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Timbo

The Voyages Of Grace

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“Badger hates Society, and invitations, and dinner, and all that sort of thing.”
Kenneth Grahame,The Wind in the Willows

At home, I have neighbours and acquaintances. Just like badger, I'm not much of a social animal. But the rivers and broads make friends of us all and Grace was more than a little intrigued to discover I knew more people in, on and around The Broads than I did at home. After receiving a royal salute from Vaughan on board his new boat as we left Simpsons boatyard, Gracie was wearing her thoughtful expression.
“Timbo?”
“Yes?”
“Do all of you friends live in Norfolk?”
“Not all of them, but a lot do.”
“Do they all have boats?”
“Some of them do, but not all of them.”
“Why do all your friends wear silly hats?”
“To stop their heads exploding!”

The boat was fuelled, the dogs walked, Dylan and I were medicated and Ellie was still feeling delicate from three glasses of wine and a five thirty wake up call. Potter Heigham would be our destination for Grace to buy gifts for Mummy, Daddy and her baby brother Arlo. So while Ellie went back to her bunk, Captain Gracie and I helmed Royal Tudor down the River Ant.

After talking so much about Princess Grace and while my queen is snoozing in the forward cabin I should say something about the majesty that is Royal Tudor. Built in 1960 my grand lady turns sixty next year. Believe it or not, boats do have a personality. To me, RT's personality is somewhere between Margaret Rutherford and Joyce Grenfell with the looks of a young Jean Simmons. It must be well over four years ago since I last helmed Royal Tudor in near solitude. Her time off the water has changed her in some subtle and not so subtle ways.

In the past Royal Tudor was deft at manoeuvring, she could turn on a sixpence with the lightest touch of the helm where it takes some effort to turn her wheel now. I'm going to have to take a look at that. In motion RT sets her own pace. There is no hurrying her unless she wants to or she needs to. There is no need for fancy instrumentation, Sat Navs or GPS systems, not that there ever is on the Broads, as the old girl will tell you if you are going too fast. If you take her above a walking pace she will groan and grumble, rattle, creak and complain. Hit the sweet spot, RT will guide you to it, and she glides through the water with barely a murmur. If you need to overtake Royal Tudor, then you are speeding. Having said that, Gracie, Royal Tudor and I took it especially slowly on our trip to Potter Heigham. Plenty of time for me to order my thoughts and reminisce on forty seven years of visiting The Broads.

I retrieved the set of folding steps I used in the past for Uncle Albert to disembark and set them up in front of the helm so that Gracie could stand on them to see over the cockpit and reach the wheel. It took us the distance from Stalham to joining the Ant for Grace to master keeping Royal Tudor in a straight line.
“I know what to do Timbo, I can do it!”
That little girl was fascinated by everything she saw. Trees, birds, wild flowers, stoats, the names and history of the landscape that glided past us.

We nosed into Barton Turf so she could see one of our favourites mooring spots and turn the boat. Around The Heater we discussed shields and sword fights. Across Barton we discussed different types of sail boats (I have to learn more), weather patterns, cloud shapes, fish nets and ecology. Gracie helmed RT all the way down the river Ant, across Barton Broad, and further down the Ant to Ludham bridge.

Along the way we encountered the wherry Albion under full sail. As we were just bimbling along we were happy to sit a way upstream and follow along. But soon there was a backlog of boats behind us, many of them new helms, and Albion had slowed almost to a stop. Before we could make our move one of the boats behind us decided that it was OK to go flat out and overtake all the other boats as well as Albion through blind bends and into oncoming boats. I edged RT further out into the river to stop the rest following suit and waited for Albion's helm and lookout to look behind and give an indication.
“You pillock! Give us a clue?” I muttered under my breath.
The first at another hire boat trying to come around us without noticing the huge wherry in front then suddenly going into reverse, and the second at Albion's lookout.
Eventually the lookout looked and waved us through. So now with clear water ahead we continued our bimble.

Before Ludham I spotted a familiar and welcome sight. Listing to port, probably under the weight of her master who was looking decidedly 'piratey', was Nyx under the command of a certain Maurice Mynah. Nyx was still in the distance when Gracie started to chuckle.
"This is one of your friends Timbo!" exclaimed Gracie.
"How do you make that out?"
"The hat!"

