Thalatta is a sea-going vessel 90 feet long and built of oak. A superb example of a fully rigged traditional spritsail barge, she was originally built at Harwich in 1906. Craft of this type developed over the years to combine good sea-going qualities with an ability to navigate easily in the shallow rivers of the south east coast.
For many years, in peace and war, Thalatta carried 150 ton cargoes under sail to British and Continental ports. Between the wars, there were 3000 such vessels trading around our coasts – today Thalatta is one of only about 30 surviving wooden coasters in trade. The barge’s sailing rig is nowadays augmented with a modern diesel engine, but otherwise she remains in character and appearance almost unaltered since the days of sail. In trade Thalatta would have been crewed by a Skipper, Mate and Third Hand just as she is today.
In 1967 the ship took on a different role as a school ship under the flag of the East Coast Sail Trust. Since then thousands of young people have benefited from the experience of living and working as crew on Thalatta’s five-day voyages. Those coming aboard today assist with the working and navigating of the ship, winding up the anchor, setting the great red sails, and taking a trick at the wheel – few have had any previous sailing experience.
Thalatta’s former cargo space has been converted into communal living quarters with hammocks and wooden sea-chests. Three separate cabins are provided for the group leaders or those with special needs. Cooking in the ample galley is on a modern gas stove. There are two marine toilets, a washroom, a shower, central heating and 240v power. A set of weatherproof clothing and lifejacket is provided for everyone.
The ship carries two large ship’s boats, each able to carry 8 passengers. These, propelled either by oars or outboard engines, are used to go ashore, and to explore coastal inlets and creeks too shallow for Thalatta.