Thames Barge Build - words & pics by Mike
That's it then !! Finished second barge.
I said I'd build this one from any old bits I found lying around and using only basic simple hand tools.
Frames, bulwarks and winches etc are from plastic sheet which is readily available from supermarkets as scrap advertising boards.
Decks , hatches and housings etc were made from a bamboo blind. One blind 3ft wide by 6 ft long has done both barges with enough left over to do another two.
Masts and booms are hardwood dowel or old cane fishing rods and rigging cord I scrounge from a cobblers stock.
With regard to the sails, I bought 1.5 yrds of lightweight canvas. By cutting out paper sail templates and a bit of juggling I managed to make all sails for both barges. I've become somewhat proficient with a sewing machine but they could have been sewn by hand.
Tools needed were a 12" steel rule, knife with break-off blades, tape measure, junior hacksaw, some small clamps, Thread for alignment. superglue and aliphatic wood glue ( expensive but the best and 200ml will stick and seal a whole boat). Most everything, if not ready to hand, is cheap from the likes of Poundland. (Other shops are available - Ed)
Having gained experience from building the first barge to an up-scales set of plans and read an awful lot on barging matters, I concluded that no two barges were identical and, apart from racing where maximum sail area mattered, a bow sprit and flying jib were not really worth the effort required to man and maintain them. Many barges dispensed with them and I did likewise for the second barge.
Anyone with a will, if not the immediate skills, can produce a presentable sailing craft. Having said that I've experimented by adding 12.5 lbs of internal concrete ballast below waterline level. Hopefully it will sail OK and dispense with the need for a removable keel. Fingers crossed.
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