A rare sight! Waverley, the last sea-going paddle steamer, made her annual visit to the Medway on Sunday. Plenty of passengers by the look of it.
Yes, the Medway has one of the finest (if not THE finest) collections of heritage vessels in the world! MSBA Chairman Brian Corbett is passionate about the Medway being a leading centre for British, European and World Maritime Heritage. He has drafted a paper to encourage the agencies involved with the River Medway to meet, as an interested and integrated forum, to share in and mutually benefit from, the River Medway attaining its rightful status.
This year the festival will take place at Chatham Historic Dockyard, which is celebrating its 400th anniversary by offering free access to everyone on 16 June. There will be “have-a-go” water activities on the Mast Pond and other activities on the river which you can watch from the area between HMS Gannet and the submarine HMS Ocelot. Other historic vessels will be open for visitors at the east end of Basin 1 (Chatham Maritime Marina) and there will be a Parade of Sail featuring historic vessels in the afternoon. High tide is at 3.30pm.
If any local boating clubs and organisations would like a stall at the Dockyard, please email firstname.lastname@example.org and we will pass on your request. We are hoping that the Council will provide tables and gazebos but this is to be confirmed.
Once a year, rain or shine, a very mixed group of Medway leisure craft led by local fishing boats, accompanied by police RIBs and sometimes the Sheerness lifeboat, makes its way up and down the Medway. Held over two days on an early summer weekend, the flotilla Beats the Bounds of the Rochester Oyster & Floating Fishery.
ROFF, a very ancient organisation indeed, can trace its roots back to a charter granted by Henry III to the City of Rochester and another by Henry VI giving the local fishermen rights to harvest fish and oysters from the river. The charter was given further weight in 1729 when George II passed an Act of Parliament allowing management of the river to be organised and policed by ROFF.
Each year, Saturday starts early with the Mayor, as Admiral of The River, holding court in the Rochester Guildhall, listening to reports from the Chamberlain of the Fishery, as to how the year has gone. The health of the fishery is noted; poaching has been a problem in the past.
After the court the Mayor led by the Beadle makes his way round the corner to Rochester Cruising Club where a boat has been allocated as his Barge for the Day.
The flotilla then heads upstream to the upper limit of the fishery with members of the great and good aboard. Then it’s back down the river for refreshments.
Once again the fleet sets off following the ROFF fishing boats, this time heading downstream, frequently picking up vessels from some of the clubs and marinas as we pass. It is traditional that we fire a cannon at all the various clubs we pass and they answer in the same manner.
First “hove to” is the war grave of HMS Bulwark where a vessel is stationed for a wreath laying with local sea scouts and piper aboard. Then it’s off out past Garrision Point, sometimes with a water display from the Sheerness tugs and on to the SS Richard Montgomery
Again a “hove to” for a wreath laying and the Last Post before returning into Queenborough at the invitation of the Mayor of Queenborough and his good lady. Over 70 boats have been known to attend.
When: 11 Nov, 1030-1600 with parking available
Nick was brought up, afloat, on a Thames spritsail barge: his childhood life and that of the barge is told about in his first book. Nick now sails the Thames estuary between North Kent and Snape in Suffolk. Along the way, he observes the coast and compares with the recent past: much of our coastal history of the past 150 years is fast disappearing. While wending his way he studies the land’s often soft edges, looking at wasted marshes, at silted creeks and abundant wildlife. He wanders amongst old industries, lost barge quays, the rotting hulks of traders, wondering… See Nick’s web site at www.nickardley.com
In June 1667 the Dutch, under the command of Admiral Michiel de Ruyter, bombarded and captured the town of Sheerness, sailed up the River Thames to Gravesend, then sailed up the Medway to Chatham and Gillingham, where they burned three capital ships and ten lesser naval vessels, and towed away HMS Unity and the English flagship, HMS Royal Charles.
The Cruising Association Kent Section Winter Warmers are held at 8pm on the 2nd Thursday of each month at The Dog & Bear Hotel, The Square, Lenham, ME17 2PG. Situated 8 miles east of Maidstone, just off the A20 in the village square. All are welcome. There is a small charge of £3. Many eat beforehand and it helps speed up service if you telephone the pub on 01622 858219 and order your meal before 5pm.
Further CA Winter Warmers will be as follows:
- 9 November 2017: Matt Craughwell on Rowing the Atlantic Ocean
- 14 December 2017: Jeremy Littlewood, HM Coastguard, on Safety Equipment for yachts
- 11 January 2018: Patricia & Neil Lynn, Engineering Our Way Across Europe aboard Sea Griffin
- 8 February 2018: Members’ Confessions, what went right or wrong?
- 8 March 2018: Jeremy Batch on 110 Years of Cruising
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.
This year is the 50th anniversary of the official handing back of Queenborough by the Dutch. A ceremony was performed at Queenborough on 17 June 1967. The town will be holding a celebration of this on 17th June 2017 and it is hoped to make it an annual event. There will be a boat flotilla with changing of flags at midday plus events throughout Queenborough: Live bands, Treasure hunt, Stalls, Magic, Bouncy Castle, Fancy dress and Re-enactments. All are invited – please help to make this a memorable day! All proceeds will go to the local lifeboat station.
For more information, visit the Queenborough Independence Day website.