Since I have already written a Boat Review there will be very little regarding the boat itself, a video will also be uploaded within the next few weeks once it is edited.
Generally a good week apart from the wind and rain. We did note, apart from a few exceptions, that most boats were keeping within the speed limits. We saw a lot more canoes and kayaks than in previous years but not much too wildlife, I think that a lot have migrated to the flood relief channels.
Friday 2nd June
We had put down on the Arrivals Sheet for 13:00 but since we got to Wroxham at about 10:45 decided to check in at Barnes where a very helpful receptionist took our mobile number and said she would call us when the boat was ready. We also managed to say hello to Paul (ex Royalls) who seemed quite happy after the upheaval last year.
We had some shopping to do at Tesco in Stalham so we went off there (surprised at how crowded it was), after that we went down to Belaugh Staithe to have our sandwiches and a flask of coffee.
At about 12:30 we went back to Barnes and located the boat, a cleaner was just finishing off the outside of the windows so once she had done we went back to the office where we were told we could ‘load up’. Once loaded the office issued our lifejackets, gave us the ‘Goody Bag’ and, to our surprise, a vast cardboard box containing a hamper of food, this turned out to be because we had previously been with Royall’s but we were not expecting it.
Because of the 3 Rivers Race on Saturday I was keen to get downstream of Horning today.
We were away from the yard at just before 14:00 headed to Cockshoot Dyke for our first night, fortunately the rain that was forecast for just after mid-day held off until the evening.
The river didn’t seem as busy as I was expecting, quite a few cruisers heading back to Wroxham to finish on Saturday morning I guess and some day boats.
When we reached Horning we did consider going on to Ranworth but decided against it. Having made a good mooring at Cockshoot at the river end of the downstream side my wife took a short stroll up to the Broad but didn’t see much (as usual). Some Egyptian Geese, Ducks and Swans were about all with youngsters.
Once the unpacking was complete (most had been done on the way) we settled down to our usual Chilli Con Carne that we had brought frozen from home followed by strawberries and cream.
During the evening (and night) it rained quite heavily, we had left the bedroom windows open slightly and this was when we discovered the disadvantages of these bonded windows with sliding openings still it wasn’t too bad, just a small bit of mopping up.
I decided to sleep in the Saloon due to the way round the bed is (can’t easily swing my legs out of the aft bed due to the bedside cabinets being at the bottom of the bed), this had been anticipated so I had requested two sets of bedding.
Saturday 3rd June
Up early this morning (about 05:30) after a slightly disturbed night due to the rain but we are usually up early anyway.
The day started off fairly overcast but by the afternoon had brightened up nicely.
Once breakfast was over we decided to head up the Ant which was relatively uneventful, a couple of ducks decided to hitch a ride on the Bure until I chased them off with the mop and on the Ant we met a bathtub with three kids playing on the roof (one didn’t even have a life jacket on). Noted some new very large signs on the approach to Irstead asking boats to slow down and create no wash, during the week we did note that the vast majority of boats were actually going quite slowly through Instead.
Although our water tank was showing over ¾ full we decided to call in at Gates Staithe to top up. There were only a few boats on the staithe so a good stern on mooring was made (very powerful Bow Thruster). As we arrived so did the the guy cutting the grass. After filling up with water it was a case of taking a lot of grass cuttings onto the boat (which we cleaned up later) and then off back onto Barton Broad.
Once on the Broad a decision was made to head for Sutton Staithe. After mooring towards the Broad end of the staithe we spent a relaxing afternoon, helped a few others to moor, saw a Kingfisher flying down the dyke and the usual Swans with cygnets. I did clean the grass off the decks but when I was rinsing the mop the head fell off, fortunately it was at the stern and didn’t sink so I was able to retrieve and reattach it. Few insects to photograph so not many photographs taken although the midges did come out later judging from my arms the following morning (really must make more use of the Jungle Juice).
