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Found 6 results

  1. Early in March I was able to spend four nights on Barnes Brinkcraft new 4 berth cruiser, Brinks Serenade. While she incorporates some very modern technology, from the batteries, charging system and 'fly by wire' throttle and controls, she actually is a very classic and elegant boat. Powered by a 50HP Nanni engine with hydraulic drive she is not a Hybrid Cruiser, and has no generator, but despite this has a full electric galley and as I found out using the electric oven or boiling a kettle of water does not need the engine to be run. Even if you need to, the underwater exhaust system and well insulated engine bay keep any outside noise to the minimum. Brinks Serenade Boat Review:
  2. Day One: Watch day one of the Captain's Blog: As many readers of this will be aware on 8h March I sadly lost my Dad after his long battle with Cancer. Just a week prior to this I had been talking to him about my trip to the Broads I had planned on board the all new Brinks Serenade boat – I showed him the photos and he was very interested – indeed at that stage doctors were making arrangements for his discharge from Hospital and he was muting that if he felt up to it he would love to come. Now a week after his passing I was travelling up to the Broads with very mixed emotions – I had talked to friends and family prior to coming as was it the right thing to be doing? They all asked what did I want to do and I should do this and not worry about what others may think about me doing it. I am so pleased I took that advice. You see I would never have known about the Broads had it not been for my Dad, it began as a baby being taken away in a static caravan ‘Mr Turner’s’ at Hickling, and this may well be the Mr Turner who worked at Herbert Woods in his past and is mentioned in the book that I’ve read about the history of Herbert Woods. Be that as it may, he also owed a lovely wooden day boat and I remember to this day as I grew to be a small boy its blue vinyl seats and the bubbling water from the stern as we would use it to head to Potter Heigham for shopping and days out over Hickling Broad. Now, I was alone and arrived at Barnes Brinkcraft – they really have more boats than boatyard having recently taken over Royalls – engineers and cleaners alike all ramping up for the main season, and there gleaming on the river front moorings was Serenade. Most holiday makers when they take over a boat are eager to get away and begin their holiday, however an hour after Phil their chief engineer came on the boat to show me around we are still talking about boats generally, hirers, and systems and to me this sort of learning and understanding is great. Phil decided he better actually pop off and do some actual work and left me with their new boat. I popped off to Roys to get some supplies for the week. Once back on the boat it was time to depart – I headed towards the bridge, did a turn then cruised back past the boatyard and began my adventure. I had no idea where to head to for the evening, it was now late in the afternoon but as I cruised along thought turned to my Dad, the sudden and sad events and the many many things that I would have to be dealing with in the next several days, but with a phone and a laptop it proved possible to liaise with funeral directors, the church and so on but at the same time be away and in a quiet and calm environment. I reflected on the past – how it all began as I began filming the Captain’s Blog that would cover my travels. You see over the years I have been doing this there is a sense of community with the loyal followers who enjoy the content I make and kindly comment on it or come and see me when I am on the rivers so to speak to these people through the portal of a camera helped my mind deal with the turbulent emotions I had. I never plan my trips – what I might film or how, these are after all simply a diary in video form of what I have done and where I have gone but the story behind it that you are reading now adds the depth and what the camera does not capture. So deep talking out the way, my mind turned to the boat – she was quiet – very quiet underway, response too and I liked the powerful bow thruster, the comfortable raised double helm seat and the fact this was not a new design but a classic that had been brought right up to date with bonded windows all of which had a lovely deep tint to them (and many of which also opened) the duel canopies now slide open at the push of a button, and the stern now re-moulded and lowered to make getting on and off at stern moorings a real breeze. A comfortable and inviting space to live. Before long I was approaching the Swan Pub and thoughts turned to Christmas when Shiela and I ate here when we were on Broad Ambition, and as I came around the turn there was a space at the Staithe – a rare opportunity and one that I was not going to pass up time to moor 30ft of boat alone – something I have not done for a good while now as I usually have Shiela aka ‘Bow Lady’ to assist. But despite coming in with the ebb tide the ample power from Serenade’s engine and bow thruster had me along side in a jiffy and I was tied up and in the peaceful surroundings of Horning. I decided there and then that the Swan would be a good place to eat tonight – and treated myself later to a Steak – it was very well prepared, the side of seasonal veg was just cooked right. Not the cheapest of meals but I do live the surrounds in the pub and now I was able to get 4G O2 phone reception at the table – amazing as I sent photos to a jealous Shiela who was travelling home in London. I wonder, where shall I go tomorrow...
