Aerial photos of Thames sailing barges

This gallery of aerial photos of Thames sailing barges from the 1940s is an interesting document – not least because it shows clearly how far barges in those days would travel, as can be seen from the shot of Kingston upon Hull and the photo of three barges moored near Cowes.

By the way, the sparkling barge shot is of Repertor.

My thanks to the Thames Sailing Barge Trust for spotting this one.


Posted in Barges and wherries, Culture: songs, stories, photography and art, History, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Sailing and rowing the North West Passage in an open boat


I’m dumbstruck. Richard Wynne of Lodestar Books got in touch this morning to tell me about his latest offering, Blokes Up North - a book by two Royal Marines who sailed and rowed a Norseboat through the North West Passage. See a sample at the Lodestar website.

That’s the same elusive North West Passage between the empty wastes of the North American continent and the North Pole that claimed so many explorer’s lives and ships in the 18th and 19th centuries. Global warming has made it much more passable now, and modern navigation technology has made it infinitely easier to find… But sailing and rowing the North West Passage in an open boat still seems like madness, even if it is of a special kind.

Here’s what Richard has to say about it:

Blokes Up North

Through the Heart of the Northwest Passage by Sail and Oar
Kev Oliver and Tony Lancashire

In a post-exploration world, two relatively ordinary blokes, serving Royal Marines, decided they wanted an extraordinary 21st century adventure. In this refreshingly honest account they re-live the highs and lows of sailing and rowing a tiny open boat, completely unsupported, through one of the most iconic wilderness waterways on the planet—the Northwest Passage across the top of Canada.

They describe battling with an Arctic storm miles from land and being caught in the worst sea ice for more than a decade. At one point they are forced to drag Arctic Mariner, their seventeen-foot boat, across ten miles of broken pack ice to reach open water.

Their story is enriched by the Inuit people and the incredible wildlife they met along the way, including all-too-close encounters with both grizzly and polar bears. And they relate with honesty how the isolation and stresses of the high Arctic shaped the bond between their two very different personalities.

This is neither an exposé of global warming, nor a detailed study of Inuit culture. It is not particularly long on the historical quest for the Northwest Passage. It is quite simply the tale of two blokes, up north.

And here’s what Sir Robin Knox-Johnston has to say:

… this expedition was to try something extremely difficult, perhaps not possible, but if we always flinched from attempting the difficult things in life then humans would never have progressed … we are living in an increasingly risk-averse society, but risk is what makes the adrenalin flow, brings spice into our lives and shows others that risks are part of living. Far from being discouraged it should be supported.

Posted in Culture: songs, stories, photography and art, Modern boatbuilding, Rowing boat, Sailing boat, Sailing dinghy, Small boats, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Can we save UK’s oldest fishing vessel, celebrate the unique Fal Oyster and help recruit youth into a traditional sailing fleet?

Can we save UK’s Oldest Fishing Vessel, celebrate the unique Fal Oyster and help recruit youth into a traditional sailing fleet. from Fal Oyster on Vimeo.

I’m not sure about the claim that Shadow is the oldest fishing boat in Britain (see Boadicea, Emma and another local star Vivid), but that doesn’t change the story in a way that matters a jot in the grand scheme of things – those Fal folks have a good idea and I hope they succeed.

Posted in Boatbuilders and restorers, Culture: songs, stories, photography and art, Racing sailing craft, Restoration and repair, Sailing boat, Techniques, wooden boat, Working boats | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment