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 thing about The Barge Blog, the SSBR Facebook page, and the websites and pages of the individual barges is you learn a tremendous amount from them. Between us, we have contributors and “commenters” who are not slow in coming forward to give us information about the snippets of news we feature, or photographs we publish where we don’t know very much about them. And speaking from The Barge Blog perspective, we are very glad that they do.
This week, for example, Ryan Dale has posted a link to a picture, and has said, “not a Thames barge but it’s a spritsail rig in Italy!!”
He gave this link to the Caravan Stage Company which performs on the deck of a 30 metre tall ship as the Caravan Stage Tall Ship Theatre. The boat, the Amara Zee, is based on the traditional design of a Thames Sailing Barge, and has the best of contemporary marine and theatre technology. With its shallow draft of 1.2 metres and its self-lowering masts via on-deck winches the boat can access virtually any waterfront community. The Amara Zee uses the masts and rigging for the scenery, light and sound equipment and special effects. The shows are staged on the entire deck, on the masts and rigging, on the water and land surrounding the vessel with the audience sitting on the shore.
It was not long before Martin Phillips joined in to tell us:- “She was built in Canada, I believe by a guy called John Dearden who was a bargeman in the UK. I sailed with him on Pudge back in the early 70s, (when I was a teenager), and I think that he had got involved with the TBSC through Silvertown Lighterage which ran May, Ethel and other barges at the time for Tate & Lyle. John emigrated, (not sure but I think he went to Montreal when the May or the Ethel were shipped over there and decided to stay). He started his own shipyard which designed and built this Thames Barge. This is not a new thing because actually barges were built for UK trade in Sweden and Holland in the old days!! It might be worth mentioning this to Geoff Harris as he went to Canada on May too, so I am sure he knows about John Dearden.”