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YnysMon

July 2015 - Our Sail On Wood Violet

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Ok, I'm stretching back a bit here, but have had such nice comments about my previous accounts that I thought you might like to read the account of our first experience of the Broads.

We had hired Wood Violet, a three-berth yacht from Hunter's Yard, Ludham.  On board my husband Graham, eldest son Harry, me and our dog Marvin.

Saturday 4th July

Left MK on a scorching hot morning shortly after seven for the journey to Ludham, stopping off at the Costa’s half way between St Neots and Cambridge for breakfast and then a stop-off at Potter Heigham to visit the legendary Lathams.  Not that there was much in Lathams that appealed, though Harry spotted some very reasonably priced peaked caps with ‘Captain’, ‘Crew’ and so on embroidered on them.  We got a ‘Captain’ one for his Dad and ‘Crew’ caps for us. Suitably equipped in head-gear we made our way to Ludham, parking initially by the church to have a wander around the village.  Very impressed with Throwers as a village store and the butchers where we bought some bacon.  Wary of buying any more meat given the hot weather and the lack of refrigeration on board Hunter’s boats.  Visited the church where I was bowled over by the medieval rood screen and the font – there’s lots of stuff in Galleries and Museums that aren’t as impressive. 

Had a very tasty lunch in Alfresco Tea Rooms before making our way down to Hunter’s Yard.  All was quiet when we got to the Yard, it was people’s lunch break after all, so we quietly had a mosey around.  It’s like a living museum, lot of interesting displays about this history of the Yard.  Worth popping into as a casual visitor.  Once we noticed some other parties turning up also early (i.e. before 2pm) we decided to present ourselves at the office.  We had a very warm welcome from Vikki, sorted out the paperwork very quickly and were taken along to Wood Violet.  A very kind chap (Ian) came along with a bowl of water for our dog Marvin (by now the day was exceedingly -as Mr Kipling would say- hot), so he was relatively comfortable whilst we stowed our gear on board.  My first reaction was…we’ve brought far too much gear, where will we put everything?...but it was surprising how many drawers and nooks and crannies there were on board. 

Once we were sorted, another very friendly chap (whose name I forget – sorry) got us to quant Wood Violet to the landing stage and then ‘showed us the ropes’.  How to stow the awning and store it in the forepeak, how to set the sails and put a reef in…and then we were away!  Down Womack Water on a nice steady breeze.  We hadn’t really thought about where we would go (doh!), but we thought to start with that we should go with the wind, so we turned up toward Potter H and had a lovely gentle sail up to the moorings reserved for yachts to de-mast before the bridge.  Looking back, I think we had beginners luck, as we hadn’t checked the tides, but we quanted through the two bridges without any difficulty, put our mast back up and continued up the Thurne with a fair wind.  It was so quiet above ‘The Bridge’, and it was here that we really caught the magic of the Broads, sailing along gently with nothing but the sounds of the gentle slap of the water against the boat, the wind in the reeds, and bird song. 

We turned into Candle Dyke around 6pm, then on through Heigham Sound with the wind decreasing as the evening set in.  By the time we got to Hickling Broad the wind was quite gentle, but enough to take us across to mud-weight not far from the sailing club.  Shortly after we mud-weighted the wind died completely.  It was the perfect warm and still summer’s evening.

The first priority was to get Marvin to shore for a ‘comfort break’.  Graham and I left Harry aboard and set out with Marv rowing the sailing dinghy to shore, finding a handy slipway in a boatyard where we could moor.  Marv having been suitably relieved (and his mess meticulously disposed of), we made our way back to Wood Violet and made our dinner: tinned veg curry and rice.  We left the awning back as it was such a still evening.  Once it got dark we settled for our first night, Graham and Harry sharing the main cabin whilst I settled myself in the fore-cabin (sharing the space with the heads, but in a way that’s quite convenient).  I quite liked the cosiness of my little cabin, though the head-room was a bit restricted as the roof slopes down from the stern to the bow.