Ellie surfaced just before we reached Ludham bridge. Gracie wanted to try the horn as we went under the bridge.The temporary air horn inflated by bicycle pump was feeble to say the least. Gracie was somewhat disappointed.
“That sounds like a duck trump!” declared Gracie before erupting into giggles.
A new horn is something we need to add to the growing shopping list of items Royal Tudor needs. To this list can be added two new mooring warps, without which mooring is decidedly difficult having to swap lines from various parts of the boat when coming into moor.

Through Ludham we headed to the Ant mouth and turned to follow the River Bure downstream. That weekend the Three Rivers Yacht Race was taking place, so I put on some revs and got a wiggle on to Potter Heigham hoping to get a mooring. Gracie disappeared below decks with Grandma but they soon arrived back bearing cake, biscuits and a cup of tea. I have a new found enjoyment of cake. I blame my very best friend Doug for this. Call a tea break and I can guarantee Doug will ask 'Is there any cake?'. It's either Doug's fault or I admit I've entered that stage of life where cake features heavily, as do sheds.

We made Potter Heigham before tea time, 4 pm proper tea time, moored in the only open space opposite Herbert Woods yard river entrance (not ideal) and took the boys and Gracie for a walk into 'town' to stretch legs, before I headed back to Royal Tudor for a well deserved nap!

More later!

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I can do it  I know what to do certainly rings a bell with us,  a certain 4 years Mollie Paige helming Beau jangles our Fairline Mirage  up the river Gt. Ouse leaving Ely. Granddad, all you have to do is just say right a bit or left a bit Mollie,  there's no need to touch.What happy memories, Mollie Paige is 23 now!

 

 

Carole

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6 hours ago, Timbo said:

she could turn on a sixpence with the lightest touch of the helm where it takes some effort to turn her wheel now.

more grease in that very awkward to get at greasing cap on the rudder tube, lots more grease, I know I put a fair bit into it, but I never got it to where it was oozing out at either end, so lots of grease, its a pig to get to too as it faces the front of the boat and there is no access panel right where you could do it with a grease gun, so its take the cap off, pack the cap with grease, wind the cap on fully, take the cap off pack it with grease, and repeat lots. when we changed out the steering cable while we had the cable off, you could turn the rudder with just two finger tips, so its my bet that you need more grease. once we had changed the cable it was a lot better than before with all the joins in the 11 different bits of cable binding against each other, the ribs of the boat and anything else that happened to get near. also do you have the lock nut at the steering wheel end, if so it hasnt been tightened down to make the steering stiff to stop her wandering off course has it.

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1 hour ago, grendel said:

more grease in that very awkward to get at greasing cap on the rudder tube, lots more grease, I know I put a fair bit into it, but I never got it to where it was oozing out at either end, so lots of grease, its a pig to get to too as it faces the front of the boat and there is no access panel right where you could do it with a grease gun, so its take the cap off, pack the cap with grease, wind the cap on fully, take the cap off pack it with grease, and repeat lots. when we changed out the steering cable while we had the cable off, you could turn the rudder with just two finger tips, so its my bet that you need more grease. once we had changed the cable it was a lot better than before with all the joins in the 11 different bits of cable binding against each other, the ribs of the boat and anything else that happened to get near. also do you have the lock nut at the steering wheel end, if so it hasnt been tightened down to make the steering stiff to stop her wandering off course has it.

It's the rudder tube again. Don't forget RT hasn't been out since last August...

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“It's not the sort of night for bed, anyhow.”
Kenneth Grahame,The Wind in the Willows
 

The afternoon nap! When did I become so old and so tired that I need an afternoon nap? Without my afternoon nap I start to slow down. When forty winks is not an option, then coffee is my saviour.

As Martin has pointed out, I am a bit of a coffee snob. My coffee of choice is always Italian and I blend and grind my own beans. I do not do instant coffee, not ever. At home, the kettle is never cold and neither is the coffee pot. You may have noticed that I have not yet mentioned coffee aboard Royal Tudor? There's a reason for this. I have yet to sort out the coffee situation aboard Royal Tudor. I remember the coffee but forget the rest of the paraphernalia!

