The Thames Sailing Barge Trust and Sea-Change Sailing Trust collaborated during June to trial a bespoke training course for competent mates looking to become skippers. Thames Sailing Barge Centaur was kindly donated by the Thames Sailing Barge Trust for the occasion and Richard Titchener and Hilary Halajko from the Sea-Change Sailing Trust donated four days of their time. Richard and Hilary have run many sail training courses for people wishing to become competent crew and mates in the past but this was the first time that the focus was specifically on mates wishing to become skippers in the near future.
Richard and Hilary where joined by Lyndon March from the Heritage Marine Foundation, David Cooper from TS Rigging, and Peter Taylor, Shiner Wright and Mick Nolan from the Thames Sailing Barge Trust.
Each trainee skipper experienced running the barge for an extended period over the four days. Many important skills where practised such as bringing the barge alongside the quay at Maldon, sailing to and from anchor, man overboard exercises, using kedge anchors and night sailing, to name a few.
Richard took much time to offer useful advice and explained how important it is to be an expert in all aspects of the barge in order to become a good Master. Hilary demonstrated lots of useful ways to be proactive and prepared for every eventuality, should your initial plan not go as expected.
Many discussions were had on topics such as what makes a good skipper, how best to set and stow sails in various scenarios, what to check when first joining a barge and how to communicate effectively to your crew.
The trainees also practised other essential skills such as plaiting rope brakes for the winches, drudging with the anchor and the use of salvage pumps..
It was a brilliant experience for all onboard, especially for the mates to be given the opportunity to take full command of a Thames Sailing Barge. It will stand them in good stead when applying to become Barge Masters.
Both Sea-Change and the Thames Sailing Barge Trust have expressed a keen interest to support similar trips in the future and will continue to work closely together to help to swell the number of future skippers for the barge fleet. More photos