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About Swift

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  • Birthday 01/03/1948

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  • Location
    Potter Heigham Riverbank and Worstead
  • Interests
    All things boats and boating

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  1. Swift

    Please sound the horn.

    In ten years of piloting at Potter Heigham Bridge with up to fifteen thousand passages a season, I can assure you that I never sounded the horn unless to do so was safe. From memory Lowliners being taken through from the upper helm position were the exception. They were also eqipped with a lower than usual frequency horn whose note actually travelled some distance. In the case of most boats the horn button was too far removed from the wheel to be a safe proposition. Most hire boat horns were inaudible within feet of the boat let alone the other side of a stone bridge. As far as horn signals are concerned - worse than useless. Try sounding your horn four times in busy traffic going through Horning and watch the reaction from your fellow boaters. Those that don't look totally confused will be on the point of uncontrollable river rage that you dared to pip your horn at them.
  2. Swift

    Who said The Broads was expensive?

    6' 6" for Broom skippers. Expilot
  3. Swift

    Another one under Potter Bridge

    I know it's early on a Sunday morning MM but do try to keep up! I expect the skipper's map was upside down. There are even folk who think they can reach Ely this way - although they tend to refer to Ely as 'eel eye'.
  4. Swift

    Another one under Potter Bridge

    Brinks Sonnet (?), 6' 9" trying to get through a 6' 3" hole on its way to Great Yarmouth???!!! The hirer is lucky that the front screens haven't popped,
  5. For the past several days, an incredibly fearless otter has been helping himself to the largest specimen fish being retained in angler's keep nets. On Wednesday I watched an otter help himself from the same keepnet twice within minutes. Yesterday the same otter helped himself from three different keep nets one after the other. Sometimes he climbs up the keep net itself and at others he climbs up the quayheading first. These events have taken place along a mile-long stretch of the River Thurne. The otter pays no attention to people or to dogs. Regrettably, I know from experience that these forays for free meals are not always successful. Last year we hauled a keepnet from the river which contained a young otter that had drowned in an attempt at a free lunch.
  6. Swift


    £1,095,000 for the Broadshaven? JM, you have to be kidding! Makes the Fish and Chip shop look cheap. Seriously, though, JM. Your idea has, in fact,, been considered, you may not be surprised to learn. Personally, I would rather our very strong riverbank community invest in the opposite bank. I regret, however, that, in holiday destinations, pubs that are just pubs are heading for extinction. Both sites are screaming out for some creative thinking.
  7. Swift

    Potter Clearance

    6' 7" at LW at Potter today, Tuesday 11th August
  8. Swift


    Well, the 25th came and went. Broadshaven still closed. Gossip has it that the original plan to re-open just for the rest of the summer has been scuppered by the pubco offering a long lease to someone wishing to take it over longer term.
  9. Swift

    Why a better Pilot Pick up is required!

    I'm particularly interested in Robin's point in his letter to the BA about people's inability to read a bridge height gauge correctly. Ten years of pilotage at Potter provided me with such evidence. Hirers and privateers alike would stand patiently by the height gauge in the office while I tried to point out that they were reading the gauge incorrectly. Indeed we have had posters on here (and elsewhere) claim such and such a height at Potter when I know that they have patently mis-read the gauge. One of the complications of any electronic measurement to the water's surface would be the constant wave action. Have a look at the EA's own gauge readings at Repps Staithe to see how useless their system is. Setting up a pilotage service is far from cheap and fraught with uncertainties about demand, staffing levels, etc. It wouldn't happen unless the boatyards saw a very real economic reason for it. I was often paid to sit in the office all day, 8.30 am to 6.00 pm at Potter turning boats away because the levels were too high. Equally, I have been rushed off my feet, running from boat to boat, to keep up with the demands of boat arrivals and the window of opportunity provided by the tides. Piloting a hundred plus boats a day and cramming that into a finite window of opportunity is very demanding.
  10. Swift

    Not good news....

    Ask NatWest or Barclays why they’re closing down their branches at Stalham and Wroxham and they’ll tell you it’s a commercial decision. That’s exactly what it is. The banks put dividends for their shareholders before any concept of service to the communities in which they are located. As a pensioner, I have almost kept up with computer technology since the long distant days of dial-up and floppy discs.Two weeks ago I spent very many hours helping an eighty-seven year old come to terms with his first ever use of broadband internet. He was concerned that when he is no longer with us, his wife will be able to order her weekly groceries online – she doesn’t drive. For those of who take on-line services for granted, please spare a thought for those who have been left behind in the race for ever more sophisticated technology. They haven’t all chosen not to embrace change. If you haven’t been to a bank recently, give it a go. Have a look round at the people in the queue. They're not there because they enjoy queuing – although for some it may be their only social interaction of the week - they’re there because they have no choice. I don’t berate the banks for shutting down uneconomical branches – the overheads can be breathtaking. Instead, I just wish local communities would come together to find creative solutions to these and similar sorts of problems. In my opinion, every village and small town should have a central building run on a not-for-profit basis by the community for the community. All the essential services should be housed within that one building. Every village and small town already has just such a redundant or semi-redundant large, easily accessible property. It’s the parish church or local chapel. These buildings are perfect for conversion to multipurpose use. Many such redundant city churches have been successfully re-used, why not in villages and small towns where the need is often even greater? Instead of moaning about what THEY do to US, why don’t WE take control of our own destinies.
  11. Swift


