Jimmy Lawrence talking about life on the barges
I gather that the first programme of the new BBC2 series Floating History of Britain goes out on the 30th September, and that it is to be about Thames sailing barges. I’m told it will include material from this year’s Thames Match.
I told also that the BBC Breakfast show on the 29th September will include an interview with legendary barge skipper, sailmaker and wonderful raconteur Jim Lawrence together with cruising sailor, long-time barge hand and author Nick Ardley, whose young life was spent on the barge May Flower.
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.
For photos of earlier Swale Matches, click here and here.
A week or two ago, the well loved barge skipper Mac sadly passed away far too young. In recent years he was well known for skippering the Lady of the Lea.
Here’s a great video of him talking about his sailing life. I know those who knew him have probably seen it, but I post it for those who, like me, didn’t have that privelege.