Postcard from the River Exe and its barge project



Topsham has to be my favourite place in the world. Stunning views, quaint streets, lovely cafes and pubs , but above all is where we were married. But this post is not about a wedding but boats.

I love boats and the idea of sailing on a yacht, motor boat or barge will always be a dream sadly as the fact is I just do not have sea legs! Even just a gentle ripple and just a slight movement is enough for me to start feeling slightly queasy. However there is something tranquillising for me just watching boats and hearing the sounds they make so have to pop down to Topsham when home without fail. The old port quay usually harbours beautiful yachts of all sizes but it now also looks after a special conservation project

The Vigilant is a Thames barge dating from 1904 but had been rotting in an Essex boat yard for 20 years until a kindly soul fell for her. Benjamin Squirrell bought her and boat restorer David McCabe offered to help to bring her back to her former glory. Against the odds they managed to sail her from essex around to my lovely little port where it is expected she will take 18 months of tender loving care before being sail worthy again.

My eldest was excited to see the barge. He believed pirates lived on it so we now have a regular visit to make to see its progress whenever back home in Devon


9 thoughts on “Postcard from the River Exe and its barge project

  1. I think you should beg Ben to post the picture I took of him next to Vigilant on the dockside at Point Clear St Osyth. Just to prove he is happy to get his hands dirty.


    1. Hi Vigilantes and sorry not to have been in touch. You can always contact me about the barge at ‘ We had an open day in early June and will be trying to do another in August. Why not a cook book with Vigilant photographs – the talents of two bloggers for the price of one! It would help raise funds for this crazy caper too!


  2. Hi,

    I am the owner of the Vigilant for my sins! Thanks for your post about the boat and how about a Vigilant cookbook – using our photos and your culinary know how – to raise money for our nail fund! Pirate Captain Squirrell


    1. It is a great project. We are down to see parents a few times in the year and now have another reason top pop to Topsham! A cookbook would be marvellous for such a seaworthy cause if only time would allow……


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