Sunday, 21 August 2011

Down the Orwell on a Thames Sailing Barge

SB. Kitty's stern adornment
Yesterday morning we presented ourselves promptly at the Ipswich Dock and Sailing Barge, SB. 'Kitty', for a three hour cruise down the R. Orwell towards Felixstowe and Harwich.  When we arrived at the dock we found that there was a Marine Festival about to start and the rejuevenated and gentrified dockside was thronging with people in custume, stands were being prepared and food vendors were just getting organised.

SB. Kitty, built 1895

Thames Sailing Barge, Kitty, was built to carry grain and on launch joined a fleet of barges based at Mistley on the R.Stour in Essex.  She is a capable of carrying 71.25 tons.  Apparently she continued commercially carrying up into the 1960's but is now part of the Topsail charter fleet.

Orwell Bridge

Once the twenty passengers were aboard we were given the 'safety speech' and then we slipped the dockside and headed towards Ipswich lock and out of the marina.  The morning was simply glorious with blue sky and warm sun and barely a breeze.
'Barely a breeze' doesn't bode well for sailing but we knew that we were unlikely to see Kitty in full sail on this type of trip but at least we were aboard a Thames Sailing barge and out on the river.  As it happens though the skipper called for the topsail to be unfurled and we came back to Ipswich lock under a little sail.

SB. Victor moored at Ipswich dockside.

For anyone interested in seeing Thames Sailing Barges in action, make your way to Southend next Sunday, the  28th August, where you will see them racing.
We had a memorable day on a beautiful historic vessel and if anyone wants to buy her she is up for sale at £245,000.....

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