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!”
“News of the passing of my father, Captain Gordon Swift, on the 7th February 2014.
“2014 has seen the 50th Anniversary of his association with sailing barge Dawn. He bought her when her days had come to an end as a timber lighter. She was laid up with others at Heybridge Basin. After re-rigging Dawn, they were able to stay together for many years.
“He sold her to Newham Council but continued to skipper her. Sadly she needed work in the early 1990s, which was the beginning of her end. But Gordon would not give up on her.
“He formed the Dawn Sailing Barge Trust in 1996. With many, many people’s support and help, she sailed again in 2008, in the Blackwater Match with Gordon at the wheel once again.
“He was always happy to talk to anyone about Dawn, and if they had the time there were many tales.”
Our picture, kindly supplied by Gerard, shows Gordon’s last time at Dawn’s wheel at Ipswich in 2013.
We send the Society’s condolences to Gerard and his family.
Last December, we posted about Dawn and the latest stages of her restoration. Read it here.
UPDATE – We now have details of Gordon’s funeral, which will be held on Wednesday 26th February, at 12 noon, at St John the Baptist Church, Metfield, Suffolk, IP20 0LA. All are welcome to join the family to remember with them the life of Gordon Swift.
No flowers please, but donations if wished to his chosen charity, The Dawn Sailing Barge Trust. Donations may be made via Susan Whymark Funeral Service Ltd, Chestnut House, 12 Progress Way, Langton Green, Eye, Suffolk, IP23 7HU.
Gordon’s family would love you to join them for the service and afterwards to share your memories with them over a mug of tea.