Monday 28th June
The day dawned clear and pleasant. We know this
as James, sleeping badly, decided to go for a walk at 3:15am!
For the rest of us, the day began at 8:30 with bright sunlight
on the awnings and a slight breeze rustling the riverside reeds.
While James and Laura were in Potter buying fresh meat for the
day, I revelled in the wonderful warmth under the dark awning
over the well and enjoyed a quick wash. On such a small boat,
such opportunities must be embraced!
After a hasty breakfast we made ready for sail
and at 9:30 lowered the mast. As a portent for things to come,
this did not go at all well. James and I attempted to lower
the mast between us, but while distracted by a knot in the forestay
(which was difficult to control as it was) the mast, imperfectly
balanced by the small lead weight at it's foot, came crashing
down. We learned from this that lowering the mast was a three
person job! It needed one person on the forestay, one person
in the well guiding the mast into the crutches, and a third
person, preferably of some weight, controlling the foot of the
mast. Nerves in tatters we tidied up the well, and started the
engine. After a battle between the choke and us, we finally
for the little donkey running steadily, and pushed off under
Potter Heigham's two bridges. The first, a modern bridge carrying
the A149 road was passed with ease, but as for the second bridge...
"Old Bridge a very tight squeeze, but the excellent J.
steered us through. Thought we'd lose the cross trees!"
With the water tanks running low, we tried to tie up at the
public water supply, but were beaten in by a stinkpotter. We
made fast a little lower downstream and raised the mast - this
time without incident with three people - and set sail.
(click map to enlarge)
We sailed away from the staithe before being headed
by flukey winds after four-hundred yards. With heavy traffic
we gave up tacking and turned the engine on to give us steerage
way. As we drove down river, the wind was slowly picking up,
until after clearing the last of Potter Heigham's bungalows
we were motoring straight into a reasonably stiff breeze with
an overcast sky replacing the glorious sunshine we had enjoyed.
We tried beating against the wind, but even with the engine
we could not point high enough. I was desperate to get some
sail off her, but James had retired to his bunk, apparently
unwell, and I couldn't leave the tiller for a moment as the
boat was difficult to control against the wind. I set Laura
to studying the maps to find a mooring and scanned the banks,
but no suitable birth presented itself. Barely making progress
against the wind, we decided to head for the nearest shelter,
an apparently tiny dyke by the name of Womack Water. Turning
in, the wind abated a little and we were able to pull into the
I was again to be irritated by the poor provisioning
of the boat. We were forced to moor to the bank by dropping
the mud anchor on the bank from the bow, and using the only
rond anchor we could find at the stern. A rond anchor is an
anchor with a single fluke designed expressly for mooring to
the marshy banks of the Broads. James now re-appeared, seemingly
in better spirits, and was despatched to spy out the land while
I made a rough furl of the sails and collected my thoughts after
the frantic run in. After a while, James returned reporting
a boatyard upstream. As it was 11:30, it was decided that at
the very least we could tie up, get some water and have a bite
We pressed on with the engine, running well by
now. Within a few hundred yards trees had begun to grow on either
bank and we passed several boat yards with an enormous compliment
of gorgeously turned out wooden yachts. I could barely contain
my jealousy! The upper end of Womack Water was really quite
something, and very beautiful. Trees lined either bank, with
a small island providing a sheltered, private anchorage for
those wanting to avoid the fees and fuss of the main staithe.
We pressed on to a beautifully maintained waterfront. Manicured
lawns, gravel paths, picnic benches, corn fields, and then the
sun came out! I felt as if I had reached a little piece of heaven.
at Ludham staithe in the evening sun with mud anchor down
and a warp stretched from the bow to prevent anyone going
"bump" in the night!
(click picture to
At Ludham Staithe, one must tie up stern first,
a difficult manouver, but made more so with the off-centre engine
and inefficient foils. Javelin tended to travel in diagonals,
but a prod with the quant seemed to help matters, and there
were several friendly neighbours ready with a hand to our hastily
thrown warps. By 12:00 we were securely moored, the dinghy tied
to the shrouds, hastily decking out a picnic bench with our
lunch as the sun lightly roasted us. (It is true, Mad Dogs and
Englishmen do go out in the mid-day sun.) We had fallen on our
feet, a water supply three paces from the stern of the boat,
clean and pleasant toilets a stone's throw from the boat, a
chandler's at the end of the Staithe. We had a brief and unconvincing
discussion about setting off again, but squashed the idea in
favour of a day lazing around with a book in the sun.
After lunch we walked into Ludham itself. I admired
the small church, and the neat buildings snuggling close about
the roadway. It's strange for one coming from the North of England
as I do, the South can seem a very different world and many
of the houses seemed to owe rather more to Northern France for
their architecture than to the English tradition. We returned
to the boat and lazed the day away with books, soaking in the
sun, chatting to neighbours. We had a boat full of cockneys
to starboard, with a rather less exuberant Londoner cruising
solo to port, both of whom provided excellent entertainment.
Around 16:00 I stirred myself to action and went
in search of a petrol can and some two stroke oil so I could
settle my nerves about the small gallon fuel tank which served
the engine. "Success! Served by a rather delectable young
lady. Described Martham's as 'boss eyed operation'. Inclined
to agree." I retired to the green to sip a rather fine
lemon tea which had mixed with undefined grime in the dank recesses
of the teapot, despite my best efforts to render this clean.
Still, it didn't detract from the flavour, or my enjoyment of
this rather wonderful English countryside.
