"Thames Barge"

Discussion in 'Boat Design' started by Splash Gordon, Aug 23, 2011.

  1. Splash Gordon
    Joined: Apr 2008
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    Location: Cape Town

    Splash Gordon Junior Member

    As a long-time enthusiast of these stately craft, and an admirer of pretty much anything that doesn't need vast crews, I have sourced a steel double-ended barge suitable for conversion into a Thames-type sailing barge.
    The barge was a dumb lighter in a previous life, but it's got the bluff bow and- here comes the first hiccup- it has a plumb stern- pretty much double-ended. How feasible would it be to add buttocks and the requisite wineglass transom as an appendage- a seperate enclosed compartment- as opposed to having to reshape the barge's whole ***-end?
    And as for the sticky-up-bits, there'll obviously have to be a compression-post or bulkhead, so could this be retro-fitted to include chainplate reinforcement?
    My idea is to recreate a barge as a cattle-craft. We have an inland river out here- the Vaal River- which currently hosts several party-boats, but could very easily accommodate a working-type vessel to take punters for sundowner trips etc., and the novelty of a "real" sailing barge could be a big seller, especially if the conversion costs weren't exhorbitant.
    Any advice? Has anyone got any experience with sailing-barges?
  2. Tad
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    Tad Boat Designer

    Sounds possible....First thing to do when undertaking a commercial enterprise is find out what regulations apply to the vessel, crew, and the business operation.....
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    BATAAN Senior Member

    After following Tad's advice and finding out the legal side of what you want to do, can you post a pic of the barge in good light? Thames barges went through many refinements over the years to arrive at the state of perfection they finally did, and your idea might work as a "Swim head" barge without modifications, but hard to tell from the description.
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    BATAAN Senior Member

    Looking in SAILING BARGES by F.G.G. Carr, 1931, 1951, London, he has this to say about barge yachts. In general, small ones are dogs, big ones work. If your former lighter is big enough, and I am supposing 20 meters as being the cutoff (conjecture on my part). Scabbing a new stern on a barge is no big deal, but a sailing barge is a subtle thing to make work right. Here are three stages of its development and they are all quite different in a lot of ways.
    If your proposed hull looks like the first plan, just go with that and build a "Swimmie", but it's hard to say without seeing what you have.
    The rig, if followed very closely, is one of the handiest ever devised for its very large size and often the topsail set alone was used in creeks and rivers with trees that cut off the lower wind.
    A barge sails quite differently loaded than she does light in yacht use, and excess freeboard and insufficient draft could be a problem.

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  5. goodwilltoall
    Joined: Jul 2010
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    goodwilltoall Senior Member


    Bolger said that his barge type boats (Barnowl, Offshore leeboarder, Romp, etc.) were the most seaworthy he designed. Would also think they have respectable speed.

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