Summertime is the perfect season for a gentle sail along one of Suffolk’s many rivers. Better still if the trip takes place on an historic sailing barge such as the Sailing Barge Victor, which sails out of Ipswich and along the beautiful River Orwell.
I took such a trip recently, on a warm Friday evening. We left from the bustling Ipswich Waterfront at 6.30pm, steered our way around the moored yachts in the marina and sailed out along the River Owell.
The magnificent sail was raised as we reached open water and the beautiful historic barge could be seen in all her glory as we cruised under the elegant Orwell Bridge and followed the shoreline of the Shotley Peninsula. The water was calm, the scenery sublime and the crew, led by skipper David ‘Wes’ Westwood, friendly and hospitable.
Mid way through the cruise, dinner was served (a delicious curry – veggie option available) which could be eaten below decks, or taken on deck to eat al fesco, while watching the world float lazily by.
Throughout the trip, anyone who wanted to, was invited to take a turn at the helm (under the watchful eye of the crew, I might add) and at around 9.30pm we sailed back into Ipswich, to the welcoming lights of the hotels and restaurants along the waterfront.
Built in the late 19th century in Ipswich, SB Victor has been lovingly restored and taking a cruise on her along such a picturesque stretch of river is like entering another world. The history of the vessel, the scenery and the relaxation of it all is something to be savoured at a leisurely pace.
The different types of cruises available on SB Victor include supper, high tea, cream tea and picnic cruises, as well as occasional birdwatching cruises with the RSPB.
To find out more and to book a cruise, please visit the Sailing Barge Victor website.