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EastCoastIPA

The Future Above Potter

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I don't often do holiday tales, but having been accused today of ratcheting up pressure on the BA, apparently in a pompous and dogmatic way, that and seeing the water clarification project thread, I thought it was time to turn my hand to a holiday tale, partly by way of an explanation.

Just over two weeks ago I headed to the boat with a friend to spend a week aboard. After spending the first day catching up with a few jobs and spending the first night in the marina we headed out on the Sunday to travel North for the week. Sunday night saw us nestled on The Bridge Inn moorings and a few pints and a very enjoyable meal, whilst we discussed plans for the rest of the week. Now normally at this stage we would discuss a route that involved a trundle up to Potter to check the bridge height in the hope that we might get through and plans for when we didn't. My boat is an ex hire boat, and was built to pass that bridge on occasion. Since it has been in my ownership it has passed that bridge about five times, but not for about four years now. Anyway for some reason we made our plans and never even considered Potter bridge and beyond. The plan was for Coltishall on Monday evening and to try out The Rising Sun which is now in the hands of Colchester Inns. For those that don't know, the same group that run The Recruiting Sargant and The Ship South Walsham.

Monday morning see us up early as we knew the noise from the road bridge would mean little chance of a lie in. Coffee machine on and cast off and head towards South Walsham to drop the mud weight and enjoy breakfast. A thoroughly enjoyable breakfast done and it was time to cast off and continue our journey. The empty moorings outside The Ferry and it being lunchtime meant it was rude not to stop and part with some cash. Ever mindful of our final destination we didn't spend too long there and cast off to continue our journey. A very pleasant cruise towards Wroxham and as we headed into Wroxham, we were absolutely gob smacked and couldn't believe what we saw. 7ft7in clearance under Wroxham bridge! Yes that's right 7ft 7ins! We both looked at each other and at the same time said, "we never even consider Potter bridge this trip, what clearance is there under Potter?" My boat only needs 6ft6in under Wroxham, slightly less if I'm feeling really brave. My record so far is 6ft 4.5ins and never again at that.

Any way we continued to Coltishall and enjoyed a thoroughly good meal in The Rising Sun. Perhaps not quite the standard of their other pubs, but given it's mass market location, still very good. A definite improvement and we shall be going back. The next morning dawned and so did a phone call to the pilot. Low water is still a few hours away and we have 6ft9in clearance. Give the pilot the name of my boat when it was in hire and he confirmed we need 6ft 9in. Wahay! I know that Pat took it under at less than that, but I'm happy when there're happy. Weather is looking fine for the next couple of days and we deliberate on whether to alter our plan which was for Tuesday night in Wroxham and give Liberty a chance in it's new disguise, or head straight to Potter. Wednesday had been planned for going up the Ant, but that would definitely be Potter if we didn't go Tuesday.

Tuesday morning dawned nice and sunny and we had remembered the EA gauge at Repps and clearance was still holding good and potentially improving slightly so we opted for Wroxham Tuesday night. A very good meal was had in Liberty and I can only say that it really doesn't compare to last year's meal. Not sure if it is still the same owners as rumoured, but they have done more than just try to bury the bad reputation. The food and service is chalk and cheese. Sitting at the table just finishing dinner and talk turns to heading to Potter the next day for that bridge! We are moored at the Viaduct moorings and we could stay there, or perhaps take a night cruise to a more peaceful mooring! The trains do rumble through quite early. It's dark outside but little alcohol has been consumed, the bridge clearance is still really good at Wroxham and the thought of passing the bridge whilst it's quiet and without the day boats etc, buzzing around is just too appealing.

TBC

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Long live pomposity and dogma!!

 

Good tale though.

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With the meal paid for we set off back towards the boat, stopping on route to check the most accurate height gauge in Wroxham. For those that don't know, if you head towards the Faircraft Loynes day boat hut next to the bridge and walk down the pier towards the bridge, they have a height gauge mounted on the reverse of the where the BA height gauge is. That is the one that the FL pilots will work from and has the true height. 7ft6ins and we are well and truly good to go. We head back to the viaduct moorings and drop the sliding roof and fold the windscreen forward.

