Critical Acclaim for A Ship's Tale
This is an extraordinary tale from World War II of an extraordinary sailing
vessel written by a courageous and extraordinary author.
For anyone who has ever gone to sea, there is an understanding that that you either
fall in love with the ocean and the life it offers, or "swallow the anchor" and come ashore.
As you spend time at sea, taking both the best and the worst that the ocean gives you,
there comes a time when you realize how close a bond you share with your shipmates, and
that there are few loves stronger than those one has for their ship.
Young vividly captures this truth in "A Ship's Tale," and I can empathize with those men
who love that ship - for I, too have loved and lost (a ship).
Compelling, true to life, and hitting straight in the heart, I encourage anyone with a love
of the sea, as well as those of you who are either married to or are in a relationship with
one of us "ship loving" types and need to understand "why" to read this book.
James P. Delgado
Host of National Geographic Television's
"The Sea Hunters"
and Archeology Director,
Vancouver Maritime Museum
This is a great book and would make a good film.
Author and founder of NUMA
Congratulations on your book.
First of all the achievement of writing it, then getting it published,
then its beautiful packaging with those terrific reviews.
I am enormously impressed with what you have accomplished.
When you see a glorious picture of a sailing ship, it is assumed that the vessel is a smooth running operation. Ships and sailors have
amazing stories often camouflaged by the beauty and grace of the boat.
After World War II, the great age of sail was over.
Ships were broken up for scrap.
A Ship's Tale is the riveting account of an attempt to rescue a seagoing
icon during a period of global reconstruction and renewal.
Pre-eminent Ambassador of Sailing and
America's Cup Hall of Fame
A Conspiracy of Sailors
The old square-rigger Bonnie Clyde, a derelict ship, was slated to
be scrapped. Or so the British Admiralty thought. How she ended up in
a gale with an unlikely crew is the focus of N. Jay Young's delightful
novel, A Ship's Tale. The reader is treated to the antics of a group
of men brought together in 1946 by their love of the sea and the desire
to preserve a piece of their country's maritime heritage. And so, the
salvage work begins in earnest, and in secret, to spirit Bonnie Clyde
to Scotland from her present home on the Thames.
When Flynn, a former Royal Navy Officer, comes upon the ship and throws
in his lot with Bowman, Harris, Edward and Boris, little does he realize
that the next few weeks will be a challenge to all and will permanently
alter their lives. Yet, in spite of such obstacles as government officials,
Flynn's regular job, and the persistent shortages in England after the
war, they manage to hatch a very clever scheme. Each participant in
this "piracy" has specific jobs that usually require intrigue and more
than a little bending of the law. Little by little, though, they come
together to form a cohesive crew.
And what a crew it is. Besides the old seafarers, there are 20 untested
crewmen, an unlikely stowaway and a very surprising cook. How they join
talents to make the plan work is the treat. We find ourselves willing
accomplices in their ruses, admiring their cleverness and cheering them
Seamen are like a fraternity and a number of them-including a U.S. Navy
submarine become co-conspirators who use their boats to help the ship
evade detection and surrender once spotter planes, MTB's (motor torpedo
boats) and the Coast Patrol get into the act. A reporter, sympathetic
to the mission of Bonnie Clyde and aware of a rollicking good story
when he sees one, manages to get the British public on the side of the
crew as well. That certainly gives the Admiralty something to think
Friends on land, with the help of ham radio operators, are able to keep
the crew abreast of what's being published in the papers and how far
the investigation by Scotland Yard has proceeded.
The first half of A Ship's Tale pulls the reader into the plotting by
the crew, not only revealing what's being done to prepare the square-rigger
for her rescue from the scrap heap, but also giving us very defined
characters. Young weaves together the various subplots very deftly,
so that, even though you want to know what ultimately happens to the
ship, you can savor the time the author takes in setting the scene and
building the background. You don't want to rush through this part; there
are revelations and laughs when you least expect them.
