Coaster, barge, lighter

zelo1954
29th April 2010, 00:16
In the past on SN we have discussed when a ferry became a passenger liner. Another problem with definitions which has occupied my thoughts for some considerable time is this one. Consider any small cargo ship or oil tanker. What qualities about your vessel would you consider to decide whether the vessel was a "coaster", "barge", lighter", or "anyotherdef"? Where are the grey areas?

ray bloomfield
18th May 2010, 01:27
Been waiting for ages for someone to reply to this question but not many people on this site seem interested in the 'small stuff'.
My thoughts on this are:-
A barge was normally of small(ish) DWT and was employed in rivers and canals but coastal barges went further, 2 or 3 crew and of basic design. Lighters were towed around in the rivers and few had any facilities onboard. But on the other hand the old coastal sailing barges used to go to the same places as the motor coaster did when they came of vogue.

ray bloomfield
18th May 2010, 01:38
In addition to my last I was once in the Regents canal dock in London and alongside my motor barge was a manned lighter that two men rowed up and down the canal, out in the river they used the tide to get them from dock to dock, they were very skilful men, put me and my 88hp Kelvin to shame.

WilliamH
18th May 2010, 09:29
Speaking of barges last night I watched a TV programme about Timothy Spall taking a barge like craft around the coast of the Britian. The craft had a wheelhouse at main deck level which did not appear to have watertight doors, the wheel house windows looked very flimsy and the windows on the lower deck accomodation looked like caravan windows. Any water entering the wheelhouse would have flowed straight down into the lower accomodation. Who decides, nowadays, if such vessels are fit for purpose.

Nick Balls
18th May 2010, 10:14
I think its a tad more complex than this. LOL

Barge is from Latin 'Barca' clearly a reference to a specific type of vessel.
Lighter must be from the phrase 'to lighten a vessel'
Coaster: This agin must be a reference to its type of use.

I think we tend to forget that we used to have a lot more words to clearly identify differing vessel types.
Barge is really a general term for a square flat-bottomed load carrying vessel. As in the mentioned Thames sailing barge this is self explanatory , A barge used on the Thames ,with sails. The fact that all these vessels were constantly evolving is also missed . this would explain the fact that a thames barge became a 'coaster' Lots of other words are now lost. For example 'Wherry' (Several different kinds) 'Hoveller' 'Keel'
Nice program by Timothy Spall , His boat is certainly not seaworthy mind you. As far as I know for 'small craft' we have no legal requirements for going to sea. His boat might not fit that category and I suppose it would then be up to the MCA . They would probably be more interested in the likes of Liferafts , flares ect

chadburn
18th May 2010, 10:26
Speaking of barges last night I watched a TV programme about Timothy Spall taking a barge like craft around the coast of the Britian. The craft had a wheelhouse at main deck level which did not appear to have watertight doors, the wheel house windows looked very flimsy and the windows on the lower deck accomodation looked like caravan windows. Any water entering the wheelhouse would have flowed straight down into the lower accomodation. Who decides, nowadays, if such vessels are fit for purpose.

Like yourself I have been watching this programme with interest, from what I heard the Barge was especially built for him as a Seagoing Barge rather than a Canal Barge which he has took to sea. Bearing in mind some of the strange craft that have put to sea in recent years there does not appear to be any control over how they are built, although Timothy Spall seems to have a "sensible head" on him despite a bit of fooling around. The idea to do the round trip appears to stem I believe from his "Bucket List" after a serious illness.

Andrew Craig-Bennett
18th May 2010, 11:55
May I take a shot at this?

I think a lighter is defined by its use (and I fancy its an it not a she).

Barge - flat bottomed cargo vessel (can be used as a lighter, or as a coaster, or both at the same time). "Dumb" barge = non-powered barge, often used as a lighter. Sailing barge, steam barge and motor barge all self explanatory.

I think there's a sort of assumption that a barge of any description ought to be capable of working in estuaries, rivers and canals of appropriate sizes. I also think there's an assumption that a barge won't have a lot of sheer or much freeboard when laden.

Coaster - any vessel intended to enter small ports and to carry cargo within Home Trade limits in the UK or the equivalent elsewhere. Probably able to stand serious weather.

vectiscol
19th May 2010, 14:44
How about a definition of a coaster or coastal tanker as a vessel of less than 500 gross tons?

ray bloomfield
25th May 2010, 23:44
The 'coaster' I have now has a GT of 1285 mt, and Arklow Shipping now has coasters of 14000 dwt. The days of the old tonnage measurement which meant that ships of 1500 tons laden and a gross tonnage of 499 have long since disappeared.

ray bloomfield
26th May 2010, 00:01
Thames sailing barges & coastal sailing barges.
The sailing barges built for work just on the river had very little sheer, wide hatches and narrower decks, plus the gear was normally lighter.
Coastal sailing barges had more sheer, wider decks, more curved and narrower hatches and some carried up to three hundred ton and harder to work but were still crewed by just two men and a boy whereas the river barges were normally two handed.

Billieboy
26th May 2010, 06:28
Thames sailing barges & coastal sailing barges.
The sailing barges built for work just on the river had very little sheer, wide hatches and narrower decks, plus the gear was normally lighter.
Coastal sailing barges had more sheer, wider decks, more curved and narrower hatches and some carried up to three hundred ton and harder to work but were still crewed by just two men and a boy whereas the river barges were normally two handed.

There were coasting barges coming into Cardiff and Barry to load coal in the fifties and sixties. Yo could guess the tonnage of the barges by counting the number of trucks in the, "string", at the coal tip, a 10x20ton string was 200tons, and didn't take long to load either, the tippers and trimmers gang were never happy, as this would then have been the job for the day. As the last waggon was tipped they were off home for the rest of the day.

Oz.
26th May 2010, 08:03
In Melbourne in the 1950's a lighter was always an old ship stripped of all its gear and used to carry cargo behind a tug. Most were ex sailing ships and my dad used to be engineer on a tug owned by the Victorian Lighterage Company - Swiftness ex Fishguard - and we used to tow an empty lighter from Melbourne to Geelong, then pick up a lighter loaded with wool and tow it back to Melbourne, put it alongside a ship to discharge , pick up another lighter ready to do the same thing next day. It was a long day, 5 am to around 9 pm but as a kid, I loved it.

zelo1954
27th May 2010, 12:57
Oh - I'd given up on this but it seems there's some activity after all. I was wondering about living arrangements. A coaster I think implies a vessel which has facilities for the crew to live on board during voyages. Barges, lighters, etc. you generally work on them during the day but live at home.

I know that barge and lighter have quite specific origins - those mentioned by Nick - but I guess the distinctions have been blurred over time. I note that the Clydebuilt website lists most of the puffers as "lighters". These are really small coasters because they trade to the Western Isles and even to Ireland.

Oz.
27th May 2010, 13:28
The Melbourne lighters all had someone on living on board, one of them-the 'Albert William', had a family on board. They lived aft in what was the Old Mans cabin.