Ludham we were boarded by bread-stealing pirates
(click picture to enlarge)
After a chicken tikka masala dinner, and much
feeding of ducks (some of which boarded the boat, our starboard
neighbours expected to see one in the pot at any moment), I
removed the spars from the diabolical dinghy, shipped the mis-matched
oars and paddled off around the dyke. An impressive wake followed
me around the staithe, although the boat speed was little to
write home about. I was treated to the sight of coots nesting
in the motor well of a stinkpotter, and a very interesting sectional
steam launch. I landed on the island, but my exploration was
hampered by the prevalence of nettles and the nakedness of my
knees. On my return we retired to the nearest pub (The King's
Arms) which was disturbingly modern inside a whitewashed exterior.
A pool tournament ensued with the number one seed crashing out
early on, leaving the scoreboard at James 0, Laura 1, and myself
blushingly with 2 games. However, a model railway ran through
the roof of the arena, so we put it down to that causing distraction
in the minds of the more distinguished players of the game.
launch, interesting because it was in two pieces which
bolted together just beyond the boiler.
(click to enlarge)
On returning to the boat, a round of lemon tea
and hot chocolate materialised from the galley while I collected
the last notes of the day's log under a near full moon beaming
from the cross trees lighting the page on a gorgeous evening.
I for one turned in with reluctance on what had been, altogether,
a very pleasant day.
Tuesday 29th June
Up at 8 a.m. the log records my nervousness at
sailing with a reasonable wind blowing after the farce of yesterday's
downriver hop. After stalling as much as possible: buying milk;
petrol; lubricant for the blocks and finding excuses to visit
the chandler's againin search of both rond anchors and the picturesque
receptionist, we were on the move again. We motored out of Womack
water and moved five hundred yards downstream before mooring
and raising sail, all the time cursing the lack of a second
rond anchor as every gust threatened to blow us off the bank.
On the way to Thurne mouth we were over and undertaken by stink
potters, running four abreast at one point with a boat running
before the wind on the wrong bank making navigation very hazardous.
At Thurne mouth we turned to port for Acle, getting
our first experience of a real Broads river. Far wider than
the Thurne, which is a tributary, the Bure really allows one
to feel that one may sail without constantly worrying about
getting in the way of people, or ramming the bank between tacks.
However, this section of river is bereft of much of the interest
that we had experienced on the Thurne. From the cockpit, the
view is of little more than reeds, and the landmarks of interest
are only those buildings close to the river, although many of
these are very picturesque. There was a good tide running, and
we made very good time down to Acle. Indeed, on turning before
Acle bridge with the motor running and both sails drawing, we
were making precious little ground against the stream. A note
in the log records that on sailing downstream, the cheaper moorings
are on the right, and it was here that we made fast and waited
for the tide to turn. We moored with two warps and two springs
and lay snug despite the strong current.
We had a long wait for the change of tide that
would take us back up to Thurne mouth. The local boat yard were
helpful and friendly when I went to confirm the time of the
tide change. James went off to Acle in search of hayfever medicine,
but was still suffering on his successful return. Meanwhile
I did the washing up and did a general tidy round while Laura
dozed in the cabin before we all succumbed to the boredom of
waiting for the tide to change. To mitigate this, I had the
pleasure of watching a number of very skilled sailors beating
against both tide and wind up from the bridge, and took careful
note of what could be learned from each one, especially as they
stole a few feet every tack by sailing through the wind, rather
than putting the helm over too sharply. At slack water, 16:15,
we moved to the water supply, filled the tank, dropped fifty
pence in the honesty box and were off tacking against a light
breeze with the first of the flood tide carrying us with it.
With a light and variable wind our course varied
between a broad reach and close hauled as the river's twists
and turns took us slowly on our way. The skies lowered and we
had a few light showers, but nothing to worry us, or encourage
the discovery of waterproofs. Both James and I were able to
develop our finesse in tacking against the weakening wind until
at Upton windpump the wind died altogether. We met one of the
boats I had admired earlier travelling down river under power
and followed their example, making Thurne dyke at 18:00. Turning
on the warps as we entered was very difficult with the off-centre
engine. In the end I nosed her into the bank (a shade harder
than I wanted, I must admit) to get her round after a slight
mis-communication. Still, the only damage was to my pride and
we made fast on warps and springs again, although we didn't
need to. However, I had learned at Acle that warps and springs
keep the boat exactly where you want it, whereas warps on their
own allow the boat to move a little, especially when stepping
on or off the boat.
galley slave hard at work. As the only
member of the crew able to stand up straight in the
cabin, Laura was volunteered for much of the cooking.
(click to enlarge)
We lit the barbeque, paid our mooring fees and
did our best to consume some enormous beef burgers. This was
the first time that I had ever seen James not finish all the
food that had been cooked! Once again the ducks were well fed,
and a swan tried to eat the boat, but suffice to say, did not
do well. We played cards on deck until dark. James and Laura
retired to their cabin while I wrote up the last of the log.
I didn't feel at all sleepy and went for a walk, seeing a bat
and enjoying the sights and sounds of Norfolk at night. It was
a curiously magic environment that is hard to put into words,
with the muted sounds of full cabins contrasting with the natural
sounds of the night: masticating cattle; the call of an owl.
Strange lights bobbed on the water - the floats of fishermen
who had earlier been catching eels. I decided that the Dinghy
was probably leaking given the quantity and colour of the water
on it, gave all the blocks a thorough soaking in WD-40, and
turned, with reluctance, into my bunk. It had been another wonderful
day, with thoroughly enjoyable sailing which, I hoped, would
Next month: In quarantine!