The rest of the book, of course, covers the journey to Dumbarton, Scotland.
At this point, you've gotten to know the characters really well, and
Young puts the 'reader right next to them' wherever the action on the
ship takes place. This is good, clear writing that lets even the landlubber
understand what's going on. Young also does a neat job wrapping up the
crew's individual stories. All of which makes A Ship's Tale a satisfying,
highly enjoyable read.
An Old Girl's Escape
A Ship's Tale is one of the most refreshing sea adventures I have
read in a very long time. This is the story of the rescue of a wonderful
old sailing ship from an inglorious end, planned by unthinking and uncaring
The story is told in a manner that is reminiscent of times long past,
full of humor, suspense and romance. This is the kind of story that
puts the "sail" back in sailor.
The story unfolds with the introduction of a cast of characters that
would be familiar to anyone who has ever hung about the waterfront of
a bustling seaport.
A Ship's Tale is told from the perspective of a former Royal Navy Officer,
Lieutenant Flynn, who becomes the newest, and rather accidental, member
of a group that is set on saving one of the last surviving relics from
the age of sail.
The rescuers include the former master of the sailing ship - a barque,
actually - called Bonnie Clyde, his first mate, Harris, an Irish navigator
named Edward, and Boris, a rigger from Russia.
The story is set just after the close of the World War II, and gives
a clear and unvarnished idea of what life was like after all the years
of the terrible ordeal.
Young writes with great humor, and describes the lengths sailors will
go to save a beloved ship. This determined crew's preparations are thorough,
their strategy sound, and their methods unconventional, to say the least.
Beg, borrow or steal, shanghai, kidnap, or downright just make something
disappear is all within their realm.
It takes a lot of everything to turn their plan into reality, making
off with a full rigged sailing ship - including, stores, canvas, and
a crew, whether experienced or not!
This is a highly recommended and charming story, with a happy ending,
in some ways, and a sad one in others.
Find a favored reading spot, relax and enjoy. This is a book difficult
to put down, leaving one anxious to turn page after page. And surprises,
eliciting grins, greet readers with each chapter.
My advice? Simply crack open the book, set sail, and learn what a circus,
a dancing bear, a boy's orphanage, a duck-stalking cat, and a three
masted barque have in common!
Bonnie Clyde's escape and ensuing voyage are an experience in daring
seamanship. Not the modern version of the turn of a wheel, a turbine
driving screws, and the use of a GPS Navigation system, but the age-old
ritual of climbing of masts, fisting sails, plotting a course, and tacking
and wearing a ship in all weathers. The fear and exhilaration of working
high above the deck in the rigging, while the wind tries it's best to
batter sailors off the yards, and the sheer violence of waves on a hull,
drive this unlikely adventure that readers who love the sea and ships
QUARTERDECK - Tall Ship Books
A Ship's Tale
As an ex mariner this book moved me deeply.
Not only is it a darn good story in itself, but it touches something quite
fundamental the lengths a sailor will go to save his ship, and the bond that
ties a seaman to a vessel that has carried him through fair weather and foul,
calm seas and tempests.
A Ship�s Tale by N. Jay Young is a novel set in post war England,
a period that we hear little about with its grave shortages and the despair of a
world recovering from conflict. The book takes us away from the glistening chrome and
stainless steel of modern super ships to an age when men placed their lives in danger
on the sea with nothing but the wind to drive them.
The elements of Young�s tale are revealed tantalizingly, like the peeling back of
layers of an onion. Basically, it is the story of a conspiracy to save the
weathered square rigger Bonnie Clyde, moored together with some other
cast-offs on the banks of the Thames and slated to be scuttled.
Frustrated by repeated rejection of their pleas to save the vessel, a group of men
decide to take matters into their own hands and return her to Dumbarton, Scotland,
where she was built, to let her live out her life as a dockside attraction and l
iving memorial to the age of sail.
