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A new chapter for Decima?

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 off Southend Pier, Southend Match 2013.

Decima off Southend Pier, Southend Match 2013.

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!”  

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Iron Wharf boatyard, Faversham

Nathalie Banaigs has drawn my attention to this picture by Mark Sewell of Iron Wharf boatyard, a working boatyard on Faversham Creek.   It’s good to see boats being worked on in Faversham.
iron wharf boatyard

 

 

Video of Cambria’s derigging

Excellent video of Cambria being derigged at the end of the season, which took place at Faversham recently.

Here’s the link.

Thanks to Matt Care for pointing it out and Mark Chapman for publishing the video.

Greta at Faversham

Sorry for the absence  of new posts, (I see the last one was September 5), but I do surprisingly have other interests including running two medieval events.   One was last Friday, and was a huge success once again.   So now I have a brief interlude before the next one gets to be extremely heavy work.

What could be better to show now than this really nice picture of Greta which has been posted to her Facebook page today.   She is at the Albion, Faversham.

The barges are beginning to wind down at the end of the season, but some still have sailing dates available.   Well worth checking.

Martin Phillips calls for positive recognition that barge building skills are still thriving

Martin Phillips has today posted a comment to our piece about the film of “The Quay”.   It appears of course on that post, but it is necessary to click on “Comment” in order to see it.    It deserves more prominence, so we repeat it in full here:-

“It is very sad that the landowner’s wish to develop the site has destroyed what had been developed at Standard Quay; however I feel that the coverage of this to date rather ignores reality of what has been achieved by the Thames barge and trad boat community in East Anglia.

It is depressing to read such statements as:  ‘A centre for ancient maritime crafts, the quay is a haven for the few dozen surviving Thames sailing barges.   But Standard Quay’s latest owner, a property developer, plans to turn it into a tourist trap with shops, restaurants and luxury houses….’

This publicity would give the impression that this was the last home of sailing barges and that the preservation skills of barge shipwrights and the home of barges has been destroyed for good by a property developer’s greed.

However this is simply a false picture. What had been achieved at Faversham in the comparatively recent past particularly around the rebuild of Cambria was great, and of course Tim Goldsack is still operating his business (albeit not at Standard Quay). The Iron Wharf is still thriving as are the regular Faversham barges Mirosa and Repertor and Lady of the Lea.

Why can’t someone make an optimistic film publicising the achievements of the TSBT (formerly the barge club) in keeping its barges sailing over the last 64 years, rebuilding two (Pudge and Centaur) WITHOUT Lottery support and taking thousands of people sailing? The Trust’s third hand/mate  training  has produced  about 8 of the current Sailing Barge masters (including myself). It has done so much good to preserve barges and helped to bring people into the  barge scene who go on to work on barges. Let’s celebrate this success please!

Maldon and the Blackwater are  home to a very active fleet of barges and two barge yard (Cooks and Blackwater Marina) with blocks and  2 drydocks operating. Then there is Andy Harman’s yard at St Osyth not to forget the Pioneer rebuild and all the smacks. TS rigging has a thriving trad boat business (rerigging the Cutty Sark for example) and there is a host of evidence that the area is a hot bed of traditional skills and specialist shipwrights, riggers, metal workers, a blacksmith and much much more all based around the rich maritime heritage of the area. Topsail Charters have built a successful business over a quarter of a century preserving a fleet of active barges carrying thousands of passengers a year and employing a group of skippers and mates.

Then there are the barges themselves and the unseen efforts and huge financial commitments of private owners that has produced the wonderful sight of beautifully restored and maintained barges like Marjorie, Adieu, Edith May, Lady Daphne, Repertor, Wyvenhoe,  Lady of the Lea and Phoenician and many others . Private owners are rebuilding barges like Melissa and Niagara, Ethel Maud etc, with more on the way and two new builds completed and more on the way.

I deplore the problems that have ruined all Brian Pain’s efforts to achieve a laudable goal but the picture is far from gloomy! Traditional skills are actually thriving in East Anglia and the fleet of barges and smacks is an often unpublicised gem. Where else in the UK  has a fleet of traditional craft in their home waters been preserved and transformed from cargo carriers and fishing boats to working and pleasure vessels?

Yes what happened at Standard Quay was bad for one person’s dream and destroyed his hopes for the future. I dare say it was undoubtedly bad for Faversham – but that is quite a big issue and no doubt many will debate what is best for the town and the use of its creek for many years to come. 

Let’s celebrate what we are really  achieving guys! Please can someone make a film to show what has been achieved and what a wonderful tradition we have kept going. Tell the public and above all encourage them to join in and come sailing on our wonderful craft.”

Martin has set out a view with which I certainly agree.   It does often seem that Maldon and the other places on the Essex and Suffolk coast are somewhat ignored by some leaders of the barge world.   As he says, there is a thriving barge community in East Anglia, with barge yards, wonderful craftsmen, and a fleet of magnificent vessels who call it their home. 