  3. First of all “The Yard”. 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 finished 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. The problem was that we now had too much food so we ended up taking all of our ‘emergency rations’ and some more back home at the end of the week. After a short time an engineer came round to do the handover. Now for some surprises: Engine start procedure - turn the key and the engine will start all of its own once it has run the Pre-heaters. No need to check the Weed Filter, the engineer would not even tell us where it was. No need to check the oil or coolant water levels, again the engineer would not tell us where the header tank was. No slow running ‘standalone’ drinking water filter, all water is filtered. After the engineer had been through the usual things he asked if we wanted a trial run, this was declined so we were on our way shortly afterwards. On our return to the yard, as soon as we had moored the boat our car appeared (driven by an engineer) right behind the boat ready for us. The Diesel tank was refilled and we had only used £30 pounds worth which is probably the least we have ever used so this boat must be pretty economical considering we did use the heating one evening but there again we don’t go haring around, most of the time just 1400 to 1600 rpm. The Boat. This is a brief review of Brinks Encore 1, it will be nowhere near as comprehensive as Robin’s reviews but, hopefully, assist other people to make a decision as to whether to hire her (or not). I will upload a video taken around the boat but this may not be for a few days. There will also be our usual video of the week at a later date. Instrumentation: GPS Speedometer, Rev Counter, Engine Coolant Temperature, Engine Oil Pressure, Diesel Tank Gauge and Water Tank Gauge plus the usual warning lights. The Holding Tank Gauge is in the Bathroom next to the toilet, we did need a pump out about half way through the week. Very powerful Bow Thruster (hydraulic). Solar panels and electric ‘hookup’ cable supplied which we didn’t use, the electric was connected at the yard to give the batteries a good charge. Not sure why the electric ‘hookup’ is supplied since the cooking is gas and all lighting is LED including forward and after wells. Air Draught is 6’ 10” which I think has a good safety factor built in since the old Aquafibre Opals are 6’ 9”, you do have to look in the manual for this information. Mud Weight winch, we had a problem with this whereby it stopped before the Mud Weight reached the bottom at Womack due to a twisted and balled chain (a la Sonnet a few weeks ago), an engineer was with us within half an hour (on Sunday) and sorted this but it was a bit difficult since there is no central access hatch into the Chain Locker. I think that the winch is too fast, not allowing the chain to fall properly. The Throttle is quite sensitive and you need to be careful standing up because you will catch it with your leg it also seems to be set so that if you increase the revs above about 1600rpm then, unless you hold it in position, it seems to want to settle back to 1600rpm. 1400rpm is about 3 to 4mph depending on tide. The engine (Nanni) is fitted aft on hydraulic drive. I did find the Helm seat too low and quite hard, no cushions are supplied so I couldn’t use one of those to increase the height and soften the seat. CO and Smoke Alarms are fitted in the Saloon. Beware the domestic Water tank filler cap, apart from the engraving around the cap there is no differentiation between that and the Diesel tank filler cap, neither need a wrench of any sort. The cooker is a fairly standard domestic gas type with four rings, a medium size oven, a grill and, at the bottom, pan storage space. Two metal oven baking dishes were supplied stored in the oven. The rings, oven and grill are all spark ignition. The fridge is domestic sized and electric. The shower is thermostatically controlled so no more trying to juggle two taps to get the temperature right. The toilet (electric) is fitted with a soft close lid and seat but the seat will not stay up on its own (too close to the side deck), so be aware gentlemen, but it does come down slowly so no damage results. The toilet roll holder has a swivel cover so no need to remove the toilet roll when showering and as the cover is closed it rolls the toilet roll up so long as the roll is fitted to unroll from the top, best idea I’ve seen for years. Heater is an Eberspacher with outlets in the Saloon, Bedroom and Bathroom, this was used on one evening and heated the boat up quickly. The heater seems to be just forward of the helm on the port side with the exhaust on the curve of the bow so no scorching of the boat next door or quay heading. Both the forward and aft doors are double glazed but the windows (apart from the small opening lights in the bathroom and above the cooker) are single glazed. I didn’t like the sliding windows in the bedroom because you cannot leave them open