Category Archives: Uncategorized

How to live afloat in winter, by Claudia Myatt


Life on board in winter. The birds keep you company…

‘Summer afloat is a glorious, expansive picnic. The entire river is my living space, into which friends ebb and flow with boats, music and wine. Earning a living still means long hours indoors of course, but apart from that there are light evenings, maintenance sessions on the boat, voyages to plan, dinghies to play around with, all sorts of shippy business going on. Above all else in the summer, there is light – abundant, endless, late and early, helpful daylight.

Winters are a different matter altogether…

How often have you thought of living afloat? No doubt, like me, it was the thought of winter that put you off the idea – the cold, the condensation, the lack of shelter, the likely lack of near neighbours the fear of falling off the gangplank, and anxiety about emergencies with mooring lines on a cold and stormy night are all enough to worry a person.

So I was intrigued to read renowned maritime illustrator Claudia Myatt’s observations and advice on the subject. A lot of it seems to centre around keeping your firewood and your feet dry, and always having a torch. But she also argues for making the most of the situation rather than waiting for conditions to become perfect – which will often seem pretty remote in the depths of a wet, cold,  windy and darki winter.


A Year Afloat with the sailing barge Victor, and other barge news

While we’re on the subject of sailing barges, I noticed this interesting chapter of a history of the Greenwich Peninsula about barges.

And in other news, the sailing barge Decima, recognisable by the logo of sponsors  Tiptree is for sale.

PS… And then there’s Majestic with her Swelling Sails, filmed in 1931.


Sea Change Trust commissions new Thames sailing barge


It’s great to see that the Sea Change Sailing Trust has commissioned shipwrights to build its new steel Thames sailing barge.

The yard involved is C Toms & Son of Polruan in Cornwall yard. See a story published by the Cornish Guardian here.

(Naturally, I’m aware that the claim that this is the first steel built sailing barge in 85 years isn’t quite true… but it might be the first cargo carrying steel-built barge.)

Sea Change currently provides residential opportunities for young people and vulnerable adults to learn and develop life skills on board chartered Thames sailing barges, including taking responsibility for their contribution and making group decisions. The target groups include those not in employment, education or training (NEET), young offenders and those in danger of offending, those experiencing social exclusion, those with special needs or who struggle in traditional educational settings, and those considering a maritime career.

The new sailing barge to be built for the trust is to be a replica of the steel-built Horlocks vessel Blue Mermaid, which in 1930 was the last sailing barge to be built, but which was sadly lost during the war.

The new Blue Mermaid will continue the trust’s established work, and extend it by carrying cargo and trainees who will gain sea time learning traditional seamanship skills.

The Sea Change website includes a nice quotation from Frank Carr, the first curator of the Greenwich Maritime Museum, original saviour of the Cutty Sark and noted author. Considering the diminishing fleet of trading sailing barges in 1951, he wrote that it might ‘be possible to run a fleet of sail-training barges as a venture almost economically self-supporting, in which, under ordinary trading conditions, large numbers of apprentices could receive a short period of training in sail, counting for sea-time, in which they would receive a very valuable grounding in real seamanship of a kind which they could never gain in steam.’

Check out the organisation’s appeal here.