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The video record of this holiday will be up loaded later to YouTube for anybody interested and I will then put a link in this thread. Generally a good week with only one night of rain but rather cold overnight and in the wind. Three Otters sighted together with a few Kingfishers plus the usual ducks, geese, swans etc but once again very few coots, in fact only saw one. I did remember that this boat’s rudder centralises very easily with a burst of forward throttle so didn’t get caught out when stern-on mooring this time. Every morning use of the heating was necessary (without starting the engine) due to temperatures down to 4℃ inside the boat. We had taken the precaution of asking for an extra quilt, just as well we did considering the overnight temperatures. The water was very high all week (less than 7’ 9” under Ludham Bridge one day). Saturday 16th April This being the second time we had hired from Royall’s the handover was a walk through and paperwork (with a trainee in attendance as well so it took a bit longer than normal), no trial run necessary, then we were told ‘good to go’ and were away from the yard by 14:00. Since the rivers were quiet we decided to try for Ranworth for a change and sure enough there were a few moorings available, we were going to moor on the main section facing the Broad but the boat in front of us was taking his time so settled for the section to the left. Had to have two goes at mooring due to the wind playing silly b*****s. Once settled down it was time for a few photographs and then dinner. Sunday 17th April A quiet night was had apart from the rain which my wife heard but I didn’t. Woke in the morning to an interior temperature of about 5℃ so it was heating on without starting the engine having checked the battery voltmeters to ensure that the batteries were well charged, once the boat was up to about 12℃, which didn’t take long, the heating was shut down and then bacon sandwiches for breakfast. Today was to be a trip up the Ant and, depending on the number of boats about, overnight at Gaye’s Staithe. The Ant was uneventful with few boats at How Hill but an awful lot of trees have been cut down above How Hill and once we got to Gaye’s Staithe were flabbergasted at the reduction in the number of trees. There was a large dinghy on the side-on moorings preparing to raise his sails so initially we moored stern-on and filled up with water. Once the dinghy had gone we moved round to the side-on moorings which is always our preference here, at this point there were no other boats present. Claire did a bit of video and I did a few stills but not much of interest, I think the cold weather had delayed the water birds hatching and not even any spring flowers. Monday 18th April Today was a bad day. Usual routine first thing, filled up with water after moving the boat up a length so that the hose was a easier reach (this hose is still full of kinks and leaks, it really does need replacing). Set off for Womack. Nothing of particular interest apart from a couple of dinghies being difficult below Ludham Bridge and on the Bure, then mooring at Womack!!! One boat had moored side-on and there were, maybe, two other boats stern-on, so got the boat lined up very nicely and was just gently nudging the quay when Claire slipped on the step in the stern well as she was about to step off banging her head and shoulder, she got up and got off the boat with a mooring rope saying “I’m ok”. At this point I left the boat gently in reverse to hold her against the quay and went out the back to take the other rope only to find Claire with blood all round her neck. Got Claire inside and sat down, she seemed ok so I secured the boat properly. It turned out that Claire had cut the back of her head on the door when she fell but she’s got so much hair that I couldn’t really see how bad it was so decided to call ‘111’ for advice, after about half an hour on the phone they finally decided to send an ambulance out but the call centre had trouble locating where we were even though I went to The Little Shop to get a postcode. The ambulance arrived after about 2 hours (fair enough since it wasn’t a dire emergency) and the crew cleaned her head up and located the cut which by that time had scabbed over nicely so they just applied a dressing and bandaged her up. The ambulance crew were actually superb (many thanks Julie and the other guy if you ever read this). That was the afternoon over sitting quietly in the boat, apart from feeling a bit sore Claire was ok. During the afternoon Royall Swan moored on one side of us and a Richardson’s boat on the other. I did phone Sara at Royall’s to confess to a rather bloody Life Jacket which