if there is any chance of rain unlike the old ‘scuttle’ windows. Storage space is excellent: Three large drawers in the saloon one good food cupboard, crockery cupboard, cutlery drawer and general utensil drawer plus a large storage space behind the settee back. The bedroom has one large cupboard, three drawers and wardrobe plus two bedside cabinets (at the bottom of the bed). All drawers and cupboard doors are ‘soft close’ We didn’t use the TV apart from to switch it on as a test. The Wi-Fi seemed to work well although, again, it wasn’t used much. I am afraid that I do not like the main bed the way round that it is so I slept on the large pull out in the Saloon leaving the bedroom for my wife. I had taken the precaution of asking for two sets of bedding and making up the Saloon bed was very simple, pull out the seat and the backrest drops down to form a large double bed then just a case of putting the sheet on. The hot water was still slightly warm until the morning, I will qualify that to say that we generally stopped cruising at about mid-day and had showers in the evening with two lots of washing up. Engineer called out on Sunday due to winch problem but the service from him was excellent. Overall very impressed with both the boat and Barnes.
  4. Watch the feature length Captains Blog below - then read the story behind trip... Day One: This trip would be the last to Norfolk for the 2014 season, and as things turned out my Mum would be accompanying me for a couple of nights - after which I'd be left to handle 44ft of brand new boat alone. No pressure then. The journey to the boatyard was familiar and a well trodden route - but began with massive problems on the London Underground. I have two ways to get to Liverpool Street and I had gambled wrongly in the morning rush hour which to take - at Kings Cross they were 5 deep waiting for the next train on the sub-surface route so quickly turn around (as fast as one can with a large suitcase and my bag of cameras and various other non essential but often required boat bits) to the Piccadilly Line and on to Holborn where we can get the Central Line to Liverpool Street. Then queue for a free ticket machine to collect the pre-bought tickets and just under 10 minutes before the train to Norwich was leaving. Once we left London though the stress ebbed away and before London we were changing trains at Norwich bound to Hoveton & Wroxham. One of the reasons I have enjoyed Barnes Brinkcraft is their location - walking distance from the station. When one factors in a return taxi fare to the likes of Stalham, and in the season a late booking discount of 20% their hire charges fall down more in keeping with other boatyards - still a little more but not a great deal for what you get. Despite this fact, I still like some of the more classic boats and designs and out of season their prices are not beatable in comparison to more modern designs. A warm welcome was had - we left our luggage in reception and headed off to Roys for the shopping. It was nice to have an extra pair of hands on the trip back to the boatyard, and despite us trying our best to not get too much the bill still crept up. Another reason why private ownership is beneficial being able to leave certain staples onboard and not need to buy new or more than you may use in a single visit - like dry pasta, sauces, tins of beans and kitchen towel etc. Back at the yard it was time to see the boat - it looked huge from the outside, and despite having a relatively low freeboard, my mum clearly was not going to be able to give me too much help needing to be helped on and off. It was straight away we noted the provision of an extra handrail may be helpful and before long Philip the Engineering Manager came along - I pointed out the point about the handrails, but I was not thinking in the terms of a boat operator. You see, he said - if we put one here or raised the height of this one there it would not be long before a hirer hit or was hit by something or another boat and they got bent and the forces damaged the gel coat - they try to keep the hand rails away from the sides or rear of the boats now for this reason. It turned out Philip was responsible for much of the build - being allowed to experiment within reason and had managed to source parts globally and keep their build costs as low as possible despite the added complexity of the systems. Much of the logic boards and firmware had been programmed by him and as we walked from cabin to cabin showing me this feature or that, I knew I liked the guy - he not only was thinking outside the box, he had destroyed the box so not to be restricted by anything that had been done previously. Next up he wanted me to take her for a run down the river - not so much a trial run, literally 'right I've untied her off we go' and so I was now heading down towards Wroxham Broad chatting away with the chap who helped build her half of me enjoying discovering about how it was built and some