One of the key features of a sailing barge is the ability to lower the mast for routes with low bridges and there are various mechanisms for doing this. ‘Drifter’, our 1976 built Lemsteraak has a mast which swivels on a robust pin passing through the mast near its base.
The mast pivots in a strongly constructed three sided box mounted on the deck called a ‘tabernacle’. There is a winch and wire on the front of the barge onto which the rigging leading to the top of the mast is transferred. Also a special removable strut mounted onto the base of the mast creates a ‘crane’ like system to enable the mast to be laid and lifted to/from horizontal.
With the mast lowered, the barge can then travel into discrete waterways without lifting bridges. This ability has also allowed us to easily perform any maintenance or repairs to the mast, avoiding the need for a costly crane.
The video shows us raising the mast after we left a shipyard in the Netherlands that could only be accessed by boats with a maximum height of 3 meters. The procedure is not without its dangers as the mast is extremely heavy and would seriously damage the barge or cause injury if something should go wrong. Good preparations and safety checks are paramount. You will also see us routinely checking the rigging for any snagging.
Also note at the end of the video the ability to raise the spar on the bow (the Bowsprit) to make the barge shorter for moorings or easier to maneuver in tight spaces.
For more information, see www.sailingbargedrifter.co.uk