Wednesday 1 February 2012

Back to the Barges

With a free day, Dad is keen to head back down to the Standard Quay in Faversham to renew his acquaintance with the Sailing Barge Cambria, to take a few pictures to use in the 'barge blog' and to see what's new and different. The Quay is nice and busy with plenty of barges in port, so plenty of work for the local shipwrights including new arrival on last night's high tide, SB Lady Daphne in for a general winter refit. Other barges currently in include Pudge, Tollesbury and Beric as well as Faversham regulars Greta, Henry and 'us'.

It's bitterly cold with ice on all the puddles and the water in the bottom of the barge's life-boat frozen solid. Dad nips aboard and lets himself down below decks and is bimbling around taking his pictures when he hears the clump of sea boots and the rattle of an anchor chain 'upstairs'. He has happily coincided with the shipwrights needing to drop the rigging on Cambria so there's something interesting to watch and take his pictures of. There are four of the boys involved including Master Shipwright Tim Goldsack, 'Frog' and Ryan, plus the rigging expert and well known barge-man 'Nozz' (these barge boys love their nicknames).

It is interesting to watch them at work preparing for the 'lower', moving the stays and rigging out of the way, laying out the stay-fall cable, detaching the starboard side mizzen shrouds to allow the sprit pole to 'land' safely on the saddle chock (and, sorry, I am not going to explain all those terms. If you don't know them and you need to, head for the 'barge blog' - Volunteer Views on

All done now; rig safely lowered and everyone has been able to retreat indoors to warm up. They were well wrapped for the job anyway, hats and bodies, but they find it impossible to manage fiddly ropes and rigging shackles with gloved hands so they work bare-handed in the wind with the metal parts all painfully cold to touch, damp ropes left on deck frozen stiff into coils. Brrrr.

Rather them than me

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