Built in 1893 by John Howard of Maldon, Essex, SB Venta was originally named Jachin. In 1914, she sank off Seaford, Sussex and subsequently rebuilt with her port of registry changed to London where she was owned by Miss Elsie Shrubshall. After plying her trade as a coasting cargo barge for for over 30 years, she was sold as a ‘yacht’ in 1947.
In 1959 she was bought by Jocelyn Lukins for £600. After entering a barge match on the River Blackwater, a casual remark about the barge ‘Verona’ being in Sweden, “Wouldn’t it be good if the two old gals could meet up?” led to plans for the adventure to begin. John Fairbrother was engaged as skipper and this extract from his log as they depart Maldon in 1964 is taken from the Chaffcutter Books publication ‘Sailing Barge Venta’:
1004 millibars. Freshening E. wind. Bright at first, rain after dark.
We towed clear of Maldon at 11 p.m wih the boat up, the anchor on the bow and the bowsprit jib set. By the time we passed Heybridge Lock our launch could no longer keep up with us and we let go and set the bowsprit jib at Mill each. We ran down the Wallet and gybed off the Naze. When fetching into Harwich the topsail started to flap on the leach anc had to come down, so we turned up the Stour without it to an anchorage above the Gasworks Creek. At 7 p.m. we put our passengers for the day ashore with the help of a smlal fishing boat, it was quite rough and started to rain soon after.
On their way home to Maldon in the car there was a strong smell of fish and it was found that some very dead crabs had crawled, mysteriously into Barry’s pocket.
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