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A week in July

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8th - 18th July 2010 Claire and I went for a proper holiday on the boat (Princess Zena)

We always write up trips for the log book, so I thought I'd share it here (sorry, it's quite lengthy).


Thursday (0.5 miles)

We arrived at the boatshed at 9:00pm after a reasonable run up from Brighton, stopping to deliver some car parts near to Thetford. Bags loaded and we rolled back the roof and set off to Surlingham broad on a warm and humid evening. There were about 5 other boats there, but plenty of suitable spaces. I broke the peace whilst I tried to figure out the new windlass, and then settled for the night.

Friday (30.5 miles)

We left Surlingham early to go back to the boatshed. Claire went to Tesco whilst I started fitting the new alternator. Once I had worked out what other parts I needed, I waited for the Claire to return with the car. I then popped to Wards and Peachments for a length of cable, a V belt and a new water filter and a random length of hose and assorted bits of pipe. By the time I got back, Claire had made all the beds up and got some spare junk off the boat ready to put in the car for the week. I was just completing my work in the engine room and testing things when our guests arrived – perfect timing.

Bags onboard, our guests had been aboard before, so did not need a large safety briefing, so we hooked up the dinghy and set off. We were trying to make the 3:45 tide at Yarmouth, and had plenty of time. The Journey was uneventful as we motored down very gently at 6mph on an outgoing spring tide with all the screens down and the sun scorching (we lost count of the number of sun cream applications that went on. Claire spotted for the marsh harriers, and we spotted for the marsh ducks, marsh geese and marsh herons as normal (in-joke). By 1:30 it was clear that we had a bit of time to spare so we made a stop off at the Berney Arms. It’s a long time since we have even moored here and I don’t think I’ve ever been to the pub for one reason or another. The moorings are quite improved, and we hit the pub for a (very good) pint of Little Sharpie and some meals in baskets. The meals were fine – nothing special, but well priced and fast coming. I loved the décor in the pub and made a mental note that it could be wonderful bolt hole on a cooler darker evening later in the year.

Lunch completed, we re-boarded the boat, re-applied the sun screen and got on our way. Breydon was flat and calm with few boats about, and within a short time we were coming up to the bridge. I directed Matt which line to take around the posts and popped out to lower the mast and retrieve the ensign. Through all the bridges, masts back up - excellent, next stop, South Walsham…

By the time we approached Stokesby, Claire was at the helm. There was a sudden look of slight panic as the engine revs changed and we began to slow down. Suddenly I was placed back in control (funny how that happens) and indeed, there was no drive. I could guess the problem… I took it back into neutral, and popped it then hard forward, and we got some drive back, hmm, maybe it was just a glitch. By now I had sent Matt and Claire onto deck to sort a few ropes in case we could get to land. So I suggested they stand down, just as we were approaching the Ferry House the drive went again though, and unbelievably, there was as space just large enough for us on the upstream end the pub moorings. I pointed it at it as best I could, told the crew there was no time for any more fenders and that there really needed to try and get off if they thought they could as we would soon be more out of control than we were. With a bit of playing I managed to find a small squirt of reverse, and we just contacted the quay heading . Panic over, we took this as an omen and sent Clare into the pub to book a table for dinner! I hopped into the engine room and was not surprised to find the contents of the gearbox was slopping about in the drip tray – this is a strange thing that has happened twice before in the 7 years that we’ve had the boat – and this sort of trip is definitely not an uncommon event for the boat. Mopped up and topped up with fresh, it all works again - On past performance it will now be fine again for another couple of years, but the gearbox rebuild is getting higher and higher up the list. Fortunately where we touched the quay, it had just left a small black mark on the paint, which quickly polished off. All fixed, it’s time for a quick pint in the pub as we do shifts in the shower.

Dinner at the Ferry House was fantastic – we sat outside to catch the last of the evening sun – I had a warm smoked salmon salad which was just perfect for the hot weather – washed down with a couple of bottles of chilled rose before heading back onboard for a coffee and nightcap.

Saturday (34.5 miles)

I woke at about 5:00 and spent the next hour trying to get back to sleep, by 6:00 I gave up and got up and went for a short walk around Stokesby.

By around 8:00 people were getting up, and moving and after some more poking about the village, we cast off and made our way up river. It was at least six months since Claire and I had been north of Yarmouth, and it was nice to see that the reeds and greenery was growing up around Thurne Mouth. We turned left, and took the slow chug up towards Wroxham, stopping in at Malthouse Broad for a light brunch snack. The broad was quite busy, and if anything it was even hotter than yesterday.