    The staff wanted notice has the number of the Thurne Lion. So is Sid taking over the Broadshaven, or does Sid want staff at the Thurne Lion? Puzzle indeed.
  12. Swift

    Solution for Potter Heigham Bridge

    Robin, my alter ego is Expilot. I only became Swift when I lost my original sign in name here. I kept records of low tide every day Easter to November seven days a week not because anyone was obsessed with clearance heights, but as an insurance policy. Hoseasons or Blake could ring up to report that their hirers had complained that the pilot had refused to put their craft through. Checking the record, we could establish why a particular boat may have been refused passage. The bridge is structurally as sound today as when it was built. The weight limit over the bridge is not there because of structural deficiency but for what NCC Highways call aesthetic reasons. Depth of water at the bridge approaches eight feet in the channel. Dredging beneath the bridge would be impossible. There is a stone ledge running from one side to the other not much more than five feet below the water surface. The bridge is not circular. Clive's Broadsman has made it's maiden voyage through the bridge. I don't know what height it needed but I would be surprised if it were as low as the six feet six inches that we used to put the 45 Connoisseurs through at. That's as low as a Hampton! And lower than all of the bathtubs. I was talking this morning to the owner of an ex-Harvey Eastwood bathtub who was surprised that the pilot reported that he was unable to take it through the bridge. The bathtub in question needs seven feet two inches because the superstructure is square shouldered. I have thirty years direct experience of this bridge. With our riverside property directly above the bridge I get to see every boat that has successfully made passage through the bridge every day. My own boat, Broadland Swift, will need to be even further modified if I am going to be able to make regular passage through the bridge. Much has been made of the Martham boats being guaranteed to get through THAT bridge. Please take it from me, there is no guarantee. Even Martham boats have recently been marooned downriver of the bridge with changeovers taking place below the bridge rather than at the yard. Those who suggest that there will ever be a bridge bypass are living in fantasy land. Personally my dream is to see the bridge closed to road traffic, the whole area lit at night with outside cafes and eateries, the broadshaven totally revamped in keeping with the boat building heritage of the bridge area, the old Bridge Inn site developed for open access and the area turned into a holiday destination in its own right rather than the dump it is quickly becoming. If I had the money I'd do it tomorrow.
  13. Swift

    Wroxham Bridge ?

    With apologies for hijacking a thread about Wroxham Bridge, but the problem with myths is that, over time, if repeated often enough, they soon become facts. During the last thirty years I have watched teams of surveyors inspect and measure every inch of Potter Bridge. FACT: Potter bridge is NOT sinking. FACT: Potter Bridge has not sunk. That the bridge appears to have sunk is an illusion caused by the fact that water levels have risen. That, too, is a FACT. As part of my old job, I recorded the tidal rise and fall every single day for ten years during the 1990s. The water levels rose steadily throughout those ten years and are continuing to rise to this day. We still get the odd day or two of tides as low as they were in the 1990s but they are few and far between. Over the season, Easter to October, low water at Potter used to average 6' 11" Today I doubt that that it averages much more than 6' 8" Winter tides are also getting higher with 4' 11" at the bridge more and more often. At this height the river water is overtopping the flood defences and cannot get higher until the surrounding villages are under water.
  14. Swift

    Shed City, Potter Heigham.

    Hi Smellyloo I wouldn't get too hung up about short leases. The truth is that these properties defy the normal logic of property owning. First of all they are not part of the local housing stock. They are, by definition of the lease, holiday homes only. Because they are non-residential, borrowing against them is all but impossible. The fact that they are of timber construction and not for residential use means you cannot get a mortgage on them. They have to bought with cash raised against other assets. The normal rule that leasehold properties start to lose their value at fifty-five-sixty years is due entirely to mortgage providers reluctance to lend against short leases. Interestingly, these riverside properties have bucked the trend in property recession. Land Registry records show that these properties continue to be a better investment than bricks and mortar, places such as London and Cambridge excepted. We bought our bungalow nearly thirty years ago, not as an investment, but as a perfect retreat from the stresses of our combined professional duties. The fact that the property has increased six fold since then is a bonus that the children and grandchildren may benefit from in due course - once capital gains tax has been paid.
  15. Swift

    Planning problem

    Definitive answer coming up Each of our riverside plots has a public footpath crossing it. If it were a farmer's field, would the farmer be required to discount one side of his field or the other for planning purposes? These plots are held leasehold from TBMC Ltd - itself a leaseholder of the Environment Agency. As such, all 184 leases are registered with Her Majesty's Land Registry. On the Title Plan, each plot is very very carefully and clearly defined as extending from the river frontage to the line of the old soke dyke. For our sins we are obliged to maintain the river frontage quayheading, the public footpath and the soke dyke bank to the rear of each property. In this particular instance, it matters not a jot because the 50% "rule" has not been broken - whether you include the marshward side of the footpath part of the plot or not. Expilot

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