Monday, 3 September 2012

A busy weekend

I know I’ve written a couple of stories previously about travelling from the northern rivers of the Norfolk Broads to the southern rivers and some might find yet another account boring, but to us it is a different adventure every time we make the journey.

Saturday lunchtime started with a run up to Horning to get some diesel, from a small boatyard where it is quite tricky at times to moor.  However, on this occasion, there was no obstacle course to negotiate, just some clever manoeuvring by the skipper and 'kerching' – lots of notes handed over!

This was my first anxiety out of the way!  The next one was going to be, as always, whether we would have enough room under the pesky bridges at Great Yarmouth (popularly known as Yarmite locally).  We had planned this journey to coincide with spring tides, which give low lows and high highs but tide times are only predictions and it could all be different on the day, as we have found to our cost in the past!

We had a pleasant journey down the Bure, cruising slowly with the tide and under the bridge at Acle (plenty of room there), spotting the Wherry Ardea moored at the Bridge Inn.

A number of boats passed us on the river, obviously in a hurry to get to Yarmite but we stuck to our plan, although we did seem to be getting ahead of ourselves when we reached Stokesby so decided to moor at Stracey windmill for half an hour to lower the radar arch and make final checks, as well as stocking up on biscuits for the weekend!

Shortly after setting off we were passed by a river cruiser which is very familiar to us, having watched her sail in most of the regattas for the last few years.  Her mast was down and her skipper was happily going down with the tide.  We exchanged greetings as he passed.

I always have a sense of relief when I see the mud banks appearing at the banks of the river, as this means the tide is definitely going to be low enough for us but I was happy to see the height board which showed in excess of 12ft headroom.  No worries then!

The tide was still flowing out very fast and there was a hire boat fairly close behind us which we knew wouldn’t be able to stop if we had to give way for any reason and, sod’s law, as we approached the first bridge there was a river cruiser struggling through the bridge, closely followed by a privately owned motor cruiser and another hire boat! 

At this stage I signalled to the boat behind us to back off, as we had to hold in the river to allow these boats through.  Normally it would be up to the boats coming against the tide to give way as they have more control but as the river at the bridges is quite narrow, and the two bridges are close together it would have been too much to expect them to give way.

A good bit of manoeuvring (for the second time that day) by the skipper and it was our turn to negotiate the dreaded bridges.  It was obvious that height wasn’t going to be a problem and I didn’t need to keep a look-out but the tide was obviously running late as it was still racing out, well after predicted low water – you never can tell!

We were amazed, as we passed the famous yellow post, to see a mud bank behind it, which we had never seen before, proving how low the tide was that day.

As we started across Breydon Water the sun was coming through the clouds and once again I got that feeling of well-being which I always get when we come “down south”.  Breydon Water holds no fears for us (I used to sail there) and as we pushed across fairly fast to make the most of the light, we passed the river cruiser who had passed us earlier.  We offered him a tow but he said he was ok – although he did say in the pub later that if I’d mentioned the large gin and tonic which would have been poured for him, he would have accepted! 

We had a beer and G&T respectively to celebrate the bad part of the trip (the bridges) being behind us!

We were aiming for Cantley and The Reedcutter (ex Red House) pub but started to get a little concerned as we passed the Berney Arms and Reedham to see very busy moorings.

More sunsets here Sunsets
As we came up to Cantley it was obvious that there were a lot of boats moored, mainly tall masted river cruisers but, in the failing light, we saw one space where a couple of fishermen were sitting.  As we came towards the mooring I went up to the bow and shouted to the fishermen that we had to come in as we had no other option.  They shouted back that they were packing up and would help us in, for which we were very grateful.

When we had secured mooring lines, the skipper thanked the fishermen and in chatting they said they couldn’t believe that we were planning to put a 33ft boat into a 30ft space!!  Perhaps it was the alcohol which made us brave!!  I took some photos in the morning …..

A bit of supper and then a pleasant couple of hours were spent in the pub where we met up with the chap from the river cruiser and his family.  An early night as we were quite tired after a busy day.

Woke up to a sunrise over the sugar factory (known as “Cantley Castle”) and the sounds of activity on some of the boats.  When we emerged to chat with the boat owners we discovered that there was going to be a race from Cantley to Coldham Hall that day – the Cecil Howard Memorial Trophy race – which we had never heard of before. 

This is where I need to refer to a previous blog – “Going south” where I gave an account of our ‘interaction’ with a river cruiser by the name of Wandering Rose.  After our experiences last year, I jokingly told one of the crew that we would steer clear of them this year!

Hahaha – couldn’t believe it when I saw the boat moored in front of us – yes, it was Wandering Rose!  The owner/skipper (who wasn’t able to sail her last year and trustingly allowed friends to use her) told us that he was short of crew for this race and would we like to help out.

We thought about it whilst I got coffee and biscuits for him and his two crew members who had arrived by then (we knew them both) and decided to do it.  We were promised a lift back to our boat after the race as we had a berth booked at Brundall that night.

Quick grab of life jackets, water, money and cameras and we were on board and out on the river!  The rig looked quite complicated to us novices but the skipper gave us some quick training on what we had to do and then we were off – there were three or four starts and we were in the last one so were at the back of the pack of about twelve boats.  Something to do with handicaps but to us it all sounded as complicated as the rig!

It was obvious that I wasn’t going to be able to take any photographs, as I had initially hoped, as we were kept busy tacking up the river, initially against the tide but then when it turned the wind dropped and it was a gentle sail up to Coldham Hall for a couple of hours – very enjoyable. 

We had a drink and substantial lunch at the pub and then it was time for trophy presentation!  We were surprised to be awarded a third place and a very tasteful cup but then even more surprised to be told that, after a ‘recount’, we had second place and were awarded a very strange trophy!

Owner/skipper and trophy!

Shortly after we boarded a river cruiser to head back to Cantley, under power this time, and enjoyed the trip sitting on the bow.  The ancient skipper of this boat, with a cackle of laughter, told me I had to be foredeck tottie which was a first for me and made me laugh as I was probably older than him!!

Our lift back to Cantley

Then it was a leisurely trip up to Brundall to find our berth which was to be home to our boat for four nights before we set off back to Cantley to watch the Yare Navigation Race next weekend.  We were greeted by the fine sight of a hot air balloon floating by.


  1. No tale you tell is boring! I'm just very jealous of you and wish we didn't live in the depths of Cornwall and could nip up for a few days on the water. Plenty of photos please of your time aboard!

  2. Thank you Sally-Ann, I am sure that there are many in Norfolk (me included) who are very jealous of you living in beautiful Cornwall.


Better than a four-leaf clover!

Not one to promote myself, I do seem to be bringing my friends who sail a certain amount of luck these days.   Looking back over photos ...