of the technical points along the way, the other half of me trying to figure out how she handled, avoid the day boats and then execute a 180 degree turn. My Mum stepped in reminding us 'boys with their toys' that there was not much daylight left and we wanted to get to Horning. We duly went back to the boatyard, moored up did the usual paperwork and were then off down the river Horning bound. I was struck by the sheer quietness of the boat and her torque and control. I'd not long been on a boat only 2 feet longer during 'Lads Week' - Jewel of Light - and twice made very amateurish mistakes causing me to get 'egg on my face'. Despite this boat being almost as long everything from the steering to the precise control of speed was so much easier and she had bags of immediate torque and power despite being electronically limited to 6.5 MPH. Under the water the way the angle of the prop is, its pitch and the rudder are not what one usually have on an Alpha 44 - in this build that makes itself known with some noise and vibration at higher speed, something I was told they hope to put right over the winter but from my point of view even the most novice hirer should be able to keep this boat in the right direction. What began to bother me though was the fact the sun was getting lower in the sky but there were simply so many boats on the water - as we arrived in Horning, turning in front of the Swan, all the moorings at the staithe were taken - and just along the way so too were all the moorings at the New Inn. We pressed on and arrived at the Ferry Inn, and once more were met with no space - even the Island was busy without enough room for 44 foot of boat to fit in. Thankfully, Horning Ferry Marina had two spaces on their riverfront moorings. A chap on another Barnes Brinkcraft boat seemed helpful but on edge all at the same time - I thought to begin he was worried about how I was going to moor stern on apparently alone on such a large boat, but as it turned out minutes later was waiting for another boat with more of his party on and he clearly did not want them to arrive without being able to moor. As it happened they arrived minutes later and once moored there was literally no space at the inn. We decided to eat out in the Ferry tonight and I was still bemused as to the point of having to stand waiting to be shown to a table, only to then have to make a note of the table number and order at the Bar just like most pubs so one may as well just walk in, find a nice table and then order giving the number as usual. Still I had the Brie Wedges to start, my mum the Japanese King Prawns - both were lovely and well priced. I warned my mum that the portions were big, she opted for the Chicken Burger, myself for a cheese burger with a side of onion rings. Lovely proper 'chip shop' style chips, fresh salad in the bun with the meat- it went down a treat and the onion rings (like those at the Bridge Inn, Acle) were proper fresh battered not mashed up onion in a crisp coated ring from a frozen catering pack of them. We both really enjoyed the food, and the drinks went down well too. Back on the boat time to put the heating on for a little time - only it got so warm so evenly I just had one heater going in the back cabin and left the door open - each matrix providing 1kw equivalent of heat with a 2kw equivalent in the saloon area. This boat sure would be good on a cold night. The only issue is the 'wet system' a sort of diesel fired boiler is so powerful it consumes a lot of fuel (about 2 litres and hour) so it would cost you around £2.80 an hour to keep toasty. It was about 10:30pm and time to go to bed, I wanted to be up with the sun tomorrow morning - suffice to say I slept like a baby - although not up all night screaming lol. Day Two: It was a beautiful still morning, and I moved about quietly getting ready - lovely to have piping hot water still thanks to the super well insulated immersion tank - also fed by the heating system - then on deck it was time to squeegee the water of the seats and screen and before long time to set off. Our neighbours still deep in slumber, a few anglers setting up along the way at the holiday homes - I turned the power on, green light lit and then we were off - without sound - destination Ranworth. My plan was we would moor on Malthouse Broad and cook breakfast. As it happened there was a space at the Staithe - I manoeuvred far further away from the quay than I otherwise would so as to keep the noise of the prop wash down to a minimum - and use of Thrusters was banned due ot their terrible noise. It was still very early and people clearly were in their berths. As Boycee a member of this Forum will attest, I managed this since he had no idea we had arrived next to him and had not disturbed his crew. Once moored we headed of to the Wildlife Trail if you want to call it that, the boardwalk that goes to Ranworth Broad. Lovely to see the changes in colour of the leaves and a real moist woody scent to the