Nevil Shute Norway Foundation

The Story of "RUNAGATE"

Presentation by Joost Meulenbroek at Alice Springs 2007 - Part 2

Shute and Shirley sailing a dingy, off Pond Head in 1945

Shute's daughters on a jetty, at Pond Head. The boat probably is Runagate

When the whole family moved to Australia in 1950 the yacht was sold and from that point onward her life since has been the object of my study. This is my story of that search, sometimes pure good luck has brought it to where it is today.

Nevil Shute used the name Runagate for a yacht in his then unpublished book Pilotage, which he wrote in 1924. In this book one of the main characters, Peter Dennison used to be the helmsman on the yacht Runagate.

"Here we are," he said. "I thought we should find it. Runagate, fifteen ton, helmsman P. Dennison." He ran his eye rapidly down the letterpress. "Here we are," he said. "'Much interest will be centred on the Runagate, whose helmsman, P. Dennison, is only sixteen years of age.'"

So in the newsletter there was a mention of Mr. Walden of the Hillyard Owners Association. I decided to contact Mr. Walden, to ask if he had an address for Mr. Henderson. Mr. Walden was most co-operative and gave me the address of Mr. Henderson, that the Hillyard Owners Association had on file. I tried to contact Mr. Henderson, but the address wasn't correct. Through the web-site of British Telecom I found the current address of Mr. Henderson who, as it turned out, had moved recently.

I wrote him a letter, but got no reply. Than I tried to phone him, but there was always an answering machine. I never leave messages on an answering machine, so I put down the receiver. After having been answered by a machine for a couple of weeks I was ready to leave a message. While speaking to the machine, Mr. Henderson answered the phone. He apparently always leaves his machine on, and only picks up the phone when somebody starts to talk to the machine. If only I had known.

Mr. Henderson told me that he had received my letter and he apologized for not answering it, but that he was still busy with moving house. He turned out to be most helpful. He had had the boat together with his father and they had the plan to restore her. However his father died and he didn't do anything with the boat anymore, and he decided to sell it. So he sold the boat, except for the steering wheel and 2 portholes, that he still owns.

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