Watery Trail: River Medway (1938 film)

Enjoy this curious couple’s epic quest to follow the River Medway – from its Sussex source to the Thames Estuary. This epic journey starts at a boggy Butcher’s Basin in the Sussex High Weald, past a mixture of rural and industrial views, features stately homes, uniformed RAC men, medieval bridges, locks, weirs, breweries, barges and overhead cranes. We sail past Shorts Sunderland flying boats, the Thames Queen paddle steamer and warships (inc HMS Boadicea) at Chatham, before finally arriving at Sheerness.

Enjoy the film…

MSBA Talk: Medway Islands by Adam Taylor, Fri 13 Jan, 7 for 8pm

For the second in our new series of monthly winter talks, Adam Taylor will give a fascinating presentation on the Medway Islands. Well known to the MSBA, Adam is a keen canoeist with 15 years experience of paddling a fourteen foot, Canadian (open) canoe. He has canoed in many places including the back country of Ontario, the lakes of Finland and Sweden and beautiful places here in the UK, but it is the islands and marshes of the Medway estuary where his heart is.

Adam’s presentation draws on many sources: census records, photos, Victorian technical plans, personal experience and several trips to the National Archives – to illustrate who lived on these islands, how the twin forts of Hoo and Darnet were built, the story of the pub which stood on an island in the middle of the estuary, how a WW1 German submarine ended up were it is now and a bit more.

We will also take a close up look at some of the flora and fauna of this huge, beautiful wilderness that is Medway estuary.

Rochester Cruising Club will be hosting the event. The club is easy to find on the Esplanade at the foot of Rochester Castle, postcode ME1 1QN. There is ample parking at the club and on the road outside. The bar will be open and a professionally prepared meal will be available at 7pm if you pre-order.

We will be having an “MSBA Special” of ham, egg and chips or sausage, egg and chips,or curry for £6 on the night. Desserts will also be available and the bar will be open. Please email info@msba.org.uk to order your meal.

Adam’s talk will start at 8pm. Non-RCC members are asked to contribute £3 at the door and sign the visitors’ book.

HMS Challenger, 150 years on

Exactly 150 years ago today, HMS Challenger departed from Sheerness on a quest to explore the world’s oceans. Three and a half years later the ship returned, bringing with it the largest collection of examples of life from the deep sea.

Challenger’s circumnavigation encompassed nearly 70,000 nautical miles across the Pacific, Atlantic and Southern Oceans, and traversed the Antarctic Circle. During the voyage, the expedition carried out oceanographic experiments at over 500 stations, observing currents, water temperatures, weather and surface ocean conditions.

The ocean floor beyond the continental shelf was shown not to be a featureless expanse, as many had previously assumed, but instead was characterised by underwater mountain ranges, abyssal trenches and extended plains. The ocean itself consisted of warm and cold water zones, a finding that added to the understanding of ocean currents and the distribution of marine life.

Read more about HMS Challenger…

CA Talk: Defending the Swale, 8pm, Thurs 10 November

The Kent section of the Cruising Association still has some places available for Adam Taylor’s talk on Defending the Swale, 8pm, Thursday 10th November at the Dog and Bear, Lenham (near Maidstone). Many regular attendees come to dine at 7pm before the talk – best to phone and book your meal.

Adam Taylor will take us on a journey through time as we discover the known and lesser known defences of the Swale channel from the 1500s to the 1950s. Some of us may remember Adam’s interesting talk on the Islands of the Medway via Zoom during lockdown. As the venue has imposed a limit on attendees, you need to book early to avoid disappointment. To register for this event please click the link here:

Book here for Adam’s talk

No fly zone over Monty, 21 Aug – 15 Nov

Tim Bell of Isle of Sheppey SC informs us that, in anticipation of work starting soon on the Montgomery wreck, the authorities have declared a no fly zone of one mile radius and up to 2500 feet altitude. The work is to make safe some 66 bombs and unexploded ordnance so far identified, scattered around the wreck, prior to removing the mast next year. The area must be made safe for the jack-up rig and crane to work alongside the hull.

When the SS Grandcamp blew up in 1947 in Texas it knocked a plane out of the sky. Because of the danger to light aircraft the MOD is restricting the air space above the wreck.

View the statutory instrument

Viking ship remains found at Rochester

Typical Viking ship

The Romans, Anglo-Saxons and Normans have left plenty to see in Rochester, but until today (1 April) there has been no trace of the Vikings who visited in 842 and 884 AD. Although they were unable to take the city, they stayed until 885 AD when most of them were sent on their way by Alfred the Great. A few were allowed to remain in their fortified encampment, which according to the Anglo Saxon Chronicles was “by the entrance of the city”. Unfortunately the city, being of Roman design, had four entrances so until now the site was unknown. As the Vikings came by water they would probably have used the North Gate, which opened onto the marshes now being developed as Rochester Riverside, and this has been confirmed by Kent Archaeologists today.

Could this be Guthrum’s sword?

Workmen digging near the site of Acorn Wharf have uncovered remains of Scandinavian ninth century weapons and traces of a clinker-built ship of the style used by Vikings led by the warrior Guthrum.

A spokesman for the Medway Heritage Harbour Group said, “This exciting discovery supports our claim that Rochester has considerably more maritime heritage than meets the eye. The Romans, Saxons and Normans understood the strategic importance of the location, being where Watling Street crosses the Medway. Medway Council must ensure that the site is properly excavated and protected for use by future generations of boaters.”

CA talk on Navy Board Ship Models, 10 March

The Cruising Association Kent Section hosts a popular series of monthly talks each winter. The meetings are currently held on Zoom. Non-members are welcome to attend. On Thursday 10 March at 19.00 Nick Ball from Chatham Historic Dockyard will give a talk on Navy Board Ship Models.

Nick is the recently appointed Collections, Galleries and Interpretations Manager at the Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust. He had previously been a curator at the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich. Together with Simon Stephens, he co-authored the book ‘Navy Board Ship Models,’ published by Seaforth Publishing in 2018. Nick will give a talk outlining his research into the construction and function of the models together with the identities of those who built and owned many of the finest ship models ever made. From about the middle of the seventeenth century exquisitely crafted ship models with distinctive unplanked lower hulls began to be made. Regarded as the pinnacle of the ship modeller’s art, they are valued both as art objects and as potential historical evidence on matters of ship design.

CA talk on HMS Bellerophon, now 31 March

This Cruising Association Winter Warmer talk has been rescheduled Thursday for 31 March at 19.00, with Kent Section member Des Crampton to talk about the history of HMS Bellerophon.

Model of HMS Bellerophon made by Martin Male of Upnor Sailing Club

HMS Bellerophon, nicknamed ‘Billy Ruffian’ by her crew, was a 74-gun ship of the line launched at Frindsbury on the River Medway in October 1786, just three years before the start of the French revolution. She fought in all the major naval battles of the Napoleonic wars and crowned her well-deserved reputation when she prevented Napoleon’s escape to the United States after the Battle of Waterloo. Napoleon was detained on board for twenty-four days until his transfer in Torbay to HMS Northumberland for the voyage to St Helena.

The talk will review Bellerophon’s construction, long naval service, and eventual retirement to become a prison hulk in Plymouth. Her hull design and sea-keeping characteristics will be briefly analysed using the original 1:48 scale drawing of her lines. There will be a review of her armaments followed by descriptions of her participation in the battles of the Nile and Trafalgar. The talk will conclude with some detail of Napoleon’s surrender to Bellerophon’s Captain Maitland at Ile-d’Aix off Rochefort.