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Maiden Voyage On Moonlight Shadow


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I'm not very good at writing such things so I don't know how this will turn out, however we enjoyed our first trip on our new syndicate boat, so thought i would share the tale. I hope it comes across as interesting as the journey itself.

By the way I am typing this on my phone so please excuse any auto correct issues

Day 1 - The Nervous One

Setting off from North Derbyshire at 6 a.m on a beautiful May morning we had a leisurely drive towards Horning in order to call into The New Inn for some breakfast whilst watching the river awaiting our initial showround and familiarisation of the boat. We were all buzzing with excitement, nervous excitement for myself imagining every quayside, boat, bridge, swan or even low flying aircraft I could crash our new boat into, all this despite never having done any damage to any boat or property on any of my previous exploits.

Arriving at The New Inn just after 9 everyone ordered their breakfast, I settled for just a coffee as I couldn't handle anything to each at the time. The breakfast sandwiches were, I was told, ok but the bread was quite dry.

I received a call half way through breakfast to say if we were available we could meet at the boat earlier than planned. Fantastic news so off we set for a drive to Brundall and meet at Brooms boatyard.

The usual look around the boat and familiarisation of the electrical system, steering controls, engine checks etc done we were left alone to unload the car and get ourselves settled in. Now normally I leave the unloading to the other half whilst I set off, but as it turned out I was making as many excuses to delay setting off, never have I been so nervous about moving a boat in my life.

I believe the only explanation is knowing you are not only moving your own boat around but numerous other people's pride and joy too. We have never previously been the sort of hirers who go recklessly thrashing and bouncing the hire boats around but this was something else.

Anyway eventually I had run out of excuses and disconnected the electric and lines and away we went. It seemed sensible to just have a cruise around and get used to how the boat handled, whilst simultaneously calming my wrecked nerves. We headed up the Yare towards Norwich.

With it being a bank holiday weekend there was a distinct lack of mooring spaces for me to perform a couple of 'test moorings' in which I was comfortable with. Now when i say comfortable i mean i was wanting the whole length of Brammerton Common to myself and still then it was going to be a bit nervy to fit in.

On reaching Commissioners Cut I needed to stop so as to let the dog out, there were 3 private boats moored up in there (bloody hell) but a spot left right on the end. Im not sure what the owners of the boats thought as i came in but thankfully I was able to drive straight into the cut, leaving going astern till we came out.

Dog sorted we set off straight away, heading back down the Yare back in the direction of Brundall. Finally calming down a bit we had a slight detour through Bargate before deciding to allow myself to sort my head out over a beer or 2 in the Reedcutter at Cantley. 

Performing a 180 degree turn in order to come in to moor against the current it seemed to be the slowest longest side on mooring in history although I'm sure it all went ok. The other half was helped out by a gentleman who i believe had come off of Ranworth Breeze, i don't believe it was Alan but if it was, i do apologise for not coming and saying hi but he was sat having a drink with (I assume) his wife so didn't want to intrude.

A few (many) beers brought an end to our first day.

Day 2 - The Eventful One

I awoke around5 a.m. on Sunday, showered (I prefer cool showers) and took out the dogs before anyone else arose. Setting off with a coffee in hand my excessive nerves had gone and I could finally start to enjoy my cruising heading back up the Yare to Rockland. We arrived at Rockland Staithe to find it full, not exactly unexpected at this time of day, so turned around and headed back to Brooms whilst we were nearby In order to top up with water.

Topped up we once again retraced out steps back down the Yare towards Reedham. By the time we had slowly meandered down past Cantley it was getting towards dinner time so we stopped off at Hardley Cross for a sarnie and a walk for the dogs.

Having not long finished we noticed a large boat measuring up whether he could fit into the remaining available mooring so once again we set off in order to allow him our spot.

Travelling past the Reedham Ferry, Chain Ferry and Reedham itself we headed up towards the Berney Arms. Now we know that someone had taken over trying to run the cafe and make a bit of a go of it. We had heard mixed views but i wanted to call in and do my bit to try and help them out.

Now upon reaching the moorings (the free moorings were available but seeing as we were calling into the cafe anyway we used the ones now marked up for cafe users only) we moored up alongside the quay heading and switched on the bow thrusters just to swing the bow back in a touch to tie off. The motor whirred (excuse my technical descriptions) but there was no thrust. 

A bit confused we tied up anyway and then tried it again. The same noise but no thrust. Knowing it couldn't have overheated as it hadn't been used I thought I'd give it 5 minutes whilst we went and had a brew.

I'm not sure if anyone has been into the Barney Arms cafe recently but when we went in and asked for a couple of diet Cokes we were told they didn't have anything other than orange juice and blackcurrant squash and had no ice creams.

