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Nancy Boat

Nancy Blackett

Nancy Blackett is a 28 feet long, 7 ton, Bermuda rigged Hillyard sailing cutter built in 1931 and now owned and operated by The Nancy Blackett Trust.

Originally named Spindrift at her launch (and then renamed Electron by her next owner), she was bought by Arthur Ransome in 1934 and renamed Nancy Blackett. He sailed her mostly on the east coast of England and the southern North Sea from her home port of Pin Mill near Harwich. He had a tiny pram dinghy the Queen Mary built for her. Evegenia seldom sailed on her, thinking she was altogether too cramped (NBUS page 109).

She is the original for the fictional yacht Goblin in We Didn't Mean To Go To Sea (1937) which recounts a voyage across the North Sea to the Dutch port of Flushing. Ransome sailed Nancy Blackett to Flushing while preparing to write the book. Ransome's cruises also provided material for another book Secret Water (1939) set in the Walton backwaters. But while she had a Royal Cruising Club burgee like the Goblin, her official number was 162814 not 16856 (NBUS page 107). On a May 1937 cruise with Phillip Rouse, Ransome refers to the engine of the Nancy Blackett as a “Billy” (NBUS page 119), presumably a “Handy Billy” (made by Thornecroft) like the petrol engine in the Goblin (WD23).

Ransome sold Nancy Blackett in 1939 to the Russell family (NBUS page 157). Later he said that she was "the best little ship I ever had" ref req. She was replaced by Selina King.

In 1988, she was found rotting in Scarborough, and restored by Michael Rines after buying her from her owner since 1965, William Bentley. The work cost some £35,000, and was completed in May 1990 (NBUS page 257).

The Nancy Blackett Trust was formed as a charitable organization to preserve and sail her and to promote the sort of sailing activities dear to Ransome.

According to Christina Hardyment, the Clay family yacht Firefly was very like the Nancy Blackett, and Ransome was impressed to hear that on a voyage to Holland and back the four Clay children took charge (an inspiration for WD?).


NBUS Nancy Blackett: Under Sail with Arthur Ransome by Roger Wardale (1991, Jonathan Cape) ISBN 0 224 02773 5

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