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Home / News / Barging around ....

Barging around ....

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Published 15:12 on 5 Oct 2022

It was decided in late 2021 to restart another activity for the Woolverstone Project and organise a week on a Thames Barge. The Project had offered very successful residential trips on the Thames Barge Reminder in the past though these had not happened for a few years. The Sea Change Sailing Trust (SCST), based in Maldon, offered the opportunity to use their new barge Blue Mermaid, commissioned in 2019, for the trip.

Blue Mermaid is a replica of the original Blue Mermaid Barge lost in the Second World War when she hit a mine. It is designed as a cargo carrying sail training vessel with no engine and is sailed using traditional techniques and although not directly adapted for disabilities is a wonderful platform to develop communication, teamwork skills and lots of confidence.

The trip was funded by a reduced charge from SCST a generous grant from The Norfolk Boat Charity and contributions from the WP sailors and volunteers.

The final team of sailors from the project included 6 sailors, 1 carer and 3 volunteers.

The voyage started in Brightlingsea on a Monday morning in early September 2022 with the transfer of food, luggage and crew. Using Blue Mermaid's Jolly boat and the Brightlingsea water taxi it didn't take too long to get everything and everyone safely onboard Blue Mermaid anchored in the entrance to Pyefleet creek.

We were all quickly introduced to what it takes to operate an engineless Thames Barge with a team of 4 to raise the anchor and more sailors to set enough sail to move the barge as the anchor breaks out. Short tacking into a light southerly wind, against the flood in the Colne takes a lot of coordination and hard work from the sailing team. That set the pattern for the week with everyone joining in with sailing, cooking and entertainment. The weather for the week was not great but we did managed a trip to the beach with a number of people swimming and paddling, with a trip to the pub being another highlight !

A wonderful experience for us all.

Thank you to the SCST sailing team; Richard, Hilary, Oli, the WP sailors; Frances, Seb, Tyler, Andrew, Michael, Stephen, the WP volunteers; Leslie, Anna, Dave and Kristine a specialist carer.

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Last updated 11:05 on 6 October 2022

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