Monthly Archives: May 2012

The Cambria Cup

The Cambria Cup won by Cambria in 1928, and won by the restored Cambria today  –  The Medway Barge Match, First in the Coasting Class.

River Pageant vessels to gather in West India Dock for checks

The website,, has some interesting details about the Diamond Jubilee River Pageant.     There will be 105 large vessels in The Avenue of Sail lining the banks of the Thames for the actual event, and the organizers have put down moorings along the mile from London Bridge to Wapping on both sides of the river.   These vessels, including a number of Thames Sailing Barges, are too large to pass under London Bridge.  The Avenue of Sail also includes St Katherine’s Dock – where there will be a dozen vessels.

The website tells us how the boats will be arriving on Thursday and Friday of next week when several hundred motor vessels will gather in West India Dock, which will act as a marshalling yard. Whilst they’re in West India Dock they’ll be inspected by the Port of London Authority and the Marine and Coastguard Agency to ensure they pass safety checks and are ready for the Pageant.   Then on Saturday morning they all leave to make their way to their mustering positions, and water taxis will take invited guests and crew to the vessels.   20,000 people will be on board 1,000 vessels during the Pageant.

On Sunday, after the flotilla of boats has travelled from Battersea Bridge to Wapping, the vessels will head off into waters around Canary Wharf and Greenwich.

You can read the whole story here.

Sheila knits the Jubilee River Pageant

This story is not about sailing barges, but, as one of the many articles being published to do with HM The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Thames Pageant, it is so unusual and quirky I thought readers would not mind.

Keen knitter, Sheila Carter from Southampton has made a knitted Royal Barge cruising along the Thames.   The project is a metre long and shows the Queen and Duke, the Thames Watermen, a surrounding flotilla of small boats, and Tower Bridge in the background.    It took Sheila 500 hours and an estimated 1.8million stitches using 4,500ft of wool.   Read the full story here.

Incidentally, isn’t it strange how national newspapers and media just keep getting it wrong.   The Queen will be on board a “decorated royal barge” but it will not be a de-rigged sailing barge, as originally reported;  nor will it be the magnificent newly-built “Gloriana” rowed barge.   It will be the Thames charter dining boat, “Spirit of Chartwell”,  which has been out of action, (so not making money), for many months whilst it has been re-fitted to make it resemble the barges used by Tudor and Stuart monarchs, complete, we are told, with two large thrones for the Queen and Prince Philip. 

Creeksailor writes about Sea-Change

Creeksailor is a nice little Blog all about pottering around the Thames Estuary.   As he says:- 

“Take a seat in this tiny wooden cockpit of the web. Within these pages can be found true stories of high seas adventure, or rather pottering and creek crawling in the ditches and creeks of the Thames Estuary. While here you may feel the wind blowing in the rigging, the rattling of halyards up the mast, and smell the very essence of minimalist shallow water small-boat cruising. “

Creeksailor has just written about the work of Sea-Change Sailing Trust, and what a trip on one of the barges can mean for the young people who get this great opportunity.   Read all about it here.


Victor and her young crew will be at the Diamond Jubilee River Pageant

We now know that a number of barges will be at the Diamond Jubilee River Pageant on 3 June.

News today, story here and here, that Ipswich-based sb Victor will be moored near HMS Belfast, and will be crewed by young people from the Royal Hospital School at Holbrook, Suffolk.  

Originally the Royal Hospital School was an “asylum”, or orphanage and

Victor sails past Royal Hospital School

school, for children of deceased or disabled Royal Naval seamen, founded in 1712, and was housed at Greenwich.   In 1933 it moved to Suffolk to find a larger site, and is now a leading independent boarding and day school.  The school is very proud of its links with the Royal Navy, and keeps a number of naval traditions, including all pupils being issued with naval uniforms for ceremonial occasions.  

Pupils are encouraged to sail, and the crew for the Victor was chosen by a selection process from the many who wanted to take part.   Being part of the River Pageant is something they will remember for the rest of their life.

Cambria’s winter work ready for first sails of 2012

The Barge Blog has been so busy that there was no time to publish Dave Brooks’s winter report from Cambria earlier, but here it is.

“It has been a busy close season for the Cambria.  Many of our objectives have been achieved, though some will have to carried forward to next year.

“The main focus of this close season was to have the Rotary Club Logo painted into the tops’l, (Rotary International is a sponsor of Cambria), which has been completed, and to replace our old ‘whippy’ bowsprit, which has been fitted.

“Sailing plans started with Cambria leaving Faversham on Friday 20th April, under Richard Titchener, and arriving in Gravesend on the 22nd to sit on the new pontoon at Gravesend Town Pier as part of its opening event.  We had the barge open to the public as much as possible, although the weather didn’t do much to encourage visitors. She left Gravesend on the 4th May to return to Faversham where her re-dedication ceremony took place on Standard Quay on the 9th May.

“We expect to be racing in the Medway Match on the 26th May, the Thames Match on the 28th July and the Colne Match on the 8th September.

“The sailing season is back.”

Photo by Dave Brooks shows Cambria lying at the Gravesend Town Pier Pontoon, and yes, Matt C and Jeremy T, that is the power station!  

1975 article about Barge Matches

There’s a lovely article here from Look and Learn, history picture library, about reviving “Victorian barge races” on the Thames and Medway.   It was published on 7th June 1975.  

The article starts with the story of Captain Alfred Horlock and Phoenician, and the four generations of his family winning barge matches.


Thistle passes the flagship

There have been pictures in the newspapers and on television this week of the Royal Navy’s flagship, HMS Ocean, sailing up river to London to take part in the practices for security during the Olympics which have been going on over the last few days.   Ocean will be back on the Thames for the actual event, and will also be providing accommodation for some of the armed forces involved in Olympic security.   The Royal Navy’s Facebook page has been publishing pictures of Ocean taken by members of the public during her journey, and whilst she was moored at Greenwich.   Some of them are quite amazing, as are the videos showing how close she was to the piers of the Thames Barrier as she went through it.   She was pulled by two tugs, which kept the bow straight, but by the time the stern was going through it looked like the Captain must have been having a few nasty moments.   Amongst the latest pictures put up today is this lovely one of Thistle, on a trip from Tower Bridge to Gravesend, passing HMS Ocean.

Picture courtesy Ollie Steed

Thalatta’s new third hand

Peter Phillips reports on the first day sails of the season for Thalatta, with the baby daughter as third hand.   As he says, “Let’s hope the weather improves!”

Watch the sailmaker at work in Simon’s video

We posted here on Saturday about sailmaker Steve Hall’s visit to Cambria at Gravesend to repair the topsail.

Film maker, Simon North, was there and has now published this great video of Steve at work.   Not only does it show his great skill, but he talks about his life as a sailmaker.   He tells us that it took a bit over three months to make the sails for Cambria, and that he has been sailmaking ever since leaving school.

It even has my own dulcet tones asking a couple of questions.


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