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Hurricane hits the Southern Broads!

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Another spring, another short break on the Broads, courtesy of those generous folk at Alphacraft,

and those tight fisted folk on the forum who let me win the Christmas auction for the second year in a row!

This year I must give even more thanks to Alphacraft for letting me move

the short break they donated to the forum from their "low-season" to the kid's Easter holidays

(with me only paying them the difference in the two dates).

Last year we took "Spitfire" out in March and the weather was beautiful.

This year we had "Hurricane" (No 2 in the Spitfire class) and as anyone who was out on the water

for the Easter weekend must agree, the weather was pretty gorgeous (a little windy on Monday but clear and sunny!)

I will start the real tale once I can get the photos off of the various cameras that were snapping away on board...

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It had been a wonderful week leading up to Easter but would the wather hold for our three days on the Broads?

Easter Saturday opened fine and sunny as Tazman strapped three of his boys into his people carrier and then came around to my place to load up with boating related gear, six life jackets, a few extra lengths of rope, various bits of electronics etc and then I'm aboard and we are on our way.

We are on our way up to Norfolk via Suffolk, to pick up the boys' Grandad, George, in Beccles, and then on to Alphacraft at Brundall.

There are three possible routes, via Norwich, via the Breydon bridge, or across the water at Reedham Ferry.

The ferry wins and with the sat-nav targeted on the "Southern Ferry Terminal" we are heading across country on single track lanes....

"After 200 yards turn left onto..", and there is left turn ahead.., hold it says the Taz and we are past it and another left turn appears.

I can understand how so many people get lost using Sat-Navs, give me a decent map any day!

Onto the ferry and a clanking of chains carries us over the river Yare.


More single track lanes and we are into Brundall and Tazman's sat-nav says "destination achieved" (Oops: we hadn't actually noted down Alphacraft's post code!).

Still old fashioned navigation skills come into play an I can say "Last year we had to go over the level crossing by the station, so left hand down a bit where that sign points to the station..."

Memory leads us into Alphacraft's car park, and it is time for the kids to get their life-jackets on whilst I report in.

Oops "Hurricane" is lying in the basin, so it will be a bit tricky getting her out into the dyke...

I get a very quick reminder handover from Alphacraft and then breath a sigh of relief when the engineer says "I'll take her out to the end of the basin for you and then hop off" (I expect that others get a bit more of a demonstration but appearing with our own jackets, mooring lines etc and asking the right questions may have persuaded him that he didn't need to take us out onto the river). He also knew that I had taken Spitfire out for four days last year and brought her back in one piece.

Slowly down the basin to the dyke and we are on our own.

Dead slow down the dyke, check for traffic and out onto the Yare and can open her up to 6mph, down river on the ebb.

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Good to see you out on thr river Martin :wave Sorry I didn't beep but didn't realise it was you until too late :? plus we were rushing to get back to the marina, as it was going to be yet another late night home :grin:

Hope you enjoy the rest of your holiday cheers

Lou xx

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George has lived in Beccles for a few years now but hasn't actually ventured out onto the water except for joining us on "Spitfire" for an hour at Acle Bridge last year.

Connor and "Little" Martin have done two weeks on the Broads with me but on single level "bath tubs" so the up market "Hurricane" definitely impresses them.

No 3 son, Ryan, remembers his trip on "Spitfire", and already has his "Captain's" hat on and wants to get on the downstairs helm.

Those crucial warning words "Captain on the Helm" come wafting up to where I am steering from the upper helm position, telling me to be ready for, and to counteract, any unexpected changes in direction...

On the Alpha 44 Highliner (i.e. The Spitfire class) switching the helm position ONLY changes which engine controls are active, so Ryan on the lower helm can't change the throttle settings or stop the engine, but the lower wheel (and horn button) are still active so kids playing down below can cause trouble if you are not ready for them.

Ryan and I have an agreement he can "pretend" to steer but is only allowed to make small wheel movements.

In return I tell him when I want any sound signals!

He also knows that when I tell him to leave the wheel alone he has to do so, (normally means we have close manouvering going on , like oncoming traffic or restricted waters).

