A REPLICA of a Thames Sailing Barge is soon to be based in Maldon.
The Blue Mermaid replica, which was officially launched on Tuesday, May 31, will be housed in Maldon Hythe Quay.
The original Blue Mermaid was built in 1930 but was lost during World War Two.
The replica was commissioned by the Sea-Change Sailing Trust as part of their Youth Sailing Scheme.
The launch was attended by Hilary Halajko and Richard Titchener, who run Sea-Change.
Speaking after the launch of the boat, Hilary said: "Today marks a landmark moment in our ambitions to get a new Thames barge into operation.
"We have £150,000 left to raise to get the barge finished once she gets to Essex and if we are successful we hope that ‘Blue Mermaid’ will enter service during 2017”.
The boat was launched in Cornwall, where it was built by C Toms & Sons boat builders.
Blue Mermaid will be towed up the English Channel to Maldon.
The barge will be used by the trust to teach young people traditional sailing skills.
The scheme works with young people, many from a deprived communities, as well as those at a risk of offending.
Charity administrator, Don Ramsey, 61, said: "The charity works with young people from disadvantaged backgrounds and with disabilities.
"We want to give them opportunities to do things they would not otherwise be able to do.
"We work with care groups and we take the children on a sailing barge for five days at a time, usually in groups of 12 people, including their carers."
In the past the charity has had to rent out a barge, limiting the amount of time they can spend at sea.
However, the Blue Mermaid means they are more in control of how long the trips take as well as the financial side of it.
Don explained: "We primarily have had to rent the barges, but have been fundraising for some time to build our own.
"It will allow us to spend more time at sea, and in the long run help the charity financially."
The Blue Mermaid is expected to arrive in Maldon Hythe Quay on July 7.
The charity, launched in 2007, is fundraising to put the finishing touches to the barge.
To find out more, or to donate, visit www.seachangesailingtrust.org.uk.
From ‘Maldon Standard’, 1st June 2016