A surprisingly good programme on BBC1 about the Thames sailing barge, featuring Nick Ardley and other experts. Many of the beautifully shot scenes are local to the Medway and Swale.
Nick Ardley is an eccentric, an anachronism from a simpler age, for the way he sails his clinker sloop around the Thames estuary. In Rochester to Richmond: A Thames Estuary Sailor’s View. The book is a reflective journey between Rochester and London, a path once of commerce, but now pleasure. Rochester was of immense importance to Britain’s past trading richness too. The belching chimneys pouring acrid fumes and cement dust have evaporated. Oil refineries have slipped away, but wharves lining the banks survive. As a distraction, he wanders a little above Rochester and then again, a little above the Pool of London towards Richmond. Between, he lands amongst the marsh and mud, finding graves and farmsteads enveloped in purslane and lavender. Many towns sailed past were part of this heritage, supplying building materials and food carried by the tan-sailed barge to London. Ardley dips and dabbles into these communities and explores how they have transformed.
Nick will have copies available on Whimbrel at the Queenborough Classic Boat Festival on 9+10 September.
Two men have been arrested following a burglary early on Tuesday morning at Shoregate Wharf Sailing Club (an MSBA member) near Upchurch. Several boats were broken into. Stolen items including power tools were recovered by police near to the scene.
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.