2017 was a quiet year for Cambria, which caused some level of worry.
2018 is proving much better. Early in April the Sea-Change Sailing Trust started a charter of the barge for several months to be used for their work with young people and for other more unusual sails.
Top of the pile of such voyages must be the coming “Trading Mates on Cambria” weekend which will see Dick Durham and Phil Latham return to the barge where they spent long days as Mates in the last of the trading years in the 1960s.
And you can be part of that great experience by joining the barge for the weekend. See below for full details and how to book.
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
Yachting Monthly has an interesting piece about the new Blue Mermaid which Sea-Change Sailing Trust is planning to build. She will be based on the blueprint of the steel-hulled barge blown up after hitting a German mine off the Spitway Channel in World War II. The new barge will be used to train sailing crew and the plan is that she will carry cargo again.
Read the Yachting Monthly story here.
This year, 2012, the Sea Change Sailing Trust chartered sb Cambria several times for its work with young people.
Simon North sailed with them on one charter to make this film about the young people on board and to look at why SCST uses Thames sailing barges.
Here’s the link to the film.
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.”
Those with access to Facebook may well have read the reports sent regularly from Cambria about the current charter by Sea Change Sailing Trust. Matt Care has reposted many of them on the Cambria’s own website, and occasional articles have appeared in newspapers. What makes this charter so special then? Well because of what the Sea Change trainees and the crew have been doing: they’ve delivered Captain Bob ale from the brewery in Maldon to various riverside pubs in the first half; and then re-enacted Cambria’s last voyage in trade by loading a cargo at Tilbury Docks and taking it up to Ipswich.
Now the skipper for the charter, Richard Titchener, has written an article for the Ipswich Maritime Trust in which he tells us all about the charter. It’s well worth a read, click here.
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….”
Creeksailor is a nice little Blog all about pottering around the Thames Estuary. As he says:-
“Take a seat in this tiny wooden cockpit of the web. Within these pages can be found true stories of high seas adventure, or rather pottering and creek crawling in the ditches and creeks of the Thames Estuary. While here you may feel the wind blowing in the rigging, the rattling of halyards up the mast, and smell the very essence of minimalist shallow water small-boat cruising. “
Creeksailor has just written about the work of Sea-Change Sailing Trust, and what a trip on one of the barges can mean for the young people who get this great opportunity. Read all about it here.