Friday, May 14, 2010

The Pool of London

While out powerboating last weekend we passed this lovely Thames barge, the SB Cabby, heading towards Tower Bridge. It was a scene that could have come from any time in the last hundred years.

It was a shame not to see her with her sails up. I suppose that today its thought to be too hard to sail such a vessel in the confined spaces of the Pool of London. But of course in its day the sailors would think nothing of it, doing that every day whatever the weather, as I read about in the book "The Mate of the Caprice."

But despite that she looked beautiful, naturally at home in these waters.

They even raised the bridge to let her in - magnificent!


Baydog said...

Of course the sailors in its day would think nothing of it. There was no other option. So why should any of us think any differently? It may be a little more work to sail up river, tacking several dozen times, but if it's not completely inconvenient, why not do just that and re-enact at least, what our predecessors did out of necessity? I'm often guilty of it; it's so easy to fire up the diesel and go straight. By the way, she purred like a kitten today.

Langstone Cutters said...

I love the Thames barges - a real icon. Have you read Last of the Sailormen and other books by Bob Roberts, the last man to skipper a barge commercially under sail?

O Docker said...

Of course, 'in its day', all of the other watermen would have understood what she was doing, tacking back and forth, and there wouldn't have been today's fast-moving traffic to contend with.

I wonder, wouldn't they use a long boat to tow her along in narrow places?

Turinas said...

I seem to recall hearing somewhere (might have been Dylan Winter) that they would use the tide to drift them up and down the Thames as the principle way of navigating the river.

Given how bendy the Thames is, having hundred of these barges tacking back and forth would be chaos once you get West of the docks

JP said...

Baydog: they were doing a charter so I guess keeping the boat steady was important plus there is a lot of traffic moving fast like the Thames Clipper that would not appreciate a sailing boat tacking in the narrow river:

Chris: I haven't read that, just the Caprice book: will look for it.

O'Docker & Adam: think they found other ways to navigate. Often they'd wait until the tide was right and then use that, controlling with use of anchor. Very impressive seamanship!

Anonymous said...

I found your photo via google,I have an ancester who was the mate of the thames sailing barge 'Edward' in 1881 he was only 19 years of age! thank you for posting the excellent photo.

Anonymous said...

i sail on board the cabby. we are not aloud to sail this far up the river, otherwise we would have been. an 19 is quite old mos tboys started mating at the age of 14 and had been at sea since 12.. im 17 now :D