I didn’t try to clean in case I triggered it not having any instructions for disarming it, she said ”not to worry she’ll sort it when we get back”, at least it proved that Claire was wearing it. We had intended to get some of Thrower’s nice ham on the bone but since I didn’t want to leave Claire we ate what we had brought with us for dinner. I have to say that I was very surprised that the mooring charge was still only £3. Tuesday 19th April Another cold night but a lovely sunny morning. Usual morning routine, water was easy since we were right by the water point, still a very slow fill here. Claire had had a good nights sleep and was back to normal. After getting a few pictures and video of the local Heron cleaning his self opposite we lifted the Mud Weight (leaving it just in the water to wash it) and were away having decided that it would Sutton Staithe tonight. On entering Barton Broad we saw some sailing boats tacking and all of a sudden I had a boat come past us on the starboard side at a high rate of knots and then two more on the port side one (a hire boat) slowed when he saw the yachts but the other (private) carried on at high speed and passed between the yachts quite close to the bow of one of them. Other than that an uneventful trip but did spot an Otter swimming across Sutton Broad at the Staithe end. Once moored up towards the end of Sutton Staithe it was an afternoon soaking up the sun for a change. Wednesday 20th April Usual routine on waking but this morning we had ice on the decks so decided not to attempt to get off the boat to take photographs of the mist rising over the Broad since discretion is the better part of valour. Once breakfast and engine checks were over we decided that it would be back to Womack since we like it there especially when the sun is shining and we wanted the ham we had missed on Monday. Pretty uneventful but another Otter spotted on the Thurne between Thurne Dyke and the Womack turn, this time it popped its head up in front of us and immediately dived. Uneventful mooring this time thank goodness. Spent the afternoon in the sun, down to photographing Terns since nothing mush else was about although we did briefly see a Coot (pretty rare these days) and a pair of Swans. Walked to Thrower’s for our ham this time. Thursday 21st April Cold morning again, we were close to the water point so it was easy to fill up. Today was our penultimate one since we always return the boat on the Friday afternoon so a slow trip back up the Ant to Neatishead. Another Otter spotted poking it’s head up and then going straight back down between Ludham Bridge and How Hill plus a Kingfisher in the same area. In Lime Kiln Dyke we managed to meet the Nancy Oldfield sailors with their rescue boat lashed to a yacht coming down which didn’t leave much room and they weren't going to slow down, but with all the tree cutting that had been going on it is now much wider. Initially we moored about half way down the staithe but later on moved to the end to make life easy in the morning, I needn’t have worried because most of the other boats left to return to Stalham before us in the morning. No fun and games with boats trying to moor which was a bit unusual but all this week everybody has been very good by approaching moorings slowly and gently. Managed a few photographs then it was to The White Horse for dinner. The pub was reasonably busy, quite a few locals and as usual my steak and Claire’s fish were very good as was the Treacle Tart. Friday 22nd April Left Neatishead at about 08:00 and a slow run down Lime Kiln Dyke spotting a Kingfisher skimming the water and then down to How Hill for a short stop, at least the quay heading is nice and high there so it was a straight step off the boat for a change. Stopped off in Salhouse Broad for a bit on the mud weight and then back to the boatyard. The wherry Solace was moored across some of the moorings at Royall’s but reversed the boat in at an angle then used the bow thruster to straighten it up. Nigel and Sara were out so Paul sorted the diesel refund out which was £72 meaning we had spent £58 on fuel, very nearly identical to last year in April. In summary a very good week with quite a good amount of sun and virtually no rain but cold. Pity not too many young wild fowl but spotting three Otters was a bonus. Excellent boat and yard just a massive shame that 2017 will be the last year with Royall’s, still we have booked their boats for next year, Velvet II for a change. Back in June with the same boat.
