- Although this boat is now called 'Amazon', she is called 'Mavis' here to avoid confusion.
Mavis was purchased in 1928 by Ernest Altounyan, along with another dinghy Swallow. Titty Altounyan and Taqui Altounyan usually sailed Mavis while Roger Altounyan and Susan Altounyan usually sailed Swallow (CFT2).
Mavis had been built by McIlroys of Piel Island near Barrow, as a tender to a larger vessel; McIlroys ran the ferry between Piel and Roa Island and the mainland. Originally called Pansy, she took part in local races off the coast. She was narrower than Swallow, with a brown and white painted hull, and a white sail rather the brown sail she has now. Later she was used by the Altounyans (NBUS page 63).
She had a heavy iron centreboard which had to be retracted by a folding handle up through the centreboard case. In the 1930s Oscar Gnosspelius looked after her, adding a large wheel above the centreboard case and a couple of pulleys so that the great struggle to raise the heavy iron centreboard plate was no longer necessary. He also attached an outboard motor to her! Used by four generations and housed in a boathouse on Coniston Water, she became Roger Altounyan's boat. He sailed her in World War II when on leave from the RAF; and when he married, Mavis carried the newly-weds to their honeymoon on Peel Island.
When Ernest Altounyan retired from Syria in 1958 he found her in a bad way, and sheathed the hull in fibreglass. After Roger’s death in 1987 she was loaned to the Windermere Steamboat Museum at Windermere. She was restored, and the sheathing removed. She was put on display at the museum in June 1990 (NBUS page 246-250). She has been re-named Amazon.
Mavis/Amazon was instrumental in the formation of The Arthur Ransome Society: after Christina Hardyment remarkedchap no req on the boat's dilapidated state in her book Athur Ransome and Capt Flint's Trunk, fans from around the world began sending donations for the boat's restoration. It was from this fundraising effort that the Society was formed.