Category Archives: Medway, Swale and the Kent coast

Medway, Swale and the Kent coast

What it’s really all about…

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Out to sea

Barge boat Barge boat 2 Red sails

Smack 3 Smack 2 Smack

Click on the images for much larger photos. The one at the top
makes a particularly fine background – click on the thumbnail,
then click on your right mouse button when the large image loads

We’ve just got back from a blissful weekend’s sailing around the Swale in our little Ian Proctor-designed Prelude, and here are some photos to prove it. From the top: an unknown yacht making her way seaward at low tide in the morning light; two shots of a boat belonging to one of the local sailing barges (there are two shots because one reveals something about its hull form – for more more on barges, click here); an unknown yacht rides the afternoon tide; three shots taken by Julie of a smack at Tester’s yard at the mouth of Oare Creek.

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Sharpie schooner Sound Waters Eagle

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Sound Waters Eagle, schooner or a variety of ketch?

From America, Peter Vanderwaart writes:

‘I found the pictures of smack and barge racing very interesting. For some reason, I especially like the shots that show several boats. I gather you can join in the fun with a fiberglass gaff cutter, if you happen to have one.

‘I noticed windmills in the background of one shot. We don’t have these in our waters yet. If you take a good look at the attached shot which shows typical summer weather, you will probably see why I think windmill builders will go elsewhere first.

‘You might be interested in the vessel if you haven’t seen it before. It’s a steel sharpie about 65 feet long. I think it was built in the Chesapeake region in the ’50s or ’60s. Currently, she is called the Sound Waters Eagle, and is used to take school kids out on educational trips. Her rig is unusual: gaff rigged on three masts, with the middle mast being the tallest. I think this should be considered a variety of ketch.

Olin Stephens designed a vessel with fore, main, and mizzen masts bermuda rigged, and he called it a ketch. However, the word schooner” is deemed more romantic, and gets used.


There are more photos of Sound Waters Eagle here:

Fibreglass gaff cutters are very popular here, even if many of them do have modern-style lines beneath the waterline. Some of them command astonishing high second-hand prices and, yes, you can race them along with the old gaffers.

Wind turbines may be generally less popular, but I still find the group off the Swale is an interesting and sometimes useful navigational feature,  though I may change my mind if they become very common.

There are some more photos here, and I’ve got some rather closer ones somewhere.

Schooner or ketch? I’d say the Eagle was a schooner at heart, if not in fact.

Thanks for the photo Peter!

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A pleasant episode on the Swale

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From the top – three photos of Steve Taylor’s 1923 Hillyard,
Dorma, followed by one of Alan Thorne’s double-ender,
Nissa. As usual, click on the photos for larger images

After posting about a seriously long voyage a moment ago, I thought I’d share some photos from a remarkably short one. On a nearly windless morning, Bob Telford, Steve Taylor and I motored Steve’s Dorma down the creek and tried to sail for an hour or so before the tide got too low to allow her back.

It was a delightful short trip, and I think we would all have happily sailed like that all day – going nowhere very much, but far from anything remotely like work or the trials of everyday life.

We almost had the sea to ourselves – but not quite, for Alan Thorne and his partner and kids followed us out in his Swedish double-ender Nissa. Naturally, we took the opportunity to take a few shots, and here they are.

I’m the geezer in the fetching yellow bouyancy aid, by the way, and Steve is the chap at the tiller with a sailing barge in the background. I’m not very clear why Bob’s nowhere to be seen but I think he may have been wrestling with the Primus stove at the time. I remember a welcome cup of coffee arrived some considerable time later.

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