Christmas Carols aboard Edith May It’s been almost a decade since our last Christmas concerts aboard Edith May and we are delighted to be bringing them back this year for three atmospheric festive evenings.
Led by Anna Braithwaite and her musical pals, we invite you to join us in a festive sing song, with mulled wine and mince pies galore.
The dates are 12th, 21st and 22nd December and tickets can be purchased through the website.
We hope to see you there!
Sea-Change Sailing Trust is a charity that takes young people and vulnerable adults on life-skills-building residential voyages on board our Thames sailing barge Blue Mermaid. We like to enter Blue Mermaid in the annual series of historic Thames sailing barge races (or matches) that take place around the east coast each year. On these occasions only, we invite a small group of up to 8 paying guests aboard for an overnight stay onboard and participation in the race. The funds raised on these occasions help to support the work of the charity. No previous sailing experience is necessary, and as we have a race crew of our own onboard, guests may either participate in sailing the barge, or find a place that is out of the way of the action, and just spectate. Racing can get pretty exciting with the winner taking home the coveted Match Pennant, and the race points count towards the annual award of Champion Barge. The cost of an overnight berth, an evening meal before the match, and a place onboard for the race itself is £160 per person.
UPDATE: out of respect to the late Queen, the festivities have been cancelled but many of the classic boats have already arrived and the harbour will be open to visitors.
Following the return of our annual Classic Boat Festival last September, we’re busy planning our annual Classic Boat Festival again, welcoming visitors to discover historical vessels on the pontoon over the weekend of 10-11 September 2022. We’ll be joined by several historical vessels, with visitors getting the opportunity to climb aboard and learn more about their history and how they work.
Throughout the weekend, our friends at Jetstream Tours will be offering trips out to the wreck of SS Richard Montgomery. These will depart from the All Tide Landing, offering the chance to share with locals and visitors the fabulous views and scenery of the harbour.
Our weekly harbour market will be making a special appearance on the town quay during the weekend, with a variety of food, drink and locally-made products and services on offer.
Report by Kentish Sail Association. Photos by Seamus Masters.
Back in 1972, a few keen traditional boat sailors from north Kent organised a race for Essex smacks and Thames barges in the river Swale; fifty years on the event prospers and is now one of the largest annual gatherings of traditional boats on the East Coast. Last Saturday witnessed some thirty-five craft racing out of the Swale in a brisk sou’westerly to compete in the 22-mile race off the north Kent shore; the brown sails, set against the eastern horizon, made for a fine sight and a great day’s racing was enjoyed in the calm waters of a weather shore.
It had been blowing pretty hard the day before and that had deterred a few of the smaller boats from heading south from the Essex rivers for the race. But the engineless Thames barge Edme arrived in the Swale for the first time since 2019, and the smack Hyacinth and bawley Gladys made it down from Pin Mill. The ADC was another smack that had been absent for a number of years so her arrival was much to be welcomed.
Edme went on to win the bowsprit class and the BMM Western trophy for the fastest elapsed time around the course, while ADC was the first smack home. The Faversham-based Repertor won the staysail class and Centaur the restricted staysail class. Nightfall was first home of the gaffers over 25 feet, and Fifi sailed home alone to take line honours in the gaffers under 25 ft, the rest of that class having retired in the teeth of the squally conditions. It’s always good to welcome a small fleet of Dutch barges, and this year Johanna, Nooit Volmaakt and Albatros sailed a shortened course and added a touch of stately elegance to the affair.
Fifty years on from that first Swale match it’s clear that the traditional boat scene thrives. Despite the rising costs, the declining interest in our maritime history and the inevitable toll of the years on old wooden boats, an active and enthusiastic core of owners, crew, shipwrights and skilled craftsmen keep a remarkable fleet of traditional craft alive and active around our coasts. The Swale Smack & Sailing Barge Match is just one of many races and events that take place each year but it’s certainly one of the most significant on East Coast and it looks set for another fifty years.
The MSBA supports Faversham Creek Trust in their campaign to restore the swing bridge, which would allow craft such as sailing barges to use the basin at the head of the creek. On Friday 10 December Helen Whately MP met with representatives from Kent County Council, Faversham Town Council, the Faversham Society and the Faversham Creek Trust to discuss progress since their last meeting in June. The Town Council kicked off the meeting with an update on their legal advice. It said the Secretary of State has the power to issue an Abatement Notice under section 43 of the Medway Ports Act 1973 to compel the party with obligations to maintain this bridge, sluice gates and associated works so as to permit navigation again. The Town Council has written to the Secretary of State for Transport asking him to issue this notice. The meeting agreed that supporting the Town Council to achieve this objective was the best way forward. Money currently pledged by Kent County Council, Swale Borough Council, and Faversham Town Council and raised from the community by the Faversham Creek Trust, is not enough to cover the cost of restoring the bridge. We need Peel Ports to play their part to get the bridge back into working order, this would go a long way towards plugging the funding gap for making the creek basin usable again. KCC confirmed that the Faversham community funding is safely held in a separate account except where individual donors have requested and received their donations back. Kent County Council is helping the Town Council to provide the Department of Transport with further information about the bridge and creek. Helen Whately will press the Secretary of State to take this course of action. While this is a positive step forward there is still a long way to go. KCC confirmed that design work on the bridge and sluices is completed and tender documents are ready. Both Helen and KCC have agreed to update residents about progress so far including future designs for the bridge.