We visited The Barge Tearooms at Maldon on Sunday as part of our family Christmas.
We hadn’t realized a charity rowing race would be taking place on the river in aid of RNLI, which meant there were large crowds both on Hythe Quay and all along the Promenade. It was a pretty miserable windy, wet day, and we were glad to get on board sb Hydrogen and into the tearooms. There were six of us; four scurried below into the warm, but two hardy souls stayed on deck. The cream tea was excellent, and so, apparently, was the cake. They even provide blankets and umbrellas for those who stay outside! Well worth a visit.
Because of the repairs which are taking place to the Quay there were only the three Topsail Charters barges present: sb Hydrogen, sb Thistle and sb Reminder. At Cooks Yard, sb George Smeed is now looking very smart;
still without leeboards, but two freshly painted specimens were lying nearby in the yard so could be destined for her. And sb Dawn was also there, wrapped up in her winter cover.
While we were there sb Kitty came back from a sausage-and-mash cruise and passed us on her way to Fullbridge where she is based at present.
Many of the photos we feature on The Barge Blog and in our Gallery are taken by Dave Brooks, a Committee Member of SSBR, and of the Cambria Trust. Today we are posting this great photo of Dave on sb Kitty, taken by Annie Meadows who said: “Team Kitty are off out soon for a PLAY. No customers, just crew, lots of sails to set – Let’s go!!” Well it was Regatta day at Maldon. And because she deserves a picture too, here’s one of Dave’s wife, Julie, also enjoying the sail on Kitty.
A round-up from some of the barges as the season draws nearer to its close.
Peter Phillips records that Thalatta’s last day sail of the season was on 3rd September. She then went to St Osyth, and then on to Heybridge. He says: “thanks for everything Cyril and Roger, and let’s look forward to next season.” Meanwhile he tells us: “Thalatta has a new book, Thalatta, Spirit of the Sea; I suppose you could call it her biography.”
Thistle had a Public Open Day in Ipswich Dock last Sunday. As well as free entry, she was offering a competition for two free places on a barge cruise.
Edith May was wondering how it could be that the last week of her summer season was approaching. She reports that the Tea Room will be re-opening on Thursday 25th October, 1030 to 1600.
Cambria finished her extended charter to the Sea Change Sailing Trust, and is now doing several short charters for young carers, who are sponsored by the Rotary Club, which pays for replacement carers while the young people are away. The professional crew members at the moment are Ian Ruffles (Skipper) and Denis Johnson and Ryan Dale (Mates). On Sunday Ryan posted this photograph, which shows Cambria’s GPS recording a speed of 14.2 knots. He goes on to say they “Maxed out at 15.9 knots not long after. I know the tide accounted for a lot of it, but still find this incredible!!”
Kitty has been working really hard. Annie Meadows tells us: “Lovely two hour sail on the Blackwater this evening; back as the sun was about to set – pair of egrets by our mooring and four cormorants diving for their dinner.” The next day she says: “Third day out in a row; we had Topsail, Mainsail, Staysail and Mizzen set and engine off for over an hour. The barge was full to capacity with lots of smiling faces.” And there was more the next day: “Out on the Blackwater with a full barge again today. Sunshine for most of the day, with Lyndon March doing a great job as Acting Skipper.” And Annie’s latest report is: “Another lovely but slightly chilly sail on sb Kitty, this time with JP Lodge as Acting Skipper, and Kevin Burtonshaw and Lyndon March wandering about, dazed and unsure what to do once control had been handed over to someone else. It was funny to watch.” Not to be outdone, JP Lodge joins in: “I had a good day yesterday on sb Kitty. It was my turn as Acting Skipper! Learnt a lot, didn’t break anything. I still reckon my approach alongside Hydrogen was smooth. Thanks to Kevin, Lyndon and Annie. Refreshments afterwards in the Queens, then later that evening to Curry Nights for a really good meal.”
It’s Ipswich Maritime Festival this weekend, so on Saturday and Sunday, 18 and 19 August, there will be a huge programme of activities at Ipswich Waterfront, from 10.00am to 6.00pm each day.
Here’s the link to the programme for the day.
There’s lots for children to do, and to interest adults. The programme lists some of the vessels which will be present, and mentions Lady of Avenel, MT Kent, Thalatta, Centaur, and “Thames Barges”. Er, what are Thalatta and Centaur then?
There will be Cream Tea Cruises on Victor at 2.00pm on Saturday and Sunday. We also happen to know that Kitty will be there, at Custom House Quay, and will be offering three hour barge trips.
Meanwhile, further south, Edith May is having Open Days this weekend, and will be open in Halstow Dock on Saturday and Sunday, from 11.00am to 4.00pm. Cream teas and cake are promised in the Edith May Tearoom.
Sunshine and high temperatures are forecast so it should be a good weekend on the water.
Busy weekend in the barge world.
Cambria left dry dock at Faversham yesterday, and here’s Repertor already on the way to take her place in the dry dock.
Meanwhile today more work is done on Cambria, and here’s Tim Goldsack working on her new bowsprit.
At the other great home of barges, Maldon, the Quay saw Kitty getting attention. JP Lodge says “…lowering down, sanding and painting the topmast truck, preparing to rig out and heave up maybe next weekend.”
Photographs by Dave Brooks