My friend unties us and with nav lights on we slip our mooring and head under the railway bridge. At barely a little over tick over I head towards the bridge. My friend at this point steps away from the cockpit area and stays still, so as not to unsettle the boat at any point, and to allow me to concentrate and line us up for the bridge. It's a well rehearsed procedure that neither of us even thinks twice about anymore. Not for the first time in the dark I head downstream towards the bridge and with masses of clearance we glide under and past the Hotel Wroxham and the staff clearing up from the evening's trade. My friend reappears and asks if I want a glass of Red and then goes to select a bottle for a celebratory drink.

We continue our journey slowly downstream and the first part is very easy gliding past the old Moore's site and Barnes until the harder part arrives. No not the tree lined banks, the endless floodlight after floodlight that are either left permanently on or flash on as you trip the infra red's. These people have obviously never navigated a boat after dark, and certainly not through Wroxham / Hoveton. To be fair, it is marginally better than normal because it is the closed fishing season. No anglers with 100W LED head lamps that look up from the water and directly in your direction and blind you. Eventually we reach the easy part, the darkness of the tree lined banks where once my night vision returns I am able to see clearly the twists and turns of the river.

The entrance to Wroxham Broad approaches, as does a rather nice glass of Malbec and we turn into Wroxham Broad and cruise along the inside towards the other exit. Keeping a close eye out for buoys and the odd surprised swan we continue on our way until back out on the River Bure.

The dampness is coming down and it's feeling colder, but still very pleasant cruising. As ever with night cruising we leave the windscreen and the roof down to gain the best possible night vision and continue on our way down the Bure. The Red is starting to cool a little too much in the damp air, but before too long we are at Salhouse, our destination for the night. We turn right into Salhouse and then right again to a nice empty spot and my friend dons his life jacket and goes to drop the mud weight. I set about putting the windscreen and roof up and before too long we are settled in the saloon chatting over a night cap of a small glass of port and discussing our chances of getting through that bridge!

TBC

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8 hours ago, EastCoastIPA said:

a night cap of a small glass of port

Good tale thank you. Only one thing wrong with it which for your convenience I have highlighted.  :-) 

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A second small glass of port was poured :409_wine_glass::default_rofl:and it wasn't long before we could hear our beds calling. A very peaceful nights sleep ensued and a bit of a lazy start the next morning during which a full English brekky was called for. We had stocked the fridge with lots of tasty treats from Roy's the day before whilst in Wroxham. My friend started the cooking whilst I had a bit of a tidy up and setup the table ready for breakfast. Cook informed me that the plates would be hot, so I placed two place mats, (otherwise known as The Broadcaster) on the table at the ready.

Over breakfast we discussed whether to call the pilot again to check the clearance or just head to Potter anyway. It was decided that plan A was head to Potter and hopefully through that bridge, with plan B being either The Lion at Thurne, or Womack if not. It was decided that we should fill with fresh water in case we do get through the bridge, not being sure how many water points there were above the bridge and also to help balance the boat in readiness for the bridge.

Breakfast polished off and the roof is put down and we head over to the water point at Salhouse to fill up. The sky is looking grey and overcast, but no sign of rain. With a full water tank we start our gentle cruise down the Bure. We had been told on Monday that we should be at the bridge about 2 hours before low water which today was around 5pm, so a 3pm arrival would be ideal.

Horning approached and discussions turned to whether we should stop for a pint, or carry on. In the end we decided to carry on as if we were earlier at Potter we might get through earlier and if there was no chance we had more time to implement plan B.

After an uneventful slow cruise we arrived in Potter and got a mooring close to the pilot office, arriving just after 1pm. I go off to have a chat with the guys in the office and to find out what our chances are. The guys are having lunch and we chat about the possibility of going through the bridge. The gauge is showing 6ft10in and I'm told we will clear the bridge now, but the only concern might be coming back. I enquire whether we might be able to stay for one or two nights and am told that one night should be fine, but we need to keep a close eye on the weather and pressure. They say it is very unusually good clearance for this time of year and we need to watch out for the wind swinging back anywhere North of North East. I'm then asked if we want to go through now, or a little later, to which I jump at the chance of going now. "ok no problem, he'll be over in a little while" pointing to a pilot I'd never seen before.

