Our second Winter Lunch in the 2016-17 series took place on Sunday 15/01/17. Nearly 40 members gathered to hear Peter Taylor of the Thames Sailing Barge Trust tell tales of the old East Coast and the boatmen and women who plied their trade on our rivers.
The barges were crewed by the skipper, sometimes with their wives, and a third hand. The barges were the HGVs of their day, sailing in all weathers to keep the economy of London going. Peter told of a recent TV programme that recreated their task, featuring a "stackie" (a barge loaded with hay) sailing from an Essex creek into London. The hay was routinely stacked so high that the helm had no forward vision, and relied on someone sitting on top of the stack shouting guidance. This voyage was complicated by the Thames Barrier but, somehow, they got through!
Peter played a number of videos, including one of a rather "posh" gentleman describing the spritsail rig. It was a hard life, though, and cargo was not guaranteed. Barges without loads waited on "Starvation Buoys" in North Woolwich. Peter also briefly mentioned the role Thames Barges played in the Dunkirk evacuation.
The work of the Thames Sailing Barge Trust and their two barges, "Pudge" and "Centaur", was outlined. Further details can be found on their website. Peter ended by saying that he would love for members to visit when in Maldon and, perhaps, join him for a sail on a barge.
As is becoming the norm, the hour was over too soon, but we adjourned to tables to enjoy a splendid Carvery prepared by Simon. A collection was held for the Thames Sailing Barge Trust, raising £130, and the sale of TBST goods raised a further £84.50. Peter has since contacted me to thank all for their generously and hospitality.
Our next Cruiser Lunch is on Sunday 19th February 2017 at 12:00 noon. We welcome another outside speaker whose subject is "Confessions of a Yachtmaster Examiner". Although these lunches are organised by the Cruiser fleet they are, of course, open to all members. So, come along, have some fun, and enjoy a splendid meal with friends.