Brian Corbett, Chairman of the MSBA, glows with pride at coming second in the Cowes Spring Classics at the weekend. He sails a very special 24ft Herreshoff Half Rater called Winifred.
A charming 12 minute film featuring local “ditch crawler” Nick and Christobel Ardley on their wooden Finesse 24. Whimbrel can often be seen cruising in the Medway and Swale, usually with her matching sailing tender in tow.
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.
The annual Swale Smack & Sailing Barge match is probably the most prestigious traditional boat event on the East Coast, and has been running since 1972. It is open to all Thames barges, smacks, bawleys and gaff rigged craft as well as classic Bermudian rigged vessels, small open boat gaff and lugsail dinghies are also welcome.
Prizegiving is at Hollowshore in the evening and is a lively and convivial evening with live music, hog roast, burger van and bar.
For full details contact: Match Secretary Lena Reekie. Email: lenareekie(at)talktalk.net, phone: 07968 058398, website: www.kentishsail.org
The festival is open to any boat, large or small, designed or built before 1970 – wood, steel, aluminium, fibreglass, ferro cement, sail, power, steam or other, the bigger the variety of boats the better the show. If in doubt as to whether your boat qualifies please email a photo and a short description.
Without classic boats, we will not have a festival, so we are delighted to offer free berthing for up to 5 nights for qualifying vessels that register with us before 31 August.
You must register by email and have received a confirmation email to attend. To register your Classic Boat please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Visitors (by foot)
Entry is FREE, the harbour will be open to the public to view the boats and meet the skippers. In addition, we plan to run passenger trips around the harbour and visit classic boats on their moorings. Last year almost 1000 people attended and the atmosphere was terrific.
Friday 28th Most of the Classic Boats arrive in harbour
Sat 29th Festival open 10am to 5pm
Sun 30th Festival open 10am to 2pm
We hope you can join us in making this 3rd festival even better than last year and a regular feature in the boating calendar.
SE Tugs have booked the 1948 motor tug Kent into the Maritime Festival in Ipswich on the weekend of 18-19 August. The Ipswich Maritime Festival features heritage vessels, tugs, tall ships etc and takes place on Ipswich Waterfront. Activities include Pirate & Sailor theme, Programmed stage of live entertainment (fully programmed all day both days), Street entertainers, Food market, Craft stalls, Bar, Vessels, Re-enactment activities and displays, Face painting, glitter tattoos, Funfair rides, Fireworks on Saturday night at 9:45pm
In recent gales, the stern section of the old sailing barge Westmoreland, berthed at Lower Halstow, broke away and “sailed” round to Funton Creek, just south of Chetney Hill, where it has joined the remains of other once-pround sailing vessels. Nick Ardley comments, “Sad, very sad, but interestingly she seemed to know her way towards sisters of the tideway within this area… “
The wreck of the main part of the barge (in a sunken dock) is marked by a yellow buoy in Halstow Creek
Notice to Mariners about the wreck
Thanks to Kevin Thorton for the photo and track image.
Inland Waterways Association talk on Thursday, 25 January 2018, 7.30 for 8.00 pm at Strood Yacht Club, Knight Road, Strood, ME2 2AH
Michael Farnham will be giving an illustrated talk on the history of sailing barges and barge yards on the Medway and Thames estuaries.