Nevil Shute Norway Foundation

The Story of "RUNAGATE"

Presentation by Joost Meulenbroek at Alice Springs 2007 - Part 1

In the newsletter of March 2005 there was a comment from Mr. Michael Walden of the Hillyard Owners Association wrote with details of Shute's 40 foot Hillyard Schooner, Runagate:
" RUNAGATE 15 tons 1939 40''3" LOA. Reg 167767 is 'still around'.
Until July 2002, she was owned by Colin Henderson of Tyne & Wear. She was then for sale.
I do not know her present whereabouts. Our records say she was owned by the author from 1939 until 1949.

Being a sailor myself I decided that I wanted to know more about this. In "Slide Rule" we read that 1938 was a big turning point year for Nevil Shute. He had just parted with Airspeed with enough in the bank to live comfortably for 5 or 6 years. So he and his wife went on holiday.

During that holiday he received a telegram to say the film rights for "Ruined City" had been sold. This now meant the 5 or 6 years had stretched to 10 years!
Among the changes that these new circumstances brought about was a new yacht for the family. They had had another yacht before this, called Skerdmore.

The new yacht was built specially for Nevil Shute by a well known company called Hillyard at Littlehampton on the south coast of England. This company is still in existence. When completed he named the yacht "Runagate".

Details of layout
Sailing in 1939, off the coast of France, Shute steering Runagate

There probably wasn't much time to enjoy sailing her then as war broke out in 1939, in fact Nevil Shute was sailing her in The Solent on the day World War 2 started. However when he did sail her we can see how much he enjoyed it.

After Nevil Shute left the navy and WW 2 was over he was able to resume sailing Runagate, this time from his home at Pond Head with moorings on the Solent (Some of us were lucky enough to visit the house during UK 2003).

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