Boats, Barges, and an Upcoming Regatta

We have seen a good number of boats since arriving in Whitstable. We sometimes don’t pay all that much attention, since we’re always around boats at home in the PNW. BUT, there are some boats and boat-related things here in Whitstable that are worthy of attention.

What is this steaming into the harbor?

This is the Balmoral. She is an excursion ship that makes runs around the Southern UK coast, into London on the Thames, and through the Bristol Channel.  She can accommodate 750 people, dates from 1949, and here’s a link to the company who owns and runs her: http://www.waverleyexcursions.co.uk/balmoral.htm She motored into the Whitstable Harbour on Sunday, while we were enjoying the sun on the beach:

Aft view

Charlie and Daddy were exploring the harbour themselves and got to see the Balmoral up close.

Can we go?

She was pretty huge for a harbour as small as Whitstable’s!  Here’s another boat trying to sneak by:

Not much room to get by
206 feet long, 750 passengers
The MV Balmoral!

Right after inspecting the Balmoral, a siren went off, and the Lifeboat went out for a practice run.

Sploosh!
Zoom!

Everyday, we see sailboats, fishing boats, & pleasure boats just off the shore, and often tankers or container ships in the distance. We also have a regular view of a windfarm in the mouth of the Thames, and these fascinating relics from WWII, which we initially thought were drilling platforms: Maunsell Forts

And then, there’s the 39th Swale Smack & Sailing Barge Match, coming up this weekend. This is one of the various annual sailing races for the traditional Thames Sailing Barges. We were lucky enough to catch a “just for fun” race that some of them participated in on Sunday. This Saturday is the big, official race. We are looking forward to heading way down the beach, to the other side of town (the Tankerton Slopes), to catch a good view of the ships as they return for the second half of the course. These boats look gorgeous with their sails up. Here is some info (with photos) on the Thames Sailing Barges:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thames_sailing_barge

Perhaps one of these days, we’ll manage to get out on the S.B. Greta.  This restored Sailing Barge is based in Whitstable and takes tourists out on the water for short excursions.

Greta

Looks pretty salty

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