Whilst we were there, the water stopped working. A quick look at the pump showed that the drive belt had snapped, and a short hunt around the lockers and a call to dad suggested that we don’t carry a spare, so we improvised a belt out of PVC tape, which surprising worked quite well. On the point of failures, we also noted that the Batteries were pretty much shot, as even when they were supposedly fully charged, the fridge only kept ice in for a few hours.

We decided on a change from the planned length stop on Malthouse and maybe a trip to shore for a trip up the church tower – instead we set off toward Wroxham in the hope that Norfolk Marine would keep spares. As we passed the Ferry, there were lots of boats moored up, but signs saying that they were still closed – in fact, workmen were still laying the patio. We commented that they must be kicking themselves that that patio wasn’t full of paying customers. Sadly, Saturday lunchtime it is impossible to land in Wroxham as we couldn’t get under the bridge. Brinks suggested we could come back later, so we turned round and found some shade on the spit at Salhouse broad where we spent a pleasant few hours in the shade with lunch and an ice cream watching all the happy holidaymakers and day trippers joggling up and down the river in the sunshine.

We decide we had seen enough people come from Wroxham to suggest there could be some space, so we ventured back to Barnes and tied up. Norfolk marine spent some time to decide that they didn’t keep such relics in stock. Fortunately, a friendly engineer from Barnes had a complete 2nd hand pump assembly similar to ours. Ideal, the belt fitted and we returned Eastwards through the early evening river traffic – noting that the Ferry was now full of paying customers!

By now, moorings were getting pretty full up, so we plodded down to South Walsham broad, mud weighted and enjoyed a few drinks and some light dinner onboard sitting up in the open wheelhouse until after dark.

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Great tale Chris, keep it coming. :grin:

Sounds like you are having as much luck with your boat as we are at the moment. :roll: It's amazing though, how you can always seem to improvise to get by. :clap

When we first bought HJII we had the same thing happened with the gearbox, it dumped all the oil, since refilling and clean up 3 years ago it hasn't lost a drip since, very strange. :?


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Interesting that you have had a similar gearbox issue. I just seems strange that a seal or whatever would give up, but then be fine again afterwards.

Sunday (8.5 miles)

We awoke to some wind this morning, and a slightly dragging mudweight. I repositioned the boat and re-set the weight. (Everyone was certainly awake as the old solid mounted ford 4D engine and the anchor chain tend to bring people out of slumber). We went back to dozing for a while before pottering up the dyke. By this time, all the early birds had emptied the moorings, so we tied up and cooked up a breakfast. By now time was getting on, and we had planned to meet my Brother at Sutton for him to collect our guests and return them to their car at Brundall.

The Ant was surprisingly quiet, and we followed another boat under Ludham without anybody coming the other way. Again, today was very hot, and the shade of the trees on the upper part of the Ant was well received. Across Barton, and there was a reasonable breeze, allowing the sailing cruisers and dinghies to make good speed.

Once we arrived at Sutton it was of course lunchtime and the staithe was rammed. We nosed into the boatyard which seemed well and truly closed and were just in time to hide out of the hot sun and watch the Grand Prix. Halfway through this, a space opened up on the green large enough for us – perfect, we undid the ropes and started to move off when a day boat swung into sight and moored in the middle of it and disembarked into the pub – oh well, back to the GP which was getting a bit dull. We were soon given something to amuse us though, as the BA ranger arrived, lashed up alongside the day boat and started making notes.

Just as my brother and his family arrived these boats all left the staithe, so, with our large crew, we made a quick dart back into the space and tied up. Our guests departed and left my sister in law and young nephew behind, so we spent an hour playing under the trees out of the sun.

By the time my brother retuned, we decided it was time for an early dinner for my Nephew, so went to the Sutton Staithe hotel where I can only say we had an average experience which was disappointing given all the positive reviews I've seen. The beer (Adnams I think) was good, but we waited an hour for some slightly soggy fish and chips and very average pub grub. Maybe one for a drink and sit out the front, rather than a proper meal another time.

Back to the boat, we said our goodbyes and hooked ourselves up to some shore power to boost our failing batteries, and installed ourselves for a cosy night with the boat to ourselves.