The video record of this holiday has been up loaded to YouTube for anybody interested. http://www.youtube.com/user/BryanWillmore This was the first time that we had hired a boat from Royall’s and I have to say that we were extremely impressed with the cleanliness and fit out. A very windy week with cold nights but I will say that in general virtually everybody (apart from one in particular) was taking it slowly and gently (as it should be) and we didn’t see any mooring hashes even at stern on moorings, however, we did notice that the amount of wild life seems to have diminished. I should also point out that this boat very very, well draught proofed. The boat was very well equipped, voltmeters on both banks of batteries, bow thruster and electric winch. Nice slow tick over (shaft drive) so that you can trickle along at not much more than 1 or 2 mph, stays in a straight line with no wandering (apart from that caused by the wind). Oven gloves provided and a gas hob that was the most controllable we have ever had. We did play ‘hunt the vacuum cleaner’ but found it eventually in the locker underneath the tv. There was so much storage space as well, the main settee back hinges up to reveal a massive space, good to store bags. The bed is ‘walk round’ which was nice although not much space down the sides but full size at 4’ 6” by 6’ 3”, the foot does extend under the side deck but was just long enough for me at 6’ without my feet having to be under the deck. Saturday 25th April Since it was the first time with this yard we did a short trip on the Bure to confirm that I was competent and aware of how to use the bow thruster (first time with one) then we were away to our first night (as usual) at Cockshoot. Got a little bit caught out when mooring by the fact that when I gave a burst of forward throttle on full lock to bring the stern in the rudder/wheel straightened (I am used to the wheel staying on full lock without holding it), still, all done gently and no damage done, soon realised what had happened and I was now aware of this ‘quirk’. Sunday 26th April A quiet night was had apart from the rain which my wife heard but I didn’t. Woke in the morning to an interior temperature of about 5℃ so it was heating on without starting the engine having checked the battery voltmeters to ensure that the batteries were well charged, once the boat was up to about 12℃, which didn’t take long, the heating was shut down and we had bacon sandwiches for breakfast. Took a little bit of video of some Goslings and their parents one of which actually slipped off the quay heading, just shows how slippery this can be if the wild life get caught out. Once the days coffee flask was made and the washing up done it was a case of deciding where to go for the day, decision made that it should be Sutton Staithe. After reversing out of Cockshoot we proceeded down the Bure and just before coming up to the Ant turn off noticed a Marsh Harrier in the distance which my wife managed to get some video of (rather distant I’m afraid). Had a good run up the Ant (no problems seen at Ludham Bridge, went straight through) at our usual slowish pace and once on Barton Broad decided to go to Gays Staithe for water (remembered the rudder centering with burst of forward throttle for stern on mooring) since we didn’t want to chance Sutton Staithe for that (even if we could get on the water point, we far prefer to be at the other end). Once the water was topped up (never takes long here, a good pressure and fast fill) we left and back onto Barton Broad and then Sutton Staithe. Shortly after we arrived the sun came out to play which was very pleasant. Spent part of the afternoon watching the local Grebe catching his tea. Late afternoon we decided to move the boat up by one post since, due to another boat leaving, we had quite a big gap. Monday 27th April Once again woke to a cold boat but a lovely sunny morning. Noted that there was rather a large clump of reed bed almost blocking our exit which was only moving rather slowly if at all. Bacon sandwiches for breakfast again and then it was time to leave for Womack since we wanted to stock up at Throwers in Ludham. The clump of reed bed had now moved sufficiently to allow me to reverse out of the mooring before turning the boat on Sutton Broad. Had a lovely sunny, slow cruise down the Ant, once again straight through Ludham Bridge, and on to the Bure. At around St Benet’s we were passed at great speed by a Herbert Woods cruiser (must have been at full throttle) whose exhaust was smoking badly (see photo), shortly afterwards there were large quantities of steam/smoke coming out of his engine bay hatch, he did open the hatch then closed it and continued on but about ½ mile further on we saw him mooring up by the pumping station. A short while later we passed one of the wherries from Womack, under sail but also using their quant poles. Once we were on the Thurne we passed another wherry and all of