Iconic sailing yacht Nancy Blackett celebrated her 90th birthday this weekend with a party befitting such a special occasion.  The crew delivered her from Robertsons Boatyard in Woodbridge, Suffolk, to her berth at Woolverstone, arriving at 7.30pm.  A small group of socially distanced supporters braved the wind and rain to cheer her launch. There was live music, bunting, and even a birthday cake with a sugar model of Nancy with a miniature Arthur Ransome at the helm! 

Nancy Blackett was built by Hillyards of Littlehampton in 1931.  She was bought by Arthur Ransome in 1935 when he and his Russian wife Evegnia moved to Suffolk from the Lake District in search of some sea-sailing.  He named the boat, a Hillyard 7-tonner, after the ‘Amazon Pirate’ heroine of his Swallows and Amazons books (she was previously Electron, and before that, Spindrift).  Ransome sailed her back to Pin Mill, and within a short time she had given him the inspiration for perhaps his best book, We Didn’t Mean to Go to Sea, in which she appears as the Goblin.  So, in addition to a famous owner, she has literary significance.

The Nancy Blackett Trust, which owns the vessel, was founded in 1997 with the aim of ensuring the preservation of Arthur Ransome’s yacht Nancy Blackett and using her to provide sailing opportunities for anyone interested, as well as encouraging an interest in sailing among young people in particular and promoting Arthur Ransome’s contribution to the heritage of the East Coast around the Orwell and Stour Rivers and the Walton Backwaters. 

Listen to Nancy Blackett Trust President Peter Willis being interviewed on BBC Radio Suffolk about Nancy's 90th anniversary.

The Nancy Blackett Trust is planning a season of sailing on the River Deben, once pandemic restrictions allow. How to book

Read more about the Nancy Blackett Trust, one of our Shipshape Network East projects. 

Learn more about our other Shipshape Network East projects. 

Source: Classic Boat magazine and the Nancy Blackett Trust on Facebook

Nancy Blackettt cake