Connor and "Little" Martin are now both old enough to be let actually steer the boat where conditions permit (under close supervision of course!)

Anyway we are underway and heading down to Reedham, hoping to find a space to moor up, with a table booked for dinner at the Ship Inn.

Down past the Beauchamps Arms (looks a lot busier than last years), the Reedcutter's at Cantley (either could be useful when we come back up river...)

Then we have the Reedham Ferry ahead and slip through behind the ferry as it crosses the river and then on to Reedham.

It looks very busy, but there is a free spot right outside the ship, great except we are going down on the ebb and need to turn and come in up-tide, and the Ship is within the "No Turning" restriction for Reedham Bridge so it will mean down through the bridge turn once clear of the restricted zone and come back.

As we turn another cruiser comes up river and we follow her back through the bridge and "Oh blast!" they are getting the warps ready and going for OUR spot!

The rest of Reedham Staithe is full so it will be a case of asking someone to let us double up, or going somewhere else.

There was room at the Ferry Inn as we came down so we decide to go back upstream to the Ferry and then slip in onto the moorings upstream of the ferry.

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Both Connor and Martin have now passed that magical age of 8 when the B.A. deem it possible to allow them to take the helm of craft under power.

More importantly they have reached a level of maturity where I feel I can let them loose with gas operated life-jackets, so much easier to where than their old foam ones!

I have also got to the point where I can let them loose with my spare camera's so what did they make of the first day out...

For a third shot on one camera this one is a beauty!


I think Connor wins the new photographer award (or did I grab his camera as he had left it on deck?) I can't remember taking the photo but I may well have pointed him at the yacht coming up river towards us.

The amazing thing about it for me is the bird soaring above the yacht...

Has he managed to catch a Harrier as well as the yacht?

Martin managed to get a shot of the warning as we got into Reedham, plus one of "Hurricane" after we had moored up.


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"Hurricane" is all secure so it is off down to the Ferry Inn to pay my £3 mooring fee and to see if I can book a table for this evening.

OK table is arranged for 19:45, (I would have prefered earlier but the new series of Dr Who starts tonight and it would be just slightly easier to prize his mother away from Eastenders than to suggest that Connor misses Doctor Who!)

Anyway we are in the pub in plenty of time and order our meal at 19:45...

The food they decided to serve arrived at 21:45, and I had three very hungry kids on my hands!

It arrived just before we would have walked out!

To add insult to injury for some of the meals they had run out of what we had ordered and substituted for it without asking what we wanted instead!

Did their chef get laid off by the NHS? The last time I got treated like that was when I went into hospital nad had to have what the preovious (deceased?) occupant of the bed had ordered that morning....

Sorry folks, the Ferry Inn is now off my stopping points list...

I can provide a better service cooking on board if I have to

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Easter Sunday comes in cold and foggy and I am up at about 05:30 in time to see three ghostly ducks drift by. The visibility is so bad that I can't even see the other riverbank!


The sun eventually rises allowing me to try for one of my "arty" shots (playing with the settings on my new camera!)


Then as the mist starts to burn away I see one of the largest boats on the Broads, Alphacraft's Mirage, slip off early,

probably heading for an early appointment with slack water at Yarmouth.


The morning soon starts to warm up and then from the reeds next to the moorings comes a magnificant spate of bird-song.

Locating the culprit by eye is one thing, managing to locate him with the "super zoom" is another,

but the really difficult trick was getting the camera to focus on the bird and not the reeds between him and the camera!


(My good bird books have seemingly disappeared from my bookcase, (now who borrowed them?) can anyone identify the songster for me?)


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(My good bird books have seemingly disappeared from my bookcase, (now who borrowed them?) can anyone identify the songster for me?)

A bit of research tends to make me think he was a Sedge Warbler, rather than a Reed Warbler.

That white eye stripe and red beak seem to clinch it for me...


But if any of you are more experienced "Twitchers" please confirm this (or correct me!)

