Drawings of the Mayflower and SNARK (not to scale)
Sailing barge Snark is a spritsail barge, constructed between 1996 and 2018 to the original plans of a type of cargo-carrying commercial sailing barges built by J G Fay in Woolston, Southampton in 1898. Her design has been updated a little to meet modern passenger vessel standards and to simplify the handling of sails for safety reasons. However, to all but the specialist, she is a Thames barge of the classic coastal mould.
Many of these vessels carried stone from Portland to London to build the great monuments and buildings of the late 19th C city. Snark has been rigged as a muley, that is with a larger mizzen than the more familiar river barge and a long bowsprit. She retains the lowerable, deck-stepped mast needed to work ‘above the bridges’. She has raising leeboards and rudder to allow her to dry out on the tidal foreshore of the many estuaries and creeks along the English coast.
At 84 ft on deck and 105 ft overall, she is a little shorter than Mayflower and lighter at 67 tonnes. She is slightly
larger than Speedwell. She only has one lower deck instead of two and no upper deck houses. The steering and sail operations are all in the open air.
Unlike the Mayflower, she has a self-tacking fore and aft rig which makes her more weatherly and generally easier to manage shorthanded. Indeed, Thames barges are often sailed with just two people and rarely more than three as opposed to the 20 or so crew who managed the Mayflower.