Edith May and Marjorie

Echoing the great traditions of when barges would race for cargoes, the Passage Match is a weekend long race for Thames sailing barges, with great food, sunset drinks and hard racing. 

On Friday night, the barges muster amongst the wildlife rich saltmarshes of Stangate Creek, on the Medway, where passengers can get to know their ships and crew mates, whilst enjoying a complimentary BBQ and a few beverages to help the evening along.

Following a hearty breakfast and morning coffee, the barges set sail and head downriver to Sheerness for the start.  From there, it’s time to press on all canvas as the craft seek to gain the upper hand.  Skippers can plot any course they like, so long as they finish at the Orwell No. 1 buoy, just inside the massive container port at Felixstowe.

The barges then head upriver, to the barge Mecca of Pin Mill, where the famous pub The Butt and Oyster awaits – provided they get there before last orders!  The conditions of the day mean that the race can go on into the night, with 5am finishes not unheard of.

The fleet will all moor on the hard on Sunday morning, outside the pub, where a prizegiving ceremony will take place before guests disembark for the final time, with transport laid on back to Ipswich train station.

The Passage Match is unique in the events calendar, being a long distance, one way race, reflecting the traditions of barges in trade, when first to reach port was the first to unload and more importantly, first to get paid.

The Passage Match has been running since the 1970’s, and first ran between Gravesend and the Orwell, but it now starts on the River Medway, near Sheerness.

To get involved in this glorious experience, read more about each barge below and sign up to the crew!

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Source: Tiller & Wheel website

Photo: Sailing barges Edith May and Marjorie, by Jason Arthur

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