Now why didn't I think to record him on video, the RSPB web-site actually allows you to listen to the song of the various types of birds you have been hearing....


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I had planned a bit of an egg hunt for Easter Sunday but it turned out that the boys had brought quite a few eggs with them, also Ryan decided to stay asleep so long that we wouldn't have got away before lunchtime so the egg hunt was cancelled and I started up the "Hurricane" ready to move on.

The engine still didn't wake Ryan who was down in the fore-peak. What eventually did wake him up was the sound of the water flowing past him as we moved off.

Off we go back upstream and then left hand down a bit and into the River Chet.

It is years since I had ventured into the Chet but my memories were of a narrow twisting waterway where you had to be very careful when you met oncoming traffic.

I soon found out that my memory was correct, in the first two hundred yards it does several bends that almost come back on themselves like circles.

Then we were into the grass and tree lined sections and there was the first cruiser coming towards us, so it is a case of pulling right into the bank to let them pass as they were coming down on the ebb whilst we were breasting it and hence had more control.

Further up we get to a straight section and way ahead there is a yacht coming slowly down with a couple of cruisers behind her.

As we get closer we see that the yacht's crew are quanting with poles on both sides.

We pull in to let the convoy past and as we go on upstream we wonder how long it will take the cruisers to get down the Chet, or will the yacht wave them past somewhere?


On up the narrow river and then Loddon Church comes into view and we are approaching the end of the navigation and have to decide whether we stop for lunch or simply turn around and head back downstream.

Time is pressing so it is a case of spin "Hurricane" in the basin (aren't bow thrusters wonderful!) and then try to find our way back out.

Luckily there is a local sitting on the bow of his cruiser who can point us in the right direction!


Heron's are very common this year "Little" Martin snapped another on our way back down the Chet.


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  • 3 weeks later...

Just got back from two weeks sailing off Corfu

and hence can now get around to finishing this tale...

Checked the forum posts last night and found:

I am sure I met that on the Chet a couple of weeks ago!! well the tub coming towards us wanted all the river.


Well the next post was going to include the fact that nearing the mouth of the Chet we met a little cruiser called "CaptMatt" going up river,

and the name seemed to ring a bell or two.

I'm sure it wasn't "Hurricane" that Paul was refering to! :?

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Hi Martin, i hope the sailing was good, and you all had a great time :wave:wave . Looking forward to reading more of the thread, if there`s more to come?. Regards ............... Neil.

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Having finaly emerged from the Chet we made our way down again past the Reedham Ferry and Reedham and turned right into the New Cut.

It was of course Easter Sunday so there was a fair bit of traffic about.

Half way down the cut there are a column of cruisers and "blings" coming towards us

when suddenly this big Broom decides that he can overtake the entire group...

No photos, as I was too busy working out my options!

Did I hold my ground as"stand-on" vessel until it was obvious that he wasn't going to get onto his own side of the river,

and then throw her into the port side bank and then risk slamming into the cruiser leading the convoy

(and presumably holding some one with more money than sense up from a date with lunch upstream).

It was actually a case of "everybody out of the cabin NOW" and the five short blasts,

in the hope that someone who owns a big sea-goer like that might actually understand sound signals!

Luckly one of the other oncoming boats jammed their engine in astern and made a hole for him to duck back into

I just hope that the one astern of her was ready, but I expect that, unlike Mr Sea-goer they could see what was happening.


If the "Hurricane" had been fitted with the cannons of the fighter she is named after

I would have been using them before he cleared my sights two gunstwo gunstwo guns

As it was I only just managed to keep my cool and not turn the air blue!

Anyway, incident over and we putted along to join the Waveney, and up past the BA dredging base

(much to the pleasure of young Ryan who is almost as mad on diggers as he is on Thomas the Tank Engine and trains).

As it was Easter Sunday I wanted to find a mooring fairly early and one where the kids would have somewhere to run around so

called up the Waveny River Centre to check on the availability of an overnight visitor mooring for a 44.

"No problem there is plenty of space stern on in the basin"

No problem to the lady on the phone, but as I went to make the turn in I quickly realised

just how much of the flood tide I had under me and had to abort, overshoot, turn in the river,

and come back down river before turning in.