a sudden an object the size of a person dressed in green and yellow was thrown overboard, a quick thought and I decided that it was a ‘man overboard’ exercise so carried on. If it had not been rather windy we would probably have turned and videoed the whole exercise. Onto Womack and moored right by the water, bow thruster came to the fore in the gusting conditions. After our visit to Throwers spent the rest of the afternoon lounging in the sun and keeping the ducks at bay. Hurricane came into moor next to us for a short while, she didn’t appear any the worst for wear apart from the hull being rather dirty. Tuesday 28th April Another cold night but a lovely sunny morning, not going to mention the temperature again suffice to say every morning was the same. Having filled up with water (note to new comers, a slow fill here) the evening before we didn’t bother this morning. Back on the river having kept the mud weight just in the water to clean it (am I glad we had a winch, getting too old to pull it out of the mud at Womack) and a slow cruise round the back of the island, just two boats moored there not like last year when they were double moored. We had decided on Gays Staithe for the night so, it was down the Thurne and up the Bure and Ant again. Once moored (couldn’t get on our favourite side mooring) we witnessed the boat next to us filling up with water and noticed that there was a massive fountain of water from a leak in the hose, it’s about time the parish council replaced this hose. Got the Duct Tape out and made a temporary repair to the worst leak. Spent the rest of the afternoon in the sun and watched the local Grebe fishing. Wednesday 29th April Woke to another sunny morning and spotted a heron opposite stalking along the bank. Topped up with water and decided that a nice slow cruise to Wayford was called for and then Neatishead for the night. All went well but the wind was getting up again, on the way back we were crossing Barton Broad and as we turned towards Neatishead there was an almighty clatter from the top of the canopy, I guessed immediately what it was and sliding the canopy open confirmed that we had lost the boat hook. Now normally, if it is windy I will tie the boat hook and mop to the rails but on this occasion I didn’t because the boathook was in clips and the mop had a bungee strap round it. Anyway we proceed down Lime Kiln Dyke at a very slow pace with Royal Stuart following us, ended up using the bow thruster to swing us into the staithe because the wind was stubbornly trying to stop the bow from turning. Moored right on the end so it was going to be easy getting out in the morning. Contacted Royall’s to inform them of the loss and they sent another one out to us, together with a bungee strap, with Paul on his way home from work that evening. Excellent service. Walked up to the village to get some of the nice cheese from the shop only to find they don’t start to keep it in until later in the season. Early afternoon we were hit by a strong squall of wind, rain and even hail but it soon cleared again. Thursday 30th April Since it was our last full day we made our way slowly to Gays Staithe to top up with water and then onto Womack again for the night. Once moored we just relaxed although we were again hit by quite a vicious squall early afternoon. Late afternoon Royall Swan came in and moored next to us, they had only picked the boat up late morning and made a good job of reversing in. A new Richardson’s low, single level boat came in, did a cruise round the water and then decided to moor up to the trees opposite the staithe, put a stern rope round a branch of one of the fallen trees and then dropped his mud weight so that he was facing us. I thought “hope the wind doesn’t get up again” but he was still there in the morning. Friday 1st May Having topped up with water we left Womack for Ranworth where we moored for a short while next to Royall Commander, paid a visit to the shop to get a few bits and pieces. Left Ranworth for our final mooring at Cockshoot where we packed and cleaned up the boat, not that it was really dirty anyway. Once we left Cockshoot we proceeded back to the yard, got about £70 back from our £130 fuel deposit and booked the same boat for April and June next year. (Only living in Cambridge we do usually hand the boat back in on the Friday afternoon). In summary a very good week with quite a good amount of sun and little rain, the wind was a bit challenging at times but no real problem. Pity not too many young wild fowl but did see the odd Kingfisher (flying) and more Herons than we expected having read that they seemed in short supply earlier in April. Excellent boat and yard. Back in June but with a different boat and yard.