News today that sb Decima is up for sale. The Apollo Duck website has an advertisement from MJLewis Boatsales of Maldon offering the 1899-built Thames sailing barge for sale at £160,000.
Decima was built by FG Fay & Co of Southampton, being one of twenty identical steel barges built by the company for EJ Goldsmith’s of Grays, who traded her until the late 1940s. The 67 ton, 85 foot barge’s history includes ownership by Rayfields of Gravesend, and then Greenhithe Lighterage as a motor barge.
She was sold out of trade to Dennis Wildish in 1977 and he re-rigged her as a charter barge. In 1999 she was sold to Jeremy Taunton as a houseboat.
Master shipwright and well-known sailing barge restorer Tim Goldsack, her present owner, bought Decima in 2003 and started a major restoration. She was gutted and a substantial number of the hull and deck plates were replaced. She was given a new set of rigging and good second-hand sails. A new Gardner 6LXB engine was fitted. Decima has three cabins, with six berths, and central heating was installed when her owner lived aboard her for two years.
In July 2004 Decima set her sails for the first time in over 15 years, and has since been seen regularly around the East coast. She has recently been based at Heybridge Basin, and in 2010 Wilkin and Son Ltd of Tiptree, Essex, (the famous makers of jams, marmalades, and conserves), became her sponsors. Consequently the Tiptree logo has been displayed in her topsail.
According to the advertisement Decima is now at Faversham. Here’s the link to the advertisement on the Apollo Duck website.
Thanks to the Decima website for the following interesting titbits from her history:-
“Things have not always run smoothly for Decima. She has had many mishaps in her long history. Most notably in 1938, during a severe gale, her crew abandoned her off Great Yarmouth, and she sailed herself across the North Sea to Holland! She was relatively unscathed, and was returned to England where she was repaired and returned to work. On November 17th 1940 she was swamped and sank whilst at anchor off Southend pier with a deck cargo of timber. She was re-floated, refitted, and once again was put back to work!”
Dick Palmer has contacted us to ask if anybody knows what happened to sb Arrow. The splendid Sailing Barge Compendium, produced for the Society by John White in 2012, shows that Arrow became a barge yacht and was eventually buried at Titchmarsh Marina, Walton Backwaters.
Dick tells us that he sailed on her in 1961/62, and he asks if there are any pictures of Arrow anywhere.
Here’s an interesting read from the East Anglian Daily Times website, (EADT24). It’s about the female Mate of the sb Victor. This is the link.
A few ladies might have something to say about it.
We were delighted today to hear from Jennifer Franks. This is what she says:-
“I am 68 now, but spent lots of time in my childhood on my Dad’s barge. In those days there was the Azima, then later the Ardwina. My brother was on the Pudge.
“My Dad took part in lots of barge matches on the Sirdar and Mirosa, amongst others, and often sailed the Sirdar advertising Bell’s whisky. In 1964, when the Queen opened the new Forth Bridge, my Dad sailed the Sirdar under it. I’ve got the photos and newspaper reports.
“My Dad was fabulous and, as far as I am concerned, Thames bargemen are the best – after my Dad of course!”
The story of Spearo is filmed by his son-in-law, Chris Rudland, who says “Spearo is my father-in-law and I have so often listened to his stories over the years but thought now is the time to catch them on tape for posterity so I had a go knowing Spearo wouldn’t disappoint me. I have an interest in this generation and greatly admire their knowledge, wisdom and experiences especially throughout the war years.”
The sailing barge world was stunned by the recent news of the death at age 55 of Capt Mark Boyle, the organising secretary of the Thames Sailing Barge Match, since it was revived by him to celebrate the 50th anniversary of V.E. Day in 1995.
Mark’s love of sailing barges was kindled by the gift of a model kit when he was a child. He built the model and was later taken to Maldon, Essex to see the real thing. To his disappointment he realised that his model was full of inaccuracies, and on returning home he set about putting it right!
Mark was a gifted historian with a wealth of knowledge on subjects as diverse as sailing barges and the Spanish Peninsular War. He was also a talented author, writing articles for magazines about the sailing barges and his experiences afloat, having ‘gone to sea’ in his teens in the coasting trade aboard ex. ‘sailormen’ by then trading under power alone. Through later years he crewed aboard the charter and hospitality barges that plied the coast, gaining his Sailing Barge Master’s ticket in 1987.
Not content with working aboard the last of the trading barges, Mark developed his shipwrighting skills which have left their mark on many of the genre. These include the Cabby, Dawn and, most recently, the magnificently restored Cambria to which he applied his talent and satisfied his barge preservation aspirations at the same time. He recognised that for the restoration movement to have lasting relevance, it is equally important to preserve the environment of the sailing barge. Sadly, the wharves and bargeyards have fallen prey to much questionable re-development, but Mark realised the equal importance of the ‘on the water’ activities, and saw an opportunity to contest the Championship of the London River again through the conduit of a revived Thames Sailing Barge Match.
The enormity of the task before him in restoring this, the original barge match, to its rightful place in the sailing barge calendar would have scuppered many a capable organiser. In the wake of the success of the 1995 race, there was an appetite for more. Mark sought out the families which had played their part 100 and more years ago, with the result that the iconic names of sailing barge owners Everard, Clarabut and Goldsmith became associated with the Match once again. The outcome of his effort and commitment is evidenced by the current series being the longest ever continuous revival of the race since its founding by Henry Dodd in 1863.
The sailing barge fraternity has lost one of its stalwart supporters and his passing will have a significant impact in many ways. The Thames Match committee has met and decided to continue with the organising of this year’s event, the 150th anniversary of the first, which will take place on Saturday 13th July and be known as The Mark Boyle Memorial Thames Sailing Barge Match in honour of his vision and dedication to a sailing contest almost as old as the America’s Cup.
(This tribute to Mark Boyle was written by Richard Walsh, who is Acting Match Secretary for this year’s Thames Match. It is reproduced from the Thames Barge Match website, where the photograph of Mark also appears.)