Nick Ardley, Thames estuary ditch-crawler, river, creek and coastal sailor.

Current projects

The skipper, of course, hasn't forgotten you all: he has already set off on further adventures around the estuary. He is poking and prodding at things he has not covered before, or , perhaps, previously found as he continues to delve into some less well known aspects of the estuary's past. He muses over changes: they can be slow and steady or, surprisingly, rather rapid at times. All along the way he continues to observe the area's environment: it is his greatest love, after the mate, of course!

The Jottings of a Thames Estuary Ditch-crawler, published by Amberley Publishing. ISBN: 978-1-4456-0100-7, £17.99

Sailing, boat owning and living on a Thames spritsail barge have coursed through the veins of the skipper’s family since the early 1930s, and it instilled in him a profound love for salt, marsh and mud. In The Jottings of a Thames Estuary Ditch-Crawler we find the skipper looking at how it used to be in the early days of Corinthian sailing.
Nick Ardley takes us on another series of journeys in his yacht Whimbrel, through the meandering creeks and waterways that feed into the Thames and its estuary, using his extensive local knowledge to impart a flavour of the areas he visits, with historical interludes. He also details the two craft that he has owned during a lifetime of estuary explorations, with affectionate attention to the history of the Finesse class of clinker-built yachts of which his Whimbrel, a '24', is one. All around the Thames estuary nowadays there are passages that sailors used, many now long gone, silted up or dammed, while the attendant industry along the banks of these creeks and the river itself have also disappeared.
The stories captured between the pages of this book will appeal to locals, sailors, and anyone with an interest in the history and wildlife of the Thames estuary.

The May Flower A Barging Childhood, published by The History Press. ISBN: 9780752442259, £16.99

 The waterways of Britain have long attracted independent spirits. The freedom of life on the water holds a special allure for many, and come the weekend people all across the country leave behind the drudgery of their everyday lives for the thrill of the open water. However, one family took this devotion even further by bringing up their children on the Thames spritsail barge May Flower.
In this evocative story of his unusual upbringing on the May Flower, Nick Ardley gives us a colourful account of life on the water. He tells tales of places visited, techniques learned and characters met that combine to give a real sense of what sailing can teach us. The skills learned on the water have proved to be highly beneficial for many people in their later careers, while the self-reliance and resourcefulness that often characterises sailors are much-valued attributes anywhere.
Weaving his wealth of barging knowledge into the story of his family's life aboard the May Flower and their great resilience in keeping their barge on the water, Nick Ardley has given us a book that will appeal both to barging enthusiasts and those interested in childhood development.

Salt Marsh & Mud A Year's Sailing on the Thames Estuary, published by Amberley Publishing. ISBN: 9781848684911, £16.99

Salt Marsh and Mud - Tales through a sailing year, is a compilation of interlinked stories about cruising around the Lower Thames, Swale and River Medway. The area has been very much overlooked, in the yachting literary world - often derided even - yet it is a fantastic local cruising area, full of history, wildlife and seemingly remote anchorages - far from the madding crowd. The stories are about a skipper and his mate, reminiscing and bringing to life the often barren and empty marshland landscape: the history, often unseen but laying close to the surface, is entwined with what was seen as they went by. Old ports, often many miles up muddy creeks are visited. Dilapidated wharves are met, with ghosts of the past lingering on, some with new life oozing from them, they are often explored too, by the skipper, in a little lugsail dinghy. The stories range from the end of a December to the next December, seeing out a complete year afloat.

Mudlarking Thames Estuary Cruising Yarns, published by Amberley Publishing. ISBN: 9781848684928, £16.99


In this charming sequel to the successful local best-seller Salt Marsh & Mud, the skipper and his mate meander gently around the coastline of East Anglia, exploring the marshland from North Kent to Suffolk in their tan-sailed, wooden clinker sloop, Whimbrel. Whether sitting with a cup of tea while gazing out over a peaceful waterway or sailing up between London's impressive buildings, they take the time to look around them and to appreciate the sights, sounds and stories that abound. Nick Ardley lovingly weaves his yarns of traditional sailing with his own reminiscences and detailed knowledge of the places and waterways that they encounter. The numerous rivers and creeks that indent the Thames archipelago hide a wealth of history and nature; this captivating book uncovers a few of these secrets and brings them to life. The stories tucked between the pages of this book will appeal to locals, sailing enthusiasts, and anyone with an interest in the history or wildlife of this fascinating area of the country.