The of course I was presented with a fairly tight "about face" manouvre to go stern to on the overnight side of the basin.

Not really a problem with "Hurricane", when steering from up top, and careful blasts from the bow thruster,

coupled with rudder hard over to port and bursts of ahead to kick the stern around and then it is slow astern and we were in.

The skipper on the neighbouring cruiser said "You've done that before haven't you" so perhaps my boat handling is improving.


Ok £9 for a night might seem expensive by Broad's standards but you do get access to all the facilities including the pool

(if you remembered to back the swimming trunks, which we hadn't!)

I was sitting their unwinding with a beer in my hand when a small cruiser came in and did the typical "newbie"

stern to approach, lots of full astern with no steerage, full ahead, full astern, etc and getting nowhere (the cross wind wasn't helping them).

In the end I untied my 60ft rope from the roof rail, went to the bow of "Hurricane"

and said to the gentleman on the stern of the cruiser, "get the helm to put it in neutral, and catch",

"Now put it around your stern cleat and we will pull you in",

and another happy couple were successfully tied to the quay before the marriage broke up..

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The kids enjoyed exploring the facilities at WRC, up to the playground, out to the statue of Eddie on the riverside,

into the quite well stocked shop with their holiday pocket money etc..

(Why do kids always manage to find the noisy toys, but at least we now had two guns on the "Hurricane", Space Ranger "Plasma Pistols")

Meanwhile "little" Martin went for a "Mechano like" kit of a helicopter and settled down to assemble it.

(For the first time he has screwdrivers and a spanner of his own..

Note to self: Watch out for anything he might unscrew on the boat...)

We wandered over to the pub to book a table for dinner and then took the boys around "Eddie's Secret Garden"


(They seemed very taken with the wooden sculpture of "The Dragon", but eventually agreed with me that it lookes more like a turtle.)


"Little" Martin went around taking photos of the various instructional signs, he has really got into photography on this trip.



They also liked the various humerous litter bins at WRC,


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Sunday evening the air temperature dropped considerably and we actually started up the warm air heating system on "Hurricane".

Monday dawned sunny but still cold and Colin, lulled into a false sence of security by the previous week's good weather,

had forgotten to bring coats or even jumpers for him and the boys.. brrrr...

We also discovered that one of the lads had had a minor accident over-night and although we had put a matress protector on his bunk,

we needed to wash some bedding.

Two choices, 1) put it through the laundrette at WRC, or 2) a quick trip up to Beccles and meet up with Grandma and let her do it for us in her machine.

We thought that we might also be able to source some jumpers for the boys in Beccles (The shop at WRC had fleeces but they were a bit too pricey),

so hey ho off we go up the Waveney to Beccles.

Into the Beccles Yacht Station and tie up and we were almost immediately joined by one of our sister-ships, Clive's "Bolero"


There is a family of egyptian geece on the grass with about five little fluffy goslings.


On the outer wall I notice another boat whose name is familiar, "Sea Hunter",

but whilst Alan is aboard Jupes has had to leave him there and head home for some reason so I missed meeting her.

Alan is a bit concerned about the Beccles New Bridge, the height of "Sea Hunter's" arch,

and the rising tide and has to move pretty sharpish, (once I find him some change to pay the harbour master)

Colin's shopping expediton into Beccles has been un-successfull, but what would you really expect to find open on Easter Monday in a town that still has half day closing on a Wednesday... Tesco's are open, but it isn't one of their "Extra" stores so no clothes, and so are Morrison's, but they don't do clothes.

Oh well at least it is a bit warmer now, so we walk up to the Waveney House Hotel for a "quick" lunch.


This turns into Fish and Chips for the the two older boys, and Burger and Chips for the rest of us.

The food was fantastic (as a result we now have got the boys asking for fish instead of a Macdonald's)

A little later than planned we make our way back to the boat and set off back down the Waveney.

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Down the Waveney and the boys start asking to drive...


