Swallows and Amazons
Being an obsessed Arthur Ransome fan, it's only natural that I should love sailing in wooden clinker boats like the Merlin. But now I have got myself entangled in a campaign to save a different class of boat; a certain 'Swallow' dinghy. It's the replica built for the 1974 film of Swallows and Amazons, and is up for auction in 19 days.
Since I know the type of odd discussion this forum thrives on (and to stop you all pointing out that there was a character called Titty in the books) I thought I would ask:
John A old merlin, current ent
she looks a little like a twinkle (without the keel) which were built in Ipswich not far from Pin Mill where at least one adventure started from (hope I'm right)
At around 8 years old I was given 'Swallows and Amazons' and later all the rest of Arthur Ransome's wonderful stories of children mucking around in boats. Subsequently John and I sailed on the Norfolk Broads many times with Dad, Grandad and occasionally Mum. Yesterday by coincidence I found a photo of Grandad, John and me sailing a little lugsail dinghy in 1946, she was smaller but otherwise similar to 'Swallow' and 'Amazon'. That led to Cadets, Nat 12s and eventually Merlin Rockets.
There may well be a Merlin link in this tale, as someone on the CVRDA forum seems to remember an actor from the film purchasing a vintage Merlin around 5-10 years ago. Possibly sail number 116, he thinks? In the hundreds anyway.
Perhaps he bought 110 'Swallow' or 111 'Secret Water'
Garry R, who posts on this forum a lot, renovated Secret Water the other year. She looks great and now resides with him in Scotland.
John Sergeant, another Ransome fan, has joined our project, so we have 3 'celebs' on board now! I'm just writing off to a few more (well, their agents). 11 days to go...
The Merlin sold to someone from the film was 156 Avion. She sailed OK but leaked a lot so this sounded like a good home for her. The story I had was that she would take pride of place in a large room in his Cornish house !!! but I have no proof that this happened.
Aha! Thanks Dave. Do you remember the chap's name though? Simon West was the only one I can think of.
Cheque in today's post.
Mags. The year books record only 3 owners of MR 156 Avion before year 2000. They were Les Brain who won the 1953 and 1955 Champs, J.D.Dyer and David Nickson. They were all members of the MROA and lived in the Midlands.
Your right about the owners and I have a Beken photo of Les Brain sailing her at the nationals in Cowes. I brought her from John Dyer having spotted it in his front garden under a cover!!! John would not alow any changes to his Merlins (he also owned 666)so Avion was as built including spinneker with 3 holes and a blue jib.A silver sixpence was always carried under the mast step which of course was wood with wire rigging and decked stepped.To say I brought her from John is not quite correct as his widow passed her to me following his death. 666 was also mine at one time and I sold here to a chap from the Cotswold club. Still sailing MR s, a Bad Company recently refurbished and an NSM2.Cheers to all who know me. Sorry I dont have the name of the eventual ower.
The auction for 'Swallow' is at 3pm today, so wish me luck!!
Good luck mags. I hope it goes your way.
good luck, just reading the post about 156, our local vicar was in my shop yrsterday discussing sailing as he does (he once visited a local classic car rally and told the assembled throng "this is what heaven will be like")and i told him i was refurbing an old merlin, ah he said "i had a merlin in my youth it was older than me no 158. He has been known to fit sunday service around tides in the deben
I saw Swallow in the flesh yesterday, She looks in good nick. Though not as big as I had expected.
Just bidding now. Terribly tense!
We made it!! Three million cheers.
thats great well done!
Good news Mags. I look forward to seeing and maybe sailing her.
Brilliant news! The offer still stands for pledge and garage space. Well done :o)
Thanks! We're currently thinking about where to store her. Need to see how much repair work there is to do first.
I don't think Swallow will be varnished soon enough, but who fancies joining me with a Merlin at the 'Swamazons' round-the-island race on Hamford Water 12th June? They do allow non-gaff boats to compete.
I've been to Frinton, once and that was sufficient! No pubs, no chippies, but it might have changed in the last 35 years! I hope that the sailing club isn't 'dry'.
Frinton has not changed that is its charm. Chippy louts and drunks are not encouraged.
BUT the sailing club is NOT in Frinton.... its in Walton. They may be close, but they are a long way apart!
What a pity, it's the weekend of Tamesis Club's 125th Anniversary Ball!
Mags, is 'Swallow' going to be at Walton tomorrow? If so, look out for me and my daughter, who will be sailing our Yachting World Rambler over from the River Deben. The Rambler is a sort of 17ft Enterprise, and was designed by Jack Holt. Ours is sail no. 30, built in 1954.
Sadly Swallow is still at the "just about to go to the boatbuilders" stage. I'll be there in my yellow Merlin 3245. Would be great to have a chat with you!
Magnus, we'll be there. You should be easy enough to identify! My boat is called 'Lively' - she has her name on the side of the cabin so she's not easy to miss either.
since when did a merlin qualify for an old gaffer's event?
Its organised by the OGA but open to all classes.
Well have a good time, I started sailing at WFYC in the 70's. Lookout for my winkle brig the good ship "Woody" sail no. WM30,she's been in our family for over 20 yrs and will be sailed tomorrow by two of my nephews, also twice winner of the "Nancy Blackett" trophy back in the day...........
I came second in the 'hot shots' category (i.e. bermudan rig and built after 1940). First trophy I've won in 20 years! Beaten by an International Canoe, oh well.
who won the bit of wood from the mast of nancy B?
Err....can't remember. They weren't there to collect it!
where are the results? any ideas?
Here's the report!
Yes, it only just came through. Shame the results only mention boat names; I understand an ex-Olympian won one of the categories.
There isn't much news yet regarding Swallow, as we are at the mercy of boatbuilder schedules. I hope to send out an email update shortly.
If you love clinker hulls, do pop by the Classic Boat stand at the London Boat Show this week (until the 16th) and see 'Swallow' in all her newly-varnished glory.
Another blatant plug for the project which has ousted my precious Merlin from my garage...