Monday (10.7 miles)

On Monday, our plan had been to pop round to Stalham for some provisions, but decided that we really should do something about the batteries rather than suffer them all week. We also needed to go back to Brian Wards, as a vital part of the new water filter was missing, and I had temporarily substituted a hair grip and some gaffer tape, but I was unhappy about how long this would last. We therefore decided that we should head back south sooner rather than later – therefore we should at least head back down the Ant today. It was raining outside, so on with the waterproofs and, after a bit of shuffling the boat round to fill with water, we plodded off downriver.

The problem came when we got past How Hill: it was still raining, and I can never really place how far down the river Ludham bridge is. Sadly, this meant we spent about 20 minutes in a heavy downpour with the roof fully down. A bit of a novelty, since we last saw rainfall in Sussex in May I think. At least we had raincoats on and PZ has a proper weatherproof(ish) wheelhouse instead of a saloon midships.

We got the roof up and had a bit of a mop up. We then decided to head for Womack Water, but were so cold and wet when we arrived that we couldn’t be bothered to squeeze into the remaining space, instead we just dropped the mudweight and had showers and lunch.

A while later, we got ourselves together and moved over to the quay. We needed provisions, so donned the waterproofs and went up to the village to recce the shop before a quick drink. This turned into several drinks in the afternoon followed by a random shop for a few basics, then back to the boat for some sleeping.

Tuesday (10.4 miles)

We had a slight change of plan today, and arranged for my brother to collect some batteries and bring them to us in the afternoon. This agreed, we were stuck on the moorings for the morning, so decided to use the time having a bit of a spring clean of the boat and dinghy, and another trip to the shop for the things we had forgotten the previous day. Soon my brother and nephew arrived for a cup of tea and I got one of the batteries swapped (Peachments only had one, as their stock control was a bit out of sync with reality). We said goodbye and we left soon after in the direction of Wroxham.

People were starting to moor up for the evening, so we had a pleasant journey up through Horning, waving at a friendly face from Brundall who were moored at Horning. We pottered into Black Horse Broad and had a drive around, there were only about 5 boats there and we picked a spot in the corner near the sailing club’s pontoon, and anchored up for the night.

I had a quick clean up of the boat, and then we went for a row out across the broad and back. Then followed a nice dinner a pleasant evening on board.

Wednesday (20.5 miles)

We woke up late and made a plan for the day. We decide to have a further little nosey up to Wroxham, has a look around Wroxham Broad at the boats and Solace. We popped into Salhouse for a short motor around and then decided it was time to start moving back towards Yarmouth. We considered rafting up to our friends in Horning who had now moved across to the staithe, but we couldn’t raise anybody onboard, so pottered on by.

The wind had been picking up all week, and today it was quite gusty. We popped into South Walsham and mudweighted for lunch (monitoring how far we were dragging) before popping over to Russell’s for a pump out and 50 litres of fuel. That dealt with, we trundled back up the dyke and right towards Thurne Mouth. We were trying to weigh up what would be the best option, to go through Yarmouth later tonight (9:00) or tomorrow morning early. We opted for the morning and found a mooring at Stokesby which mean t we could try another meal there. Again, it was fantastic – loads of food , all delicious and in pleasant surroundings. We moved on from there after a few pints and had a short walk, before turning in for an early night – commenting on how calm it had got, and how pleasant the trip across Breydon would have been.

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Thursday (22.5 miles)

By 5:30, I decided I may as well get up, the wind had picked up in the night and we had had a very broken sleep despite spring lines in all directions.

I made tea and generally fussed about in order that we could depart at 6:30am – It took two attempts to establish whether the strong ebbing tide was stronger than the wind pinning us onto the bank (turns out it wasn’t) and we set off. We were going quite slowly so as to get to Yarmouth on time, and were soon overtaken by a Broom 30 we had passed at Thurne Mouth.

We made it to Yarmouth just after slack water which was fine, the problem was, we decide that it was too windy once we had passed under the bridges to struggle with the heavy windscreen. Breydon was rough with wind over tide, and even with 20 feet of boat in front of us, we were getting spray coming straight over the cabin roof and hitting us in the face (picture attached before we rounded the corner of Breydon and got the full force of the wind) – which was certainly invigorating in the morning! We made steady progress with the tide, and were soon coming up to Berney Arms. Here I decided enough was enough, and fitted up the wheelhouse sides, screen and roof, and begin cleaning the salt from all the surfaces in the wheelhouse.