I return to the boat and inform my friend we are going through the bridge and proceed to ensure the roof is as far back as it can go, and that everything is clear for our passage. A little while later the pilot joins us on board and we slip our mooring. A brief chat with the pilot during which time he tells me how these are not his favourite boat to take through the bridge, as when you stand in the centre of the boat to line yourself up with the centre of the bridge the wheel is too far over to one side and you cannot reach it, without having to keep moving back and forth.

This immediately reminded me of a night some years back when myself and another friend got  chatting to the sadly departed Graham RIP at the bar of the Broadshaven. Keen to improve my technique for Wroxham bridge, I had already decided it would always be the pilot for Potter bridge, I asked Graham what the secret was for taking a boat through a bridge like Potter or Wroxham. No secret was the reply, you just need to know that it will fit, and then aim straight for the centre of the bridge. He told me that once a boat had been measured the first time they kept records of what height was needed and as long as you knew you had the clearance it should go. He told me to ensure you stand in the centre of the boat and ideally find something on the centre of the bow you can line you with the centre keystone of the bridge, even if this meant keeping the wheel at arms length. I asked him about the speed they go through at, did that help with lowering the boat in the water and he said it did a little, but it also helped to maintain a true course and offset any gusts of wind etc. This did however sound a bit like make or break very severely, and I've always adopted a cautious speed at Wroxham bridge. If I misjudge it, I want to hit the bridge as lightly as possible. 

We are now on the approach to the bridge and I give the pilot the same courtesy my friend offers me at Wroxham bridge and I step down out of the cockpit and stand still in the galley to allow the pilot to concentrate. This means that I have no view of where we are going, all I can see ahead is the closed cabin door and the bulkhead that makes up the front cabin. The Nanni beside me starts to scream like a banshee as the engine and transmission get their pilots stress tests. :default_icon_eek: We are picking up speed and it is actually quite unnerving to not be able to see what we are heading for. Suddenly it all goes dark, then it goes light and we are through that bridge.

The date is the 1st May 2019 and we are now North of Potter bridge for the first time in about four years. The boat has passed it's pilot stress test MOT and we are heading towards the green outside Norada,

TBC      

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Keen not to waste any time in Potter now we are North of the bridge we drop the pilot off and continue on our way. Discussion now turns to where that might be. My friend is keen to head to Catfield staithe and The Crown Inn for the evening until I remind him that the last time we were up there in a hired day boat, two years ago, we both remarked how overgrown with reeds it had become, and that it was unlikely we would get my boat down there and the risk of getting stuck was too great. I should point out that I do have pictures of my boat moored at Catfield staithe about 12 years ago, but the dyke was a lot more navigable then.

Three times in the last few years myself and a small group of friends have hired one, sometimes two of the National Trust Barns at Horsey, next door to The Nelsons Head, for a week over the New Year period. During these holidays the Nelsons Head has become our second home, so whilst we are keen to visit again, we know there are other opportunities for visiting this pub. During those holidays we have also travelled to The Lion at Somerton, and whilst it's good to see the pub open and busy, it has always seemed very slightly uninspiring compared to the other pubs North of the bridge. Based on all the above we decide the two choices are Hickling and Horsey, with Hickling being the first night just in case we don't get a second night North of the bridge.

We cruise at tick over past all the bungalows and eventually turn into Candle Dyke and are heading towards Hickling. In the distance we can see a ranger heading our way, the first one we have seen so far this week. As we get closer the side window slides open and a head I don't recognise pops out and says "The water levels must be low if you're up here!. You did well getting that through the bridge". "Not me" I replied, "the pilot got us through, but he reckons we should be good for a day, maybe two" A cheery wave and we are both on our way. A brief stop at Deep Go Dyke moorings for a bite to eat and then we cast of again and continue our journey to Hickling.

The sun is now starting to break through and all is good with the world. Hickling comes into view and we cruise across it with one other sail boat for company. As we approach The Pleasure Boat we decide to take the end of the dyke closest to the broad and moor up using the very last posts at that end. It's now mid afternoon and the beer garden of the pub is just looking too inviting. So roof and windscreen up and we depart the boat for the pub.

