September 17 2014 Latest news:
By Donna-Louise Bishop, Reporter
Thursday, September 4, 2014
She was the country’s last ever vessel built to carry cargo under sail - but in recent times she has become the much-loved home for one couple who this week took their maiden voyage to the Norfolk Broads.
Tony and Sally Woodward bought the fully rigged Humber keel Daybreak in 1979 and since then have made it their family home, bringing up their two children there.
And today (Wednesday) nautical fans had the rare opportunity to step inside the lovingly decorated barge as part of its voyage along the east coast for a joint open day with Norfolk’s 120-year-old Wherry Albion.
Owner Mr Woodward, 62, said it was the first time a keel had sailed in the county for more than 100 years.
“Daybreak was built for Doncaster flour millers to carry up to 100 tonnes of cargo in coastal waters from Hull to Doncaster,” he said. “It’s similar to the Wherry as it would only have had two crew on board. We still sail it with two but they would have been doing it all year round.”
Originally built in 1934, the square rigged sailing barge was awarded the National Historic Ships “Flagship of the Year” vessel and its origns date back to medieval cargo vessels.
The Woodwards spent years refurbishing her, restoring her to sail while converting the hold to provide living accomodation. She still sails regularly on the Thames and will be making an apperance at the Great Yarmouth Maritime Festival this weekend.
“It’s been fantastic for us to see the Albion because we’ve known about her for years and the Norfolk Wherry Trust has done such a lovely job on restoring her,” he added.
“It’s also wonderful for us to be on the Norfolk Broads and I’m sure there will be lots of interest in her at Yarmouth.”
Mr Woodward thought it would be a good opportunity for Daybreak to spend a day with Albion, who was the runner up in the same competition a few years ago.
Daybreak, which has been based on the Thames for 38 years, was motorised in the 1940s and restored to sail in 1986. There have been thousands of keels built over the years but only three now remain.
Albion was built in 1898 to carry cargo inland along shallow narrow rivers to Broadland towns, villages and Norwich. Albion has a gaff rig which was developed from the Norfolk Keel, similar to the Humber Keel, but which has now disappeared.
Today’s open day took place outside The Reedcutter Inn, Cantely, on the River Yare.