air - Ranworth Broad so much larger than Malthouse looking very much at peace. It was back to the boat and breakfast was cooked and enjoyed - time to depart our destination Potter Heigham. My mum took over the wheel for a time on the Bure, she can hold an even course but ask her to turn left or right and there is a delay followed by a 50/50 chance the wheel will be turned in the right direction, sometimes you strike lucky other times I have to tell her 'no the other left' - so after a while it was decided she would go down and have a coffee and stay in the warm and I'd take over the wheel. When we arrived in Potter Heigham, the moorings were all full - into Herbert Woods it was, and right before us a space so a quick spin around (now able to use the Thrusters) and were moored in a jiffy. One of the chaps at Herbert Woods working on Sovereign Light next to us questioned how it was all he could hear was the sound of the thrusters no engine, all electric I said - his look was priceless - this sort of look and quizzical expression followed us from place to place as many a passerby commented 'oh look new Electric Hybrid' which usually followed the question 'how does that work then'. It is easy to compare it to a Toyota Prius as people seem to know what that is and how works. Into Lathams it was - bloody hell their selection of Christmas lights was huge and twice I tried to buy some nice red LED lights only to be overruled by my mum. Sometimes being alone would make life easier - then she was looking at some of the homewares and I got my own back - we both agreed it would be lovely to have such a shop near us in London. We left to come to Waterside Marine Sales - we looked, I wished and we talked about all the things one could do to a boat, or what a state this one was in and how much that would cost to put right and so on, my mum being far more able to talk boat than my dad. Then back to our boat and time to leave - this time Ludham Bridge and the moorings would be our destination, but would we get under the bridge? The height of the water was playing on my mind a lot - the boat having an air draft of 8ft 3" - upon arrival just passing Ludham Bridge Boatyard, Jason spotted me and called out - pleasantries exchanged I edged at a snail's pace to the bridge - then Jason called out 'your not make that' into reverse I went being lead by the locals knowledge, only to hear 'no your be fine' and so once more align the boat and go through (there was under 8ft showing) which begged the question where the hell would I go - well it turned out quashed on the floor between the seat with my eyes peeking up and right hand on the wheel. Phew, we were under. We moored up and after a short time I met up with Simon and Sonia (formerly of the Corsican now of River Song) and was able to show Simon on board, Dylan the dog, Sonia and my mum doing what women do best - chat. And so it was that Simon was wowed by the interior, features and work that had gone into the boat. Funny how then later I popped over to Jason and company at Ludham Bridge Boatyard for a coffee and chat - the general 'Engineering stance' being lovely, but what about us in a 10 to 15 years time trying to trouble shoot an electrical connection problem with all that tech. This is why sometimes being a user rather than a fixer is better. Back on board we settled down for the evening, I was cooking Spaghetti Bolognese - I was actually laughing as I had the hob on, the oven and the microwave as if I was at home, and here I was on a boat - lovely food and nice bottle of wine was had, and throughout the evening, despite cooking electric and using the heating the generator did not need to kick in. Goodness knows the capacities of the batteries on this boat, but they are placed jut about anywhere there is space. So time for bed once again, tomorrow my mum would be off to London. Day Three: Simon and Sonia had very kindly offered to take my mum to the station today, so we had a lay in and in so doing missed some rain - the day was cooler, more grey today too and I took a trip to the shop by the bridge and bought the latest Jack Fellows series of Murder Mysteries set on the Norfolk Broads - Murky Waters written by Chris Crowther for my mum along with a paper for me and some munchies. We took the morning nice and easy, watched an increasingly popular new way of mooring spreading amongst hirers - aim bow of boat at quay, hit quay have crew member leap off - boat bounces away from quay, turn wheel hard to the right or left full throttle forward, allow quay to take impact of bow again and power the stern around whereby crew member takes stern rope. We witnessed how a hire boat filled up with water, used hose to wash decks and then mess bout with hose for 45 minutes before departing - we then headed on over - I say we, I did, my mum walked over the bridge to join me on the other bank and help take my ropes. Nice thought as this was of her, I said but when you're not here or there is not