Thames Sailing Barge
Blue Mermaid is the first full size Thames Sailing Barge to be built since 1930. She is a replica of a barge of the same name, which was sunk by a mine during World War II with the loss of her crew. As a traditional Thames Sailing Barge, she will not have an engine and will be able to transport the equivalent of up to six articulated lorry loads in a low carbon environment. The 87ft. steel barge was commissioned by Sea-Change Sailing Trust, and will be used for their work with young people as well as carrying cargo.
Built at the boatyard of C Toms and Son in Cornwall, she was launched at Polruan on 29 May, 2016. After being towed to her new home in Maldon, she will be fitted out and rigged by TS Rigging at Downs Road Boatyard.
Sea-Change Sailing Trust provides residential opportunities for young people and vulnerable adults to learn and develop in a unique environment. By living and working together aboard a large traditional sailing vessel they participate in a wide range of life skills and are encouraged to take increasing responsibility for their contribution and group decisions.
The trustees of Heritage Marine Foundation have been involved with this project since its inception, with Jim Dines doing much of the work towards the build from issuing the tenders to awarding the build contract and overseeing the build,
The Foundation completed the design work of all the elements of the rig and fit out by comparing the existing Horlock's Barges, researching old archive drawings and inspecting photos to try to recreate the deck fittings, rig and cabin design. Blue Mermaid is as close to Horlock's original design as possible. Part of the project will be to create a booklet of the modern CAD drawings alongside relevant original drawings, and photos, as well as up to date photographs to create a modern handbook explaining the interpretation and alterations of the original design to meet modern production methods, and explaining the differences between them.
The high water on the morning of the 30th of April 2019 brought with it the first sail for Blue Mermaid. Various skippers, crew and supporters joined Richard and Hilary for the ensuing three day “shake down” sail. Any alterations that were deemed necessary were noted and began as soon as she was back at the yard. After almost a month of finishing touches, coats of paints and various cleats being welded on Blue Mermaid invited their first group on board on the 28th of May.