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Broads01

Fun week on Concerto 5

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Here's my tale of my recent week on Concerto 5 from Richardsons:

Thursday 3rd September:

I left my home in Cardiff at 6am for the long drive. My son Cian travelled by train from Lancaster. All went to plan - I arrived at Tesco Stalham around 11-30am and with shopping done and boat ready I was pleased to be boarding Concerto around 12-45. Cian's train was due in to Hoveton & Wroxham at 4pm so I might just have had time to take the boat all the way to Wroxham and pick him up by boat. Even though the handover was over in a few minutes (the guys are always helpful but when I tell them I'm experienced they do tend to rush it through a bit too much!) I decided to take the more leisurely option of eating some lunch and unpacking before picking Cian up by car. I was very pleased with Concerto and I'll post separately about the boat in the Hireboat Discussion section. I had some time to nose around one or two boats and I enjoyed a look aboard Symphony which I hadn't been on before - really nice fit out including a large bed but weird there's no door between the cabin and the rest of the boat. Back on Concerto just before heading for the station I noticed the hot tap in the galley wasn't working so I raised with the yard staff. By the time I returned with Cian around 45 minutes later the tap had been fixed and that proved to be the only problem we had with the boat all week. We were off downstream around 4-30pm, roof open in the sunshine. Cian was brought up with the Broads, now aged 20 he's been coming since the age of 2 but this was his first trip for 3 years. He was enjoying himself already, even if the lack of headroom on the boat was causing him some issues (see hire boat review later!). We opted to head straight down the Ant and save the 'twiddly bits' for the way back, pulling in for our first night at St Benets.

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Edited by Broads01

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Friday 4th September

Today the plan was to finish up on the lower Bure ready to head through Great Yarmouth the following morning. In contrast to the previous day the weather was gloomy, being cold, grey & damp & feeling more like late October than early September. Cian takes the mick out of me for always wanting the sliding roof open except when it's raining but today even I 'gave in' to the cold a lot of the time and opted for the comfortable roof shut option. We were going to head for Womack to begin with but given it was raining decided to carry on to Potter Heigham as there's more to do there in poor weather. We pulled in to Herbert Woods yard around 9-45am and were surprised to find how rammed full the yard was with their own boats, most of which were locked up and not looking like going out that day. Indeed there weren't many Woods boats out on the river either although there were far fewer boats about than I expected. The schools had returned the day before and I think we found a temporary lull in boat traffic before the main September hiring started (the north Broads were a little busier later in our holiday but not as much as I expected) We needed water at Herbert Woods and I found a gap on the inner quay where the sheds are. The member of staff there was surprisingly grumpy, clearly much more concerned about keeping the space for returning Woods boats than he was about giving us any courtesy. He washappy for us to stop long enough for water, after which we got out of his way and moved to the Broads Authority moorings. The previous day I had tried unsuccessfully to contact the Bridge Pilot but I needn't have bothered - clearance at the bridge was around 5 foot 9 and only yachts and the Martham boats were squeezing through. We 'suffered' Lathams a little (not my favourite shop in the world) and wandered back in to Woods yard before returning to the boat for a coffee.

The weather improved slightly and we moved off and headed for Womack Staithe. There was plenty of room to moor there and we did so. We were provided with some free entertainment over lunch time. A hire boat had opted for a mud weight mooring and two male crew disembarked to the dinghy to row asure (why they didn't just moor the boat on the staithe in the first place is a mystery). Meanwhile the same crew members evidently hadn't dropped the mudweight far enough as the boat began drifting back towards the Thurne. Still aboard were two children and two adult females who had the task of starting the engine and returning the boat to it's previous position which they managed - eventually!

Later we moved on and eventually to the Bure and a stop at Acle. We stopped there and I caught up with a couple of the chaps at Horizon Craft I've got to know. One of them, Rob, is always slightly injured when I tell him I've hired from Stalham and not one of theirs (hired from them at Easter and a coiple of times previously)! We could have stayed at Acle for the night but with the rivers quiet there was a good chance of a space at Stokesby so we opted for that as it's along time since I'd been in the Ferry. Sure enough there was plenty of room. We had a good meal at the Ferry and I'd recommend it.

