Off on the Ferry to Gravesend today for the Cambria Trust Annual General Meeting, held at the Port of London Authority headquarters at London River House. The Cambria Trust, of course, owns and maintains the sailing barge Cambria, renowned as the last UK registered vessel to trade under sail alone. A wooden Thames sailing barge, she still has no engine and is completely dependent on the wind.
The AGM was well attended, and it was good to see a number of people who had not met since last year’s meeting. Chairman, Bruce Richardson, reported on a busy year with charters by Rotary International District 1120 and the Sea-Change Sailing Trust, both using the barge for sail training. Cambria had taken part in several of the annual barge matches, doing well, and had been at the Classic Boat Festival in St Katharine’s Dock in September, where on several days she had welcomed 1,000 visitors.
A highlight of the day was the presentation to the Trust of a splendid framed picture of Cambria taking part in the Thames Match of 1936. The picture was a gift to the Trust from Tony and Sandy Farnham, and in handing it over Tony said that he hoped the picture would be installed on board the barge. Our picture shows Tony Farnham, right, presenting the picture to Bruce Richardson.
Picture courtesy of Dave Brooks
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.”
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!
She will be open for visits on any day in that period at the following times, 10.30am, 12 noon, 2.30pm and 4.00pm. Every effort will be made to stick to that programme, but some time slots may need to be dropped if there are insufficient people to man the barge.
Cambria brought the first of this year’s groups of young carers, (part of the Rotary International scheme), up from the Swale at the weekend – a successful charter.
Hilary Halajko said, “the new bowsprit is fab. We had a lovely beat up sea reach on Saturday night. Bit too windy for the jib topsail but we had it set earlier in the day.”
(Photographs – Dave Brooks)