Thames sailing barges (“barge” meaning without a deep keel) were amongst the fastest and most versatile trading ships ever built. Famous for their ochre sails, able to point well into the wind, suitable for waters as shallow as five feet, capable of lowering both masts to pass under bridges and fit with two large cargo holds, these remarkable craft dominated coastal shipping through a combination of economic efficiency and sailing prowess. Even more remarkably, they were sailed by a crew of “a man, a boy and a dog”, which contrasts with the large crews needed on some of today’s modern yachts. Thames sailing barges were also fleet, and their racing history extends over 100 years. The trading waters for Thames sailing barges included England, Ireland and the Continent, with rumours of longer trips for a rare few to the Americas. Thames sailing barges also served honourably in war, evacuating many of the men from Dunkirk and sweeping mines.
Thames Sailing barges are available for charter and hire for special occasions. For information about sailing barges available for charter see www.thamesbarge.org.uk
for an overview.
Charter trips are available from a variety of East Coast locations as well as London. Trips can vary from 2 hours to 12 hours depending on location, and some barges have cabins to provide sleeping accomodation
so you can take a trip away for several days at a time.