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Bridgecraft At Last


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At long last I'm aboard a Bridgecraft boat for the first time. There aren't many boatyards from whom I haven't hired but until today Bridgecraft was one of them. I'm aboard Forth Bridge 2 with my son Cian and dog Rollie for the next week.

The journey all worked out to plan. I set off with Rollie from home in Cardiff just as Cian was boarding a train in Lancaster and I picked him up at Birmingham International station en route. Bridgecraft had phoned during the week to ask our preferred arrival time which we made comfortably and we were very soon aboard our boat and unloading. I've been impressed with the service from Bridgecraft so far. I'm very much a fan of low level dual steers and this boat is no exception. The plan is to head south in the morning, so after being talked through the boat (in some detail which made a pleasant change) we made the short chug to Stracey Arms where we are tonight. It's been hot, hot, hot today and set fair for the week it would seem. Rollie is struggling a bit with the design of the boat (with no stern door getting on and off is a challenge for him) and he isn't really a fan of the heat. Nevertheless we've all had a fun start. Cian and I enjoyed food and drink "up top" on such a warm evening.

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with our dog, a greyhound, we found the on board invertor, and even one operated from the 12 volt, powered a 12inch fan bought from argos. Even with the engine off.

Made us and the dog a lot cooler.

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Thanks for all the good wishes. Yes we have a small fan too, it does help. We came south this morning, had the screens folded down to give us a bit more breeze. It's been busy all day, we were in the middle of a convoy of 10 or 11 boats on the Bure. It was busy on Breydon too and I waved to Broad Ambition as they were heading back north. Quite a few speedy privateers were enjoying using their throttles and bounced us around a bit which made life more interesting but I had no complaints. We always enjoy the GY and Breydon passage and this time was no exception, especially not having done it for 2 years. We're currently resting up at Reedham, heading for Rockland later.

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As we arrived at Short Dyke at Rockland Broad at 4-15pm yesterday the BA moorings were full and there were plenty of wild moored boats besides. We decided to chance our luck at the Staithe and as it turned out there were two spaces - result. We had a good meal at the New Inn sat outside in the shade. I've not eaten there before and it was good value with friendly and attentive service. Around 8pm with the air cooling we walked with Rollie around the Broad and as far as Short Dyke. 

Today we returned to the Yare and to Brundall where we made a water stop at Silverline. I phoned Bridgecraft from there because I was convinced the bow thruster wasn't working and it would be an easily accessible place for an engineer to visit. I told them when I switched it on it bleeped a lot but then nothing happened. "Did you know you have to press it twice?" Sure enough, that's all that was needed. I must have missed that on the handover and I felt like a numpty. Whilst were at Silverline I enquired if they offered solo hire and I'm pleased to say the answer was yes. Without me asking they kindly offered to look aboard the three boats that were on turnaround (Melody, Symphony and Mist). I liked all of them for different reasons. 

Water tank filled we made the short chug to Surlingham/Bargate and mudweighted for a while. It's lovely to mudweight anywhere generally but they don't get any better than Surlingham. We continued to Bramerton Common and a mini dog walk there in the shade of the trees. The business of Great Yarmouth and Reedham yesterday was no longer in evidence. There was only one other boat mudweighting and loads of space at Bramerton. This afternoon we turned around and headed for Loddon. I got my tide calculations all wrong today and we managed to be against the tide all day but managed almost 6mph nonetheless. This afternoon was a longish but enjoyable cruise with a very welcome cool breeze. We're overnighting now at Pyes Mill which is only about 50% occupied. We moored at 5pm and after that only one boat passed us.

 

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Interesting post, glad to hear you’re enjoying your trip.

We loved Rockland when we visited in October, and were the only boat moored down the Dyke. 
 

plenty of fish to be caught down the Staithe too

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We have limited experience of ‘high season’ on the Southern Broads, but from what we have experienced so far we have found that the popular moorings such as Bramerton have been rammed at the weekend but mostly accessible during the weekdays. 

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Tuesday 20th July

We made the short chug to Loddon Staithe for water and provisions. I think there had been one or two spaces available there overnight based on how many were available when we arrived. Our destination today was Oulton Broad and after a short stop at the Staithe we headed off in that direction. Coming up the Chet on Monday afternoon we met nobody in the opposite direction whereas on our return journey we must have met 9 or 10. As we passed Reedham I took a photo of Sanderson's boatyard (I'll add photos when I'm back on WiFi). Is this their last season? Shortly after the New Cut the helmsman on Silver Cloud coming in the opposite direction photographed us and smiled. Are you a forum member Mr Silver Cloud owner aboard this week? It was a little early in the day to head direct for Oulton, so we made a stop at WRC instead. We made use of their "onshore facilities" as Cian calls it. Later we had a short mini cruise further up the Waveney and then turned around and headed for OBYS. Not needing electric, we had the entire quayside nearest the harbour master's office to ourselves. Dinner was carvery at the Wherry which was very good value albeit the drinks were priced on the high side. Some late night adjustment of the ropes was called for as even though I'd allowed slack in the ropes it turned out not to be enough and the stern was caught on the quay. Maybe the pontoon side would have been the better option.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I’m a fan of the small independent boatyards, we’ve being using Pacific for a while but before we ‘found’ Pacific we used Bridgecraft with Tower Bridge

They are an excellent yard with friendly helpful service and would certainly use them again

Im interested in your trip to The Wherry, did you take Rollie?

We went there for lunch on the way to Beccles a few weeks ago, we were met by a guy on reception who said looking at Lottie, ‘he may be very pretty but he can’t come in here, but you can go round and use the patio’

He?

