Holed barge the best of her kind


Just hours before she was almost fatally wounded the magnificent Orvis-built Thames spritsail barge, Marjorie, was anchored at Harty Ferry being admired by many classic boat sailors. They included me – albeit the owner of a plastic classic – as I sailed in aboard Minstrel Boy, my Contessa 32.

It is fair to say that Marjorie is the most authentic-looking barge sailing today. Her rig is set up as a proper working barge’s should be, it is proportioned correctly, and even the colour of her hull and the livery of her scrollwork is accurate. Beholding her you could be looking at a barge about to load 160 tons of grain and take it to the Ipswich millers which once owned her.

So when, later that day, I saw her listing hull being patched with a six foot by eight foot sheet of plywood, expanding foam and plastic tarpaulin as water was being motor-pumped out of her I was horrified.

This great beauty -built in 1902 – almost sank that windy day in the East Swale. She is back at her home in Hoo now as the damage is assessed. I wish her and her owners well and look forward to seeing her back out in estuary waters soon evoking the halcyon days of coastal trade.