Today, September 25th, 2018, marks the 80th anniversary of the launch of Arthur Ransome’s Selina King at Harry King’s yard in Pin Mill.
The largest and finest of Ransome’s sea-going yachts, she was commissioned as a replacement for his Nancy Blackett. She was designed by Fred Shepherd, who came up with a handsome 35ft double-ended Bermudan sloop, and building began at the beginning of 1938.
Ransome was delighted with her, but sadly only sailed her for a year. On the first anniversary of her launch, she – like all other yachts – was laid up for the duration of World War II. By the time it was over, Ransome’s health had deteriorated. His doctor decreed she was too heavy for him to handle, and she was sold.
She subsequently spent a long time in Bermuda, as a charter yacht. It was there that her present owner Martin Pollard found her, and began a major restoration. Martin brought her back to the UK last year with the structural restoration mostly completed, and work continues in a shed in Chichester Harbour.
He wrote last week: “We are making progress in that I am finally starting to put back together the interior. Main cabin floor boards are in and I am tarting up the various bunk sides etc, etc. The last structural problem has now been addressed in that we took off the keel last week to repair the garboard plank. The keel needs a lot of work, i.e. rust, as does the underside of the keelson but at least this is now in progress.”
There is no completion date yet, but meanwhile the exhibition of Ransome’s Selina King photos continues at the Pin Mill Studio. Nancy Blackett Trust President Peter Willis is giving a talk about her at the Woodbridge Cruising Club on October 14th (open to Nancy Blackett Trust members and guests – details on request) and the Selina King launch card and illustrated exhibition catalogue are available in our Swallows and Amazons shop.