Classic Schooner visits Chatham

Te Vega.

A feather in the cap for Medway becoming Britain’s first Heritage Harbour is the visit by this beautiful gaff-rigged schooner, Te Vega, designed by Cox and Stevens of New York and built in 1930 in Germany. With a length overall of 154 ft (47m) and draught of 16.5 ft (5m), there are not many ports than can offer a berth but she has found a spot in Basin 3 of Chatham Docks. If Medway is to continue to attract such beautiful ships we must take care not to lose the docks, wharves and maritime facilities that made our river so important.

Another cargo arriving by sail…

The sailing vessel De Gallant is returning to our shores with a cargo of olive oil, olives, wine, coffee and chocolate, almonds, chick peas, pinto beans, sea salt and honey. Here’s the schedule, subject to wind and weather:

Friday 18th SeptemberDe Gallant arrives into Ramsgate Harbour, where friends and partners Kent Sail Cargo will be hosting a day of unloading and collections. Whilst in the harbour we’ll also trans-load the London cargo on to Sailing Barge Dawn, for the final leg of the journey up the Thames estuary.
We’re offering the opportunity to be on board Dawn as she sails up to St Katherine Docks. Be part of these inaugural sail cargo charters which are available for two stages of the journey:
Monday 21st: join at Queenborough Harbour or Leigh-on-sea for the passage to Gravesend, with an unloading at Tilbury.
Tuesday 22nd: join at Gravesend for the meandering course into central London, through the Thames Barrier, passed Greenwich, around the Isle of Dogs to St Katherine Docks.
Wednesday 23rd we will host the London collection event at St Katherine Docks for customers who have placed their orders.

An unusual request

Welders at the Dockyard called these low, stable working platforms “soggy logs”. John Sutton, owner of the Russian submarine, lost his when it was “borrowed.” He says, “it was about 15ft x 6ft with low freeboard so ideal for working from, 4ft thick so very stable.” He asks if anyone has seen it or can offer him something similar. It doesn’t have to be quite as big as the one in the photo. Please let us know at info@msba.org.uk and we’ll pass on the message.

History being made at Milton Creek

Gallant leaves London for Sittingbourne. Photo James Hamilton.

If you are in Sittingbourne on Wednesday evening 15 July, Raybel Charters invite you to witness history being made. Back in January, sailing ship Gallant left Trinidad on a voyage to collect sail cargo goods from Colombia and Portugal. Last Saturday she docked into St Katharine Dock in London and on Wednesday she will transfer goods onto the sailing barge Dawn at Queenborough. Dawn will be delivering to several Kent ports and on Wednesday night at about 8.45pm will be sending her barge boat (the big rowing boat that barges use) with a delivery to Lloyd Wharf at the head of Milton Creek. This will be the first cargo delivered by sail to Sittingbourne in perhaps 80 years.

Please join Raybel Charters on the wharf to welcome the first of what we hope will be regular event in Sittingbourne. Please note, we will be maintaining social distancing on the wharf and would ask you to do the same. The new Dolphin Sailing Barge Museum will be open in case of inclement weather.

Morning Star decommissioned

The MSBA is sad to learn that on 14 December the Morning Star Trust decommissioned its flagship vessel Morning Star of Revelation in a moving ceremony at Chatham Marina. The 19-metre, gaff-rigged ferro-cement ketch with its distinctive maroon sails has been a familiar sight on the Medway when she was not away in the Baltic or even further away. Officially a “tall ship”, Morning Star is the oldest purpose-built sail training vessel in the UK Sail Training fleet and has been in continuous service since 1978.

The MST is a Christian sail training organisation based in Chatham. The Trust’s remaining vessel is an 11-metre Westerly Oceanquest called Bright Star and we understand that a larger, more up to date vessel is being sought to replace Morning Star.

CA Winter Warmer talk: James and Carol Littlewood, Thurs 12 Dec

On Thursday, 12 December 2019, we will have minced pies and mulled wine during the break. James and Carol Littlewood will be stepping in at short notice with an exciting and well humoured talk as, unfortunately, the talk on Morning Star and the Morning Star Trust has been cancelled at very short notice, more details on the night .

Having “sailed” the coastline from the Norwegian Arctic Circle to La Rochelle, James and Carol Littlewood decided it was time to visit the “inside”. In 2014 they started to explore in a “motor boat” the gutters of France, the ditches of Belgium, the canals of the Netherlands and the big waterways of Germany. James will talk about some of the differences between “outside and inside”, will compare locks with crocodiles and will give us a glimpse of French champagne country and the German Mecklenburg Lakes.

We are all invited to these excellent Kent Cruising Association talks, which are held at 8pm at the Dog and Bear, Lenham, near Maidstone. It’s a good idea to book a meal (by 5pm please) on 01622 858219 for 7pm, before the talk. A special CA menu is available.

Medway Queen Tour and Talk, Sat 28 Sept

Congregate at Gillingham Marina in the Quarterdeck Cafe 3.00pm for 3.15pm walk to the Medway Queen. Limited parking space available on Gillingham Pier for those that need them. Tour of the Medway Queen at 3.30pm, 5.00pm for 5:30pm Heroine of Dunkirk Talk and buffet! Tickets are £7 each. Tickets available by phoning Gillingham Marina on 01634 280022.

The extraordinary life and loves of John Oliver, Rochester Library, 9 Oct

John Oliver on the tug Hobbit.

An illustrated talk by Frances Beaumont about John Oliver who was a tug man on ‘Hobbit’ on the River Medway for 40 years. John was born without hands and two short arms and became very adept with his feet. Many people in Medway knew him – he was quite a character. He was also a trained artist with an NDD and had many other jobs. Booking is essential for this free event at Rochester Library, Eastgate, Rochester ME1 1EW on Wednesday 9 October from 2.30 to 4 pm. To book call 01634 337799.