The photos being posted (plus on FB) are fantastic - I took the camera and wide angled lens with the intention of taking lots of photos. That failed after a few minutes of the first boats passing. This is a bit of an essay but at least its keeping me awake!
For the last few years, Water Rail has been one of two guard ships at Thurne. We note times of all boats going to Acle, either from Horning or from Hickling and then any boats returning via Acle to Horning. It sounds a bit complicated and confusing, which it is and generally means competitors call their numbers out twice but it does work!!
We got to Thurne and were moored up just before the start sequence began at 11 so quickly checked with radio control that they could hear us. Luckily they could - this wasn't the case with all guard ships this year. You only need a church tower in the way somewhere and the problems start.
So we waited, and then as per Q, we heard about the postponement. My eldest daughter is watching all the activity on the webcams where she lives in Wales and is texting me with updates and off course we could hear radio control giving out instructions.
The night before in the pub, everyone was saying they were going to Hickling first, so we thought we really do have the short straw this year as this means we have to wait for all the slow boats to get back from Acle before going home! Well so we thought, all the early starts went up to Hickling bar just a few boats, so it was really quite quiet. Then suddenly we are looking at one of the competitors and we realise they are tacking to come down the Bure, then another, and another.............and so it went. Most were on the far bank, most were going very fast and there was a lot of noise from the rigging and sails, not only from the competitors but also overtaking motor cruisers. It was at some moments, as much as we could do to just note the sail number as we couldn't hear all the race numbers...........when I radioed in the times, I had a backlog of about 30 boats. I should say we use binoculars and know what boats are approaching but it's still difficult when they start coming past and when darkness comes they are of no use!
It really was quite an experience - this was my 10th time as guard ship and I had never had an afternoon like this. Because next we started to get the boats coming back and in return those now going to Acle from Hickling and the occasional straggler. We had three punts apparently tossing a coin to see which way they should go and for several seconds it seemed milling around in circles not able to make their minds up! Then the wind started to drop, the tide turned and as Q said nearly all the boats now down in the Acle sector stopped moving, a fair number opting on retirement. I did wonder if the Stokesby Ferry ran out of beer but most opted to come home. However, once they turned round, they could sail and now it was dark and we are watching the river for navigation lights, trying to work out which boats were going where and in the midst of them boats that had retired some were still sailing. At this point it is also getting chilly at Thurne; it's dark, tiredness creeps in and it's time for one of us to try and get some sleep during the quiet of the night!!!!
What quiet (as posted on FB!) we had up to 3 bitterns booming, 1 cuckoo cuckooing, one Tawny Owl terwittawoing, various warblers tweeting, muntjac barking, a disco at the hotel near Fishley, topped with fireworks in the Yarmouth direction as well as a silent Barn Owl fly over the marsh earlier. Also forgot oyster catchers and lapwing and geese - it was such a peaceful night!!!! What sleep? At the most 2 hours but with many disturbances. As dawn dawns I fall out of the bunk and make a coffee and wait for more boats. During the night we could see the silhouettes of boats going through Thurne from Hickling to Horning along the bank in the distance but the best we could do was say it was a cruiser or say a keel boat! This was the job of the other guard ship!
Then as Q says we have those boats that want to finish but realistically, simply can't in the 24 hours. They can race for 24 hours but after that point, they can still complete the course but the guard ships stand down. We were stood down and returned home to Horning, picking up one of the Dory's assigned to another guard ship. All the equipment has to counted, checked and packed away for another year. A quick catch up with the race control team at the club house and back to the house to empty the boat, and try not to fall asleep which is seriously difficult. Another daughter flew back last night from Washington DC with a similar lack of sleep. I just have to stay awake, like she is having to do after an international flight to avoid jet lag - or in my case the 3RRS equivalent!!!
Liz and Water Rail (sorry no photos)