Learn to sail a Thames Sailing Barge for free – 2018

Are you ready for the adventure of a lifetime?

(Please note the Thames Barge Sailing Training Scheme is now closed to new applicants for 2018. We have had a fantastic response again this year. Shortlisted applicants will be notified before the end of February. Thank you to all those who have applied and helped us spread the word.)

The Thames Sailing Barge Trust is seeking passionate, highly-motivated individuals who want to become mate or skipper of a traditional Thames Sailing Barge.

No previous sailing experience required

Following the success of the first two years of our sail training scheme, the Trust are looking to recruit a further ten trainees to help secure the future of the Thames Sailing Barge fleet.

This is possibly the most comprehensive, free sail training opportunity in the world.

We will guide you through over 700 enabling objectives, which will help you reach the required standard to qualify as a sailing bargemaster. These include full knowledge of all barge sailing, navigation and maintenance tasks.

It usually takes around 10 years to become a fully qualified sailing barge skipper. So this is a serious commitment that will require you to dedicate at least one weekend a month to the scheme, for at least the next decade.

This is a fantastic opportunity to get afloat and discover a lifetime of adventure under sail.

What we are offering:

    • Around 20 sailing days free of charge per year
    • A personal development plan, customised to your availability and previous sailing experience, if any
    • A personal mentor to assist in your development
    • Access to over 20 Thames Sailing Barges in Essex, Kent, Suffolk, London and beyond
    • Training in a complete range of traditional seafaring skills, including rope-work, gear and rigging, sail setting and trim, rules of the road, navigation, meteorology, small boat work, maintenance and leadership skills 

In volunteering, you will not only be helping to preserve Thames Sailing Barges themselves but also the skills and knowledge required to sail and maintain them. Hopefully you will in turn be able to pass these skills on to future generations.

You will get the chance to meet lots of interesting people from different backgrounds along the way as you enjoy the wonders of Thames Barge sailing.

You will need to be:

    • Passionate about learning how to sail a Thames Sailing Barge
    • Not afraid of heights
    • Reliable and flexible (hours depend on tide and weather etc)
    • Reasonably fit and strong
    • Sociable, with good communication skills
    • Willing to learn and apply yourself

Find Out More:

If you’re interested in finding out more, send an email to training@bargetrust.org with your name, contact details and a few words explaining why you would like to be considered for this opportunity.

We look forward to hearing from you.

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An Afternoon of Archive Thames Sailing Barge Films

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Britain Afloat: Thames Sailing Barge

Don’t miss the first episode of Britain Afloat on BBC2 at 8:00pm on Saturday 30 September 2017.

Thames Barges GravesendIts subject is the Thames Sailing Barge.

See exciting footage of this year’s Thames Match, read Pudge‘s old logbook in Maldon and meet Jimmy Lawrence, one of the last men to skipper a Thames Sailing Barge in trade.

The programme is also available on i-Player for 30 days afterwards: Britain Afloat: The Thames Barge

Here’s a short clip from the programme to give you a taster.

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Centaur will be at the Thames Parade and open to public in West India Dock

Centaur will be taking part in the Thames Parade on Saturday 16th September and will be open to the public as part of the pop up museum in West India Dock on Sunday 17th September.

If you are in London why not take the opportunity to see Centaur and many other Thames sailing barges.

More details follow the link below.

Nearest station for West India Dock is South Quay DLR



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Thames Barge Parade Adventure

Last few places available on a 4 day hands-on adventure aboard Thames Sailing Barge Centaur in September – including the Thames Barge Parade

Tower Bridge Lift

Join our crew for this action-packed 4-day trip.

You don’t need any previous sailing experience, as our experienced skipper and mate will show you the ropes.

Thames Barge Parade

The cruise will begin by boarding Thames Sailing Barge Centaur in West India Dock, London on the morning of Saturday 16 September.

You will then join other barges for the Thames Sailing Barge Parade, passing under Tower Bridge at 12:00.

History Of Thames Sailing Barges – Pop Up Museum

West India Dock

This will be followed by a public event at West India Dock on Saturday afternoon and Sunday, where there will be a Pop Up museum on the history of Thames Barges.

A number of barges will be open to the public to visit.

Cruise to Maldon

On Monday morning we will begin the sail to Maldon in Essex, mooring overnight at Gravesend.

Expect to arrive in Maldon by about lunchtime on Tuesday 19 September.

Book Your Place

Cost is just £220 per person including accommodation and food provisions, to be cooked by the crew.

To book your place or find out more, email crewing@bargetrust.org or call David on 07840 862685.

Visit the Thames Barge Parade website for more information about the event.

Photos: Thames Barge Parade 2016 photos from the Thames Barge Parade website (credited to Ian Smith and Renee Waite) 


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Photographic Competition

The Thames Sailing Barge Trust are holding a photographic competition. It is a few years since we have done this and it will be open to members and non-members. If you would like to take part, the rules and guidelines are listed below:

Prizes are to be awarded at the end of the competition and your photographs will be used by the Trust to publicise its activities.

There are two categories under which you can enter

1  A Barge Themed photograph
2 A photograph specifically of Sailing Barges Pudge or Centaur which are owned by the Trust.

The deadline for entries is 31st October 2017. Winners will be announced in the 1st 2018 Edition of the TSBT newsletter Golden Chaffcutter and on Facebook

All Images submitted should have been taken during 2017

The winners will each receive a voucher for a weekend sail for 2 during a non Barge Match Weekend. Winners are able to upgrade their voucher to a barge match for an additional fee.

