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Guzzlers Barge Trip

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Guzzlers Barge Trip

7 September 2023 @ 18:00 10 September 2023 @ 17:00

The Colne Barge Match 2023 from Thursday evening 7th September to pm Sunday 10th September.

We have made a provisional booking for the 12 places, open to all Guzzlers and leaders in 3rdCB. The provisional cost per head is £310.

Please confirm to Stuart Clay no later than 17th February if you are interested in going and would like to book a place. Once we have a full crew you will be asked to pay a deposit of £80.00, to secure the booking. The balance will be needed a month before the trip when I will also ask for your next of kin details to complete the ‘passenger’ list as before.

Previous arrangements have been pretty much right in the last couple of years. You can take a look at Robin’s account below to see if you would like to take part.

Colne Barge Match 2022

Account by Robin Stephens via his Blog.

For me, the opportunity to sail on a Thames Barge was a

dream come true. To sail in an east coast barge match was wonderful, but to be able to do this with some of my closest and oldest friends, and fellow Leigh Creek Guzzlers was just perfect.

We sailed on the SB Centaur, which was launched in 1895 – a very fine old lady, owned and operated by the Thames Sailing Barge Trust out of Maldon, Essex.

We met on Thursday evening. After loading our kit onboard and being allocated our bunks, we had a fine meal ashore in the Queen’s Head, followed by a few beers onboard.

Some of the crew mustered at 04:00 on Friday morning to slip and leave the river on the tide. Personally, I was one of the slackers who only emerged on deck once it was light, the sails were hoisted and there was a brew on the go! We had a wonderful day sailing out of the river Blackwater, up the east coast past Mersea Island to Clacton. The wind was a very pleasant Force 3 to 4. We were gently introduced to the technicalities of sailing a traditional sailing barge. After a splendid time at sea, we came into the river Colne off Brightlingsea and masterfully sailed up to our anchorage without using the engine. A magnificent meal onboard was enjoyed by all, followed by beers and a nightcap.

Early on Saturday morning we had a fine breakfast, then went on deck to prepare for the Barge Match. In the river Colne there was a profusion of the most beautiful traditional sailing craft – barges, smacks, bawleys and various others. The wind was very light and the race start was delayed until a breeze came in. Jostling for the start line amongst so many lovely boats in a confined space was both magical and, at times, a little tense. Centaur steadily made her way towards the first mark as most of the rest of the fleet got away from us. We had a great time, but steadily the wind diminished and the tide turned to push against us, with ever reducing chance of us getting around the course. Poor Steve then had an altercation with a steel lee board winch handle, which was considerably harder than his nose. At that point we decided to retire from the race and get him off to hospital. Thankfully they were able to patch him up and he was waiting for us smiling, with a pint in his hand, at the Brightlingsea Sailing Club by the time that we got ashore for the prize giving supper.

There were a few sore heads on Sunday morning. After yet another fine breakfast onboard, we sailed off the anchorage, again without engine, and had another great day’s sailing. We steadily made our way back to the Blackwater. Tony, the skipper, demonstrated his immense skill in sailing Centaur right upriver into Maldon. With absolute calmness, we reduced sail and tacked across the narrowing entrance to Maldon, dropping anchor close to the other moored barges to swing around then gently motored the final few feet to come alongside. It was a masterclass of seamanship, cool headedness and lifelong experience.

It was a truly splendid trip. Thanks to Tony and the crew of the Centaur, Stuart, Martin and Paul for organising everything, and for all my Guzzler shipmates for a marvellous time. I can’t wait to go again!!

Robin Stephens. http://robinsbloggins.blogspot.com/2022/09/leigh-creek-guzzlers-colne-barge-match.html?m=1
£310 per person