Thus her former master, Captain William "Uncle Billy" Bowman and his small band of
dedicated friends – Harris, the bull of the deck first mate; Ned, the Irish navigator;
Boris, the mad Russian rigger who can work marvels with rope and wire; and the newest
member of the crew and the narrator of the tale, Flynn, a war time Navy officer just
fresh on the beach – set to work.
Their planning and organization are meticulous though unconventional; they risk all on
methods that would make an angel weep, but hurt your sides from laughing.
It takes a great deal of stores to get a three masted sailing ship to sea and maintain
her crew, and to accomplish this Bowman and the others are prepared to resort to all
manner of methods: they will beg, borrow and steal, shanghai, kidnap or just downright
make something disappear. The execution of their plan is even more spectacular as they
gain assistance from the most unlikely quarters ranging from former shipmates, friends
and reporters to an American submariner who just happened along.
You will have to read this charming book to discover the joy and sorrow in the
conclusion and to find out what a circus, a dancing bear, a boy�s orphanage,
a duck-stalking cat and a barque, have in common.
And as you turn the pages of this delightful little tome, you will feel you are
there with the crew on wind swept decks or fighting cold, wet flogging canvas high up
on wildly swaying yards as you endure the suspense of a nail-biting pursuit.
But most of all, be prepared to share the tenderness of love and laughter found in the
most unusual of situations.
Maritime Life and Traditions
A Ship's Tale Review
High seas adventure, piracy, kidnapping, political intrigue, an Irish Sea gale, and even a bit of romance�all this and more awaits the readers of A Ship�s Tale.
Jay Young tells a story about a group of tall-ship sailors who had more years at sea than a lapstrake dory has copper rivets. These stalwarts were led by Captain Bowman and aided in their adventure by two Royal Navy sailors just released from service after WW II. Add an enticing barmaid and an entire orphanage of teen-aged boys and you have the cast of characters for A Ship�s Tale.
The story revolves around Captain Bowman and his crew, who were determined to save the Bonnie Clyde, a true good old boat! The Clyde was a 300-foot, three-masted bark that the local politicians determined was a relic of the past and needed to be scuttled in order to clean up the waterfront. What the politicians did not know was that Captain Bowman and his band were planning to abscond with the Clyde and sail her to the boatyard in Scotland where she was built. She was to be rebuilt there and preserved as a museum ship.
The rescue involved a 1,000-mile voyage in waters that were notorious for bad weather. The Clyde was crewed by young, inexperienced boys sailing a ship that had been provisioned by felonious acquisitions of ship�s stores from the area Royal Navy yard and the local circus. Along the way they were caught in a powerful gale, offered aid to the U.S. Navy and, in return, were aided by a U.S. submarine. An entire network of ham-radio operators also came to the Clyde's assistance.
Was the Clyde safely delivered to her home port or was the entire crew arrested for piracy? The answer to those and many other questions awaits the readers of A Ship�s Tale. Jay Young has created a wonderful sea adventure that is exciting, believable, and a real page-turner.
Good Old Boat
A Ship's Tale Review
This is a book every sailor would want to read; the
story of a square-rigger on her last legs, and how the men who loved
her ran blockades and defeated the Admiralty in order to bring her
back to where she was built.
Once you start, you can't put it down. A look into the heart of every
true seaman and what drives them. This is bound to become a classic.
Latitudes and Attitudes
World War II veteran Flynn has settled into a life of postwar drudgery in the
Kentish village of St. Mary's Hoo, working for Mrs. Beasley, a crusty
and comical war widow who owns an inn and a tavern. His only solace
is the old-fashioned ships docked nearby. When Flynn learns that the
ships are soon to be destroyed, he bands together with a group of sailors
to sail one of them, the Bonnie Clyde, to Dumbarton, Scotland, where
she was built. Though the ship is seaworthy, she needs some repairs,
and because of postwar shortages the crew must make creative substitutions
(using circus tents as sails, for example). Both the journey and the
preparation for the journey are full of excitement, mystery, and adventure.