Later on in the early evening when the staithe was full a boat decided to moor bow on at the end and then a short while later another one double moored against the first, I guess they had just left Richardsons (although it was about 18:00) and it was their first night.
Sunday 4rd June
Another early waking but it was nice morning, however the wind was starting to pick up ready for Tuesday. We had already decided to head to Womack today so I reversed out of the staithe but had to go further into the broad than usual to turn because of the boats double moored on the end.
A fairly uneventful trip down the Ant but there were three boats moored at the pumping station (with the derelict wind pump) above Ludham Bridge.
Once on the Thurne past Thurne Dyke I noted that there were a few boats behind me with one coming at speed and creating a lot of wash, just as I was turning into Womack Dyke he was right behind me (and I mean just a couple of feet), big advantage of this class of boat is that I can stand up and see right over the top. Once in the dyke I dropped my speed down to about 3mph and then he came past at what must have been 6 or 7mph. Then, lo and behold, just before Hunters yard another one decided to pass at much the same speed, they both continued up the dyke without slowing down.
When we got towards the staithe I could see that there was plenty of room and noted that the two boats that had passed me were mooring next to each other at the far end.
There was space next to the parish moorings so decided that that was a good spot and safely moored up.
I dropped the mud weight (winch) but before it reached the bottom the winch stopped due to a twisted and balled chain. Call to Barnes and an engineer was with us well within half an hour, it was a bit of a struggle for him to sort out the chain because there was no direct access to the Chain Locker so he had to go in from the two access hatches on either side of the forward well. While he was with us I also got him to tighten up the Shower Pump switch which was loose and asked him to have a look at the Cutlery Drawer that had nearly fallen out on us, this he failed on because one of the runner clips had broken.
While the engineer was working on the chain my wife went up to Throwers for some bread rolls because being Sunday they shut in the afternoon.
Once the engineer had finished we settled down and watched a Swan chasing a Duck for a fair bit.
Quite a few boats came and went and then later on in the early evening a boat decided to moor bow on to the staithe, surprisingly there were still one or two spaces available by the end of the evening.
Monday 5th June
Today it was back up the Ant to Neatishead for a visit to the White Horse for dinner.
After another early morning, filled up with water (still had over half a tank left), had breakfast and then left the staithe with the mud weight about a foot under water to wash it, I did remember to raise it once it was clean.
Nothing eventful until we were on the Ant when Royall Satin decided to pass us at speed (we were doing about 3.5mph), we saw Satin above How Hill later at Johnny Crowes staithe, obviously he wanted to get there before anybody else.
We decided to stop at How Hill so I went past in order to be able to moor into the wind, turned and moored near the wherry. Had a short wander about, we would have like to do the Nature Walk but decided that the weather could not be guaranteed and we wanted to get to Neatishead in order to guarantee a mooring. On leaving How Hill I would normally go down stream and then turn past the moorings but since we had a good Bow Thruster I decided to turn Encore as soon as we were clear of the quay heading.
On the way up Lime Kiln Dyke we met the usual Nancy Oldfield boats. Once at the staithe, because of the wind, I decided to go in bow first, this was a good decision and we moored with no problem one boat in from the dyke end behind a private boat.
A phone call was made to the White Horse to book a table and then it was a walk to the White House Stores where my wife bought fudge and some Italian nougat which turned out to be absolutely delicious (I am told).
The staithe pretty much filled up with people roping boats in backwards and then late afternoon three boats came up the dyke together, on what I guess was a ‘lads’ week, but they were very good and did manage to find space. In fact nobody made a hash all afternoon with everybody being very careful and helpful which is rather unusual here although people do not realise that there is turning space beyond the staithe now that the sign has gone.
In the evening we had our dinner in the White Horse, I had never seen it so busy (we were seated upstairs), and then walked back without getting too wet.
Tuesday 6th June
Again we were up early but did wait until after 08:00 before we started the engine to leave. No problem reversing out despite having a boat close behind and yacht close in front, didn’t touch any boats at all. Because of the weather forecast we had decided on Womack for the afternoon and night.
