The Winning Crew

Blue Mermaid managed to pull off another win at the Blackwater Barge Match on July 17th. After a day of racing in light airs the wind filled in at the end, giving a spectacular finish for the spectators ashore with all the barges close together near to the finishing line. Blue Mermaid finished half a bowsprit ahead and claimed the trophy for first in her class. Well done to all on board!

We take a small number of paying guests on barge match day-sails. The income from these voyages helps us to subsidise our youth voyages. The next match with availability is the Medway Match on Saturday 28th August 2021. If you are interested in sailing on board Blue Mermaid during a barge-match please contact Judy on 07708 656854.

By |2021-07-28T18:47:30+01:00July 28th, 2021|

Blue Mermaid Looking Spruce

Blue Mermaid is currently on the barge blocks at Pin Mill where we have scraped and painted her bottom and had a hull inspection from the MCA.

After two matches, our second youth group of the year and some maintenance, we are ready to sail home on tomorrow afternoon’s tide

By |2021-07-11T16:41:51+01:00July 11th, 2021|

Remembering The Original Blue Mermaid

Today marks 80 years since the original Blue Mermaid sank after hitting a magnetic mine on the North slope of the Middle Sand.

This morning we travelled to Manningtree to witness a ceremony of remembrance for the mate George Lucas, whose name is to be added to the memorial on Manningtree high street later this year by request of his family. We felt very honoured to be included in the event and we are glad to see his family’s loss recognised.

We will remember them.

By |2021-07-11T16:34:28+01:00July 11th, 2021|

Passage Match Success

Part One

Red light in the moonlight: Oli fits the port navigation light as we prepare to leave Stangate Creek and race Edith May to Harwich at 0130 on Saturday 26th June 2021. This informal event replaces the longstanding and popular Gravesend to Harwich Passage Match of 56 miles which used to bring barges based on the Thames down to the Orwell the week prior to the Pin Mill Match. Though popular it was no doubt an immense amount of work to organise and as entries dropped it was unsurprising the attraction of waiting all night on a cold Suffolk seawall for barges to rear over a dank horizon lost its appeal. Now Ed Gransden offers people the chance to sail in company from the Medway to Harwich and this year we took him up on the offer.

After getting the anchor on the last of the flood we came level with Edith May as she too got under way and both barges set their gear while crew peered to find the moored barge at Blackstakes against the bright lights of the Grain jetties behind. Couldn’t a massive amount of power be saved if all these flood lights up and down the country were arranged to switch on when needed? Maybe there are too many foxes and owls to allow the use of proximity lighting, but it would sure make night sailing easier. (more…)

By |2021-06-29T10:45:11+01:00June 27th, 2021|

Old Friends Inclusion Ventures Return

Blue Mermaid’s crew for the week have their first safety brief and learn about lifejackets at Heybridge Basin.

On Monday 14th June we started our first residential trip with young people under the rule of six covid restrictions. It was good to remind ourselves what we have been missing since the autumn of 2019!

As Oli said in the debrief at the end of the trip it felt possible after so long to forget how and why we sail with young trainees. Thank goodness we had not forgotten too much of the how and we had the help of four fantastic young women from Inclusion Ventures and their staff to remind us of the reasons why.

The staff Sarah and Ruby and client Jess had sailed with us in September last year when the restrictions allowed day trips and residential family bubbles, although two attempts to undertake a family trip fell foul of infections at school and the necessary isolations. But now we were finally underway with three new faces in Kaydee, Frankie and Maddi after regular testing and with a happy heart, if with a very odd feeling in the nasal passages.
By |2021-06-27T19:16:28+01:00June 27th, 2021|

To Gillingham

Thanks to funding from Trinity House and Whirlwind Charitable Trust we are able to provide training for prospective barge skippers. This arises from work done before covid with Mick Nolan’s trainees and aims to give hands on practical experience in a variety of situations.

After attending Newham Heritage Month Blue Mermaid beat down the Thames, having beat up it a few days before. Despite a slow start she made anchorage in the Muckings with time to spare before low water. Only there did the crew find and retrieve a tyre that had graced the port bow all the way down the river. Fortunately, at least one other river user had captured an image and posted it online as a reminder. All future courses will include a detailed module in fender operations. Each fender will be numbered with a similarly numbered pocket on the main hatch and a token system as used on branch railways to ensure the rail is clear after use. The procedure will be written up and added to the operation manual and the training manual. Should this prove inadequate then a permit to fender scheme will be adopted requiring signature in and out. This is all consistent with the Trust’s philosophy of taking as much pride in the small things as we do in the big ones. Hence, you earn the right to enjoy a thrash down Swin with two jibs set and spray flying in the sun, only by tying a knot with consideration of how it can be released under load or making fast to a cleat in a similar manner. (more…)

By |2021-06-17T13:46:14+01:00June 17th, 2021|