Half term at the end of October has typically been the end of our sailing season. With the restrictions on residentials we offered day trips from Brightlingsea to Inclusion Ventures, a fantastic charity working with families in Jaywick and West Clacton. Two days were planned, one for female and one for male teenagers. The first coincided with a gale but was postponed as an accompanying staff member was isolating because of covid symptoms in her family and the test results were slow and then inconclusive. So it was with vim and vigour that we met the male group on the Hard with waterproofs and lifejackets, having prepared them for a wet and windy day. The previous evening leader Tai had spoken with the group and explained the torrential rain in the forecast. To their credit, all wished to come. (more…)
Our connection with the Blue Mermaid and the Sea-Change Sailing Trust began many years ago now.
I had just had my book ‘May Flower A Barging Childhood‘ published and in chapter one, I wrote about my thoughts about barge reconstructions and building a ‘replica’ in steel. Uncannily, during 2008/9 I learnt of the Blue Mermaid appeal…
Outgoing Commodore of Maldon Little Ship Club Iain Stubbs presents Hilary of Sea-Change with a cheque for £1200 as the proceeds from collections as his Commodore’s Charity with additional family contributions.
In response Hilary thanked members and hoped they would continue sail with us us beneath the club logo. More
We treated supporters to a day out on Blue Mermaid at the weekend. Good fun despite the rain.
Don Wright prepares to follow the handle round as Sue Pennison tends the bobstay. More
We recently undertook a training weekend aboard Blue Mermaid together with members of Thames Sailing Barge Trust.
Here the jib is being stowed prior to steeving up the bowsprit at West Mersea on day two. More
Souvenirs of our last few sailing days, which included crew training and supporters’ days.
Last week the weather was better and we had three crew training days. Here Oli checks the bob. More
Hilary on the wheel leaving the Colne on
Friday 3oth October, possibly for the last time this year.
It is fair to say this looks complicated but it needs to be. It is the forward tank, mirroring another separate system aft, and supplies the wash basin and shower from a diesel water heater or immersion heater from a gas generator. It proved necessary to insert a small electric pump to circulate water in the heating circuit as thermal convection did not succeed alone.
With winter drawing on, yesterday involved clearing airlocks with the help of Pete Lewis who fitted the pumps to Jim Dines’ design and today was the first successful operation without qualified intervention – and it worked!
Only three barges approached the start line, Blue Mermaid, Lady of the Lea and Ironsides. Repertor was entered but neaped in her berth at Faversham. Marjorie had been hoping to show off her new leeboards and these were ready but not fitted while another boat was neaped in the dry dock which was earmarked to help remove a year’s growth from her bottom. There was a rumour Niagara and Edith May were coming, both with bowsprits. Still, it was a race and to add to the occasion the smack ADC was there after a refit, as she had been for the very first Colne Race, before the Bar Buoy was a mark in the course and the crabs on the Bar had to duck as she went past, the shallower Hyacinth hot on her heels.
In Blue Mermaid we had left the mooring at Heybridge on Thursday afternoon, as we needed time to remember quite a lot about things we had not set for (literally) a year. Friday was spent practicing and having a very pleasant sail down to the Spitway to meet the two Kent barges on their way over. There was a good breeze and for only the second time we set the small jib on its traveller and left the working jib aboard. This made for a less demanding day and balances the boat nicely. The forecast for race day was for a good breeze from the west. This is the direction that allowed Ironsides to take the course record in 1978 with a fetch all the way around. This was after the Bar buoy was included by the way. This meant there was a possibility if things held and we did well enough by the barge she could have a stab at it. (more…)
In 2019 Sea-Change was proud to receive a grant from Trinity House towards training for barge crews, and this was used to finance two long weekends aboard Blue Mermaid. The second was postponed because of bad weather and then covid intervened. Eventually as day sails became possible we did the second weekend on the first weekend of September and it was a great success. We had five Thames Sailing Barge Trust trainees; one more had a last-minute commitment. Despite the difficulties presented by the covid restrictions meaning we did three day sails instead of people staying aboard, the logistics worked out well. Basing ourselves at West Mersea, one arranged a lift home each night and back in time in the morning, one brought his caravan to a nearby site and three found accommodation in the village. We fed the group three meals a day, having an evening meal before they went ashore at 2000 and bacon rolls after they came aboard at 0830. Our crew was myself with Hilary and Oli as mates with our Shipshape trainee Ben who was treated as a trainee with the group giving two teams which enabled us to give people an area to familiarise themselves with and switch periodically. (more…)