If you are keen on dinghy sailing and looking for adventure, this is a book to accompany you through the summer months ahead. It is full of sound advice from Roger Barnes who learnt to sail on Windermere in Cumbria and is now President of the Dinghy Cruising Association. He has written for Classic Boat, Watercraft,Dinghy Sailing Magazine and currently writes for Classic Sailor.
Roger emailed me to ask if I had a photograph of us sailing Swallow without life jackets. I supplied him with this shot my mother took in 1973 since I am standing in the dinghy. I am not sure how we managed to go about when we sailed off, as it also contained the parrot’s cage.
I will certainly take The Dinghy Cruising Companion with me if I manage to get Swallow to Brittany in the near future. As you can see from the cover Roger often takes his own boat to regattas in France.
I bought my copy of Roger’s paperback online but it’s available from all good bookshops. To find out about sailing Swallow, the dinghy used in the 1974 film of Swallows and Amazons, please click here for Sail Ransome.
SailRansome have made Swallow, the original clinker built dinghy used in the film, available for families to use there.
We’ve been using the Draper’s shallop to teach children how to row on the River Lee under the auspices of Countryside Live. We have now taught hundreds of children most of whom have never been in a boat before. The idea is to inspire them to join the Sea Scouts or a local rowing or canoeing club.
Another boat you can sail is the Nancy Blackett portrayed as Goblin from We Didn’t Mean To Go To Sea and Secret Water.
It only costs £25 a year to join the Nancy Blackett Trust. This is wonderful for anyone living near the Orwell as Ransome once did.
I’ve also been promoting StudioCanal’s re-release of the 1974 film of Swallows & Amazons on Radio Cumbria, Premier Radio, Lakeland Radio and Channel 5’s live TV programme The Wright Stuff. There’s a lot going on in the media with pictorials in Country Life, The Lady, Cotswold Life and Practical Boat Owner magazine as well as newspapers and colour supplements.
We brought the original film of Swallows & Amazons back to cinemas in London, Ambleside, Kendal and to Hastings on Pirate Day. I took Captain Flint’s trunk along and wore a tricorn hat only to be told by one little boy in the audience, ‘I hate pirates. They are my enemies.’ Other children asked, ‘Did you enjoy being in the film?’ and ‘Were the spiders in your tent real?’
When we were in Kendal, the curator of the Museum of Lakeland Life gave a talk to the cinema audience bringing along the actual red slippers given to Arthur Ransome by the Altounyan children in 1929 which inspired him to write Swallows and Amazons.
Some schools have Swallows and Amazons as a set book. I was invited to give a talk at Walhampton School who claim a ‘Swallows and Amazons ethos’. They aspire to giving their pupils as much of an exciting outdoor education as possible with sailing and exploring on the curriculum. School House magazine backs this up saying, ‘There is a distinct ‘Swallows and Amazons’ spirit that burns brightly here.’
What could you do to keep Ransome’s writing on book shop shelves?
Could you organise an event at your local sailing club? Or request a screening of newly restored version of the film at your local cinema? One is being planned in Oxford with hopefully another at Wolverstone. PictureHouse cinemas are particularly open to the idea of screening classic family films.
I am planning ‘An Arthur Ransome Day’ at my local Waterstones and another at our library. How can we make this special and attract people off the street?
Do add your ideas to the comments below.
Easy things you can do right now to help promote the books: