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.
For more details visit www.kentishsail.org
The course is from Gillingham Pier to the Medway Buoy and back. The first start is at 0730 for the Coasting Class, followed by the Restricted Staysail Class then the Bowsprit Class. The Committee Boat will be Song and Dance, a motor yacht operated by Swanning About Charters*, and one of Alan Pratt’s tugs (Christine?) will act as tender. Look out for historic tug Touchstone* and the sailing barge Centaur from the Thames Sailing Barge Trust* which will be competing.
For the best view of the start, enjoy breakfast from 0715 on the balcony of the Spinnaker Restaurant in Gillingham Marina*. Pre-bookings only, £5, on 01634 280022.
Through the industrial revolution and Victorian expansion of London, the sailing barge evolved to be one of the most efficient small cargo carrying vessels of the world. Henry Dodd started the first official barge match in 1863 on the Thames. The Medway soon followed with the inaugral match held in 1880. With up to 20 barges competing, many over 100 years old, it is truly a sight to behold on our famous, industrial river.
According to the Society for Sailing Barge Research, barge racing has taken place in the Medway since at least 1872. In 1949 the Marina Club at Hoo (now known as Hoo Ness Yacht Club*) organised the first of 5 matches for yacht barges, and commercial craft raced again from 1954 until the Centenary Match. The modern series started in 1965.
Read more at www.medwaybargematch.co.uk
* denotes a member of the MSBA
SB Centaur, originally from the Medway, is owned and operated by the Thames Sailing Barge Trust, which is a member of the MSBA. The barge will be berthed at Lower Upnor (GPS yard), for a 2 day overnight cruise of the Medway and Swale area, with boarding at 7.30 pm on 14th August and returning by 3.00 pm on the 16th, costing £120 per head for 12 persons. Contact Chris Martin 07810 586318 for booking and other information. Please mention this website!
This local cruise by Centaur from TSBT’s recently acquired visiting berth at Lower Upnor is a first attempt to promote the Trust’s objectives again on the Medway, and the surrounding waterways of the local Thames Estuary, after a long absence.
The proposed works are to restore the Basin as a working resource in the centre of Faversham, to enable traditional vessels such as Thames Barges to be berthed, restored and maintained there. This is part of a wider project to restore the whole Creek for the benefit of Faversham Town and its visitors, and to develop marine based employment.
The application to the Marine Management Organisation for the licence to dredge the Basin, is now out for public consultation. Please follow this link to the Faversham Creek Trust Dredging Application to find out more and respond with your support for the dredging application.