Tag Archives: blackwater

Smack racing on the Blackwater, 2010

My thanks to excellent small boat designer and sailor John Welsford for sharing this one!

Sailing barge equipment on board Pudge, summer 2014

I was lucky enough this weekend to be able to go sailing aboard Pudge, one of two sailing barges (and one lighter) owned, maintained and chartered by the Thames Sailing Barge Trust. (Also see the TSBT’s Facebook page.)

I must say we had a fabulous day – I thoroughly recommend a trip on one of these boats. I’m also mightily impressed by the gear, which is effective and often ingenious in its working and in its simplicity, and by the barge sailors of the past, who managed these boats with a crew of just two.

Those folks were clearly very tough, and more than a bit clever with it.

The event was the Blackwater Match – an annual race for barges and smacks, so I’ll post a further collection of boats and the Blackwater itself tomorrow.

Gadfly II restoration makes progress

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Simon Papendick and family make progress on their project to restore Gadfly II

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I’m grateful to Simon Papendick for getting in contact to report on his progress in bringing Gadfly II back to life.

Gadfly II looks very much like a Blackwater sloop but is reported to have been built in Kent rather than Essex, and there are some intriguing clues to her history, including a 1908 coin under her mast. For more on this read some previous posts on this topic.

Here’s what Simon has to say:

‘Hi Gavin,

‘Since I contacted you last I have got on well with the restoration on Gadfly II. We’re getting close to finishing the outside with the deck all but finished. The hull is all caulked up with putty in the seams, the hull has been glossed and the first coat of antifouling is on the bottom.

‘One of the last jobs to do before the boat goes back in the water will be the replacing the keel bolts, which is going to be done in a couple of weeks time at a local boatyard close to our home. Once the keelbolts are done and the boat is watertight then I will fit out the inside with an interior very close to what it would have had when it was first built.

‘After the boat is re-launched I will have the mast stepped and take it for its first sail in many years. From what I was told by its last owner its last sail could well have been 20 years ago or more.

‘It will be a wonderful experience for both the boat and myself to get the boat back to where she should be gracing the East Coast again after all these years. As you can see from the photos it is a family affair.


‘Simon Papendick’

Many thanks Simon. I’m pleased to hear that you’re planning to be true to the original when you start work on the interior, and I think it’s particularly good that you have your family’s help and support – so many people seem to work in isolation.

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