She was wearing a bright pink collar!

Anyway, patio was good and that’s always my preferred option providing the weather is decent

But I always thought The Wherry was dog friendly has it changed recently?

Anyway enjoy the holiday after 2 years you deserve it

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1 hour ago, tim said:

I’m a fan of the small independent boatyards, we’ve being using Pacific for a while but before we ‘found’ Pacific we used Bridgecraft with Tower Bridge

They are an excellent yard with friendly helpful service and would certainly use them again

Im interested in your trip to The Wherry, did you take Rollie?

No we didn't, not because they're not dog friendly but because he tends to get restless in pubs and he's quite happy being left on the boat.

Thanks, yes we're certainly enjoying ourselves. I've actually been twice since I last came south but both of those I stayed north. I had postponements due to the pandemic though, so it feels extra special.

 

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Wednesday 21st July

It was great to have Nicholas Everitt park next to us this morning because Rollie enjoyed himself playing with other dogs before the heat kicked in. Today was return north day so we turned right at the end of Oulton Dyke and wooshed along with the tide towards Great Yarmouth. After At Olaves, we saw no boats at all until we arrived at Burgh Castle. The moorings there are still closed which is bizarre because it looks like there's new quay heading and new (orange) mooring posts. There was a spot at the pub moorings so we pulled in there for a break and so we'd be nearer low/slack water time. Crossing Breydon was lovely, being unexpectedly a little choppy to add to the fun. At GY we had intended to make a short stop to visit Asda and wait for the tide to be with us. We decided against it though given it was chocca and double mooring was already starting (2-15pm). Later on the Bure I did something I've never done before on a dual steer on a sunny day, I switched to the indoor steering position. Up top I was just getting too hot and Cian isn't comfortable steering so there was nothing else for it. Downstairs wasn't much cooler but I got a break from the sun for a while. We're overnighting at our own boatyard at Acle Bridge. Due to the increase in Covid cases in the area, The Bridge Inn are serving outdoors only with an outdoor order point. The queue there was very slow so we've switched to Pedro's instead.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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15 hours ago, Broads01 said:

Burgh Castle. The moorings there are still closed which is bizarre because it looks like there's new quay heading and new (orange) mooring posts.

These moorings have only just been refurbished. It’s been a long job but it does look as though they will be operational again soon. I think the BA are leasing them from the EA but not 100% sure on that. It may be the final paperwork and safety checks holding things up. 

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 iThe Bridgecraft staff were helpful once again this morning, giving us a free pump out and fixing our TV aerial. That done, we continued up the Bure and headed for South Walsham. There we pulled in at the spot I discovered last year thanks to Grendel, namely in to the trees on the left as you approach the inner broad, mudweighted with the stern tied to a tree. It's a fabulous spot. Later, after a chug around the inner broad we headed up the Ant. The Ludham Bridge moorings were full, even though it wasn't yet midday. We fancied an Ant wild mooring and we found one between How Hill and Irstead. Rollie wasn't impressed he could only walk a few yards without reaching impassable undergrowth but it was too warm to give him much of a walk at that time of day anyway. I tend to walk him early morning and then as it cools down in the evening. We continued to Stalham, took on water at Richardson's and then came back downstream. As we were passing the Irstead moorings, we had a real stroke of luck as I could see one of the boats there just leaving. I did a quick about turn and nabbed the space. Feeling chuffed to be in somewhere I haven't stopped at for a very long time.

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Friday 23rd July

This was our final full day aboard so after giving Rollie his usual early morning leg stretch we continued down the Ant. There was a change in the weather, being cool and grey but it was nice to have a break from the heat. We pulled in at Ludham Bridge for a quick water stop and then proceeded to Ranworth. As it happened, we were 3rd in a line of 3 boats turning down Ranworth Dam at the same time. As we all approached the Staithe, there was friendly communication between boaters in evidence between those about to leave and those of us waiting for a space. We were soon moored and relaxed there for a while watching the comings and goings. A space became available on the moorings at 90 degrees to the ones on the front and yet repeatedly those looking for a space seemed to ignore that possibility despite frantic waving from those in proximity. We had a table booked for evening dinner at The Lion so it was time to head towards the Thurne. We went to Womack first, turning around at the Staithe and then mooring on Womack Dyke. Rollie enjoyed the freedom of a run there. Later we went up to Potter and back before finishing up on Thurne Dyke. Not long after we arrived, Broad Ambition came in next door, crewed by new co-owner Jonathan and his family. It was good to meet you Jonathan and I hope you enjoyed the rest of your trip. The food and service at The Lion was excellent as ever.

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Saturday 24th July

Home time beckoned so we left at 0740 and made the short return cruise to Bridgecraft. Stern mooring there was "fun" with a fair tidal flow and wind going on but we made it in and then needed a combination of rope pulling and a lot of bow thruster to move along to where the staff wanted us. I was pleasantly surprised we'd used £78 worth of fuel as I thought it would be considerably higher. Bridgecraft have been an absolute pleasure and I wouldn't hesitate to hire from them again.

We had one more thing to do before we set off for home as I had an arrangement to view Thunder in Horning. The jury's still out on whether I go for a syndicate share or not and there's not one for sale at the moment but I thought it would be a useful exercise (I had been interested in the rare half share that came up but that sold). We were impressed with the boat, particularly the saloon which has been furnished to a very high standard.

Overall an absolutely superb week that came off completely to plan and enhanced by great weather, albeit feeling a little too hot at times. The boat and the service we received were both brilliant. We loved the south being quiet as ever, the north being as busy as ever and we loved the journey between the two.

 

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