Can anyone identify the origins of this mystery dinghy?

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Fowey boat builder Marcus Lewis has received an enquiry asking whether he can cast any light on the origins of this clinker dinghy, now brought up to sailing standard and in use on the Tamar.

She’s 13ft 2in in length, 4ft 10in in beam, is gunter-rigged with a jib, and has an iron centre plate and rudder. The owner thinks it may be from the West Country, but I think she may have a touch of The Broads about her – that veed half deck forward  and her elegant low sheerline has me thinking that she’s an inland boat.

If you have any information – or even a good guess – to share about this boat, please drop me a line at gmatkin@gmail.com, and I’ll pass the information along.

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OGA 50th jubilee at Cowes, 15-18th August


Photos by Chris Boynton

The Old Gaffer’s Association’s big do at Cowes on the Isle of Wight on the 15-18th August looks like wonderful fun.

For one thing, it will see what is likely to be the largest racing fleet of gaff-rigged boats to be assembled in many decades, if not ever.

In addition to the big race on the Saturday, the events include various parties, shanty singing, a competition to sail Dutch clogs, another of the OGA’s downwind rubber dinghy races, various other kinds of nonsense and a 400-cover dinner. Gorblimey!

Read all about it here.

Ransome’s Amazon on show at Coniston

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Amazon was one of two boats purchased in 1928 by Dr EHR Altounyan, so that his children could learn to sail with the help of family friend Arthur Ransome, by then an established author and journalist, and cruising and small boat sailing enthusiast.

She later was the model for the boat Amazon featured in some of the Ransome’s popular children’s novels, beginning with  Swallows and Amazons, which he wrote in 1929.

The Altounyan family children featured in the fictional stories under their own names, and one, Roger Altounyan, later invented the cromoglycate inhaler used to treat asthma – an achievement for which us asthmatics will be forever grateful.

In real life the sailing dinghy was named Mavis, and was renamed Amazon in 1990 by Aruthur Ransome Society president Mrs Brigit Sanders, who appeared in the books as the character ‘the Ship’s Baby’.

Amazon still belongs to the Altounyan family, but is on long-term loan to the Ruskin Museum at Coniston and is on show.

Amazon is not varnished as described in Ransome’s famous books, but was probably painted from the beginning – it’s said that she probably looks today very much as she did when Ransome knew her.

Ransome himself remains a complex and intriguing character – as his Wikipedia entry shows.