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johnash

Through Potter Heigham?

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I have tried to search here on this topic but have not been able to find anything recent. Apologies if I'm asking something already covered extensively!

As posted elsewhere, we are planning a return to a boating holiday during late Spring on the Broads after quite a long absence. We've chosen a boat, or thought we had, and I've just been chatting to someone at the boatyard.

I would only choose a boat that would "normally" pass under Potter Heigham bridge as we always loved the wildness of Hickling Broad etc.

However I was assured by the person at the boatyard that only small day boats are now able to get through the bridge due to a lack of dredging by the Broads Authority. I know river levels have been high but I am shocked that it is not excepted that any cruisers will be able to go through for the foreseeable future.

Of course it may be a policy that has recently been set by this particular boatyard in which case I would look elsewhere for our boat.

Any words of wisdom on the subject would be gratefully received. Thank you. 

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unfortunately unless you hire a yacht, boats that normally pass through Potter heigham are few and far between. generally you are required to use a bridge pilot, and they will let you know if there is clearance, there is only one boatyard that hires cruisers that normally pass through Potter heigham nowadays, and that is Martham Boats, all of their wooden cruisers normally pass through the bridge as they are based the other side of it. of course even their boats dont pass through occasionally (when the water is particularly high) but the bonus there is that you are stuck the hickling side of the bridge. Marthams only use their own staff to get boats through which they have a great deal of skill in doing . the other option is to hire a day boat to go through to hickling.

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Sad news, Grendel. But thanks for confirming! A day boat sounds like a good idea!

And yes, even going back to the boat I was on with my Dad in 1960, we've always used the pilot. I do remember, in the early days, watching as people tried to go through on their own with hoods and windscreens being ripped off as they learned their expensive lessons!

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Alas you've been given good advice. The concept of a boat that 'normally passes under Potter Heigham bridge' is no longer current because, more often than not, as Grendel says passage is limited to Martham Boats, day boats and sailing boats. I've previously hired a day cruiser from Whispering Reeds at Hickling (the day before picking up our main hire boat) and I'd definitely recommend that. 

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If you are happy with a flat top you stand a fair chance of sneaking under. Take a look at tide heights for the week you are thinking of going on and maybe swap for a week when the water levels are predicted to be lower.

Most single level 'carribean' style boats will fit on the right tide.

Or, as Grendel says, hire from Martham Boats and you are pretty well assured of a holiday both sides of 'that bridge'

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Royall Velvet 2 will get through as good as any non Martham boat. I remember seeing it there when not much else was getting through. 

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45 minutes ago, JanetAnne said:

f you are happy with a flat top you stand a fair chance of sneaking under.

That's the opposite of my experience, sadly. I can't remember in recent years seeing very much more than 6 foot available so that excludes all but the craft I mentioned before. 

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Taking the words from Michael Caine in the Italian Job, "you`re only supposed to blow the bloody bridge up". I can only hope :default_gbxhmm: :default_laugh:

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Wow! Do post on here the next time you plan to go through as I’d love to pass you going the other way😎

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9 hours ago, Broads01 said:

That's the opposite of my experience, sadly. I can't remember in recent years seeing very much more than 6 foot available so that excludes all but the craft I mentioned before. 

they got up to at least 6 foot 7 earlier in the year.

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I'm assuming this is down to consistently higher water levels in the rivers? It was mentioned to me by the boatyard that the Broads Authority had not carried out any dredging but I can't really see how that would affect the clearance under this bridge?

Talking of Connoisseur cruisers, we hired a GL2 on our last 4 visits in the '90s and don't recall any problem getting through. 1997 was the last time we had a boating holiday on the Broads. We won't be able to make it until Spring 2021 but am excitedly planning it all now. Things will be a little more difficult this time as we won't be able to load all we need into the car as we will be flying in from Spain so what we need and what we manage to bring will have to be carefully planned!

The boat I have my eye on is Rose Emblem from Ferry Marina. It's listed as having a height of 6' 10".

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The reason most boats don't go through the bridge, is the hire boats have got progressively bigger.

 The Boats at Martham. Were the standard size of all hire boats, but are now dwarfed by most new ones.  You look at the Emblem fleet and they have all been built so there is NO chance of going through Potter or Hoveton Bridges.

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This opens up an argument that has bounced around here many times.

It is known that bridge clearance at Potter has reduced over the last decade or so. The reasons for this are yet to be established , at least to my satisfaction.

There are other pieces of data that seem to be less forthcoming. Has the clearance at Wroxham bridge reduced by a similar amount over the same period. I don't know.

Has the clearance reduced by a similar amount on the southern bridges? I don't know

This is annoying to me as if the cause is climate change, then it would affect all bridges that experience tidal rise and fall.

