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johnash

Back After A Long While!

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I first went on a boating holiday on the Broads with my Dad in around 1960. A boat from Geo. Smith of Wroxham. Can't remember the name of the boat but I have our "Blakes Logbook" somewhere. Must try and find it! We've had quite a few Broads trips over the years and the last two were around the mid 90s and we were quite put off because, though "off season", the rivers were awash with boats hired for long weekends with a coupon from a certain popular newspaper. Many only seemed to be interested in rushing between pubs and we could only "get away from it all" by renting bikes from various boatyards.

I am now encouraged to try it again and really want to rent a boat for the two of us for two weeks, early in the season, maybe early April (it would have to be 2021 now as we're booked up for next spring already), having read that there are significantly fewer hire boats on the water. Or is it just as busy given that there are a lot more private boats?

Anyway, can't wait to get back on board, even though we now live in Spain. (I'd thought the best way to get on a boat is to fly to Stanstead then pick up a train to Hoveton?).

It's really good to be back! 

John
PS Can't find that log but I've confirmed that our last visit was in 1997 when we rented GL2 from Connoisseur Cruises. We had that boat on two previous occasions and a lovely boat it was too.
 

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Hi John, and "welcome back!" 

I think around the time you visited last, there would have been significantly more hire boats than now and especially if arriving in April, you should not have to put up with too much "hullabaloo" . However, Easter next year (2020) is in April and though not every hire boat will be out, the numbers will spike over that week. I'm just wondering if that''s why you're having trouble booking for next year? Certainly, if you can avoid Good Friday and Easter Monday, there should still be a good choice of boats available to you for next year.

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Thank you for the welcome! We are unable to make Spring 2020 as we're off to the USA! We don't like Autumn as the anglers are out (we prefer the close season, nothing personal!) plus shorter days. So I'm looking well ahead to Spring 2021. I see Easter is early then so we should get two weeks in before the early May bank holiday. I've dug out all of my old books and logs but sadly not the one from the trip with my Dad. Thinking back, the facilities improved quite rapidly after that trip. No more toilet waste out into the rivers (I remember quite unsavoury moorings at Yarmouth Yacht Station during slack water) and no more of those ice blocks that could be exchanged at other Blakes' boatyards.

As well as fewer boats, there seem to be far fewer publications and guides now (not surprising given the first statement, I suppose!). Our bible used to be "What To Do On The Norfolk Broads" which I don't seem to have any more. However, I do have my copy of Hamilton's Broads Navigation guide and a rather flimsy "Broads Companion".

Yep, can't wait!

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I returned to the  Broads last year after an absence of 31 years, we managed to buy a couple of guides & an OS map, and picked up a copy of Broadcaster from the tourist information office in Wroxham. I did also take my 1981 edition of the  Broads Book, in glorious black & white and hand drawn maps.

what was striking was how much was the same, The Bridge Inn, Acle still serves scampi & chips and the sandwiches at the Rising Sun, Coltishall, we’re so stale they could have been made 31 years previously. 
 

what had changed was the number of hire boats (we managed to moor everywhere we wanted to go). However, in what is true for most of society, we weren’t surprised with the rudeness and stupidity of some holidaymakers, especially all male and female crews...

We’re looking at booking next year, we’re looking at the window between Easter and Springbank.

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Hi John!

Just a thought, Richardson’s are already taking bookings for 2021 with early booking discounts and prices kept at 2019 levels. They don’t get involved in last minute discounting so you won’t get better prices from them. The ex-Swancraft fleet always get very booked up but are great boats for two people. I would check out

Swan Reflection 

Swan Radiance

Swan Renown

Swan Romance

to name a few. We love Swan Reflection. No matter what else we hire, we keep going back to this one!

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Smashing. Thanks Chris and SwanR. I am encouraged even more!

Great to hear of your experiences Chris. There will always be people there to annoy you whether it is on the rivers or the M25!

I have to say, SwanR, I would not have thought of hiring from Richardsons. One year we did hire from their huge Stalham boatyard and our experience was not a great one. But I will certainly check out the Swan fleet right away!

Looking at the calendar for 2021, the two middle weeks in April would avoid Easter and May day bank holiday or mid May would possibly see better weather but would it still be as quiet as mid-April? We have no restrictions on when we can take this trip. Happily retired, we can go when we wish!!

Oh, I managed to find a 2nd hand copy of 'What To Do On The Norfolk Broads' and it's on its way! I will now look for 'The Broads Book', one I'd forgotten!

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Johnash I have just sent you a message with a few thoughts ... it would have been a very long post if I had put it here! 

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Welcome!

We have had very good hiring experiences from Norfolk Broads Direct (aka Faircraft Loynes) and Ferry Marina. Ferry Marina might look more expensive, but once you factor in the ‘add ons’ that other Yards charge we found their price quite competitive compared to similar boats. 
You mentioned there aren’t so many publications available. There’s loads of info online though. I particularly like this site:

https://www.mynorfolkbroadsboating.co.uk/

A lot of the hire yards’ websites have a wealth of info too.

 

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Just to update.... we have grabbed the bull firmly by the horns, as it were, and booked our boat for 2021! 

Thanks to the advice from SwanR (Jean) who has been most generous with her help, we have booked Swan Roamer from Richardson's. Without that advice, I don't think we would have gone back to that boatyard! However, it turns out we get an extra discount for booking early plus only a low deposit to pay and it can be cancelled before 20 January 2021 without penalty. And, by all accounts, a smashing boat.

So two weeks on Swan Roamer, starting 11th May 2021. Can't wait. Which is a bit of a silly thing to say as we'll have to wait... patiently!

I have dug out all my books, charts and logs and having great fun reminding myself about all the places to visit (and how to moor!). A bow thruster for the first time might help!

My first boating holiday was with my Dad (and I have now pinned the year down to 1961. I managed to do this by looking up when Arthur Haynes was appearing at the theatre on Britannia Pier, Yarmouth as we went to see his show having tied up at Yarmouth YS). It was a two berth boat out of Geo. Smith's yard. I wish I could remember its name. It had a forward cockpit with a tarpaulin roof for when it rained. No toilet tanks then. It was pumped out into the river. Awful! But we had the most fabulous two weeks. I would have been 13. And my first introduction to Colman's Instant Mash. 

I also found my tide computer which was included with 'The Broads Book?. Who else has one of these I wonder?

Thank you again for the welcome and advice. I feel like a 13 year old again!!

IMG_20191215_183202296.jpg

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Hi Johnash. You won’t be disappointed. We have had Swan Roamer twice. It is comfortable and has plenty of room for 2. We normally go in April either side of Easter if it is late. Enjoy.

 

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Another thumbs up from me. We hired extensively from Swancraft and the boats are top notch. Very comfortable with excellent heating and battery systems, electric toilets and massive calorifiers. Highly recommended. 

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Hi John

You made a good choice with Swan Roamer, we have hired her four times in the last two years and have her again next year and have booked for 2021.

If you search the forum for Swan Roamer or under my name in Holiday Tales you will find my write ups and videos.

We have found Richardson's to be very good and if you need extra ropes or blankets just ask the guy who does the handover also they provide towels plus the bed is made up on arrival.  The saloon is large but no drawers or storage space in it but the bedroom does have sufficient, there is a dining area with stools and a hinged fold down table.  The Airing Cupboard is very useful with the Calorifier directly underneath it.  Just be aware that the electric toilet uses a lot of water, we generally have a pump out every 4 days and have not filled the holding tank yet but do try to be economical in the toilets use.

We have never used the whirlpool bath as such but suspect you may need to refill the water tank afterwards even though the boat seems to have a fairly large one with gauge (that may work or not).

The electric hookup is purely for the built in battery charger and a fairly short cable is supplied.

I should also say that the heating is very powerful with outlets in the saloon, bedroom and bathroom, the draught proofing is also first class.

Have a good holiday

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Thank you for all the encouragement! 

Puddleduck2: Thanks for that. Richardson's had mentioned that to me too in an Email. We are in two minds whether use the train or to hire a small car from Stansted (coming in from Spain) to make life a little easier (for doing our shopping too when we get there). Terrible waste to have car sitting in the boatyard for two weeks though! Another thought would be to drive from Spain (we could pack our wellies and tons of other stuff which we could not carry on!) but crossing from Northern Spain is expensive and I don't fancy the long drive through Spain and France. We had to do it in May, coming back from a holiday in Wales, when our ferry to Santander was cancelled. Too old for that "fun" now! 

 BryanW: Thanks very much for the tips. I'd already found one or two of your logs and some video! Great stuff. 