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Sounds amazing, I've never tried the saily side of boating (although I used to windsurf on the North sea when I was younger & fitter) but from your telling of your adventures I think I'd enjoy it.

looking forward to part two

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Graham and I left Harry aboard and set out with Marv rowing the sailing dinghy to shore"

Marv sounds as if he was great fun but to train him to row a dinghy, wow that's really something special! :naughty:

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11 minutes ago, vanessan said:

Graham and I left Harry aboard and set out with Marv rowing the sailing dinghy to shore"

Marv sounds as if he was great fun but to train him to row a dinghy, wow that's really something special! :naughty:

LOL:facepalm:...but also... :dance

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Sunday 5th July

I woke shortly after dawn.  It sounded like a large flock of geese was having a squabble just beside the boat.  Since I was in the forward cabin, and couldn’t get to the well of the boat without disturbing Graham and Harry, I just settled down to read the log that other hirers had written of their adventures on Wood Violet.  Interesting and amusing reading indeed.  Wrote up an account of our experiences yesterday in the log and then settled down to read a book.

Heard Graham stirring about 7, so went through to put the kettle on, the two-ring gas stove being situated in the well of the boat, at night covered with the awning.  It was a beautiful very warm and still morning, though with some cloud gathering in the West.  We left Harry slumbering whilst we took Marv ashore again (Vanessan might want to note that this time Graham rowed), then we returned to the boat and had instant porridge for breakfast, having a bit of a job (as usual) to wake Harry up shortly after 8.  Awning taken down we waited for a breath of wind, and once we felt it we hoisted sails and set off very slowly across the Broad, the wind freshening slightly by the time we got to Heigham Sound and gently behind us as we turned into Meadow Dyke. Half way down Meadow Dyke it started to rain…very warm, gentle rain though.  Once on Horsey Mere we could feel the wind strengthen, and we had our first taste of the water foaming under Wood Violet's keel.  Wonderful!

Having moored up at the dyke near Horsey Draining Mill we set off through the rain for the Nelson Head pub, splashing our way through very warm puddles.  Although my jacket protected my top-half pretty well, the legs of my shorts were pretty wet by the time we got to the pub.  Fortunately they had a roaring fire which helped us to dry out.  By the time we’d had a good Sunday Roast lunch the rain was a bit lighter, so we didn’t get quite as wet going back to the boat.  Once there we decided to have a nap before making our way back down Meadow Dyke.

Refreshed by our naps we had another sail around the Mere before making for Meadow Dyke to return through.  The westerly wind was now a lot stronger and just too fresh to let us get into the dyke, so we headed back to the staithe for an overnight stay at Horsey.

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The next instalment... 

A slightly frustrating day where the wind conspired against (perhaps partly due to our inexperience as Broad sailors!).

Monday 6th July

Monday morning we had another go at getting through Meadow Dyke.  However, the wind was just as strong as yesterday evening, perhaps stronger and still a westerly.  Even after mud-weighting relatively near the entrance to Meadow Dyke, taking down our sails and quanting toward the dyke we still found that the wind drove us back just as we entered the dyke.  Very frustrating!  I suppose we could have given up and made our way back to Horsey Staithe for another day, but we didn’t want to be beaten!  Graham hopped into the sailing dinghy that we were towing behind Wood Violet, brought it to the bow, tied our painter to the dinghy, and so we got through Meadow Dyke with a combination of the power of Harry’s quanting and Graham’s rowing.  I had it easy on the tiller.

Heading back down the Thurne wasn’t so easy either.  We had to tack past a long line of boats outside a boatyard near Martham, all stern moored and restricting the width of the river considerably – and all with horrible humungous (or so it seemed to us) bowsprits.  Arrgh!  Safely though we managed to get down to Potter H to de-mast by late morning.  Decided to have lunch in Potter H in the Tea Rooms (which looked fairly new?).  Very good it was too.  I had a lovely dressed crab with salad.  Proper freshly made coleslaw and very crisp salad ingredients.  We then returned to the boat to de-mast and get though the bridge at what we though would be slack water…but the tide had other ideas…the water was continuing to flow through the bridge well after what we thought would be high water.  We were almost through, but the tide turned us back, so it was a case of mooring up near the bridge and watching for the tide to turn.  About an hour later we thought we could detect a change and had another try – successfully this time.  Whew!  I suspect the river was particularly low in July’15, as we found the passage through the bridge in July ‘16 much tighter, even at low water.  My recollection is that we had a lot of dry weather immediately before our 2015 holiday.

