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My Bucket List Trip


Polly

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This is an account of a family weekend on the Wherry White Moth, but it begins 20 years ago.

 

At that time, Phill and I had a small sailing boat called Rondonay, and we kept it at Ranworth. White Moth was a fairly regular visitor, because Kim, the skipper would mudweight just off our moorings, as handy for the staithe and would top up his water there too.

 

One very early morning, I looked out to see White Moth and a second cruiser mudweighted off. The sun was coming up and the mist lay on the water; it was a magical sight. I grabbed my phone and took a picture, which, later, Lord Paul got printed off in A3 format for me.

That picture is on my dining room wall and I look at it often.

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We did lots of short hop wherry trips when the BA ran summer tours, but I really wanted to get the family out on White Moth for a week or a weekend.  The cost was high with many other demands on the boating budget (Brilliant) so we never did get to do the trip.

 

Fast forward to 3rd September 2021 and the trip is on!  Sadly, without Phill, but David and Claire are coming, as are David’s lovely partner Jessica, number one grandson James, aged 7, and my friend Sharon, who signed on the crew at the last moment when Claire’s equally lovely partner, Andy, had to pull out of the trip.

Sharon and I were to be the advance party. We were due at the Barton House Base in Wroxham for 6pm but set off at 12.30 so that we could ‘shop and stuff’ beforehand.

 

The journey was uneventful enough and, as planned, we stopped at Elveden Farm Shop for lunch. The sun shone and we were relaxed. I suggested deferring scones or cake until Wroxham, where there would be a great cake option.

 

Thetford passed uneventfully but there was a big stoppage after Wymondham due to an accident; this made for an hour’s delay. So what with the Elveden chill out, it was heading for 5pm when we got to Wroxham.

 

Our first stop was the Chandlery to pick up a rearming kit for David’s spare lifejacket and a lifejacket for James. We like to wear our own kit when possible, although of course there were lifejackets aboard.

 

Next stop was Roy’s for a few basic food items. Sharon was suitably impressed by the scale of the Roy’s operation in Hoveton!

 

Now to the cakes… David and Jessica had arrived by this time, also delayed by the road conditions. We met at the Hotel Wroxham for a drink on the terrace and cakes. These were oh, so well worth waiting for! Massive slices of super fresh Victoria sponge and Coffee and Walnut went down very well indeed.

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It was just gone 6 when we headed over to the wherry base. Claire and James were going to be late because of James having been at school that afternoon, and the road was still not clear. David appeared with a wheelbarrow and we loaded it up with our stuff before heading down to the riverside. Barton House is imposing and all faded grandeur with a complete model railway in the garden, it is quite a walk down to the river. The new quay heading was looking very smart indeed and when we arrived, Richard, our skipper introduced himself.  The skippers are all volunteers and do this for the love of it.

 

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We had a brief discussion on timings and possibilities for Friday evening, and agreed that staying at the base that evening was the most practical option. We got settled in, helped Richard get the covers on and waited for Claire and James.

 

Once that was all done we headed off to Liberty at Wroxham Bridge. They were very busy but found us a table and the kitchen agreed to take an extra order. The meal was very good, there were a variety of choices, burgers, lasagne,  fish dishes and salads. We each enjoyed our meal.

 

So back to White Moth for the night.

 

 

 

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It might be interesting to talk a bit about the layout of White Moth. The diagram is definitely on the optimistic side in my view, but if very, very good friends were planning a trip, I suppose you could have the 10 berths occupied. However as with all the boats I have ever stayed on, less is more!

 

We shook down as follows: David and Jessica got Cabin 1 (the largest double); I got cabin 2 in single splendour as did Sharon with Cabin 3. Claire and James shared the saloon with the two saloon sofas as berths.

 

Like this we were all well accommodated and very comfortable. Richard was tucked into the tiny crew quarters forward of the saloon, although we let him go home to his own bed on Friday night!

 

Below, White Moth is all lovely varnish and red upholstery, the galley is really big and has everything we needed for the weekend. She boasts a piano in the saloon-talk about gracious living!

 

The next morning, we had the safety briefing, got the covers off, unhooked the shore power and James had the fun of helping raise the footbridge to open the dyke for us to leave.

 

Norada (or Olive!) was going out too, with a party of children from the local church, all very exciting. The lovely Ardea was tucked up in the wet shed.

 

Everything we did was according to a predetermined and well-rehearsed system. There are several skippers and crews so they all do things in an agreed way. This made perfect sense and we were happy to follow Richard’s directions. It took him very little time to work out that we were a willing enough crew but that David is an absolutely natural sailor, very competent indeed.

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White Moth got underway, we were headed for Ranworth as an overnight stay, which was a reasonable objective given the wind and tide. I got busy in the galley and soon we were all enjoying bacon butties for a late breakfast. There really is nothing to beat bacon on a boat!

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The river was very busy indeed and, given that we were in a superstar boat, we were waving all the way and the cameras and phones kept clicking. I could see that the boat was providing a lot of happy memories for people.  One day boater did tell Richard off for being on the ‘wrong’ side of the river, but everyone else was fine and kept in the picture as to where we were going, very courteously, by the skipper.

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Having made good progress Richard asked me if we wanted to press on or break for lunch at Black Horse Broad. Well that really was a no brainer, as Black Horse was on my secret wish list for the weekend.

 

We enjoyed ham and cheese rolls, pork pies and KitKats, chilling out in the peace of Black Horse Broad. