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  1. Day One: Watch day one of the Captain's Blog: So let's just first of all apologise on two counts: Firstly I have lost my intro's for the videos, and the backup of my computer which has them is with my Mum, who three times now has forgotten to bring over the backup drive. All very well being super secure with computer backups but not so good when your mother gets forgetful lol. Secondly, I urm managed to screw up rather badly and loose day ones footage and have some camera problems to boot. So, we begin the first part of this new series actually on day two mid way into the day on the river Ant. Things do improve as we go through the series but I feel a bit rusty at this video lark after a break so bear with me. Now, on to the back story. We arrived at Barnes Brinkcraft on the Friday, in heavy rain and as predicted the boat was not quite ready but this was fine as Shiela and I could pop into Wroxham, go shopping and grab a bite to eat. This we did, Shiela buying some new fancy perfume and becoming official ordained as a boater when she bought some Wellington Boots to tackle the wet weather, muddy banks and general muck you seem find cakes on to your shoes when you go boating in the rain (I of course stuck with some trainers and regretted it). We got a call to head back to the yard as the boat was ready for us - we duly arrived and all was about to smoothly proceed until like a last moment glitch on a rocket launch pad all was stopped. The sliding doors on Belmore had a serious issue - the runner on them had collapsed and so the doors could not be closed. Engineers came, heads were scratched boat builders fettled and a solution was come up in about 20 minutes with bearings, rollers and stainless steel fixtures drilled through the frame and doors and while not smooth gliding was a great fix in a short space of time - we could now get on board and our break start for real. It was a one of those days where the rain came and went and just generally was grey and damp - we decided for a change to play it like 'first timers' and not go far at all, finding a space at Horning outside the Swan. We tied up, popped to the Post Office and bought a couple of electric cards and plugged Belmore in. Despite the weather it was lovely to be afloat and we set about unpacking things and making the berths up. I talked to a lovely couple on San Fernando on a two week trip - regular watchers of the Captains' Blog and promised to mention them in the video. It never happened - I am truly awful at this, not that would made much difference after all the footage was lost anyway as it turned out. On the boat I put on the heating on. Belmore has a 'wet system' so you have a total of 4 fan/matrix units with two thermostat controls one in the front cabin and one for the saloon. Alas there was an issue. The heater came on for three minutes, then went off for two minutes - then cycled like this continuously. Everything seemed fine but it just felt like something was almost overheating cooling off and then repeating the process over and over. But where was the header tank for the system? - was it filled? was there an air pocket in it? But I had no luck in finding it, so I called Barnes who had an engineer with us within 20 minutes. It was the header tank, it was almost empty and no wonder I had not seen where it was - it was under the vinyl cover for the front windows with the Rhonde Anchors in the port locker at the stern of the boat. He filled this up (with Evans window cleaner) or at least that was what the 5 litre container said on it - whatever was in it, the heater came on, stayed on and before long the boat was getting nice and toasty - I was unhappy about the air flow from two of the matrix fans though so torch and tools out I find the fans have sucked in through the cold air return vents copious amounts of lovely dog hair and dust. I cleared these out the air flow much improved and really hot air now coming out - along with the floor and me covered in hair and dust - Much to Shiela's annoyance. I tried to rescue things by suggesting we have a lovely meal in the Swan - so we headed on in to the pub (after I changed) and settled down. The atmosphere is nice in this pub, I like the menu and drinks but the service was slow (as always seems to be when I have visited) but the food was always good which makes up for it - only this time not so much. A long story short clearly our food (and that of others near us) had been cooked then left waiting for someone to bring to our table under heat lamps - Shiela had ordered the steak and it was luke warm and the chips were no longer hot either. My burger was nice but she sent her food back and it just marred an otherwise nice evening made all the more amazing that I had 4G on my phone (I use O2). We came back to the boat and had not long been on board when the heavens opened after a long day traveling it was lights out pretty early for us but tomorrow I hoped would bring a dry day - at least Belmore was cosy and dry inside.
  2. 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.
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