Sometimes even coffee cannot rouse me and I have to turn to Lucozade. Friends may notice beer can also have the desired effect, freeing up my gob and sending it into overdrive. But without a source of energy, like a battered tin automaton, I clomp around getting slower and slower until everything just stops. My thought process is the first to go, followed by speech and finally balance and coordination. Ellie is aware of the signs that my energy levels are too low and, as I have come to appreciate, she seamlessly slips in to support me when I'm struggling. Ellie is so adept with her aid that many people don't realise I do have some serious problems with quite simple things.

So, when Ellie and Grace finished shopping in that very French store 'La Thems', Ellie had among her purchases a coffee pot. She ordered fish and chips from the Bridge Stores Cafe for collection later and we walked back to Royal Tudor for a coffee and an afternoon nap. Since the collapse of the dinette bed that morning I repaired to what we call the 'Captain's Cabin'. This is RT's single cabin containing a single berth, wardrobe and washbasin. Previously it also had storage underneath the bunk but we have since used that space for the waste tank for the new toilet system, the drawers fronts cut down and replaced for the appearance. Sliding the door shut, I was soon in the land of nod, dreaming of an elephant hunt according to Grace and Grandma. I talk in my sleep!

Grace is getting used to my terminology for meal times, these being breakfast, second breakfast or elevenses, luncheon, tea, dinner (if formal) or supper (if informal). Her favourite meal of the day is tea which she normally takes in the company of Grandma from one of Grace's collection of teapots and teacups and consists of tea, cakes, biscuits and finger sandwiches.
“What shall we talk about?” Grace will ask as Grandma pours the tea.

A fish and chip supper from the Bridge Stores was very welcome that evening. I was famished and feeling decidedly 'ropey'. After supper I retired to RT's cockpit with a second mug of coffee to watch the fun and games on the water. To 'perc up' is an appropriate term. There's a pseudo scientific theory that water has memory. I have a pet theory that water traps history. Outwardly the area around the Herbert Woods Yard may have changed over the years, but in some aspects it hasn't changed at all. As I sit and watch the antics of hirers returning to the yard memories of my own childhood afloat bubble to the surface.

Feeling a little refreshed I took the boys for their walk behind the riverside properties that line banks between Potter Heigham Bridge and Repps while Grace telephoned her Mum and Dad. In the hour or so that I had been gone Maurice Mynah had arrived and moored behind us. We had seen him on the Ant earlier in the day. We chatted for an hour over a beer and a cup of tea. Ellie and Gracie were tired from our adventures and headed to bed. I was still feeling ropey and was not long behind them finding Ellie had made up my bed in the Captain's Cabin and laid out my various pills and potions. I made sure Dylan had taken his tablet and then took mine.

I was woken by the sound of a boat engine. Our phones had died earlier after Gracie's call home so I had no idea of the time. It was dark, approaching midnight I think. A hire boat with drunken crew aboard, disco lights flashing had just gone full steam upriver towards the bridge. I waited for the crash but the roar of the engine heralded the return of the boat to attempt to moor opposite us. I say 'attempt' because it took them half an hour of ramming the bank multiple times at full speed before they managed to land a part of their crew, only to get a warp wrapped around their prop and to start the whole process again. Finally, they moored up. Since their arrival lights had been coming on in all the riverside properties and torches were sweeping the banks from both sides. I get the feeling the 'hullabaloos' had tried to land or rammed the quay or boats on their way upriver. I noted boat name and number and tried to get back to sleep.

Sleep escaped me as our water pumps kept firing. My brother in law Watson took the job of connecting RT's shower to the water system. Previously the shower had been connected by some adapters that Watson tells me are the wrong angle or something. The problem is, the new connectors, although the correct angle, leak. The bulkhead is getting wet. The carpet in the front cabin is getting wet. Wet means rot. It also means the water pumps are constantly firing to maintain pressure in the water system. So I spent an hour hunting for the water system fuse by the light of my Zippo lighter. I finally found the correct fuse, removed it and peace reigned. Although I couldn't sleep as both Dylan and Toby had decided they wanted to share the single bunk now I was in the Captain's Cabin after the previous morning's collapse of the double dinette bunk. I gave up, got up, put the kettle on and made a drink. I added 're-plumb shower', add a switch to turn water system off from dashboard and make new tabletop' to the list of jobs for RT. I then dragged the squabs from the dinette onto the floor, made a bed of sorts and the boys and I got off to sleep.

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