We raised the keel, sat on the mud of Hoo Flats, and drank a little orange-flavoured Dutch gin. Well you might too, if one of you was half-Dutch and the other also had some of his own Dutch history…
The latest edition of Classic Sailor magazine has a nice piece about last year’s Swale Match that provides a foretaste of this year’s event on the 29th July. The race is quite an event with 50 entrants in 2016.
It has a staggered start at 15-minute intervals including staysail barges, followed by bowsprit barges, gaff rigged yachts under the umbrella title ‘old gaffers’, smacks and bawleys, and what are called ‘bermudan classics’. There’s even a class for traditional power vessels, though they receive awards rather than racing.
The author seems to have have a very pleasant time aboard the staysail barge Orinoco, from which he seems to have admired other staysail barges such as Edme and Marjorie, Dan Tester’s gorgeous, Herreshof-built Starling Burgess 6-metre sloop Sheila and the Brightlingsea smack Alberta, which was restored some time ago by Dan and his late father Barry Tester.
‘The whiff of gunsmoke, burning timber, pitch and tar. Warships ablaze, flames shooting through gunports, the smoke visible for miles along the north Kent coastline. This is the scene that would have greeted eyewitnesses following the Dutch raid along the River Medway in June 1667.
‘Carried out over several days, it targeted the English fleet at Chatham, leaving a large section of the Royal Navy either captured or destroyed. There were few casualties, but the loss of the realm’s largest warships brought humiliation to the country and damaged the personal reputation of King Charles II.’
Read all about it! Once again, my thanks to Chris Brady for the tip.