Remarks to: the South Georgia Heritage Trust on the occasion of the return of the crow’s nest from Shackleton’s Quest after its three year tour and return to All Hallows By The Tower on Thursday, 7 September, before a dinner at Trinity House, with a toast to ‘The Boss’ and a dram before heading home.Continue reading
At 10:15 on Friday, 1 October 2021, at Temple Pier, the Lord Mayor of the City of London, Alderman William Russell, piped away his two Sheriffs, Alderman Professor Michael Mainelli and Chris Hayward CC. Having completed an extraordinary two-year term of office, the first time since 1228 AD, the two Sheriffs boarded the City of London Corporation Thames Waterman cutter to be rowed away downriver and out to sea by a rowing crew under the command of Jon Averns, Director of Markets & Consumer Protection [don’t worry, they were safely ashore at Tower Pier about 11:00].Continue reading
Remarks to: the Company Of Watermen & Lightermen, on paddle steamer Elizabethan, on 8 July 2021.
Master, Wardens, Fellow Freemen, Ladies & Gentlemen. Thank you Master for inviting me to join our company on this evening, as we pay tribute to the immense service Colin and his team have given us over the past quarter of a century.
People in the livery sometimes ask why I am a craft-owning freeman of the Watermen & Lightermen. I am proud to say as a sailor and rower that water runs in my veins, and that having owned a Thames sailing barge, the Lady Daphne, for over two decades, some of that water in my veins definitely comes from the Thames. In fact, next week, I’m giving a lecture to the Guildhall Historical Association on the economic history of the Thames, the lighters, and the barges.Continue reading
Toast To The Immortal Memory Of Charles Dickens (7 February 1812 – 9 June 1870)
Alderman Professor Michael Mainelli
Remarks to the City Pickwick Club at the George & Vulture, London, 25 March 2019Continue reading
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.Continue reading
We were delighted with today’s BBC1 coverage of Lady Daphne in Heir Hunters, Series 9, Episode 5 (of 20), “Morris/Evans” (09:15, Friday, 27 February 2015). Not only did they have a great case to solve with Robert Evans, and made it interesting, but also included a lot of footage of sailing barge history:
“After the heir hunters race to find her, one heir visits the home of the relative she never knew. Surprisingly, it is just ten minutes down the road from her own house.
Whilst on another case, the heir hunters experience a strange sense of déjà vu. They find themselves tracing heirs to an estate of a lady whom they have met before, and their search uncovers the remarkable history of Thames bargemen.”
I do remember it was a cold and wet afternoon back in October 2013 when we did the filming – yes, nearly 18 months till airing. It was great to meet Robert Evans, who seemed really pleased to learn about his family history. Anyway, if you just want to watch Robert and “Mike”, the other star, with the grand old Lady, our section starts at 30:00/43:50.
By the way – Lady Daphne available for bookings from 1 April! – www.lady-daphne.co.uk
The observant among you may have noticed that the Mainelli’s spent two weeks of August in Scotland, followed by Wales, and sailing in England. We left in early August when polls for the Scottish Referendum predicted a 22 point “No” lead, and returned to England to hear about a predicted “Yes” lead. Suspicious? Go figure.
Of course, all I’ve learned about political diplomacy I’ve learned from Samuel Johnson, whose Scottish admirer and biographer, James Boswell, 9th Lord of Auchinleck, treasured and recorded such snippets as:
[Boswell:] “Mr. Johnson, I do indeed come from Scotland, but I cannot help it.”
[Johnson:] “That, Sir, I find, is what a very great many of your countrymen cannot help.”
[Johnson]: “In England we wouldn’t think of eating oats. We only feed them to Horses.”
[Boswell]: “Well, maybe that’s why in England you have better horses, and in Scotland we have better men.”
Feeling a bit sheepish about the fact that an entire nation seemed happy to never see our family again, I returned with my passport just before the referendum in order to save the nation. Taking a wild chance I sailed the Clyde, along the way buying my dear friend, Eric Smith, a new red duster as a boat-warming gift for his Colvic Watson 28, Serendipity. It also encouraged me. Without a successful exertion on my part, the ensign might have had a mere few days of validity, so it’s good for me that the vote was for union, otherwise I would have been a bit sodium-chloride angry (salt-ire, or is that “sailor rage” or “sea rage”…) if it had been money/currency-union wasted.
And a nice view of Arran Isle too!
One of the joys of restoring a Thames Sailing Barge, our beloved S B Lady Daphne, is racing her. Racing her? Indeed. Thames Sailing Barge racing is the oldest continuous boat racing in the world and, despite the size, slow turns, and wide tacking angles, possibly the hardest in the world. There is a full set of races each year off the east coast of England masterminded by the Sailing Barge Association. On Sunday, 24 August, we were racing off Southend-on-Sea, passing by its famous pier, sometimes quite closely!
I have written a bit about this racing in the past:
- Barging About In The Solent, Michael Mainelli, August 2003.
- Dropping The Hook To Win The Race, Michael Mainelli, Yachting World (web edition) 5 August 2002.
- Racing With The Settees, The Kids, And A Roaring Fire, Michael Mainelli, Spring 2002.
And a lot more is contained on the Lady Daphne news area. This year we managed to win the second place trophy in our class, but the privilege of racing continues to astound us. And for those of you who know Southend, you’ll have to admit that it’s a special group of boats that can make the town look this pretty!
[photo courtesy of Mark Duff]