To get the Sailing Barge Cambria ready for this year’s season, the Cambria Trust urgently needs volunteers. This is a unique opportunity for everyone (mums, dads, children, grandchildren, nephews, nieces, sea scouts, sea cadets, even air and army cadets, etc) to get personally involved with the Cambria. Volunteers are vital to preserve our great maritime heritage. Full details including contacts are on the Cambria Trust website and you can watch some great videos on YouTube.
Chatham Maritime Food and Drink Festival will take place over the bank holiday weekend on 27-29 May. It’s a free-to-enter three-day event featuring local artisan food and drink producers, live music in the bandstand, Dragon Boat racing, a funfair, watersports and a charity fun run. We’re going to be joined by 15 of the original Dunkirk Little Ships as part of their commemorative cruise. They’re all members of the Association of Dunkirk Little Ships, and will be moored in Old Royal Dockyard Basin 1 in Chatham Maritime – a beautiful and inspiring sight. Owners will be on hand to chat to visitors about their very special boats during the festival. Everyone is welcome to a memorial service by the Ship and Trades pub on Sunday 28 May at 11am. We’ll also be joined by 20 Dutch barges from The Barge Association with members of the Rochester Symphony Orchestra doing some concerts on one of them on Saturday 27 May.
The people of Faversham have voted by a large majority for the Creek Neighbourhood Plan, which was a condition by Swale Borough Council for the release of £200,000 to restore the swing bridge at the head of the Creek. Opening the bridge will enable regeneration of the Creek Basin, with wharves and dredging, to improve navigability along the Creek, increase tourism and make the area a great place for residents too.
Five Thames sailing barges will be assembling at Queenborough on Friday afternoon in preparation for a race to Ipswich on Saturday. Members of the public are welcome to visit the pontoon Friday evening and admire these historic craft: Edith May, Melissa, Xylonite, Marjorie and Niagara.
The annual Nore Race was held on Sunday, organised by Benfleet Yacht Club. The 17 nautical mile course in the Thames Estuary attracted a hundred sailing dinghies and cruisers, including multihulls, many from the Medway and Swale.
The June 2016 issue of Yachting Monthly featured an article on the Medway Barge Match by Nick Ardley.
This month’s Winter Warmer is brought to you by the Cruising Association Kent Section is by Nick Ardley – A Barging Childhood and Beyond: The Story of an Essex Sailor. This talk will take you on a journey which began in the early 1950s when Nick’s parents bought a spritsail barge to live and go yachting on. She was the May Flower, built in 1888. The tribulations and joys of a barging childhood are looked at before, with time moving on, Nick leaves home, first, as an engineer officer at sea, then for married life too. His girl, a Midlands’s maiden, was soon introduced to the silt laden waters of the Thames estuary.
We then follow Nick and his mate on a passage around the East Coast’s rivers between North Kent and mid Suffolk aboard their Finesse 24, Whimbrel. As they weave in and out of muddy creeks, Nick watches as the world passes slowly by, wondering. Once at anchor, we find that Nick is just as likely to continue exploring in a gunter dinghy, sometimes ‘dragging’ his mate with him, to search for the lost world that rests amongst our salt marsh and mud.
Non CA members are welcome. There is a charge of £3 for the talk, which starts at 8pm. The pub offers a special menu for these events so come to eat at 7pm. Call the Dog and Bear, Lenham, on 01622 858219 by 5pm to book your meal.