In case a certain forum member reads this part, I must state that the next part of this tale is as it happened and no offence is meant and hopefully none is taken. We start to head done the path to the pub when my friend suddenly stops and says "that's a strange name for a boat" "Which one?" I replied. To which he replied, "look that one over there" pointing to a boat in the other dyke. "The one with the names LOOS" At which point I have to stop and look at my friend because I'm unsure whether he is being serious, or pulling my leg. I decide in disbelief that it is the former and cannot help but reply with, "you idiot, that's the boat registration number, not the name. The name is there on the side look" At which point we both burst out laughing and continue to the pub whilst I explain who's boat it is, and how we have met the owner several times at previous NBF forum meets.

The rest of the afternoon passed quickly aided by the cider and real ale selection from The Pleasure Boat Inn and just a little ribbing from me about the boat name mix up. Before long it was time for showers and a freshen up before a stroll into Hickling and a visit to The Greyhound. Again a good selection of beers and the food being served was proving too tempting, especially the specials, so we opted to eat there. A gentle stroll back towards the boat and it is time for a night cap or three at The Pleasure Boat. We did enquire after said forum member and was told that he was possibly due up the following weekend, so if anything was mentioned to by the landlord, you'll now know who it was asking.

Maybe it was the beer or the sun, but I could have sworn that time seemed to be going backwards and remarked as such to the landlord. As it turns out it is a bit of a standing joke because John who runs The sister pub The Nelsons Head has a real problem with the backwards clock at the Pleasure Boat Inn.

Before too long it was decided that it was time to head back to the boat and a small glass of port before heading off to our beds. I'm not sure which awoke me the first, the need to go to the toilet, or the sound of the rain drumming on the cabin roof. Whichever I went to the toilet and as it was still dark headed back to bed, but not before checking the weather. The wind was now blowing a North Easterly and predicted for Northerly later in the day. Oh well nothing can be done about it now so sleep called again, 

TBC

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The next day dawned dull and overcast but at least the rain had stopped. I checked the EA gauge at Repps and the water level had risen a little and the pressure has continued to drop, so a quick call to the pilot was in order. I'm not sure answered the phone, but it wasn't one of the pilots, however he did confirm that current clearance under the bridge was 6ft7in. Low water wasn't until around 6pm so it was potentially going to rise a little further before hopefully dropping enough to let us back under. One thing was for certain, we were not getting a second night North of the bridge. Nothing to do but make the most of the day above the bridge since we didn't yet have clearance at the bridge and there was no point just hanging around in Potter.

Breakfast was cooked and very quickly eaten and by this stage the clouds were clearing and the sun is coming out, although the wind is getting stronger and very cold. It's now a full on Northerly, oh wait, what did the pilot say about beware of anything North of North East! We decided to have a nose up at Catfield staithe since we had plenty of time to get to Potter. We cast off and reversed away from the mooring being sure not to stray to close to the shallow water markers, although we still stirred the bottom quite well.

We are now heading along the channel away from The Pleasure Boat and then turn right and into the channel to Catfield staithe. We got as far as the entrance to the dyke and decided it looked about as passable as when we last did it in the day boat two years ago. Keen not to get stuck we turned around and aborted our mission to get to Catfield staithe. Shame because it is a lovely spot and my boat has been there before.

We continue to retrace out steps and before long Hickling is behind us and we are heading up Meadow Dyke and on towards Horsey Mere. In the distance I can see another hire boat coming towards us which is probably one of the ones that had been at the Pleasure Boat over night. Soon we are approaching a left hand bend and the hire boat, an RC45 comes around the bend towards us and then it does something I wasn't expecting! Instead of turning and keeping on its own side it strays on to our side and is heading straight for us. I knock it in to neutral and wonder when he is going to get back on his own side and then I hear the bow thruster go and eventually he is heading back over his side of the river and we engage drive again and glide past them with each of us giving a cheery wave and a greeting.

Slowly we make our way along Meadow Dyke admiring the marsh harriers and taking in all the scenery and before long we are on the Mere. We slowly cruise across the mere and head towards the staithe. As we approach the staithe the wind is getting stronger and we can see Ross's tour boat either loading or unloading with passengers and also a sail boat on the move in the dyke. We know from previous experience that the dyke is too narrow to turn a 35ft boat and with the strong wind I'm not keen on going to far into the dyke and having to reverse out a long way, so another mission aborted and we decide to cruise towards Somerton. Although the wind is very annoying, the clouds have all but gone and it's still very enjoyable to be afloat.

We cruise slowly back across the Mere and back into Meadow Dyke and retrace out steps when something rather strange happens. Just as I'm approaching a right hand bend the engine note changes slightly, similar to when we put the coffee machine on and load up the alternator. The boat also appears to be slowing slightly. I increase the revs slightly and steer to starboard to go around the bend and we continue going straight towards the port bank. That's strange I steer a little more to starboard and increase the revs slightly more and I'm just thinking we might need a burst of reverse before we make contact with the port bank, when suddenly the boat starts steering again and we are heading back towards the starboard side of the river.

All very strange and then we remember that this is where we passed the RC45, maybe he had the same issue that we have just had. At this point my friend points behind us and says "look how much we have stirred up the water" There is clouds and clouds of silt in the wash behind us and then suddenly the engine note changes again and we are gaining speed once more. Meadow Dyke is now so silted up it is barely passable for a boat that is designed to go under that bridge. We both comment once more about how murky the waters are up here compared to previous visits.

We continue on our way and before long exit Meadow Dyke and turn left and on towards Somerton. Passing no other boats we retrace our steps towards Martham and then turn left up towards Somerton. Now here at least the water has always been clear, but not today. There is a fair amount of weed growth around the edges and we cruise slowly onwards keeping to the centre where possible. Before long we are approaching Somerton staithe and decide to moor up for a bite to eat. There is a fair amount of weed here so we decide to moor and turn the boat on the ropes. Boat turned and we settle down for something to eat.

It is now 2pm and we decide it is time to head back to Potter and hopefully a return passage back under that bridge. We cast off and again at barely tick over we retrace our steps once more. Passing Martham Broad and once more the engine seems to load up quite a bit and we appear to be slowing again. My friend checks out the back and we don't appear to be stirring up the mud this time, so I increase the revs a little and we continue on. Then I notice the engine temperature seems to be climbing a little more than I would expect given our speed. We still don't appear to be moving as freely as we should and I have also become aware of a strange response from the steering. Normally the steering moves freely from port to starboard and doesn't require too much effort. Now however when you move the wheel back and forth it goes from more effort to less and feels almost notchy as it travels from one way to the other. The engine temp is still warmer than normal and we are doing 2.8mph for 1200 revs, which would normally be about 4mph at least. All very strange!

TBC  

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Currently reading this moored up at deep go dyke, got the kettle on for coffee.

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Awful, nothing up there worth bothering with, best not to bother !

That bridge is doing all those boats that can't get under a huge favour, just old crappy wooden things up there generally, crappy pubs, run down moorings and very built up, makes Yarmouth look scenic.

What you doing on one of those wooden things Peter, you could be on a nice blingy thing for that money.

 

 

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What you doing on one of those wooden things Peter, you could be on a nice blingy thing for that money.

Slowly biodegrading

Brilliant response - Well done

Griff

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Garfield dyke, well today I took Judith 5 up to catfield staithe, it's a bit of a tight turn at the top, I also managed (just) to turn a 32 foot boat at horsey mill.

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22 minutes ago, grendel said:

Garfield dyke, well today I took Judith 5 up to catfield staithe, it's a bit of a tight turn at the top, I also managed (just) to turn a 32 foot boat at horsey mill.

Does that mean that after your turn the 34ft Judith had become a 32ft Judith? Impressive!

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4 minutes ago, BroadAmbition said:

‘Garfield’ Dyke? 

New one on me!

Griff

Auto correct from Catfield Dyke maybe?

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1 hour ago, Spider said:

Does that mean that after your turn the 34ft Judith had become a 32ft Judith? Impressive!

Ah ok me getting muddled , yes 34 foot, I was thinking 2 foot longer than Janet. There was about 6" to spare, stick the nose into the corner and kick the stern round.

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45 minutes ago, grendel said:

Ah ok me getting muddled , yes 34 foot, I was thinking 2 foot longer than Janet. There was about 6" to spare, stick the nose into the corner and kick the stern round.