a bridge to cross so your already waiting for my arrival, I'll need to do it alone. I managed to moor she helped with the hose and so between us filled the boat with water before heading back over to the opposite bank and mooring again. I might add this was done backwards which must have surprised the boat who came through Ludham Bridge to see a boat go from one side of the river to the next and moor all in reverse - yes sometimes bow and stern thrusters come into their own. Simon and Sonia duly arrived and it felt odd and quiet now being alone, however it also meant I felt more able and free to settle into my routine - the boat now getting various cameras mounted about the surfaces and within half hour of leaving the mooring I felt very much more myself - the Rascal was alone and in control without any assistance, I feel I thrive on that feeling I have to cope and get it right first time or I'll be in trouble. When one has others about to help - as proved on Lads Week, I loose my concentration and things can quickly end up in a pickle - like concentrating on a dog, placing a book under a table leg to steady the table and look up to find your almost in the bank. I headed up the River Ant, on to Barton Broad where I put the mud weight down and spent a few minutes filming. Then I headed initially to moor at Paddy's Lane, but realising I could make it back to How Hill before dusk, decided to carry on - filming as I went. I even managed to set up three cameras on the way back over Barton Broad to capture my mooring at How Hill, which as far as I was concerned went like clockwork and goes to show I can handle 44 foot of boat as easy as 29 foot. I was content but hungry - so got about chopping my chicken breasts ready to cook a nice curry complete with beer, poppadom's and onion bargees. It does not get much better - nice curry, good beer and be on the water! I watched a DVD and then it was time to go to bed - the days were just racing by made all the more short because of the clocks only recently going back to GMT. Day Four: And so the last full day had arrived - I knew I was meeting River Song, Simon and Sonia's new beautiful boat that afternoon and be spending the evening with them at Salhouse - today was going to be a 'working day' for the morning was spent preparing the boat for the Boat Review. This means packing all my stuff away, making sure there is no water splashes on taps, or bread crumbs on work tops then deciding what order I will go and a bullet list of points to cover - then hit record and off I go. I have no script, and I am usually a rather mellow, quiet chap - but when the camera is on and because I don't want to mess about editing too much I sharpen up and the on screen presenter comes out. The review frankly is a chore because it takes a lot of time, and the preparation before hand is often great needing to pack your clothes and things away far earlier than you might otherwise want to or need but now it was done I had the rest of the afternoon to enjoy. The sun was out, hell it was positively warm on November 1st! Down the River Ant, under Ludham now showing 8ft 3" and left on to the Bure - slow, stop, turn and moor at St. Benetts - get some toast and jam and relax. Knock Knock on the window... I look up, and see a young woman 'yes' she shouts along the moorings excitedly - 'it is him' - toast will have to wait, who is this I wonder and come out of the boat by now the whole family maybe 6 people have come along all avid followers of the Captain's Blog. Shake hands, have a chat - is this fame? I am not sure but increasingly thismakes up much of my trips meeting people who for some reason seem to see me as somehow 'cool'. I can't complain but it makes for interesting times afterwards as I sit wondering 'who were they then'. I depart the moorings with flare - leaving sideways, well you if you can why not eh? And off to Ranworth Dam, where I want to do some filming from Ranworth Island of the boat. I duly arrive moor stern on and put the camera on the grass - now I think, whatever happens I must get that back - and promptly depart. It was at this stage I originally wanted to do some 360 degree turns and show how easily you can control the boat, but now I felt foolish with people moored not too far away they would think I was being a right pain doing silly thing and making noise with thrusters so limited it to a very short segment, now back to collect the camera - thankfully not stolen by a Goose - and back on the boat it was time to slowly cruise to Salhouse. And so that ended the last break of the year, that felt like it went oh so quickly onboard a very nice boat. So much has happened this year some happy, some sad, adventures alone and with Shiela on the water - parties and BBQ's new people to meet, faces to names you name it. Now the long winter awaits, cold days, long nights oh I can't wait for the Spring and 2015 to see what new things await and what boats I'll be blogging the day from then.
  5. Day One: Day One Captain's Blog Having got a slightly later train than usual, I arrived in Wroxham on what had been the hottest day of the year so far. There was not a cloud in the sky and I walked from the station to the Broads Information Centre and got myself the official time table that the Broads Authority produce for £1.00 - it comes in a rather garish neon orange this year. Then off to Barnes Brinkcraft where I suspected because almost all their fleet would be being prepared for going out today and tomorrow my boat would not yet be ready, and so it was the case. I left my luggage in reception and went off to Roy's DIY centre to pick up some micro fibre cloths and the usual £1.99 windscreen wiper (which came in very handy as is often the case with hire boats). Then up to Norfolk Marine to look at everything from fridge's, toilets and helm seats mentally making notes and seeing how things looked in reality compared to images one sees online and yet remaining puzzled at the cost of such items. Leaving there, it was off to the pub for a pint - Green King IPA and it went down very nicely, but then the real shopping had to be done and using my phone found a very nice Jewellers where I had a new watch battery put in which had failed on me just this morning (£6.50 fitted). I then had a call from the boatyard to say the boat was ready, so time to get the provisions in the supermarket part of Roy's and then carry an alarming amount of bags back to the boatyard. The welcome was warm, the hand over efficient but it certainly was busy with a mixture of first timers and returning customers - there was a real sense of anticipation in the air. I put the hilled items in the fridge and left everything else down below and was off once again on a new adventure aboard yet another design of boat. The first thing that struck me was it was a boat which was not powered by an engine with a gearbox and propeller shaft but the increasingly popular (with boatyards) engine driving a hydraulic drive. Not only did one had the sound of the engine just behind the helm, you also had the unmistakable whine of the hydraulic pump and motor - it also required a fair few more RPM to achieve the speed limits than the boat I had hired just a couple of weeks earlier and which was the same size - Brinks Jazz - I thought then it may guzzle fuel, little did I know just how much over the week it would use (116 litres actually). My destination was to be the quite dyke that leads off the River Thurne to Womack Water - since I was later than I usually am in getting away from the boatyard I worried moorings may well be in short supply, and consiering how much of Barnes Brinkcraft's fleet was booked felt sure it would be 'silly busy' out on the rivers. It was busy, but not silly. Sure there were the day boats - they seemed to be everywhere between Wroxham and Horning, but as for private and hire boats things did not seem as bad, and indeed upon passing various moorings was pleased to see them free - the likes of St. Benet's as an example had ample space to moor yet last year in May they were all taken at this time of day. First days are not the most relaxed at least as far as I am concerned it is about getting to your preferred place to moor, then unpacking and putting all the bits away so the interior is smart and not cluttered. I got to Womack Dyke and annoyingly the mooring (a wild one) on the left bank was taken, with the wind blowing me to the left I turned about and came back one nearer the mouth of the dyke where there is a handy single post one can tie up to. I could take my time mooring and any mistakes made would be out of sight - as it happened it went very well, but the getting off the boat was tricky and I knew I would need to remove the table in aft cockpit area to aid getting out of the boat at future mooring's where I may not be blessed with calm water and a light breeze. I got to work packing things away and found the first thing - very few places to put things, just two shallow drawers one almost full height hanging space and that was that - apart from the galley and its arrangement of cupboards. Making the bed also was interesting, since the same is about 6 inches above the floor level and Barnes Brinkcraft had supplied me with 8 pillows and 2 duvets and 2 bed sheets. Fortunately I found another space behind the seating where I could put the extra bedding. Once everything was put away I was pleased with spacious interior space and the outside seating would seat 6 in comfort. I sat as the sun set drinking a cool beer knowing tomorrow would be a very different day, it was forecast to be cool and rain - so I decided on a bit of a plan leaving the mooring the next morning at around 6:30am and heading for Beccles in one hit without stopping - crazy to some, but right up my street and with that in mind t was time for an early night.
