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Day One: Watch day one of the Captain's Blog: It had felt like forever since 2014 and my last visit to the Broads - I was itching to get on the water after what felt a long grey winter, however it was almost all scuppered due to me falling ill a couple of weeks beforehand. I had wanted to join Griff and others lending a hand with Broad Ambition's bi-annual maintenance week - but found myself instead spending several days in hospital - after I was discharged there was just a week before Easter, things were very much looking booked up and going seemingly day by day - Richardson's had a selection either too large, or not the type I wanted to spend 10 nights on - forward steer boats and Shiela wanted a 'proper looking boat' a call to Barnes Brinkcraft found they too pretty booked up but with just a few boats available we picked Belmore TC - A twin cabin variant of Belmore and Regal Star. We arrived at the yard along with just about everyone else keen to take over their boat or book into their shore based accommodation - everyone was working flat out, from reception, to cleaners and engineers - we opted to head into Wroxham grab some food and then do some shopping in Roys for the essentials. I had a call saying there was a small problem with our boat - and while it might seem annoying at the time when one is keen to get onboard, have to hand it to them for checking more than just the engine before handing the boat over - a small leak had been found in the pipe connecting the two water tanks - the tanks had to be drained, new pipe fitted then tanks filled and checked to ensure all was watertight. About 20 minutes later all was good and we made our way to the yard got our things onboard and was given a brief tour of the boat and then left to get on our way. It was essential we made it to Stracey Arms for the evening if we were going to make it to Yarmouth the following morning to get under the bridges - even if it went all to plan we would be arriving an hour and a half after slack water and I was worried how much room might be left (the boat has a claimed air draft of 8ft 10") but as Ludham Bridge showed later in the week, it is certainly less than this. Through Horning noticing how busy the moorings were at the Ferry Inn - double moored - and St. Benet's Abbey moorings were filling up too in the late afternoon - we still had quite some way to go and I know Shiela found the last part past down to and through Acle a little boring - water and reeds was the order of the day but she did a great job helming in a very straight line most of the way. Suffice to say we reached Stracey Arms with plenty of time before sunset and I made schoolboy error number one of thinking we were going against the tide, only to find we were going with it and wondering why the stern wanted to wander out into the river when we came to moor. Fortunately the ever watchful and increasingly proficient Shiela grabbed the right rope, looped over the post and we were saved an embarrassing situation of the boat being taken 180 degrees round by the current. Though there is the noise of the A47, it does not stay too loud for long and through the night was very quiet - first days are never filled with too much to report, it was a case of reaching our destination, unpacking and cooking dinner before an early night for I had to be up before sunrise the following morning waiting for enough light to cast off and head to Yarmouth.
A new series of Captain’s Blogs are on the way, but to begin we start with the video tour and review of Brinks Belmore TC hired from Barnes Brinkcraft in Wroxham. Based on a Princess 30 she certainly has a striking look – a lovely outside space being a sedan style boat which is also very safe being completely enclosed and with a locking stern door. You need to be careful with bridges because of the high air draft this boat has – the plaque says 8ft 10” and the freeboards are high but that is a result of the fact she was designed for sea not river use predominantly. Three berths that can be left made up is a bonus in a boat of this size, a good thermostatically controlled heater and large hot water tank make things comfy in the evenings the heads are very compact particularly the shower tray but the ‘set and forget’ thermostatically control shower is a boon so no more guessing how much cold to add to the hot water to get the right temperature. Not the newest of boats but being kept well both externally and internally with improves over time being made with new flooring, worktops and now bow thrusters too. Here is the video review: