It’s always a thrill when Topsail magazine (it’s more like a book these days!) arrives in the post, and my No 46, December 2012 arrives this morning – almost coinciding with the 12:12 12/12/12 moment which we were all alerted to by the local Radio station. This one is as good as ever and is , as always, choc-a-bloc full of interesting articles and nice pictures. For those who don’t know, it is one of two periodical publications by the Society for Sailing Barge Research and well worth subscribing to that organisation for.
This one is dominated by an 18 page article by Norma O’Keefe about the murder of the Skipper of SB Speranza in 1931 and has a lovely, well written, atmospheric piece by visiting Ozzie, Bruce Sibley who manages to schmooze his way aboard SB Venture for a voyage in the 50’s. In the latter case, the writer also took his camera aboard, so there are nice action pictures to go with it. The mag also has a sad tale of the sinking of house-boat barge SB Thursday as described by Skipper John Hone who, along with crew and cat were only just rescued in the nick of time.
For me, having navigated some of this waterway in a holiday narrow-boat, it was also interesting to read about the use of sailing barges on the Leeds and Liverpool Canal. Editor Richard Walsh reviews various new publications including a couple of great interest here, “The Cambria Story” by Robert Simper and recent book by our friend Nick Ardley, “The Jottings of a Thames Estuary Ditch-Crawler”. Richard also reviews the Video “Red Sails” by Mike Maloney of Countrywide Productions. “This is far and away the best ever modern film covering the history, present day and restoration scene,” says Richard, and I agree 100%. There is also an ad for the new Compendium which we ourselves reviewed in a recent post. Then as I flicked over the back cover, I thought I’d spotted a nice pic of Cambria – the familiar bowsprit, bow-badge scroll work and bob. Not quite! It is actually Everard’s SB Veronica on her way to winning the 1937 Thames Match. Perhaps you’ll forgive me the error as it’s the Season of Good Will?