Sailing Barges. [DW]
Barges weighing anchor in the Colne on a fine summer's morning as
others sail out of the river, bound for the Spitway, a narrow, shoal channel between the Gunfleet and the Buxey Sands, then 'up Swin' for the mouth of the river Thames, bound up river for London's docks and wharves.
The two man crew of the barge in the foreground are both forward, working at the hand windlass, the topsail and jib topsail (staysail as the bargemen have it) are set and the mainsail peak brails let go, ready to let the whole sail fall when the anchor is catted and she bears away. The leeboard is still fully hoisted.
The barge in the background is in the same state of preparedness.
Such low freeboard was typical of a loaded sailing barge, whose decks were swept in a seaway, but these are remarkably versatile craft and will stand a surprising amount of wind providing the seas are not too big. [JL]
Plate.1 in SWW.
Used in The Sailor's Coast, page 77.