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.

Sun Pier closed for Festival 21-23 May 2021

Adam Taylor of Medway Council has asked us to notify local boaters that Sun Pier will be closed to visiting vessels while the Thames Sailing Barge Edith May is moored there for three days as part of the Ebb & Flow Festival

At the same time (22 May – 13 June) boaters with artistic leanings may also be interested in the Estuary Festival involving numerous events in North Kent and Essex.

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

Maidstone River Festival, 27 July 2019

Thanks to sponsorship by Weston Homes, the Maidstone River Festival is back after a pause of a few years and we are planning a day all the family can enjoy. The River Festival started 40 years ago and people of all ages in Maidstone have great affection for what was the county town’s biggest annual event. We’ll have dressed up boats, raft races, fun and games for all the family. There will be illuminated boats in the evening and it will all end with a big bang as an award-winning fireworks display will go off from the top of Fremlin Walk in the town centre.

More info at www.maidstoneriverfestival.info