Nothing of note on the trip down the Ant and Bure followed by up the Thurne apart from the fact that Royall Satin was still at Johnny Crowes staithe. I did spot an otter on the south side of the Bure just at the Ant mouth.
On arrival at Womack it was pretty much full, in contrast to Sunday, but we found a space towards the far end of the staithe, reversing in between two boats, I was a bit concerned about a dingy attached to one of them since the wind was starting to pick up but no problems, the boat slipped in between them nicely.
By early afternoon the wind and the rain arrived in force with the rain being almost horizontal across the water so we sat and read for the rest of the day, even the ducks stayed put on the green. This is when I did the video around the boat that was put on You Tube earlier. Later in the afternoon/evening we turned the heating on for a while.
Wednesday 7th June
A slightly disturbed night with the boat occasionally knocking on the adjacent ones but again we were up early and although the rain had stopped it was still very windy. Didn’t bother to fill the water tank this morning.
We thought that Irstead (if we could get in) would be good for what was effectively our last night but we needed a pump out first so decided to go down to South Walsham to Russell's first.
On arrival at Russell’s we found a Faircraft boat stern on at the quay filling up with water, it transpired that this was unintentional but they had been blown that way. I needed to moor starboard side on for the pump out and this proved very challenging due to the wind (and the fact I couldn't see the starboard stern quarter) but after a couple of aborted attempts on the third we made it good. The yard owner?, came out and prepared for the pump out but then found that the pump would not start, after he made some enquiries it transpired that the wind had damaged one of the electrical cables and one phase was down hence, since the pump was three phase, the pump out was a no go so I fed the water supply with a pound and filled up with water.
We then decided that our next best option was Richardson’s since we wanted to be up the Ant anyway so off we went. As we passed Irstead there was, annoyingly, space, still it was on to Stalham where we moored between two of Richardson’s boats, despite the wind it was a good one. Paid £12 in the office and pump out was completed.
We were a bit unsure where to go now but decided that we would give Irstead a try. When we arrived at Irstead a private boat was still on the outer part (BA) of the staithe but there was only a yacht on the parish section and he was well on the upstream end so it was a turn and moor job. Later on the yacht left so we moved Encore up to the end and overlapped the quay heading as much as possible to allow plenty of space behind us. A short while later a large cruiser came in but they only stayed a short while to look at the church then we were joined by another yacht (one of Colin Buttifant’s new ones with a hydraulically elevating roof) for the rest of the day and night. My wife did actually see an otter come out of the dyke opposite the staithe but it was only the one sighting.
Thursday 8th June
It was up early again (I am, actually, up early most days anyway but especially on The Broads) and we left Irstead just after 08:00. A slow cruise down the Ant, after going up to Barton Broad to turn, (Royall Satin was again at Johnny Crowes staithe, must be his favourite spot) and then up the Bure to call in a Ranworth.
After Ranworth we cruised slowly through Horning and into Salhouse Broad where we dropped the mud weight as near the shelter of the trees as prudent since it was still pretty windy. We spent some time watching a Grebe trying to feed one of the chicks with a fish that was far too big for the adult let alone the chicks (three of them).
We had decided by then that we would go home today since the weather wasn’t overly brilliant so it was ‘up the mud weight’, and a slow cruise back to Hoveton (Wroxham).
Approaching Barnes’s yard it was pretty full but plenty of space in the basin behind the river front mooring so that was where we moored the boat. Just as we had finished mooring our car was driven up to just behind the boat. One of the boat yard staff re-filled the diesel tank and it transpired that we had only used £30 worth of fuel which is slightly less than our norm so we were more than happy with the £70 refund.
All in all a good week despite the wind and Tuesday’s rain and impressed with Encore and Barnes Brinkcraft.
The video is not quite finished yet, I still have the sound to sort out (hopefully to reduce the wind noise) but will upload it in the next week or so.