Only a gentle ribbing intended. Martham quote Janet at 32'6". I own a Janet and she's registered at less than 31'. The Janets and Judiths shown on Craig's database show a lot of variation in length. One of these days I'll measure ours properly!

Impressed nevertheless. I've tried and failed to turn a Judith in Horsey Dyke - no clear water at the bend and we tried higher up with notable lack of success.

The Martham boats do reverse out very handily, though.

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I managed to reverse a Juliette the full length of Horsey Dyke, no problem at all. Boat was solid as a rock to steer in any direction and the wash was impressively minimal.

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Even the chap who takes the mooring fees was dubious, but get the nose into the v at the corner, and there is about 6" clear at the stern, someone holding the bow rope is handy.

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Final Part:

We come to the conclusion that we have possibly got something wrapped around the prop which would explain the drop in speed and rise in temp. We carried on slightly further until the river widened slightly and then I went from drive into neutral and then into reverse and a sharp blast of reverse throttle and back into neutral followed by drive. We completed this a couple of times and my friend who was standing out the back confirmed that a whole load of weed and vegetation appeared in our wash. We continued on our way and the speed pick up was back to normal and the steering was 90% back to how it used to be. The engine temp was also slowly returning to what we would expect for just being on tick over. A little way further and again the speed started to decrease slightly and the steering felt more vague again. We continued onto to where the Thurne meets Candle Dyke and the river is wider again and repeated the earlier exercise and again we shed loads of weed and vegetation off the prop and things returned to normal with the steering completely smooth and responsive again.

We then continued our cruise uneventfully back into Potter. We arrive back in Potter at 3pm and on approach to the green outside Norada we can see an RC45 and two other hire boats moored up waiting to go through that bridge. I thought the other two hire boats were gems, but now I think one of them might have been something like Clear Horizon. Anyway we are slightly nervous to see so many boats waiting and that only increases when we can see the bridge height gauge fluctuating at something just over 6ft 6in, possibly 6ft 7in! We moor up and I wander back to the boat behind to try and ascertain what clearance they were told they would need by the pilot.

Pleasantries exchanged and they tell me they are waiting for clearance for the bridge. They have already spoken to the pilot who said they needed 6ft10in and there was no chance till at least 4pm. The pilot had said he would be over then to talk to them and hopefully there would be enough clearance by then. They are quite worried at the prospect of having to spend the rest of their holiday above the bridge. I'm slightly reassured that we need a little less and therefore if the pilot thinks it might go sometime after 4pm, then we have a good chance as well.

No point in going over to the pilots office as we already know he is planning on coming over in an hours time and we are all in the same boat, excuse the pun! So we decide on some routine maintenance and check both the reed filters. The primary had a few strands on weed in it and the secondary filter had quite a few seeds and finer bits that had made it past the first filter. All cleaned and reassembled we start the engine and check we have good water flow and everything is fine and now all we can do is settle down to wait for the pilot.

4pm approaches and we see the pilot coming over the bridge. He walks past the RC45 and then stops to talk to us. He says he is going to take the lower blue one through pointing to the gem behind the one behind us and then the RC45 in front and says that he will try us nearer to 5pm and the one behind us. This is why I now think the boat behind wasn't another gem, but perhaps a Horizoncraft. I think the front where the sliding roof meets is slightly higher than the gems?

We watch as he first takes the Blue gem through and then comes back and takes the RC45 through. I know that the RC45 was designed to have a chance of getting through the bridge, but am suitably impressed that it needs slightly less clearance than my 1992 Alpha. Excitement over for a little while we raid the fridge for a cold one and settle back to wait till 5pm. Apart from a couple of peacocks appearing on the fence from behind Norada all is quiet.

Just before 5pm the pilot appears and asks if we would join him on the boat behind to provide some extra ballast for the bridge. So much to the surprise of the people behind we head to their boat with the pilot and jump on board, much to the excitement of the two dogs on board as well. Introductions quickly made and we are departing the mooring and heading across the river to the boat yard to pick up three boat yard workers. Now with eight of us and two dogs on board we are heading at speed for the bridge. This is the first time I've been under this bridge on something I didn't own, or hire. We pass without incident and the pilot heads over to the quayside where we all depart. The couple on the hire boat ask if they are needed to help bring my boat through and the pilot informs them that we should be ok as we need slightly less clearance than they did. Phew! looks like we will be getting the right side of that bridge fairly soon. The six of us head back towards my boat and a take a glance at the gauge in the pilots office, 6ft9in an inch less than when we came through the day before. The bridge gauge near the green at Norada is showing somewhere around 6ft 7in maybe 8in.