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Saturday 5th September

Time to head south. Slack water at Great Yarmouth was a very civilised 10-30am. We left Stokesby around 8-45 & the long (let's face it, boring) run down to the bottom of the Bure was quiet & uneventful and at the Yacht Station there were far fewer boats than I'm used to seeing. The new Premier Inn at Great Yarmouth is conspicuous by its presence fairly close to the river. Breydon was calm but the tide was well and truely with us and we absolutely bombed across. Although I don't enjoy the lower Bure I always love the Breydon bit. Not enjoying himself so much however was Pacific Grayling which was well and truely beached at the far edge to our left, bows a few feet above the stern. I expected that the crew had been rescued but I was surprised to see people aboard so I can only assume they had not long since got in to trouble. In hindsight I could have phoned Pacific to check help was on its way but the people didn't look to be in any distress. We pulled in at a quiet Burgh Castle around 11-15, pleased to have a break after the long slog south. A little later we made good use of the favourable tide and headed for St Olaves. On arriving there I was pleased we hadn't waited any longer because headroom at the Bridge was only about 7 foot 6 with the water still rising. Bridge safely cleared straight after we moored somewhere I've never stopped before - The Bell Inn. More entertainment ensued, this time a Herbert Woods ex-Connoisseur centre cockpit who realised rather late in the day that to clear the bridge lowering the canopy and screens might be quite a good idea! It was a relaxing stop at St Olaves and nice to take in the surroundings at somewhere I usually pass straight through. For our third night we opted to head for Oulton Broad. The scenery below St Olaves is quite nice and the weather was improving a little (it had been cold and a bit drizzly again). I came to Oulton with my daughter at Easter and enjoyed it enough to make me want a quick return. The Yacht Station moorings were pleasantly uncrowded as we pulled in around 4pm. There is a lovely gift shop a short walk from the Yacht Station - I don't know what it's called but I'd like to recommend it as there's a good choice of stuff (both Broads-related and not) and I bought a present for my wife there. Later we had a drink at The Wherry - great view of the broad from there.

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Sunday 6th September

This was to be a mini south Broads tour as we planned to return north the following day to allow some more north Broads time. Hence the plan today was carry on up the Waveney and then return within striking distance of Great Yarmouth for lunchtime Monday. Thankfully the sun was out as we headed on to the most scenic part of the Waveney. The river was very quiet as it often is and we chugged all the way to Beccles. There wasn't a lot of clearance at the bridge but enough and with a couple of hours before low water. We stopped for a coffee break at the swimming pool mooring before carrying on to Geldeston Lock. I adore the Beccles-Geldeston stretch and this was my first time there for 4 years. It's so quiet you feel as if you've left the Broads altogether and joined a different waterway. After a break at Geldeston we made the long run back down the Waveney all the way to Waveney River Centre. It's the first time I've been there since the new shop was created which is OK but on the pricey side in my view. Having enjoyed a stop the previous night in civilisation we fancied a contrast tonight hence we opted for the Dutch Tea Gardens mooring on Oulton Dyke. This was another first time stop (quite a recently added mooring I think) and what a gorgeous spot it is. It turned out to be a warm, sunny evening and it was a great vantage point to watch the sun set.

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Hello Simon,

I am enjoying your holiday tales, you were on the Broads during some of time we were aboard Ranworth Breeze (30th August - 8th September) sadly because of training commitments and showing potential new owners around the boat we could not venture to Oulton Broard & Beccles.

Like yourselves we have only stopped at The Bell at St Olaves once (up to now) because of the tide, light and a clearance of 2 inches on the bridge we moored up after going through the bridge. 

The current at these moorings can catch a number of people out, it is very strong and very close to the bridge.

Waiting to your next installment.

Regards

Alan

 

 

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Thanks for your kind comments gentlemen. Yes I'm aware of the tricky currents at St Olaves Alan and that's probably influenced me avoiding The Bell before but this time conditions were fairly benign and there was plenty of space to moor side-on without needing to go stern-on so all good. Yes John, my weeks do tend to be on the energetic side because I love driving the boat so much!

Monday 7th September

After the sun  and warmth the previous day it was back to grey and damp on Monday morning. We headed back towards Great Yarmouth, taking a break at Burgh once again. This time Breydon was much busier than before (on Saturday we were literally the only south-bound boat within sight) and we bounced across some choppy water. We passed under Vauxhall Bridge around 12-30 about half an hour before slack and we were pushing against the tide all the way to Stracey Arms. Having just passed the Yacht Station I briefly considered turning round and waiting at the Yacht Station for the tide to change and in hindsight I wish I'd done so - one to think about for next time as we had to maintain highish revs to make around 6mph progress. At Stracey we visited the shop once again on leaving which I had the comical experience of being almost attacked and then chased by one of the resident goats, seemingly in pursuit of my shop purchases! We then carried on to Horizon Craft Acle for a pumpout. I chatted to Rob and the boss chap whose name I forget and asked them if they were expecting any additions to the fleet next year. They mentioned there'll be Crystal Horizon 2 plus one of the Swan Ranger-type dual steers. We felt we'd done plenty of miles for the day and fancied a meal at The Bridge so we opted for a night mooring further up the bank away from the main road traffic. I always enjoy a stop at Acle Bridge, it's an underrated spot in my view and those who choose not to venture below Thurne Mouth (which is sort of understandable) do miss out. The meal at The Bridge was really good, as was the service even though they were very busy for a Monday evening. Much to my delight for Coeliac sufferers like myself they offered gluten-free beer, a rare treat in my experience. 