  6. Day One Captain's Blog http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EmhDTUvwsIs And so it was that on a very mild, bright and sunny Monday morning I left the morning rush hour behind and boarded a very calm, and pretty empty train bound for Norwich. The Rascal was returning to the Broads. I was already excited as the first adventure of 2014 was beginning and before long I would be once again cruising the waters of the Norfolk Broads. I was heading for Barnes Brinkcraft, who I had turned to for something a with a bit of luxury inside and bit of 'bling' as far as style went on t e outside, Brinks Omega would be by home for the next week and upon arriving at the boatyard noticed her moored waiting for me to get onboard. Alas, she was still being prepared so it was off to Ken's Fish & Chips for - fish and chips, it would appear being a young man in the eat in part of this Wroxham institution on a Monday afternoon was a rare sight - for my fellow diners were, let us say taking full advantage of the OAP special. Filled up and feeling content it was off to Roys whereupon the boatyard called to say they were ready when I was - so a quick shop 'supermarket sweep' style was undertaken and before long I was plodding towards Barnes Brinkcraft with far too many carrier bags seemingly weighed down with more beer and wine than actual food. The hand over was pleasant and Warrick who I had met before took me through the quirks of this particular boat and then a signature was all that was needed before I was once more underway and heading downstream for Horning. It only took a few minutes and I was already feeling a million miles away from work and noise and city life and back at home on the water oddly feeling as if I had only been gone a short time not the 4 months it had in fact been. Omega was is a very comfortable boat, but the one issue was the helmseat - have it so your feet touched the foot rest and it was too low to really see out the windows, have it high enough for a good view of the river and your feet were left dangling. As the holiday went on I found the bin mad an excellent footrest and wished I had thought of this sooner. But other than this minor point, the boat was responsive (though its hull shape and high sides meant a slight cross wind had you wandering over the river), quiet underway and very nicely fitted with lovely upholstery, Holly & Teak flooring and a boon of having a large separate shower cubicle in the heads. I had not really got a destination in mind - Horning, Ludham Bridge maybe? I was just cruising along and letting things work themselves out lead more with the time and sunset than anything else. I got my new handheld radio out and within a short time of so doing suddenly heard the familiar voice of Charlie Griffin on the airwaves. Unfortunately I could not reply to begin because I had set my radio to scan all channels but it was set to transmit on the wrong one - some fiddling later I was able to figure out what was what and reply, only to find out Broad Ambition was moored at Horning Staithe. I really can't stress how handy these radio's are, and be it you an owner or hirer getting a pair and having them set on channel 4 (perhaps the unofficial NBF radio channel) will certainly make communicating with other 'ships' a breeze. As it was there was space at the moorings for me and I was soon alongside. I popped into the local shop for a few bits I had forgot in my haste in Roys earlier and then it was time to catch up and have a coffee with Griff. We decided it would be a good idea to head for Salhouse for the night where Macie could stretch her paws and legs and us humans could drink and chat and eat. So it was we departed for the short journey from Horning to Salhouse Broad. And that was that - it might have made for a short first day, and equally a short first days Captain's Blog but it was none the less very good to catch up with a good friend and as it would happen for the remainder of the week out paths would cross several more times. Once back on board Omega unpacked, beds made it was time to fall into a deep sleep which always seem that little bit deeper and more restful afloat than at home.
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