Refurbished Thames barge Edith May at sea and sailing well

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Thames sailing barge Edith May

Edward Gransden has kindly been in touch with these photos of the Thames sailing barge named Edith May, which has this month been sailing for the first time in ten years or more. Here’s what he says:

‘Please find attached a couple of photos from our first sail. We are intending to charter with individuals and groups up to 12 throughout the summer, operating from Lower Halstow, Chatham and Queenborough.

‘Having spent the past 10 and a half years restoring her, it was a great thrill to be able to take her out sailing for the first time, with her performance proving very pleasing. The Swale Match in August will be the first chance we get to see if she has retained the pace she was once renowned for!’

Thanks Edward! Any time you have photos and stories to share let me know.

It happens that we were over at Lower Halstow this weekend, and found the Edith May in the dock looking very smart. I took some shots with my camera phone – but I’m damned if I can get them out. It’s a better camera than you might think, but the connections and software make me curse!

Here’s an earlier post featuring the Edith May, and here’s a link to the Edith May website.

Humber sloop Spider T, rescued and restored by Mal Nicholson and friends

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Spider T today – click on the thumbnails for larger images

Spider T before restoration work began

Some people rescue old yachts while some adopt smaller craft – but perhaps the bravest are those who take on big old working boats. Mal Nicholson has restored the wonderful Spider T, a 62ft Humber sloop described as a ‘super sloop’ that  he now operates as a charter boat offering holidays and day trips out of Keadby Lock, near Scunthorpe. See the Spider T website.

Spider T was launched in 1926, and was one of two similar craft built at Warrens Yard at New Holland. I’ll let Mal take up the story:

‘Her sister ship was the Zenitha, as we recently learned with the help of Peter Warrens, of the Warrens Shipbuilders dynasty. We recently welcomed him on board with his wife Marjorie and his two sons, and he has taken the Spider T to his heart, and we talk now on a frequent basis and much more information is coming together.

‘He recently told me that Spider T & Zenitha were designed by his uncle Frederick Warren just before he died, and that they encompassing everything they knew about hull design, I suppose that is why they were labeled ‘super sloops’.

‘His father and grandfather built the Spider T. She is 70.4 gross cargo tons, and was launched as Spider T for captain JJ Tomlinson for whom she was the pride of his fleet. The name Spider was his nephew’s nickname, while the T stood for Tomlinson.

‘I have all the documentation for her including the plans and registration documents showing her registered as a ship. She has always been referred to as a ship by her past masters, one quite famous old master was George ‘Buck’ Harness. George told me at the age of 92 that she was not a barge or a boat but a ship, and asked if I knew the difference? ‘No,’ I replied. ‘Well, ship is short for a shipment, which is a vessel that is capable of taking in excess of 100 tons to sea!’ So that was me put straight very early on in my tenure!

‘Many years later I discovered what he said was absolutely correct, as I found her registration documents, and there it was in black and white: she was registered as a ship number 149049, yard number 216.

‘Unfortunately the Zenitha no longer exists, but I have spoken to the son of the original owner and apparently she was very fast and came 2nd in the 1928 Humber Reggatta. He has sent me some details of vessels and owners.’

In recent years, Spider T has been restored, refloated and re-rigged for the first time since the 1930s, and her crew have sailed to Scotland and Holland, and have chalked up some notable achievements. She was the first vessel from the National Historic Fleet to attend the World Port Festival in Scarborough, and was the first Humber sloop to cross the North Sea directly since before World War II. I have a sense that there’s more of this story to come, so I hope Mal will keep me informed!

And, finally, I’d like to put out a message from the management. This post about Mal keeping Spider T alive is just the kind of story we like to put up here at If you have a story about an old boat, traditional boatbuilding and design, boat restoration, boat history or even a modern boat with traditional features you would like to share, please let us know at

A trip to Oare in June

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Oare in June

Clouds and light in the Swale towards evening. Click on
the images for larger photographs

We took a trip to Oare this weekend and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, as despite a less than wonderful weather forecast we had some near perfect sailing conditions, interesting light and cloud, and some good looking old boats. I can’t imagine a more powerful reminder of why we like to sail.

Oare in June

Julie’s shot of the Thames barge Mirosa. The object on Horse Sand
to the left is a beached yacht with someone on board – hopefully
they were there to clean its bottom rather than simply stuck.
I should add that a sizeable group of seals were basking on the
beach just 100 yards away from him. I wonder if he or they knew
about each other?

Oare in June

Julie’s photo of the (hopefully) careened yacht

Oare in June

How about this? Barge yachts are a rare sight nowadays,
but were popular in the 1920s and 30s. I’m sorry I couldn’t
get closer, but we were moored at the time. I’d love to hear
more about the boat – is she the one that
Classic Boat
featured some years ago?

Oare in June

Thames sailing barge Will

Oare in June

Will and Mirosa moored in the Swale

Oare in June

On the way home we dropped into Lower Halstow to check
out a cruising destination and found a pleasant, out-of-the-way
sort of place, with some fine old buildings, an old quay
next to the church, and the barge
Edith May in the process of being
restored. I don’t know who’s doing it, but good luck and
more power to their elbows!

Oare in June

Oare in June