If the cause is Thurne flood alleviation, then it would affect mainly the Thurne and the Bure perhaps less so. 

If the cause is lack of dredging the lower Bure, then possibly both Potter and Wroxham bridges would be affected to differing degrees.

There are those on this forum who would like the bridge clearance to remain as it is now, given the peace and tranquillity this affords the places above the bridge. I understand that view though I have to admit to finding it irritating.

There are also those on this forum (of which I am one) who would like to see the water levels returned to how they were back at the turn of the twentieth/twenty first century (or some time earlier if practical) if the existing reduction has been caused by lack of maintenance of the lower Bure.

And of course there are those who would like to see the bridge removed or bypassed allowing all boats access to those parts. I find that view even more irritating than the first option.

I disagree to some extent with TheQ. My boat used to go under at almost all times. Not so now. The same can be said of most of the boats I would like to buy to replace Nyx.

I agree that a lot of modern boats are built too big for the bridge. So be it, but a lot of money was invested some years back building craft that were designed specifically with going under Potter Heigham bridge under the normal tidal ranges of the day. These craft can no longer make the trip, and that I find sad.

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I seem to recall that in a recent thread on this subject we found that historically river levels during the 70's and early 80's were lower than now, but that this was unusually lower than at previous times, so river levels have reverted to the higher side of normal during the present day, this is I believe why a lot of people say, well we could get through then, why cant we get through now (that and other causes such as the lack of dredging of the lower bure, which is also thought to have an effect on the water levels at the bridge)

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Dig the bridge up and put it on a raft so it can float up and down with the tides, just needs a sliding ramp for traffic. :default_biggrin:

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3 hours ago, TheQ said:

The reason most boats don't go through the bridge, is the hire boats have got progressively bigger.

 The Boats at Martham. Were the standard size of all hire boats, but are now dwarfed by most new ones.  You look at the Emblem fleet and they have all been built so there is NO chance of going through Potter or Hoveton Bridges.

It's true the trend is to build big and high but, as MM says, even boats of more modest dimensions can't go through most of the time. Most forward steers need at least 6 foot 6, some more than that and even they don't go through very often. 

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Hi Johnash,

I believe Rose Emblem has an airdraft of around 6ft7 however due to its width and the shape of the bridge it needs about 6ft10. I hired Jade Emblem in June 2013 a similar Alpha 35 mould and we couldn't get through however a boat moored next to us Gala Girl (an Aquafibre Opal 28) did get through. If you like Ferry Boats then White Emblem (the same as Gala Girl) or Turquoise Emblem need about 6ft6 for Potter although you will have compromise on space and comfort and it still wont guarantee passage I am afraid.

Neil

 

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Thanks for that, Captain!

Given the difficulty of Potter Heigham, I would very much hope to get through Wroxham Bridge on Rose Emblem - which is listed as "6'10" high". (If not, I'd have to look elsewhere! I know it can't always be possible but under current 'normal' conditions…).

Thank you for the alternative suggestions. I'd picked Rose Emblem as it has both bow and stern thrusters that seem quite rare (not that either were available the last time we were cruising on the Broads!).

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No problem,

It is very rare to get bow and stern thrusters particularly on a small boat and they certainly come in handy for mooring. Adventuring Light 1/2 (new 2017)  at Herbert Woods needs about 6ft 5, Brinks Encore (2 new 2017 1 in 2020), Royal Velvet 3 and Silver Coral (new 2017) plus Bolero 1 and 2 at Brooms all have bow thrusters and need 6ft6 just in case you are interested.

Neil

 

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Thanks very much. The boatyard also confirmed that, under normal circumstances, she would go under Wroxham bridge so it looks like the boat for us. Can't wait now, but a lot of water will be passing under both Potter Heigham and Wroxham bridges before we get on board, I'm afraid!

Sent from the Norfolk Broads Network mobile app

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I have read the argument that more dredging of the Bure could let  more water out on the ebb but that would allow more salt water up on the flood thus devastating fish stocks?

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Much of the blame for flooding in other parts of the country has been the lack of dredging and the locals tend to know what is going on.

Potter is no different, lack of dredging on the Bure, look at all the navigation posts on the lower Bure, 20  / 30 years ago they were only needed in a few places now there are far more. The river is silting up and I believe holding the water back upstream. 

Perhaps this is to help lower the risk of flooding in Gt Yarmouth, probably political decisions that none of us are party to!

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2 hours ago, Bytheriver said:

would allow more salt water up on the flood thus devastating fish stocks?

Being a tidal river if the fish stocks can't take a salt influx they can't be the natural fish for the river surely???

If a polar bear can't take the cold it's probably just a bleached bear not a polar bear.

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