Rania was built in 1937 by the Rampart Boat Building works in Southampton. Just before delivery in 1939, however, she was requisitioned by the Royal Navy and took part in the evacuation of Dunkirk in 1940, when many small British craft sailed across the Channel to rescue the British Expeditionary Force – and army of 400,000 or so.
This astonishing exercise took place in perfect millpond conditions (see the images of this event at the Rania site, and see Wikipedia for more on the fighting and evacuation). She continued to serve in the ‘Mosquito navy’ for the duration of the war.
She is now in real need of help. Rania has been dismantled and is in urgent need of repair; she has been saved by the Dunkirk Little Ship Restoration Trust but unfortunately the funds are not available – nevertheless her supporters wish to restore her to her original condition and return her to Dunkirk in 2010 to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Dunkirk evacuations.
For more on Rania, and some very evocative music:
I was thinking today about the Beale Park Boat Show of 2005, and it occurred to me that some of you might be interested in some of the photos I brought back. Chuck Leinweber posted some of them on his excellent Duckworks e-magazine for small boat enthusiasts.
Here are my shots from 2005:
Here are my friend Chris Partridge’s from the same year. His eye was caught as much as mine was by Mike Smylie’s River Severn salmon punt :
And here’s Chris’s set from this year:
Back in 2005, why the photo of a shed at a show full of elegant boats? It’s Mike Smylie’s shed for smoking fish in his role as The Kipperman, his alter ego on a mission to convert us all to eating hand-smoked fish. They taste so good he might even win the battle one day.
I’m sure you’ll agree that it’s no ordinary shed. And don’t miss the coracle in the background casually trying to upstage it…
Mike’s website is at:
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 firstname.lastname@example.org .