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Laying Up Trip.


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Today was good, a trip from Oulton Broad to St Olaves & back to take Spray up to a yard there for winter storage. I was on board by eight this morning, washing ice and shy-talk waste from the decks of Spray and lashing Jenny Morgan alongside for the tow up river. With a Westerly wind, and a need to return home later, my daughter & I decided on power rather than sail. St Olaves bridge is fixed so we lowered all three masts before setting off at the top of the tide. The subdued colours of early winter are a joy, we had the river to ourselves as we went and just one fellow sailing boat as I returned later in the day. Neither of us are twitchers but we both enjoyed the spectacle of a pair of marsh harriers working a marsh, the low sun beautifully illuminating their plumage. We were also to see a snipe, a kestrel, scores of coots, some reed buntings and hundreds of feral geese, a good day's tally for my I-Spy birds book! 

We dropped through Somerleyton Bridge, the tide by now ebbing a pace as we passed between the bridge piers. By the time we went under St Olaves bridge the tide was fairly hossing past our intended mooring. We went past the wind pump before turning, the idea being that we would have a soft bank to push up against should we not be able to turn in the river but my concerns were unfounded as the forward momentum of Spray and the reverse pull of Jenny Morgan helped us turn with yards to spare. We then worked the tide as we nudged the 'tow' into the vacant berth outside the yard and close to the bridge. One of the yard staff saw us coming alongside and took our lines, much appreciated, and we were soon made fast before upping Spray's mast. 

My daughter was being picked up by car so I was alone for the trip back. It wasn't long before I felt my beard icing up with the vapour from my breath, brrrrr, the wind was cold! Suitably dressed I was warm, cosy and thoroughly enjoying myself. A flask of hot coffee laced with Morgans Spice was a welcome companion. As I motored along Oulton Dyke the setting sun dropped through the haze and below the horizon, a ball of vivid orange. Nothing spectacular but still a pleasure to witness. In the last few minutes before passing the old Dutch Tea Gardens moorings an unusually large barn owl  glided across my bow before gracefully and eerily quartering the adjacent marsh in the quickly fading light, that made my day. I was nearly home, the end of a good trip out on the water.

All in all a good day, ending with a welcome hot pot and an hour with my youngest grandson. Life can be good!

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A well planned journey, making consideration for the tides, and taking advantage of them. Unfortunately there are still people that just go out on a particular journey on the Southern Broads without checking the weather or tidal flows, fine if you have plenty of horsepower and unlimited fuel and somewhere to keep warm, but in an open boat with a small engine, with a tow as well does require planning. I know I would be one who would have liked to accompany you on that journey.

No matter what stresses life throws at you, a few hours on the boat, cruising on the quiet rivers of any river is the best tonic a person can have.

Now we are on the Thames in Oxford, I get my weekly fix, just being on the boat at this time of year, you don't need to go out, short days, low sun, but keeping warm is the secret, has wonderful therapeutic properties. Better medicine than some of the concoctions that some of us are taking lol.

I look forward to the Spring, but why wait, enjoy what you have NOW ! 

A well written event, I could just imagine I was there.




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I am well chuffed that so many of you enjoyed my rambling. It's the Broads in winter, a touch of brightness, even on a hazy day, and it becomes magical. There is so much to see for those who are prepared to look and savour what is around them.

Granted that we have now laid one boat up but extensive varnish work and frost make for poor companions, the old girl, built in 1908, will soon be under wraps and waiting for another spring. In the meantime Jenny Morgan is ready to go, spot of fishing or a pootle around the manor, a lot to be said for fibre-glass!

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Postscript to our journey, my son-in-law and I returned to the yard today so we could de-rig Spray before she's cocooned for the winter. I do enjoy poking around traditional Broads boatyards, peering into sheds where boats sit on their cradles, quiet and sepulchral like, recognising old friends under their shrouds. In older yards there are bound to be relics from boats and times gone by although you'll probably have to peer through a mantle of cobwebs and dust to find them. There is a sadness in watching a boat being craned out for winter storage, although there will be an interest in her not normally seen underwater lines. As we watched one boat being lifted over our heads a friend, the owner of Madie, unexpectedly joined us on the bankside, the discussion centred on traditional versus modern rudder profiles, prompted by the boat swaying above us, and then, quite naturally, we drifted into good natured reminiscing before we went our separate ways, wishing each other the best for the coming festivities. Spray is now empty, the boots of our cars filled to the brim, tomorrow all will be cleaned, labeled where applicable, and then stored away ready for next year. Job done, over the road to the pub, gosh, they are busy! Not surprising, we had an excellent meal to end our day. 

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Mike just dropped in to see his friend, Steve (Level) Evens. We just happened to be there, incidental to the main event so to speak. Mike & family were passing, on their way to take their children to a party. Sad to relate we didn't adjourn to the boozer. Good job really, it's a long time since I've been able to match Mike pint for pint and regretfully we don't have a handy dormobile to gracefully pass out in. 

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