Saturday 6 August 2011

Swale Match

We are abandoned by both parents today in a shameless act of desertion. Mum is off on a mission of mercy to a friend in need in Brighton. This poor unfortunate has suffered a minor stroke just as she was about to move flats in Brighton. It was apparently only a small one, from which she's expected to recover, but meant that she was in hospital under observation just when she was due to move out of one flat and into the next. A gang of ladies including Mum have therefore descended upon her and upon Brighton to effect the flat-move while she is incapacitated.

Dad would have been there too, were this not THE MOST IMPORTANT DAY EVER in the history of Dad's association with Sailing Barge Cambria, namely the day that Dad and his fellow volunteers were invited on board to help crew in a barge race, the "Swale Barge and Smack Sailing Match". The Swale, for them's don't know, is the strip of water between (mainland) Kent and the Isle of Sheppey, which lies just off Kent in the Thames Estuary. The race course runs from roughly the end of Faversham Creek, out eat then south towards Herne Bay, turning back west just off HB to tack back up the Swale to the Creek again. It's about 6 hours sailing time.

What Dad had feared would be a rather pedestrian 'passenger ride' was no such thing as all the 'volunteers' were encouraged to take proper crew jobs and to work hard. Also what they'd all feared would be a windless drift turned out to be quite breezy, especially from Herne Bay onwards so there was lots of hard work hauling on sails and winding winches, Dad was fore-sheet-man (bowline man) so his bursts of work came thick and fast as the barge had to tack every 5 minutes or so coming back up the narrow, low-tide Swale.

In the end Cambria came 2nd in her class (Bowsprit barges) and we won the Seamanship Award so fair play to us. We'd actually done by about half 2 but could then sit around yarning and eating our packed lunches till half four, before the Faversham Iron Wharf tug could get down to collect us and drag us up the Creek back to our berth as the tide came up the creek. There was then another couple of hours of being towed, putting the barge to bed and taxi-ing everyone back to where the cars had been left (Harty Ferry) so Dad got home about 18:30 to release us.

Mum has had even more fun getting home from Brighton because the M25 has been closed, so on Dad's advice she diverted eastwards via Hastings and the A257 to go have a coffee with Pud Lady. She and Diamond will be back here about 22:00

All go, innit


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