Now I'm no businessman, but particularly on a bank holiday weekend that had been forecast to be beautiful and hot i would have thought getting a good stock of cold drinks and ice creams in would have been a wise decision, regardless we had a blackcurrant and returned to the boat.

Incidentally on our way out we passed a couple and I realised after it was Geoffrey(?) from the Corsican so belated hellos.

Returning to Moonlight Shadow I had a final test of the thrusters, nothing had changed. Never the less we didn't need it so headed to the junction with the waveney and headed down towards Somerleyton planning on stopping for the night wherever we passed with a mooring free.

Having passed everywhere and reached Somerleyton to do d there was no room for us there either I was preparing myself for an all night cruise. Fortunately we found the very last spot at the Dutch tea gardens and instead of risking losing it by having a look in at the broad we stopped there.

Now when i say we stopped there, what I mean is, everything but the engine stopped there. It just wouldn't switch off. You could feel all the meerkats surfacing to see who the inconsiderate ones were who were disturbing there beautiful quiet evening.

We had about 10 minutes of looking round whittling about how we were going to shut it off. Im not a particularly mechanically inclined person but was pretty sure if I had turned off the fuel supply a diesel system needs to be reprimed/pressurised so I wanted to avoid that if possible.

Now I could insert here many things which happened that got us angry. Systems supposedly in place for emergencies/breakdowns etc regardless of it not being between 9-4 or it being a bank holiday weekend  but feel it best to hold my tongue.

A broads ranger was passing by on a boat and was waved over by one of the private boats, he also did his best to help out but didn't know what we could do. We were getting more and more anxious about what to do. Fortunately the ever helpful Trevor our area manager came to our rescue as he knew someone stopping locally who could stop us the engine if we met him at the wherry hotel on the broad.

We headed down and fortunately took the last stern mooring. Apologising to our neighbours for the noise we anxiously waited for someone to come. Around 15 minutes later he arrived and thankfully not only knocked off the engine attached a cable to the relevant part of the engine so we had a temporary solution to stopping the boat and bypassing the engine stop button system.

As it turned out he was also from Chesterfield so we had a chat before he departed with his wife.

Mentally exhausted we had a drink and went to bed.

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Hello Jayfire,

More than likely it would have been Phil & Caroline on Ranworth Breeze, I am glad they could help.

Your first time on any syndicate boat with you totally in charge is a mixed feeling, you feel great but scared at the same time, back in 2001 on second week after launching Ranworth Breeze I was in charge, although I had been on Narrow boats for over 25 years it was a leaning curve of tides and wind both of which effected the boat.

I hope that you get the buzz out of syndicate ownership that we have done over the last 17 years.



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She certainly is Polly we love her.

Helen we have no regrets at all and would encourage you to do it in the future if you are a regular

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Lovely to start reading your tale. Please do continue to write it. There's something obsessive about the Broads. No matter how many times you are there and how well you think you know it, you will pick up little things from reading about other people's trips ... and whilst wishing you were there you will still be enjoying imagining every moment.

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Day 3

We woke to a beautiful bank holiday morning, once showered the dogs were exercised and water topped up. We enjoyed a leisurely breakfast before departing for the short trip to Beccles yacht station.

Initially around oulton dyke and the waveney centre is was busy and also had the obligatory boat to which the speed limits do not apply. Once passed the waveney the traffic died down however the stretch from the waveney centre to Beccles has always seemed to me to be the autobahn of the broads. Today was no exception as at least 4 boats passed or overtook us going at daft speed. These weren't all idiots messing about on hire boats either.

Part way down we passed our sister boat Evening Shadow (I hasten to add not one of the speeders) and gave a cheerful wave. Passing Evening Shadow became a regular occurrence throughout the week as it happened with weird events happening on Wednesday (more on that later).

As we passed by the numerous small moorings along the lower Waveney we found all the spaces were taken. No problem as we were not planning on stopping there today but i do look forward to staying there later in the year for some quiet evening solitude.

Arriving in Beccles we found the yacht station half full (or empty depending on your outlook) and moored up. Paying the ranger we enquires about the loyalty card schemes availability. For anyone who didn't know Beccles and Oulton yacht stations have a loyalty card which gets stamped each night you stay and when full entitles you to a free nights stay. However (and forgive me if I get some of this wrong) due to the works being undertaken to replace the moorings (which look very good so far) they are not currently able to stamp your card at Beccles as they are under a different authority (I forget which way round but I think either sentinel or the waveney). Once the works are complete and they revert back to the normal authority the harbourmaster informed me they would back date the card if I kept my receipt (as previously stated please forgive me if I got that wrong). I believe Oulton Yacht Station are still able to stamp your card regardless.

