Another sailing adventure with the Swallows. John, Susan, Titty and Roger are crewing for Jim in the sailing yacht Goblin near Harwich under strict orders from Mummy to stay in the river and not to pass the Beach End buoy which marks where the sea begins. But when Jim goes ashore for petrol the ship drags its anchor in a fog and before they know it the children are out at sea, on their own, in a storm.
This is my favourite Swallows and Amazons adventure. There are repeated moments of enormous tension (like the bit where they turn back ... and the bit with John ... and the bit with the steamer ... but I'm not spelling them out because that would spoil things) and some real tear-gulping bits at the end (like the bit where the pilot shouts 'Nodings' ... and the bit in the cafe ... and the bit with the customs officers ... but again I'm keeping shtum).
Some great moments:
- "It was as if she had swallowed an apple whole and the apple was trying to get back and finding her throat too narrow for it." (Ch 11)
- "Lonely? It was as if he was outside life altogether and wouldn't be alive until he got back." (Ch 12)
- "Can't go far wrong with soup and steak ... You never know what you get when you try something with a fancy name." (Ch 23)
It is difficult to imagine a more perfect adventure story for boys. May 2021; 333 pages