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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.
—Walter Cronkite

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.

—Clive Cussler
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.

—Alan Arkin

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.
—Gary Jobson
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 along.

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 about.

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.

—Liz Shaw

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 bureaucrats.

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 will enjoy.

— 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.

—Robert Squarebriggs
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.

—Jim Shroeger
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.

— Bob Bitchin
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.

— Nanette Donohue
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
Leslie Finertie

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.

— Eric Park
Folknik Reviews

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.

— Don Boone
48� North

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.

— Allan MacLeod,
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.

— David Swan
A reader

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

— David Hayes


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.