We then found it wasn’t so easy tacking down past all the bungalows as they and the trees really mess the wind about.  We kept losing forward motion and ended up fending off bungalow key headings and moored boats.  At one stage a lovely lady sitting in her garden gave us a sound bit of advice.  She suggested that one of us stand by the jib (the small sail at the front of the boat) and use it to catch the wind in such a way as to help the bow turn back into the river.  After that we were much better off.  By this time it was getting on, so we bagged the first mooring we got to, which was at the quiet moorings by Repps.  They weren’t so quiet so start with, with lots of traffic going past, but once the sun started to go down things got much better.  We had come pasta for our dinner and turned in after having a walk with the dog.  By the way, it’s quite interesting walking along the footpath behind PH bungalows.  There’s a lovely grassy area behind them (well maintained).  A lot of people take real pride in their bungalows and their gardens. 

 

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Tuesday 7th July

I woke pretty early again, but then we had settled down to bed shortly after sunset, so I didn’t feel short on sleep.  We didn’t hurry away from our comfortable mooring, having a leisurely breakfast and giving Marv a good walk along the grassy area behind the bungalows before setting off.  After yesterday’s rain it looked like being a fresher day weather wise and changeable, with a some really black clouds and very blue sky between, so we decided to take it fairly easy and just sailed down as far as Womack Water, back to Hunter’s Yard.  Thinking that we would just stop there for lunch and then go on somewhere else.

We had a slight hitch when we got to the landing area at the Yard.  I had hopped ashore to moor up and for some reason Harry flung out his arm and knocked his Dad’s glasses into the dyke between the boat and the key heading (the one time in the week when Graham wasn’t wearing the safely-tie thingy on his glasses).  Once we were moored up properly in the dyke we went along to the shed to ask if they had anything that we could use to fish for his glasses.  They produced an ancient looking large rake with a wire mesh triangular guard attached to it.  After a bit of fishing around, which produced copious amounts of mussel shell, Graham scooped up a pair of glasses…unfortunately not his.  We handed these in at the Yard and he tried fishing again a few times.  Then we thought we’d give it a rest, go for lunch, and try again later.

We had lunch at the King’s Arms, friendly service but I thought my burger was a bit dry and overcooked, then got a few supplies from Throwers and the butchers in the hope of a BBQ in the evening and went back to the yard.  Harry took the sailing dinghy out in the afternoon and had a fine time with a fresh wind, whilst I followed along the footpath down Womack Dyke to the Thurne with the dog and took a few photos of Harry sailing.  Graham stayed in the yard to have another go at fishing for his glasses, this time successfully (hurrah!).  A BBQ and hot showers were a lovely end to a relaxing day.  Remarkably, it had stayed dry with the storm clouds fortunately bypassing us.

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What a lovely tale. It reminds me of the trip I made to the southern rivers on Wood Violet back on about 2002. We were the last Hunter boat still out at the end of the season and when we got back half of the boats were already out of the water. Anyone enjoying this tale may also enjoy the tale on my website of a trip in Lullaby, where we attempted to reach the limit of navigation on every river. Either click through the pages or click on the Printer Friendly Version to read as a single page.

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Wow Robin!  What a journey!  Thanks for providing the link.  We take our hats off to you, as we'll never be confident and experienced enough to go down to the southern rivers without an engine. I was amazed how Graham and his assistants from the Yard were able to repair the boat so quickly for you to continue with your journey after your little mishap at St Olaves. The amount of sheer skill within that team is awesome. 

all the best

Helen

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It is an awesom team. Graham and Tom have gone now but Ian carries the flag. Hunters Yard is the most wonderful time warp, but also fully aware of how to promote what they do in the modern age.

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Wednesday 8th July

A fresh wind and changeable conditions again today.  We set off down the Thurne and turned up the Bure, tacking against the wind.  It was our first experience of tacking along a fairly busy stretch of river, and some cruiser helms-people were obviously flummoxed by us, even though we tried to help with hand signals.  The worst bit was lone tree a bend or two from St Benet’s.  It created a wind shadow which completed foxed us for a while.  Each time we approached it we lost the wind completely and couldn’t make way.  In the end we turned a complete circle backwards to get away from it.  The sail up the Bure was accompanied by some very interesting skies, which reminded me of some of the dramatic skies painted by Dutch landscape artists.  Despite some very large black clouds it stayed dry for us fortunately.  We had a good look around St Benet’s before having lunch on board, then sailed on to Ranworth with the weather improving every minute.

At Ranworth we moored up side-on at The Island, stern-on mooring rather defeating us, given the type of boat we were on.  The chap who took the mooring fees seemed okay with it though.  The only snag about The Island (apart from it being an island) was the amount of goose poop.  Leaving Wood Violet at Ranworth Island we rowed across to the dinghy dyke by the staithe and walked up the hill to the Church.  Unfortunately it was closed as some major renovation work was underway, so we went back down the hill and turned into The Maltsters and had a quiet drink there until they started serving food at 6pm.  They offered to take our order shortly before that so that they could start serving promptly.  Graham had steak and kidney suet pudding with mash and veg and gravy and I had the lamb suet-pud.  Harry had breaded seafood & chips.  Well-fed and watered we headed back to the boat. 

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Thursday 9th July

A beautiful morning, promising a hot day.  We had a gentle sail down the Bure from Ranworth, turning just after St Benet’s down Fleet Dyke.  We sailed around the outer South Walsham Broad and then nabbed about the last space on the Fleet Dyke moorings, right at the end nearest the boatyard.  Having read some very good reviews about The Ship Inn at South Walsham we decided to go there for lunch.  It was quite a long walk (for a walk to the pub anyway), which we enjoyed (and the dog certainly did).  The meal at The Ship was the best meal we had all week, the standard of a good restaurant meal rather than a pub.  Harry went for the most expensive thing on the menu (on the understanding that he would pay his own way), which was a rather special surf and turf - fillet steak and half a lobster.  Graham has a huge rack of ribs whilst I had poached fish .  Afterward we had a look around the two churches at South Walsham and then Harry and I had a wander around Fairhaven Gardens with Marvin whilst Graham enjoyed some coffee and cake in their tearooms.  After that we went back to the boat and each took it in turns to take the dinghy out around South Walsham Broad, whilst those not sailing lounged about in the sun, reading and feeding the ducks/geese/swans.  Bliss.  We had a fairly light evening meal, having enjoyed a good lunch.

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Friday 10th July

We knew that we had to be back in Hunter’s Yard this evening, ready to hand the boat back by 9am tomorrow morning.  Not being quite sure of ourselves, we decided to play safe and just make our way back to Ludham, stopping off at Thurne for lunch on the way.  It was a blazing hot day again, so we were lucky to get a table in the shade outside The Lion and we enjoyed our drinks.  The bar-man was friendly and helpful but I can’t say we enjoyed our lunch.  Perhaps their chef had an off-day…even the chips were undercooked.  Not somewhere I would return to.  We arrived back at Hunter’s Yard early afternoon and Harry had another opportunity to sail the dinghy.  I’m not sure whether last Saturday or today was hotter, but there was hardly a cloud in the sky.  A lazy afternoon, with more dinghy sailing for Harry.  I wandered up to Throwers and the butchers to get stuff for our evening BBQ.  We noticed that several other parties arrived back in the Yard that afternoon and evening, packed up and left.  We were making the most of our holiday though, especially since it’s been the only week in the year that we’ve had a break from caring for my elderly Mum who lives with us, so we enjoyed our lazy evening in the quiet of the Yard.

A couple more photos.  there's one of Harry sitting next to the mast on our final sail back down Womack dyke to the Yard, and another taken late afternoon when he was pootling around in the dinghy.  The Yard dyke was pretty full by then as most of the other boats had returned.  Wood Violet is the one flying the Welsh flag.

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Saturday 11th July

Up early today to pack our things and hand the boat back.  We wanted to book for next year, but it was a bit touch and go that we were able to come this year due to my Mum’s health, so decided not to risk it.  Once we get the opportunity though, we’ll be back!  We’ve absolutely fallen in love with the Broads.

Postscript

Having posted this up following our 2016 sail on another Hunter's Yard holiday (also in holiday tales - Hustler and Hustler 3) it has struck me how cautious we were on our first trip in 2015. We had realised after the first couple of days that the wind on the Broads has a tendency to die down the evening, so after the first few days we generally moored up fairly early and didn't sail far.  That's a real contrast with our outing in 2016 where we really made the most of the sailing time. We feel we learned a lot, and will continue to learn more as we experience more sailing on the Broads.  Can't wait!

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What a great write up Helen, it really feels like we are on the trip with you.

The photos are great and really enhance the tale

thanks for taking the time to share it with us

cheers

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