A Ship's Tale is a well-researched, exciting adventure with a healthy
dose of humor. The author's passion for his subject is evident in the
extraordinary descriptions of the ships and the seafaring life. Naval
buffs will especially appreciate the accuracy and the level of detail,
but A Ship's Tale is accessible to general audiences as well. Though
there are times when the pacing is somewhat slow, the story is highly
enjoyable overall. Part naval adventure and part comic novel, A Ship's
Tale will please a variety of readers.
Historical Novel Society
Well written and easy to read, A Ship's Tale has it all: Bungling bureaucrats,
a sweet romance, the draw of the sea, and salty characters from around
the UK and their interactions with each other found me laughing out
loud. Set in England, the reader catches a glimpse of pub life from
the back room and the resilience of the British people who turn bomb
craters into duck ponds or drag their foot to stop their brakeless car.
The first half of the book finds the characters we learn to love preparing
the Bonnie Clyde, a square-rigger soon to be scuttled, for escape and
a final voyage unknown to the powers that be.
In the second half, the Admiralty, and Scotland Yard, tries to apprehend
the Bonnie Clyde and its crew. Storms, clever diversions, and public
opinion give our heroes a chance to outwit the entire British Admiralty, astonish its government, and made modern technology nearly obsolete
in this effort. The ending was a complete surprise which brought tears
through the cheering.
Anyone who enjoys the twists and turns of a good adventure story, cheers
for the underdog, or routinely gets lost in a book full of loveable
characters, will find much to enjoy in A Ship's Tale.
Book Review of A SHIP'S TALE by
In his remarkable first novel, this is a tale of a tall ship doomed to be scuttled off England in 1946. What a read! You'll root for the ship and those striving to save her. You'll root for the book, and finishing this prose puts N. Jay Young in lofty company, tall as the ship he describes.
This is one of the best books I've read in some time. As a sailor I can say this story will intrigue you from the beginning till
the end. The dialogue and the humor are some of the best.
I recommend this to anybody that loves a rollicking great tale. It's the best book I've read since I was a wee boy and reading Treasure Island.
Traditional Scottish Maritime Singer
(of Holdstock & MacLeod)
A Ship's Tale is a great read! I hope you're very proud of it and that
it sells a zillion copies.
I got about three quarters of the way through it then put it down for
several weeks because I didn't want it to end. I want to have a pint
with those people, sail aboard that ship, and scritch the bear on the
top of his head.
You wrung me out. I alternately had a smile on my face, sweaty palms
and wet eyes. Great style, just great.
Anyhow, I guess you get the point that I think it's a hell of a book.
I hope we can look forward to many more from you.
Today people volunteering to save part of our heritage is accepted and you often find
restored sailing vessels. As far back as December 1954 the famous clipper Cutty Sark
was being put into dry dock at Greenwich. A Ship's Tale is the fictional story of an earlier
attempt, in the immediate aftermath of WWII, to save the barque Bonnie Clyde from
officialdom who wish to scuttle it.
The book follows the story of a disparate group of people who firstly come together to
obtain everything neccessary to make her seaworthy again and then set off on an epic
voyage to a new port where she can be preserved. With the press interested in the
story, the police and Admiralty tasked with stopping them and the weather being far from
co-operative it is not an easy journey.
This novel has very strong charecterisations and you are soon eagerly following their efforts and hoping they will
succeed. Or will some of the illegal things they have done have dire consequences? It's a real page turner as
you wait to find out.
At the same time descriptions of shipboard life and the rigours of being at sea in the age of sail were very good
and you really felt you were at sea with them. The authors overall style reminded me of some of the Alistair
Maclean books I have read.
If you are a lover of age of sail nautical fiction A Ship's Tale is definitely to be recommended.
Author: N. Jay Young
August 1, 2006
To Neil Jay Young
Rosalynn joins me in thanking you for the inscribed copy of
A Ship's Tale. It is a welcome addition to our collection, and we
appreciate your remembering us in such a thoughtful way.