Our new sailing barge will be a replica of an earlier Blue Mermaid, but who was she?
Author Nick Ardley has kindly allowed us to quote from his excellent book The May Flower: A Barging Childhood, published by The History Press.
“An interesting incident that occurred during one of those wartime voyages could have caused the demise of the May Flower. I learnt that sailing up the Swin Channel, tack for tack with the Blue Mermaid; the May Flower bound for Colchester. The two barges were heading for the Swin Spitway, a swatchway through through the sands, when the Blue Mermaid struck a mine and was blown clean out of the water. The incident occurred near the West Hook Middle Buoy; several wrecks still lie in this area and one of these will be her remains. She was a steel barge built in 1930 by F.W.Horlock of Mistley. Her skipper was Captain P.J.Bird and her mate Mr G.W.Lucas. Apparently, the force of the blast was felt by the crew of the May Flower – they stopped and searched for survivors, but sadly found none.” Their names are inscribed on The Tower Hill Memorial in London.
We are fortunate to have access to the original blueprints on which to base our new barge. Seven were built to the same plans and all but Blue Mermaid survive; once afloat the fleet will be complete again. We are grateful to Tim Kent from one such barge, Xylonite, for a complete list. Another is our usual steed, Reminder.
We are delighted to be a partner in The Shipshape Heritage Training Partnership Project (SHTP), which has now given ten trainees the unique opportunity to undertake a twelve month placement with a host vessel, learning the skills of historic vessel operation, conservation and maintenance.
Thanks to a Heritage Lottery grant of £261,100, National Historic Ships UK initiated and managed the project throughout, working alongside key partners – the Scottish Fisheries Museum, the Excelsior Trust, Dauntsey’s Sailing School, the Trinity Sailing Foundation and the Sea-Change Sailing Trust.
This excellent short promotional film describes the key features of the programme and shows some of the trainees at work.
Also, a summary of the project by SHTP as it reaches a conclusion is available here.
Our New Year eNewsletter is now available for viewing, downloading or printing to pass around.
This edition contains a review of the past year and a look ahead at what we are working towards by Sea-Change’s EO and senior skipper Richard Titchener:
“It hardly seems possible that this winter marks the end of our ninth season and the beginning of the tenth. Throughout we have built and developed our …” read the rest here
Happy New Year. What better way to start the year could there be than by making a donation to your favourite charity, assisting its development and helping us to deliver our work.
Our young crews need and appreciate your support and we wouldn’t be here without it.
Have a great 2016.
The photos were taken by Laura Bailey from Falmouth University, who is photographing this project for a degree in Press & Editorial Photography. Thank you Laura.