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Monday, 21 June 2010

Sailing on a Thames Barge – set sail for some fun

Had you taken a trip down the Thames in the 19th century, you would probably have encountered several large, flat-bottomed barges as you wended your merry way along the water. Designed to traverse the shallow waters and narrow inlets of the Thames Estuary perfectly, these barges were also used to take cargoes further afield including the north of England and also to the continent. A chance to go sailing on a Thames barge is an opportunity to soak up some history and enjoy the more leisurely pace of life that was par for the course over a hundred years ago.
Sailing on a Thames barge is a chance to learn about these vessels which were some of the most economical forms of transport of the time. They could float in water as shallow as three feet and could handle the mudflats which was invaluable for loading and unloading building and brick-making materials during a time when London was expanding rapidly and these cargoes were in high demand.
Thames barges were also at an advantage over other ships because they could sail with no ballast, which was a major benefit in terms of labour because it meant that they could take to the water with a crew of only two people. Thames barges were also fitted with main masts which could be lowered to allow them to travel under low bridges which added to their superior manoeuvrability, although when you go sailing on a Thames barge you will take a slightly easier route than the cargo barges would have done.
A sailing on a Thames barge experience for two is not only an opportunity to learn about these incredible vessels, but also a perfect way to enjoy the scenery of East Anglia, not to mention some good food along the way. If you feel so inclined, you can get a little more involved with sailing the barge by helping with the hoisting of sails and steering, but if you prefer to sit back and enjoy the spectacle. Sailing on a Thames barge is a great experience and makes a great gift for anyone who would enjoy the chance to set sail in true historical style, so if you’re looking for an anniversary gift, birthday present or just a treat for someone who would enjoy the ride, a sailing experience on a Thames barge is a great idea.

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