Anyway we had decided we was taking an easy day today hence the short cruise and long stay, the other half wanted to do some window shopping so I saw an opportunity to be a gentleman and offer to sit outside The Kings Head pub with a beer or two and keep the dogs with me. I stress this was merely in order to assist the other half in her window shopping and not for any personal enjoyment and relaxation. Honest. :naughty:

As time passed a change of scenery called so me and the pooches had a walk down to the Bear and Bells and sat inside with a beer whilst the barmaid admired the dogs. I don't know what people's opinions are of the Bear and Bells or Beccles in general is but I have to say I like it and always enjoyed my stays there.

Finally finished with shopping we headed back to the boat, allowing the dogs some freedom on the green behind the moorings. Our youngest who enjoys cooking then made us all a delicious sweet and sour chicken with rice and prawn crackers before settling in for the evening with the obligatory beverage.

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10 minutes ago, vanessan said:

I couldn't agree more and I do admire someone who showers their dogs in the morning. :naughty:


13 minutes ago, Hockham Admiral said:

You have a lovely way with words, Jayfire,  and it's a pleasure to read!        :clap   :clap   :clap

Oh thank you very much, I'm glad you are enjoying it

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Day 4

Tuesday morning we had initially planned to head up north but seeing as it was the first day the boatyard was open again after the bank holiday we postponed this until Wednesday, just in case we received a phonecall to return so they could have a look as we had been told someone would get back to us. No-one did.

Regardless we set off and headed back up the Waveney. It really is a beautiful river and for the most part we cruised alone.  We passed the owner who had waved over the broads ranger boat on Sunday and gave a wave whilst they sat drinking their morning brew whilst moored up.

Once again The Waveney Centre was busy and I contemplated dropping in but carried on with Somerleyton my preferred destination for a dinnertime stop. We found the moorings pretty empty and upon close inspection found 51p left on the electric post. With no-one else around I hooked up so the other half could give the boat a tidy round with the good old Dyson whilst I had a clean around outside.

Once sorted we headed out for a walk with the dogs and as you do ended up outside The Dukes Head. I had a beer, the other half opting for a fruit cider. Lovely pub, lovely beer and sat in the sunshine, you can't ask for more. Well apparently you can as the kids wanted dinner. Heading back to Moonlight Shadow we had sandwiches before setting off once again.

Despite being a lovely day we had a strong breeze blowing and it was holding us to the bank which made setting off a little more awkward but no problems especially as whilst the moorings had filled up a little we still had plenty of space.

Turning up the Haddiscoe new cut I settled in for the more mundane span of the broads but it appeared to be fairly busy so broke up the monotony a little.

Passing Reedham we turned down the Chet towards Loddon the wind making the narrow winding parts more awkward especially as a boat seemed to be coming the opposite way on every bend. 

Eventually approaching the end we passed a few available moorings, possibly vacated by the boats we had passed coming down the Chet but found the staithe had plenty of room along with electric points so stern moored in there.

I found after mooring up we were beside a family of pirates. I mean the whole lot dressed up with make up on as pirates. They headed into the village and worrying they may later return to pillage me plunder we locked the boat up tight and headed out to the White Horse in Chedgrave (you may be spotting a recurring theme).

After a couple of drinks the mother in law took the kids and dogs back to the boat via Lims which they said was very nice, leaving me and the other half to visit The Kings Head and The Swan alone. 

We had previously decided to head north in the morning so whilst the other half made conversation my mind was calculating travel distances and tide times (I joke of course) so with an early rise ahead of us we collected our tea from Loddon Pizza and Kebab and went back to the boat.

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Day 5

Heading north today meant a Yarmouth slack passage of around 9:50a.m. so I got up at 6 and whilst the other half took the dogs out I got rid of the rubbish and checked the fluids and filters (I do this every day just neglected to tell you).

After disconnecting the electric and removing our lines we set off as quietly as possible just before 6:45a.m. Passing all the moored boats, most people still asleep but a few were up to witness our grand departure. It was a beautiful meander back up the Chet in silence with the exception of the birds singing and the gentle lapping of the water.

I think it took around an hour up the Chet back to the Yare but I may be wrong. Back on the main river we passed 2 boats by the time we reached the Berney Arms, it was here where once again we passed Evening Shadow, all moored up tight and noone in sight.

Out onto Breydon Water running with the current, a fairly strong wind blowing towards us, whilst rough is a bit strong the crossing did provide some gentle waves to enjoy, and then, and then, a great big sea going boat (getting into the technical terms again) came steaming towards us. Put away the fine China, secure the cupboards shut and fasten your seatbelts ladies and gentlemen we are going in.