By the time I had completed this, we were near Reedham, and decided to make for Langley Dyke for a rest. We arrived to find a mooring behind the Broom 30 that had overtaken us en-route to Yarmouth. It seems they had not had much sleep the night before either. There then proceeded some Breakfast and a large amount of boat cleaning to get the salt removed from everything and then a pleasant afternoon of dozing.

By the evening we decided to go for a walk towards Rockland, and made the mistake of going by road. We got as far as Claxton before turning back and heading down to the Beauchamp Arms. This was a strange experience, very much felt like we were imposing on the landlord and his three friends by asking for a drink, so we didn’t bother asking for any food. We sat outside and drunk our drinks looking out over a silent river with a pretty purple sky.

We then walked back to the boat at quick pace to knock up a curry. Sadly my shoes were not up to this, and I achieved some uncomfortable blisters.

Dinner made and eaten we found a film to watch before it was time to head to bed.


Friday (22 miles)

We woke at 8:00 and got things sorted out onboard before departing our moorings heading back to our Boatshed. The plan was to drop in pick up the car to go shopping for the rest of our time onboard, before that, we dropped into Brian Wards to pick up the vital clip I needed for the water filter, and then onto Peachments to swap a belt I had got incorrectly and to check on the ordered battery (which was not yet in). Then off to Tesco before returning to the boat completing a few tasks whilst the water tanks filled – then departing into the warm and sunny (if windy) late afternoon.

We decided to head up into Norwich, noting on the way past that there was plenty of mooring available at Brammerton. It was about here that the wheelhouse door blew open and hit my knee. No damage to me, but the glass cracked – out with the Sellotape for a temporary repair – this was turning into an expensive holiday!

By the time we got to Whitlingham, in the shelter of the trees, I dropped the wheelhouse and we continued up into the city. By now it was around 5:30 and the streets and bridges were busy with people dashing home from work. We turned up by Bishop’s bridge (still not been brave enough to go up there yet, we must try it in the tender one day) and nearly got tangled up with a hire boat that decided to cast off directly in front of us as we completed the turn.

We continued down to Brammerton, by which time the wind had dropped and it was quite warm. We had a nice dinner on board and decided not to bother walking up to the pub (my feet were still in pieces after the last walk) and instead had a coffee and a few nightcaps sitting on the front cabin roof until about midnight watching the stars and the Bats – the first evening all week that it had really stayed warm and still enough to do that.

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Saturday (8 miles)

We woke up and cooked a proper breakfast before casting off. The wind had picked up again this morning, but it didn’t hinder us too much. We decided to meet my Brother and family for lunch, so were planning to head for Rockland Staithe. We dropped into Brooms on the way past, and I dropped the broken window into Tony Burford’s glazing shop – he made some pained expressions, and I suggested that if he thought it would be difficult to get the bead out then I would definitely find it difficult! – I left it with him, and told Chris (who had finished servicing another boat and was about to start filling ours up (we are frequent visitors) that we’d be back tomorrow for that! A quick reverse out into the channel and we were en-route to Rockland.

There were plenty of boats around and I wasn’t sure how full up the staithe would be, but we arrived to find a few boats over on the right, and just the couple with the Broom 30 we had seen earlier in front of us. We popped in next to them and tied up – connecting to shore power to keep our single battery in order, by which time our guests arrived and we headed over to the pub for a meal which was excellent. A simple pub menu but at a sensible price and with good local produce – really tasty – all washed down with a few pints of Wherry.

We decided to give the other diners a break from my slightly cantankerous 13 month old nephew and headed back to the boat for a cup of tea before they went home. At which point Claire and I decided to rig up the electric outboard on the dinghy and go for a potter around Rockland Broad – which is very different experience to seeing it from the cruiser. Once we got back, we decided to pop back to the pub for another drink, which turned into a few, and a light snack for dinner – again delicious. Back to the boat we curled up to watch a film before bed.

Sunday (7 miles)

Woke up slowly to our last day aboard. We left Rockland about 11am and made the slow trundle up to Brooms where we came in at nearly slack water and took on 30 litres of fuel and had a pump out. Back upriver to the boat shed and had lunch before spending a few hours cleaning and generally putting the boat back as we leave it. Then it was time to say goodbye to the old lady for another few weeks and head southwards in the car.

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