PS I've been thinking whether I could wear my boating wellies on to the plane!

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just tell them you are worried you might crash into the ocean and thats why you are wearing them.

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A further update. We both felt that we may not be able to repeat our planned Broads trip, given our advancing years and the fact we are living in Spain.

So I phoned the very helpful and friendly staff at Richardson's to see how much an extra week on Swan Roamer would be, the week before the two weeks already booked. (I'd already checked it was available). Well, compared to other boats/yards I've been looking at, the price was "cheap". So we booked it by cancelling the two weeks and rebooking for three!

We have also decided to bring our car over on the Santander (or Bilbao)-Portsmouth ferry, saving the problems of all the things we would like to bring but would not have been able to had we been flying: (aforementioned wellies, binoculars, sharp knives, etc etc etc). It also turns the trip into much more of a full holiday. The downside is that I'll be driving to Norfolk over the May bank holiday weekend! (Suggested route from Portsmouth?). 

We have our big trip to USA coming up this May but when we get back, we'll have our Broads trip to look forward to. I'll try and do a "blog" (which I do do for our USA trips), just to reflect on how we see the Broads now after all those years away.

With that extra time we'll have, we are looking forward to visiting those nooks and crannies we haven't been to before (I'm learning about them from the trip reports etc on this great forum). I just hope we don't find the rivers too busy and the moorings all full! :default_icon_e_biggrin:

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Hi John, when we came up from New Zealand in 2017 for 3 weeks on Swan Rapture, the quickest and cheapest transport from Heathrow to Stalham was via taxi all the way. Funny old world eh!

We are back in 2021 for another 3 weeks on Swan Rapture and we too can't wait.

Cheers

Chris

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Duh, barmpot that I am. In 2017 we had Classic Gem. Swan Rapture was 2019. I think a marble must have dropped out.

Chris

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Our boat in 1993 was Star Gem 2. And I see it's still going. I remember it being quite old then! We must go and pay our respects to her if it's in the yard when we're there.....

 

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Johnash asked for a suggested route from Portsmouth.

 

My preferred routing would be north to Oxford, around west/north ring road to Bicester, Buckingham, Milton Keynes, Bedford,  A14 past Cambridge to pick up A11 just past Newmarket. At junction of A11/A47,  on outskirts of Norwich head for Gt Yarmouth until bridge over river at Postwick; from here ,the final leg, choice of three routes. Shall I go on?

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3 hours ago, Puddleduck2 said:

Johnash asked for a suggested route from Portsmouth.

 

My preferred routing would be north to Oxford, around west/north ring road to Bicester, Buckingham, Milton Keynes, Bedford,  A14 past Cambridge to pick up A11 just past Newmarket. At junction of A11/A47,  on outskirts of Norwich head for Gt Yarmouth until bridge over river at Postwick; from here ,the final leg, choice of three routes. Shall I go on?

We will hopefully have time for a stopover on the way and I was thinking about going via Oxford so thanks for this suggestion, Puddleduck! I know that, whichever way, we will have traffic, but we will not have to rush, hopefully. Living in SE Spain we have very little traffic and so are really spoiled

2 hours ago, Springsong said:

http://www.broads.org.uk/wiki2018/index.php?title=Boat_Details&BoatId=2358&BoatHistory=3249

johnash could this have been the boat from Geo Smith called Sable. Click on the link above

That's it, Springsong! Thanks so much. Sable is definitely the name of the boat. I do wonder if the one we had had a fabric rather than sliding roof. I have a vague memory that there was more than one Sable and the more recent one(s) had the sliding roof. It is very possible that I am quite wrong about this. (EDIT: I just took another look at the photo and it looks like there was a hood at the back,. Maybe that's what I'm thinking of!?).

My Dad and I had such fun on this trip and it's great to have the name of the boat now!

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Peter Smith was running  thee yard in the early sixties, a really pleasant gentleman he was 

a real yachty and had some great  yachts for hire such as Sabrina they were terrific

sailing boats. Incidentally  he was either great or great great nephew of George Smith.

I had an ex Smith Windboat called Springsong hence my forum name.

Springsong.jpeg

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Springsong, great!

And I found out recently that the father of a friend and neighbour here in Spain was "running" the Geo Smith boatyard in Wroxham at about the time we rented Sable. What his actual role was I don't know. I don't think her maiden name is Smith, though. 

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