Back on board my boat and with three people sat on the front and the rest of us inside the boat's engine and transmission again get a good workout from the pilot and we are heading towards that bridge. This time I am watching from the back and it does look incredibly tight, but we are suddenly through without exchanging any fibre glass with the bridge. The pilot drops us of and we continue down the river with another celebratory drink and on to our destination for the night which is The Lion at Thurne.

The next few days pass without too much incident, apart from someone removing one of my fenders complete with fender eye and screws, but at least they, or someone else had the decency to leave it on the gas locker for me! One more job to add to the list of never ending jobs to complete.

The main reason for telling this tale was that my boat is designed to go under that bridge and whilst it is getting rarer to find the clearance to pass under, it still does from time to time. I believe last year was a bit of a bumper year compared to the last few for boats getting under the bridge, however personal timing meant I wasn't around for the September period when I think it might have gone under pretty much any day. However whilst the window of opportunity appears to be shrinking from one side, getting the clearance under the bridge, it is also shrinking once under the bridge. With barely enough clearance to get under we struggled with getting up Catfield Dyke due to the growth. Going down Meadow Dyke due to the lack of dredging, and going to Somerton due to the lack of weed cutting. Much more clearance under the bridge and we probably may not have made it to Horsey. OK the BA cannot control the water level under the bridge (putting to one side the fact that I am not the only one who thinks that a sustained program of dredging on the Lower Bure may help that one) but they can control the maintenance or lack of, above the bridge.

Maybe the above will provide some sort of an answer as to why I am particularly peeved, (I really would like to use stronger words there, please feel free to insert your own) that the BA seem to have better things to do, like go around and hassle people who have paid their toll, but haven't thought to comply with their latest "guidance" on registration number placement. Here's the deal BA, do some proper maintenance above that bridge and I'll stick an extra number on the boat to comply with your guidance.

It's not like I'm asking for something that I wasn't able to do before. I have pictures of my boat at Catfield staithe. It has been there several times in my ownership. I have made several visits to Horsey and have a picture of my boat at the staithe taken from the top of Horsey windmill. I have never had any problems with stirring the mud up on the bottom getting to Horsey Mere. It has also been to Somerton many times in the past, again without ever fouling the prop.

I accept that some of what the BA do is good, and generally the front line staff do as good a job as they can, given their management, but I'd like to see less empire building, less talk of Acle Towers and some more maintenance and action. I suspect the usual BA apologists on this forum will accuse me of BA bashing, well to be honest that's your opinion and your welcome to it, but I also have mine.

Thanks for reading.

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Epilogue:

We did check the EA gauge every day after getting back under the bridge and that confirmed that if we hadn't come back when we did, we would have been stuck. In fact the first day since then when there would have been suitable clearance is Monday just gone May 13th in the afternoon. Again all this week the levels have remained low with what looks like fairly good clearance. Shame I'm not on the boat.

A forum member once did a formula that correlated the EA water height gauge at Repps to clearance under Potter bridge. The figure that sticks in my mind is 0.27 metres because that equates to 6ft 9in clearance under the bridge, or hopefully so anyway. Each low since Monday has seen lower levels than 0.27 metres, with this mornings low being 0.25 metres and the lowest this week being 0.23 metres. Timing is everything but we could have had quite a few days North of the bridge this week.

For reference the EA gauge is only updated once a day at 5:30 in the morning, unless there is danger of flooding then the frequency increases. The gauge can be found here,

https://flood-warning-information.service.gov.uk/station/6217?direction=u

 

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Meanwhile the water level on Barton Broad this week is lower than I have ever seen it over the last twenty years !

Now why would the level at Potter be so high? Couldn't be the  silting in the Lower Bure , could it ?   Perhaps there's another reason. That bridge certainly hasn't got lower.

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Grendel just reported lots of room under Potter bridge..

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