Watch “The Quay” – a film by Richard Fleury

This film is well worth watching.   It’s the story of Standard Quay at Faversham, and tells how the Quay was home to some of the last of the shipwrights and other craftsmen, whose services are still in demand.   A developer has applied for planning permission for housing on the quay, and this film is about the traditional working shipyard’s final year

“The Quay”, is a film by Richard Fleury:   “A windswept stretch of English creekside echoing to marsh birds’ calls and the thud of shipwrights’ hammers, Standard Quay is straight from Dickens.    Wooden ships have been built and rebuilt here for a thousand years and, to some, this scruffy wharf is a magical vision of living history.

“A centre for ancient maritime crafts, the quay is a haven for the few dozen surviving Thames sailing barges.   But Standard Quay’s latest owner, a property developer, plans to turn it into a tourist trap with shops, restaurants and luxury houses.   “The Quay” is the story of a traditional working shipyard’s final year.”

Here’s the link to the film on YouTube.

Barging about the Rivers – in the Sun!

Much better weather around the Thames area makes it a grand weekend for the barges.  Here’s what some of them have to say over the last couple of days:-            

Peter Phillips says, Thalatta doing what she does best!  Cyril, Roger, Rita and a barge load of children cruising the Blackwater.”  (photo – Peter Phillips)

Thames Barge Orinoco says, “Fantastic charter yesterday!  And again today;  all sitting in the sunshine on the deck watching the world go by.”  (photo – sb Orinoco)

Annie Meadows says, “We have 45 artists on board today;  hoping I will be allowed to photograph some of their work.”

Cambria is at Pin Mill, where Richard Titchener, Hilary Halajko and the Sea Change youngsters on board have been busy.   Dave Brooks went to visit them and took some pictures.  

Dave says, “Cambria is on the blocks at Pin Mill, and Skipper Richard Titchener is showing the way as Sea Change do a fantastic job of painting her up in readiness for the Thames match next weekend.”   (photo – Dave Brooks)

Dave goes on to say “The locals didn’t recognize her with the black leeboards, so when in Pin Mill do as Bob Roberts would have done and paint them.”   Cambria now has tri-colour leeboards.   (photo – Dave Brooks)

Dave had something else to tell us too.   “For the first time in over 40 years Cambria returns to Pin Mill.  It stirred a few memories of some of the people living there who remember her from the Bob Roberts days.”  (Photo – Dave Brooks)

Meanwhile two special events are going on today:-   the Harwich Sea Festival and Lifeboat Day and the Nautical Festival at Faversham.   Lovely weather for both of them, with lots of good things to see and do, and a great atmosphere. 

And now Ed Gransden joins in to tell us, “Sailing past Horrid hill, riverside.  Cracking day today  –  I knew this summer would be a good one….” 

 

 

                                                                                                              

Orinoco likened to a cat called Ulysses!

Found on the internet today, a nice little piece about Orinoco.   It was on the Geograph website, which has the tag line, “photograph every web square”.                                            

And here’s what the website says about the photo:-

“The sailing barge ‘Orinoco’, moored at Iron Wharf, Faversham Creek.

“A calm, warmish June evening  –  warmer than many in June 2012.   In the distance, the unmistakable silhouette of Oyster Bay House, with its hoist high above the creek.   A little nearer, there is what looks rather like the awning over a railway station platform  –  this has in fact been rigged up over a vessel undergoing restoration.

“I love the idea of giving the adventurous name ‘Orinoco’ to a modest coastal-going Thames barge  –  it’s a bit like calling your cat Ulysses.”

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!  

A craftsman at work – the sailmaker

It was a really cold, wet day, and as we sat aboard Cambria waiting for the Gravesend crowds to come and view her, we were not that surprised that they didn’t flock down on to the new pontoon.   Some came, a few brave souls with children wanting to see what it was all about.

And then, about 4 o’clock my day was made really worthwhile.

Cambria had a tear in her topsail that needed to be repaired before she goes back to Faversham at the end of the week, and she was expecting the sailmaker.   A dripping wet figure in wellies and waterproofs descended the ladder, and it was Steve Hall the sailmaker from North Sea Sails of Tollesbury.   He is one of the very few traditional sailmakers left.

He set to work, expertly measuring the size of the piece of canvas he needed, cutting it, and then sewing it neatly into place with small, regular stitches.    This all done on the splendid topsail that he himself had made not that long ago.   He made it look easy, but it’s only easy if you know how and have years of experience.   And all the while he talked in the wonderful real Essex tones, (not that rubbish you hear on TOWIE and similar programmes, which is actually part London and part transatlantic TV speak).

We had a long discussion as fellow enthusiasts of Jeeves and Wooster, but Steve’s much better at it than I am, and can quote reams of it.

And I felt then as I watched him, and I still feel now, that I have been truly privileged to spend the afternoon in the company of a master craftsman and watch him at his work.  

(Tricia)                                                                                       (photo – Dave Brooks)

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