Down through the reeds on the Waveney


Back into the New Cut and we see a traffic jam on the bridge ahead.

A helicopter is coming in and we realise that it is the air ambulance,

so it looks like a road traffic accident. I hope they are okay.

Onto the Yare and approaching Redham we se that the bridge is open.

We start to go under it and suddenly, without any warning, it starts to close on us.

Luckily we know we can get under even if it was shut, but that could be a real problem for boats with a higher air-draft.

Coming up to Cantly we meet three boats coming down stream, and I think I know those names on the first two.

Number 3 I am sure I know, "Happy Jax II"... Looks like someone was having a forum mini-meet for Easter Monday!

Our NBN flag is flying well but it still takes a short blast on the horn to attract their attention.

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  • 3 weeks later...

We were looking for a berth for the night, ontending to get up early and take "Hurricane" back into Alphacraft early the next morning.

There was room at the Reedcutters but I wanted to try to get closer to Brundall and hence continued on up stream to the Beauchamps Arms.


No room to moor outside (Alphacraft's "Lysander" was on the downstram wall and a small cruiser was taking up part of the wall straight outside the bar)

but there was space on the bank just upstream.


Not a lot of mooring posts visible so it may be a case of getting out the rhond anchors, assuming we have any? A quick look in the gas locker aft and yes there they were.

(Most hire-yards put them in there, they are the two lumps of metal that look like half a pickaxe bent over with a ring in the end)

The tide was still on the flood, so it was a case of going past and turning back down-stream to get an up-tide approach.

Hold her into the stream and give her a little left hand down a bit to kick the stern into the bank along with a touch pf bow thruster and she slips in sideways.

In fact we discovered that extra stakes had already been hammered into the bank put they were pretty short and not upright

so in the end it was a case of using both the stakes and the rhonds.

Rig the springs to stop her moving in the current whilst leaving the lines failry slack to allow for the tide and that is "Hurricane" snuggly in.

A quick walk down to the pub to work out the best route (up the bank and along the top), and then back to pick up the crew and secure the boat.

(Put the heating on now as otherwise we will have to run the engine when we come back, and it might be late)

"Oh that Cruiser has moved of, shall we take her down to the pub?"

"No not worth the effort she is ok where she is"


The Beauchamp's has had a facelift since last year and was a lot busier then last March.

Food was good and cheap as well, and there were a good range of ales on tap.


Early next morning its off again, back up to Brundall and turn into the dyke that leads up to Alphacraft.

Oops there is already a boat on the mooring on the dyke, so it looks like we will have to back her into the basin.

Turn in the dyke and slow astern using the thruster to steer her and then hard over and we are in...

Bow is a bit close to the other side of the basin though?

Oh blast this basin is wider at the far end and perhpas we will need to go out and take her further in?

Na, leave her here and go and ask them if they want her moved, after all they can move her easier than I can.

Now it is only a case of picking up the car keys, unloading all our clobber, and then we can get cracking on tidying her up.

Out with the deck scrubber and bucket and the Skipper does the top-sides as usual, whilst the crew sort out down below.

I go to hand in the keys and Paul takes me along to see two of the new "mini Vulcan"s which Alphacraft are moulding.

Centre cockpit cruisers (about 35-36ft I reckon).

To me it looks like the Barracuda hull (the "mini Spitfire") with a new superstructure.

Paul points out that this is based on a combination of sections of the superstructures from previous builds, part Barracuda, part Vulcan and part Blenheim, I think he said.

So there has been a bit of re-cycling of plugs going on.


They aren't going to fit out any of the "mini Vulcan"s themselves but have orders for over twenty of the shells from other yards.

It seems that folks are expecting the hire business on the Broads to contiune growing again.

A last thank you to Paul for donating the trip to the Forum and for allowing us to move it into April, and we are off.

We are back across the Reedham Ferry and down towards Beccles to drop off George, and oops!

I forgot to to take the forum flag down!

It is still flying proudly from the roof of "Hurricane"!

A quick phone call to the yard and they are going to post it back to me, so we don't need to turn around.

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