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Get sailing like the Swallows and Amazons

by Sail Ransome 22 Apr 2012 18:24 BST 22 April 2011
Swallow delights Ransome fans young and old © Peter Fryer

Swallow is a vintage lugsail dinghy, the star of the 1974 feature film ‘Swallows and Amazons’

It is just over two years since a group of Arthur Ransome fans won this boat in an auction and began to renovate her. It is just over one year since she was first launched and began her nationwide tour, giving people sailing opportunities from Wales to the Norfolk Broads, from Windermere to Chichester. The 2012 season stretches before us, with at least 48 chances to sail at the weekend, plus the weekdays for anyone holidaying in the Lake District, where Swallow is to stay for nearly all the year.

We apologise to those who cannot make it to Cumbria easily; we felt it right to stay in the spiritual homeland of the S&A after last year's hectic tour. This gives us a chance to catch the 'trippers' and turn them into sailors!

As an alternative, if you are within reach of East Anglia, why not grab a chance to visit the Nancy Blackett instead. See for details of how you can sail and sleep aboard Arthur Ransome's own yacht.

Events in Cumbria

We have already had four requests for families to visit Wildcat Island (Peel Island on Coniston Water). Get in touch if you want to book a private sailing day, and let us know if you can sail well or need a skipper. Alternatively, keep an eye on for public events you can turn up to. We do ask for a donation (towards running costs) when you sail, unless you have already supported the project.

Having said Swallow will be based in the Lakes, we still might make two or three trips by road if a volunteer with a towbar seems very keen. Telford Sailing Club were desperate to have us back, and another keen chap might help Swallow get to Scotland at some stage!


Hopefully it has been many months since we had to beg for help with this project. We prefer to pester you to sail with us, than ask you for help, but we do need a little assistance please. Can you...
1) Loan us a space on a driveway near Coniston?
2) Take novices sailing in the Lake District?
3) Help organise events, via phone/email, between now and September?
4) Visit Swallow in Kendal to perform minor repairs or varnishing?

The role of event organiser is an important one, if we are to focus on our goal of getting as many people sailing as possible. Organising last year's tour was a little too much for Sail Ransome founder Magnus Smith; he cites 3 daughters and a day job as his main issues, but really it was poor time management! Co-founder Rob Boden wishes to focus his spare time on saving The Dog's Home, a building featured in Ransome's book 'The Picts and the Martyrs' which is in danger of falling into disrepair. So ideally we'd love a new person to join the committee and arrange when/where Swallow can be sailed, contact skippers, find someone to tow... It is simple work really, and just requires lots of emails and phone calls, and one big piece of paper!

If you are an experienced sailor of vintage dinghies, able to get to the Lake District and volunteer as a skipper for Swallow, we'd love to hear from you too - .

Film and Musical

The Swallows and Amazons musical is now touring the country at various theatres, and we hope this brings Ransome's tale to a wider audience. If this sparks an interest in sailing then all the better. Next year we expect to see a new S&A film in the cinemas too, which will further the cause. Harbour Pictures are working on this as we speak, casting actors and looking to film in late summer if all goes to plan. We don't yet have any gossip on who has been chosen, or even which boats....but our Swallow will be considered.

If you'd like to look back to the 1973 film, ex-child actress Sophie Neville is documenting her time on the set. There are some great behind-the-scenes photos and videos, as well as interesting stories. See

Find out more at (Sail Ransome is the non-profit association which looks after Swallow) or email to ask a question.