Festival of Chatham Reach, 18-19 Sept

A country fayre atmosphere, with a focus on the heritage of the river and river vessels, we’ll be remembering the history of Sun Pier as a hub of river life coinciding with the second weekend of Heritage Open Days. Located alongside and on Sun Pier in Chatham – currently the only available public river access point in Medway – we will celebrate with historic vessels open to explore, free have-a-go stalls, history walks, and interactive activities to entertain and educate all ages.

In the days leading up to the festival a free sail will take place offering community groups and organisations who would never usually experience life on the river the chance to take the helm and have a go at steering the ship. Haul a sail, wind a winch, learn the history of the area and enjoy the peace of being on the river, all under sail on a 115-year wooden sailing barge (pre booking required). Seeing Medway from the river is without doubt its most beautiful viewpoint. These sailings will need to be booked in advance.

This event is organised by Medway Council in partnership with Sun Pier House and Tiller and Wheel.

CA talk: Islands of the Medway by Adam Taylor, to be repeated Tues 23 Feb, 7pm

The Cruising Association Kent Section’s brilliant “winter warmer” talks, organised by Clifford Mickleburgh, have not stopped for Covid. All of us, CA member or not, can enjoy them online. This month’s talk is by Adam Taylor who regularly represents Medway Council at MSBA meetings. Clifford had a preview and was amazed at how much there is to learn about the Medway, Adam has put in a lot of energy researching his presentation and you will not be disappointed. Here’s a taste:
* Deadman’s Island: Kent’s terrifying forgotten island littered with human remains.
* Tom Court Island and the German U-Boat.
* William Turner’s painting at Stangate Creek.  

Look out, it’s the Excise Men!

This is the River Medway that nobody knows and yet we enjoy sailing up and down this fascinating river. And then we have the Reculver smugglers battling with the Excise officers; the once inhabited islands and the fortress islands. But don’t let us spoil it for you, this is a river that nobody knows, a talk not to be missed.

Adam suggests that you might also like to search  National Library of Scotland – Map Images  before his presentation.

APOLOGY: We’re sorry that the number of people trying to access Adam’s excellent presentation very quickly exceeded Clifford’s Zoom limit of 100, far more than have previously attended a CA winter warmer meeting. Furthermore the session was not recorded – unless someone knows differently. We’ll try to make sure this doesn’t happen next time!

HOWEVER, for those who missed out, Adam repeated the talk on Tuesday 23 Feb at 7pm.

Medway Queen forges ahead

Everything is still locked down by winter and the pandemic but the Medway Queen Preservation Society has ambitious plans for the coming year. All dependent, of course, on Covid and in some respects the weather. Nevertheless they will get as much done in 2021 as available time, effort and cash allow. To that end the MQPS is seeking sponsorship for two main projects this year. Follow the link below to find out more…

https://www.medwayqueen.co.uk/2021-work-program.html#

Latest Heritage Harbour: Queenborough and Milton Creek

Queenborough Creek

The historic Queenborough Harbour is to be linked with Milton Creek. At Queenborough, the harbour trust is improving mooring facilities for Thames sailing barges.

Lloyds Wharf, in Milton Creek, is home to the Raybel Charters project. There is also a magnificent new building which will house the reborn Dolphin Barge Museum. An inaugural meeting is to be held shortly.

Milton Creek and SB Raybel

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.

Medway and Swale Heritage Harbours update

A joint initiative by the Maritime Heritage Trust (MHT) and National Historic Ships (NHS) Shipshape Network, with strong support from European Maritime Heritage (EMH), proposes that historic ports and harbours in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland become officially recognised as ‘Heritage Harbours’. The developing Heritage Harbours recognise the great value in sensitively developing their, often superb, historic buildings; waste land; mooring; and maintenance facilities for both local and visiting historic vessels and are identified within the NHS Shipshape Network regions.

MEDWAY HH1 – The proposal to designate Medway as the first British heritage harbour was presented to a meeting, of the local maritime heritage community and associated stakeholders at the Sun Pier House tea rooms on 10 December 2018. The meeting, at Sun Pier House, Chatham, was well attended by some forty enthusiastic representatives from the local historic vessels; the Medway Council; MHT Trustees; the Thames Sailing Barge community and representatives from Faversham. Medway Council have appointed a senior officer to represent the council on the Medway HH
forum group. We are in discussions with the directors of Sail Training International, with a view to Medway being a Tall Ships race port in 2025. This will be the main agenda item at the next Medway Heritage group meeting. The ‘Boat Shed’ and other historic buildings and wharves, which form part of the historic Sheerness naval dockyard, may lead to Sheerness becoming an integral part of Medway Heritage Harbour.

FAVERSHAM & OARE HH2 – Faversham & Oare Creeks Heritage (FOHHG)
have met regularly since early 2019 at Faversham Guildhall. Aims and objectives have been developed and considerable work in optimising balanced development and improvement of the creeks has already been carried out by group members. An exciting feature is that Kent County Council has continued the design work for the replacement Faversham upper creek bridge through the lockdown.

£5m to cut the masts off the Monty

The Ministry of Defence is offering £5 million to have the masts removed from the wreck of the Richard Montgomery, an American liberty ship that broke her back and sank off Sheerness in August 1944, with 1400 tons (net explosive quantity of TNT) of explosives still on board. Tim Bell from Isle of Sheppey Sailing Club said, “I can see the sense in cutting the masts down because they are starting to collapse and rust and could fall onto the deck below where there are still 2,000 cases of cluster bombs.” More at KentOnline. Also see Tim Bell’s reply to this article. And the BBC website…