Please make sure you read the full terms and conditions before submitting your photographs

Photographic Competition Rules

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Children’s Day on Pudge

The Trust is holding its first ever Children’s Day on Thursday 3rd August 2017

This event is to educate young children about the history of these iconic sailing barges

Children’s Day

Thursday 3rd August 2017
11:00 – 17:00

A fun and educational day aboard Thames sailing barge Pudge.

Raising the foresail
Learn to tie knots
Explore Pudge with your free Activity Pack

Event suitable for children aged 11 and under

Entrance Free (Donations Welcome)
All children must be accompanied by an Adult.

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Incorrect dates – June 2017 Golden Chaffcutter

We would like to apologise for the incorrect dates that appear on pages 11 & 14 of the current issue of the Golden Chaffcutter.

Our website has the correct details but for your help the dates below relate to the following events:

Page 11

Leigh on Sea Heritage Day – Should read Sunday 6th August
Ipswich Maritime Festival – Should read Saturday and Sunday 19th & 20th August

Page 14
‘DATES for your DIARY’

Leigh on Sea Heritage Day – Should read Sunday 6th August
Ipswich Maritime Festival – Should read Saturday and Sunday 19th & 20th August


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Sailing Gift Vouchers for Father’s Day

Are you looking for a special gift for Father’s Day?

Why not treat him to a hands-on sailing holiday on a traditional Thames Barge?

Gift vouchers available for any amount from £25

No previous sailing experience required

Food and accommodation included

Day sails from £65

Weekend Sails from £130

Solos, couples and groups welcome

You will receive a presentation voucher enclosed in a greeting card, featuring a Thames Sailing Barge. The card is left blank for you to write the words of your choice.

Vouchers do not have an expiry date.

Contact David Gibson on 07840 862685 and he’ll get one sent out to you (or sent direct to the intended recipient). Or email him at crewing@bargetrust.org.

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Medway Barge Match 2017 Results

Pudge comes second in the Coasting Class at an eventful 109th Medway Barge Match

Report of the Match by Dave Brooks of the Medway Barge Match committee:

The day didn’t get off to greatest start as the committee assembled on the Lady Hamilton the committee boat for the day. A radio message received and we were off to Gun Wharf to rescue a speedboat with engine failure.

Time running out on us, it wasn’t the time for the speedboat owner to be handing us frayed bits of string to tow her with. A mooring line was quickly thrown to stricken speedboat and he was told to hang on tight as we made our way back to Chatham Maritime with speed boat bouncing in our wake.

Eventually we took up position on the line with a few minutes to spare before the first ten minute gun.

12 barges gathered off Gillingham Pier on the morning of June 3rd to contest the 109th Medway Barge Match.

9.30am Coasting Class consisting of the Cambria, Pudge and the Lady of the Lea. Skipper Ian Ruffles sailed the Cambria over the line first, something she has consistently failed at in all her previous barge matches, since her rebuild. She was followed by Pudge and then Lady of the Lea.

9.45am Staysail Class consisting of Edith May, Niagara, Repertor, Reminder and the Ironsides making a welcome return to the Medway Match and showing some of her previous form as she led the fleet away.

Everybody on the committee boat donned their sunglasses as the Niagara’s bright yellow spars dazzled in the morning sunlight. Edith May followed, then eventually Reminder and Repertor remembered they had also entered and made their way across the start line.

10.00am Bowsprit Class. Edme clearly trying to start off her season in style made a rare mistake and narrowly misjudged her dash for the line by a matter of seconds handing first over the start line to Mirosa. Edme turned back to start again and watched as Adieu and Marjorie crossed before her second start.

From the committee boat perspective the outward leg was a nice sail. Cambria led the fleet out to the outer Mark whilst Edme was uncharacteristically playing catch up and Niagara was doing what she does well by picking off the barges.

Cambria had built up quite a lead to the outer mark and her approach was very good, however there was still a strong ebb tide running. With some two hours to low water we settled down on the committee boat and enjoyed the spectacle as the fleet caught up.

Adieu made a creditable effort to round the mark but narrowly failed. This was the theme until Edme followed by Mirosa and Ironsides made their approaches with less ebb resistance and were able to round and head for home.

Did you know there are seventeen severe scratches and thirty seven minor scratches on the Medway buoy? After staring at it for so long you get to know these things.

Eventually most of the fleet were round, with Cambria, followed by Lady of the Lea, finally first round in the coasting class a considerable time after she reached it. With Edme now a considerable way off, the committee boat had to leave Reminder and Pudge to time themselves round the outer Mark.

With the committee boat now heading to the front of the fleet we were treated to some excellent views as Edme and Mirosa played cat and mouse up the Medway until Edme was able to pull clear and then maintain her lead to win the Bowsprit class. She was followed closely by Mirosa who in turn was followed by Adieu and Marjorie.

Ironsides, due to her being able to get round the outer Mark early, had quite a considerable lead over the Edith May and Niagara but during the course of the home leg both had made up quite considerable ground to suggest that it was going to be a very close finish.

I have to confess I thought it was going to be between Ironsides and Niagara but Edith May was closest challenger. Both barges were going for it and sadly their was a coming together leaving both with no choice but to retire in sight of the finishing line.

Niagara finished in first place and the plucky Reminder was second as Repertor had run aground earlier. 

Cambria rounded off an impressive day by wining her sixth successive Coasting Class, followed by Pudge, who had a very good home leg and had made up a lot of ground, and then Lady of the Lea.’

(Update (Ed.): although Repertor ran aground, they did put out a kedge attached to the dolly line, winched off without the use of the engine, re-set sails and reported finish position to the committee boat at 1815hrs.)

Photos by Mick Nolan

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