors away from Ransome’s home at the time he owned the Nancy B, yet knew little about the author and nothing about his connection with the boat.

Nancy Blackett story and pictures


Nancy Blackett Trust website:


Swallows & Amazons enthusiasts pages for more material about Ransome’s boats, both in real life and in his novels


If you can add to this story, please email me at gmatkin@gmail.com .

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