Queenborough Classic Boat Show, 11-12 Sept

Step aboard a variety of historic tugs, sailing barges and sailing yachts. Free entry.

Queenborough Harbour is conveniently situated in North Kent where the Swale, Medway & Thames meet and an ideal base for cruising. Queenborough Harbour Trust is a not-for-profit organisation representing the interests of the local community and maritime users both resident and from further afield. Trust members are drawn from local boating and civic interest groups such as the Queenborough Yacht Club, Queenborough Rowing Club and the Queenborough Society. Queenborough Harbour is the primary boating refuge on the Swale providing valuable mooring facilities for local yachtsmen, fishermen and visitors alike drawn by the exceptional natural beauty and wildlife of the area, its fascinating maritime history, the convenience of the all tide landing and its strategic positioning as a safe haven between London and Ramsgate.

Rochester Pier still closed but there’s hope

Adam Taylor of Medway Council advises that Rochester Pier remains closed to all river users, please do not attempt access via the brow (walkway between the pontoon and main pier).

Medway Council are working hard to secure resources to repair the pier and bring it back into full use, more updates will follow.

The MSBA understands that the pontoon is safe to moor on and this is allowed for short stays (no overnight mooring) but you must not attempt to go ashore via the brow.

Fingers crossed for funding!

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.

Morris Tolhurst

Today was the funeral of MSBA Treasurer Morris Tolhurst, who died on 18 July, aged 69. He owned Beacon Boatyard at Borstal, near Rochester, and was father of our Patron, Kelly Tolhurst MP. He leaves his wife Chris, two daughters and two granddaughters.

Morris, a quiet but gifted man, will be missed greatly by his family and his many friends in the Association of Dunkirk Little Ships and the Medway boating community.

The Swale Match: a Celebration of Traditional Sail

Report by Julian Mannering

Last Saturday witnessed the 48th annual Swale Smack & Sailing Barge Match and the magnificent sight of some thirty traditional vessels racing in the River Swale off Faversham and Whitstable. The organisers, the Kentish Sail Association, were delighted that, having had to cancel the event for two years due to gales and the pandemic, they were finally able to fire the starting cannon for the 22-mile race out into the Thames estuary and back to the finishing line off Faversham Creek.

Strong winds on the Friday had prevented some entrants arriving from Essex, but there were plenty of vessels to make a great spectacle. The newly-built Thames barge Blue Mermaid was one of the few craft to make it over from Essex and she went on to win the Bowsprit Class. A good turnout of Kent barges – Repertor, Orinoco, Marjorie, Niagra, Edith May and the beautifully restored Cambria ­– had a fine day’s racing with Repertor winning the Staysail Barge Class, and Cambria the Restricted Class. There were prizes for other craft with the smack William & Mary, the smack yacht Bird of Dawning, the large gaffer Almita and the small gaffer Fifi all taking line honours in their classes.

The Swale also welcomed two traditional Dutch sailing vessels, Albatros and Johanna, the Humber keel Selby Ellen,and Lilian, the beautiful gentleman’s motor yacht, built in Stockholm in 1916, which this year acted as the Committee Boat and added another layer of old-time elegance to the day.

The Swale Match is the largest such traditional boat event on the East Coast, possibly in the country, and offers a vital celebration of these beautiful craft that still play a part around our coast and in our maritime story.

Swale Barge Match, Sat 31 July

David Pollock of the Kentish Sail Association writes: After 2 years’ cancellations, we’re hoping for a third time lucky and invite you to take part in the Match on 31 July 2021.  The Swale Match was established by Laurie Tester, Lena Reekie, Hugh Perks and others in 1973, as a festival of all manner of traditional sailing craft on the East Coast.  The assembled fleet usually comprises not only Thames sailing barges, smacks and bawleys in several categories, but also a variety of gaffers, classic and bermudan yachts, as well as Dutch barges, Baltic traders and historic powered craft.  This provides a magnificent spectacle on the water both for participants and for onlookers.

Swale Match 1982

Last year we introduced a new Open class last year, for non-traditional or unconventional craft, subject to interest.  We also held a match race for the Small Open Gaffers class on the Saturday after the scheduled Match, which was very well supported. 

Both at anchor in the Swale and on land at Hollowshore, crews and supporters come together for prize-giving and entertainment.  As well as Testers’ Boatyard, furnished for the weekend with food and drink stalls and live music, the shore venue also includes the fabled Shipwright’s Arms, supplying cask ales and food. The weekend starts on Friday afternoon, the Match is on Saturday and the homeward voyage is usually undertaken on the Sunday, but you can stay longer!

For further information and to register interest, please contact David Pollock at kentishsail@gmail.com, or phone 07831 200018

SB Raybel is recruiting

Thames Sailing Barge Raybel, moored at Milton Creek in Sittingbourne, is recruiting:

Assistant/Trainee Shipwright Full Time 
With restoration work now underway we are looking for someone to join the shipwright team. A rare opportunity to work with a credited national expert on barge restoration, learn heritage skills, and contribute to the regeneration of Sittingbourne and Swale Heritage.  
More details at http://adobe.ly/3ejJo3U

Artist in Residence £3600 based on 2 days a month of heritage-based  community arts activities.
Applications sought from artists living, working, or with a strong connection to Swale. Timescale  April  2021 until December 2022. 
More details at https://tinyurl.com/hfruzhca 

Socially  Engaged  Artist Mentorship 10 working days over a year. 
An opportunity to work alongside Salford  Makers, a highly  experienced arts collective, commissioned to deliver a programme of heritage-based arts engagement during 2021. Would suit an early career artist living, working, or with a strong connection to Swale.
More details at https://tinyurl.com/3mwm6k3w

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