Swale Barge Match 2020 – A windswept washout

Covid ruined everyone’s summer and it looked as though the annual barge matches would be no exception to the stream of event cancellations.

However, with the national outlook looking better, the Swale Match Committee decided to run the race after all at the end of August and we decided to enter the barge, sailing around on the Friday, with the bright and sunny start soon giving way to thunderstorms and a howling NW wind.

And so it was, inevitably in a year of disappointments, that the race was cancelled and we set off back home.

In order to reduce our windage, we lowered the topmast before getting underway and sailed up the Swale, before the rising tide came against us near Grovehurst Jetty and we stowed up and motored.

Reaching Kingsferry Bridge on schedule to save our tide at Halstow, we were disappointed that the bridge master would not open for us as he had a ship coming through half an hour later and only wanted to lift once.

As such, we arrived half an hour too late to get into the dock at Halstow and so had to pick up our mooring buoy and wait for the night tide. The stove was roaring and it gave the crew of Ed, Lyndon and Emma a chance to have a beer, a yarn and 40 winks.

The moon that night was obscured and the path through the moorings impossible to see in the pitch black, but we made it in safely and headed home at shortly after midnight after a brisk weekend which was a little bit of fun in a desperate year.

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