Yachtswoman writes modern-day Swallows & Amazons aboard Ransome boat

An East Coast yachtswoman who sails a ketch once owned by author Arthur Ransome, is now following in his literary wake having written a modern day Swallows and Amazons children’s story.

Julia Jones, 57, even launched her novel, The Salt-Stained Book, aboard her boat Peter Duck, which she sailed from her home port Woodbridge, Suffolk, to St Katharine’s Dock, London.

Peter Duck, the 28ft Laurent Giles designed, shoal-draught boat Ransome had built by Harry King of Pin Mill, Suffolk in 1946 as his ‘bath-chair’ retirement vessel, was the forerunner of a class of cruising boats and 38 were built between 1960 and 1970.

‘Ransome didn’t want to be old which is why he didn’t really like Peter Duck, the boat designed for his old age,’ said Julia, whose father George Jones – one-time Suffolk coast correspondent for Yachting Monthly – bought the boat in 1957 and sailed her until his death in 1984.

Joining Julia aboard Peter Duck for the book launch was Ned Palmer, 38, whose parents, Greg and Anne, owned the boat in the 1990s, sailing her round Britain in 1991 and through the Baltic Sea to St Petersburg in 1995.
Joining Ned aboard was another writer, his partner, Imogen Robertson, also a sailor, whose latest crime novel, Island of Bones, has just been published.

After Greg Palmer died the boat was bought back into the Jones family by Julia and partner, Francis Wheen, deputy editor of the satirical magazine Private Eye, and restored. She was re-launched in 2000.

The book, published by Golden Duck at £7.99, and illustrated by Claudia Myatt, is in the spirit of Arthur Ransome’s Titty, Roger et al, but Julia’s characters have dysfunctional families, face the demons of Social Services and Health & Safety and play with electronic games.

Read Dick Durham’s blog on this subject.