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Tuesday 8th September

We had two more days to enjoy the north Broads and the weather was improving thankfully. We headed for South Walsham first thing and pulled in at Russell Marine at surely one of the Broads most scenic water stops. We then had some mudweighting time on the Broad. I used the mudweight a fair few times this week with the stern-on moorings as well and so I was starting to envy those boats with the electric winch version. Later we chugged on a short way to Ranworth and at midday we were surprised to see 4 spaces at the staithe. I guess we just beat the lunchtime rush as it filled up soon after. Executing a stern-on mooring doesn't seem hard to me now but I've had years of practice and I do sympathise with the newbies, always in evidence at Ranworth and Salhouse, who clearly have been given little guidance on the basics. After some lunch aboard we really enjoyed a walk to the church and climbing the tower - I never tire of that view. Later we chugged to Wroxham and pulled in at Barnes Brinkcraft so we could visit Roys. My daughter was hoping to spot us on the webcam and we didn't disappoint! We could have stayed there for the night but opted for the more scenic Salhouse instead, one of my favourite spots. It's pretty handy being on a forward drive boat when you want to enjoy the view from a mooring like that one.

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Thanks for posting David.

Wednesday 9th September

Our last full day and glorious sunshine. Before we set off I thought I'd make use of the water hose but ended up wishing I hadn't bothered. The hose was of the thick heavy type and took a lot of untangling. Having wrestled it as far as the boat I found that even though the tap was working, there were so many leaks that precisely zero water was making it as far as the end of the hose. All this having paid an £8 overnight fee 'including water' - thanks Salhouse owners! We headed off for Horning and stopped for water at Ferry Marina boatyard. I had a nose around their boats, which are of good quality I feel although even with their all-inclusive pricing policy not as reasonably priced as they like to think they are. We chugged on and turned up the Ant, through Ludham Bridge and stopped at How Hill. We enjoyed a walk there but I felt the urge to go and take a look at Neatishead. There was space enough to moor down the dyke and turn the boat around on the dyke having done so. Cian joked I would no longer be able to enjoy the challenge of reversing out which I've done in the past a few times but this time the gap at the top of the dyke was on the tight side! For our last night it was a toss up between Wayford Bridge or Sutton (if we could get in). We went for the Wayford option, only to find when we arrived there headroom at the bridge at 7 foot 0 was too tight for comfort (moorings on the near side were full). We turned around and headed for Sutton which was full even though it was only 4pm. But! What should we spy but a space at the Sutton Staithe boatyard which is actually a very nice spot with a view back up the dyke. I checked with a member of staff it was OK to moor there (£6 charge) and we enjoyed a drink and a game of pool at the Sutton Staithe hotel.

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Thursday 10th September

Darn it, time to return the boat and the end of my boating for another year. It was a 20 minute sunny cruise back to Stalham. We'd used 92 litres of fuel at a cost of £110 - a fair bit but we had done lots of miles and we'd needed the heating every day in the early morning and evening. I dropped Cian back at the station with a heavy heart because we'd had a brilliant time and I couldn't think of a better way of spending some quality father-son time!

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Really interesting, well written and I think rather touching tale there.  You certainly visited a bunch of place north and south and so I think did rather well with the fuel usage considering you used the heating too.

Thanks for sharing your adventures with is all here :)

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Hi Simon,

I agree totally with all that's been said. But I must add SWMBO has just remarked, what a very handsome son you have. You must be very proud of him. I bet he did a fair bit of ducking inside the boat, he looks a tall laddie!

 

cheersIain.

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Thanks Robin for your kind words. I've really been enjoying your videos recently (including catching up on some previous ones I hadn't seen) so good to hear from you.

Ah Iain, your SWMBO isn't the only one I've heard say that! Cian is 6 foot 2 and yes he did have some issues with the headroom.

 

 

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