It was whilst enjoying the awesome wake of the boat I remembered the mother in law didn't like the open water of Breydon and the bobbing of the boat on the waves but it was far too late to worry about it now. Never mind.

We approached the Yarmouth bridges a little early so whilst we were always going to have plenty of room under the bridges we were fighting the outgoing tide a little heading up towards The Stracey Arms.

Whilst passing Yarmouth Yacht Station we were reminded of why you try not to moor with the current as straight in front of was a hire boat who had got his mooring completely wrong as he flowed horizontal down the river towards us at an alarming pace. The two rangers at the yacht station were frantically running down the quayside in order to try and help the guy out, my thoughts turned to trying to explain to my fellow syndicate owners how exactly we had managed to gain a boat to our bow.

I was forced to go astern a fair way back down the river towards Yarmouth with a pretty full Yacht Station to my starboard all watching on. With more than a little assistance from the Yacht Station rangers and by riding his bow up above the aft well of a moored boat the runaway vessel was brought in to the side. 

Everyone can get it wrong every now and again but we'll done to the rangers whoever they were that day for sorting it out, they gave me an apologetic wave as I continued up the long winding river towards the Stracey Arms.

As the wife wanted to call into the little shop we moored up at the Stracey Arms and whilst they went for a nosey round, I showered up, only to find after they hadn't been in the shop as it was closed until 11:30.

We walked the dogs and awaited the shop opening but by the time it got to 11:50 we had given up and set off again for the short trip up to The Bridge Inn. Unsurprisingly we were unable to get in at there moorings but did manage to get in near Pedro's moorings.

Now here's the thing. As described we passed Evening Shadow moored up with no signs of life at The Berney Arms. With the exception of our short stop at The Stracey Arms we hadn't stopped since and they hadn't passed us whilst we were underway and other than being in the shower I'd been watching the river.

So how the bloody hell had they not only caught us up, they had passed us moored up and once again disappeared to God knows where. Ok ok so they could have somehow managed to make up immense water whilst I showered so I'll let that one go (more on this to come). So moored up near Pedro's we went to The Bridge Inn and enjoyed a pint once again in the gorgeous sunshine.

Fully refreshed we headed back to the boat and had dinner whilst underway. The sun was really hot and I could feel my face and arms burning whilst we enjoyed the River Bure. Navigating around a few sail boats I completely missed the turning for the River Ant in my enjoyment of the scenery. A quite spin round and I corrected my mistake and off we went towards Ludham Bridge.

With plenty of clearance we past under Ludham Bridge and through the moorings and enjoyed the delightful sunny cruise up the Ant.

Now off I go again. When we left Acle the wife told me the Evening Shadow crew were just returning to their boat. We had once again with the exception of the 180 degree turn at the turning for the Ant not stopped and Evening Shadow had not overtaken us, however at How Hill there it was again, moored up and looking settled for the evening. I can't make sense of it.

Spooky boat movements aside we reached Barton Broad and ventured towards Paddys Lane moorings. Half way across I changed my mind and seeing as we needed a few bits headed to Stalham so we could call at the Tescos.

Once moored up in a pretty empty Richardsons I filled with water whilst the wife double checked we were ok to stay overnight. They confirmed we were fine so whilst the youngest got cooking a chicken Rogan Josh under supervision of the wife I went and bought provisions.

After the kids had eaten we headed into Stalham where I had never been. I had always thought it was supposed to be a nice place so when we reached The Grebe I was a little surprised to find a group of people were having an argument outside swearing and shouting about being barred and other things. I ordered drinks and thought the inside looked ok but there was a guy sat putting rock music on the jukebox to sit and sing at the top of his voice and he was absolutely plastered. The barman told me he was sick to death of the choice in music but we went and sat outside to leave him with it.

Unfortunately world war 3 was still happening so we made short work of our drinks and headed over to the much more pleasant Swan Inn where we had another drink before heading back to the boat.

Richardson's boatyard may not be the most scenic of bases but under the evening sunshine we sat enjoying our daughters delicious curry, rice, naan breads, popodoms and mango chutney along with a cold beer.

Heaven on Earth

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1 hour ago, ranworthbreeze said:

I can see the trend, but you missed out a pub in Loddon?



I can't remember the name but is that the one further up from the swan near the bend in the road? We did walk up there but unfortunately it was closed with a big sign that I can't remember if it said reopening soon with new management or after refurbishment.

Or have my beer senses failed me :facepalm:

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Enjoying your holiday tale very much. Intriguing as to the presence of Evening Shadow everywhere you went.

As for the Waveney to Beccles, I really like that stretch and always enjoy the cruise. We moored at North Cove a couple of years ago which is one of the smaller moorings along the way. Delightful and highly recommended if you happen to pass that way again and find a spot free. :)

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