Nancy Blackett’s 90th Birthday

The beautiful little 28ft cutter has been laid up for the winter at Robertson’s Boatyard in Woodbridge, Suffolk and she will be launched on Thursday 29th April

Arthur Ransome’s favourite yacht Nancy Blackett will be 90 this year. He named her after one of his most famous characters, self-styled pirate Nancy Blackett of Swallows and Amazons fame, and he put her in one of his most exciting books, We Didn’t Mean to Go to Sea. The beautiful little 28ft cutter has been laid up for the winter at Robertson’s Boatyard in Woodbridge, Suffolk. She will be launched on Thursday 29 April and during the next weeks, volunteers plan to give Nancy a thorough spit and polish (and antifoul!) to get her ready for the big day and her coming season. 

Festivities will have to be modest, thanks to the on-going pandemic restrictions but the Trust members are still determined to give this much-loved little ship a celebratory launch on her special anniversary. Bunting and cake are planned and three cheers are imperative! 

What next?

The Trust hopes that more of its usual programme of events and sail days will be possible this summer as restrictions are gradually lifted and life returns to something approaching normal. The focus will be on local sailing in Nancy’s home waters of the River Orwell and nearby to enable as many people as possible to enjoy sailing, or just visiting, her.

Trust President Peter Willis says: “We preserved Nancy so that she should be sailed and enjoyed by anybody who loves Arthur Ransome’s books – or just beautiful old boats, and that’s just what we hope to be doing this summer.”

Books For Schools

To celebrate the event the Nancy Blackett Trust is offering free copies of Arthur Ransome’s We Didn’t Mean to Go to Sea to the first nine Suffolk schools to get in touch – just email:

This is the book, in which Nancy, as the Goblin, drifts out of Harwich Harbour and her young crew have to learn how to sail her to Holland all on their own. A truly thrilling tale!    

For more information and high-resolution images please contact:

Sue Coales, Publicity, Nancy Blackett Trust Email: Tel: 01379 898479

About Nancy Blackett

Nancy Blackett, a 28ft seven-ton cutter, was built by Hillyards of Littlehampton in 1931, but only acquired her present name when Swallows and Amazons author Arthur Ransome bought her in 1935. She inspired his locally-set book We Didn’t Mean to Go to Sea, and appears in it as the Goblin, the boat in which the four children sail across the North Sea to Holland.

In the 1980s Nancy was discovered nearly derelict in Scarborough Harbour, by Mike Rines, who brought her back to the Orwell to be restored. 

In 1997 the Nancy Blackett Trust was set up as a registered charity to maintain her and keep her sailing for the benefit of all Ransome fans young and old.

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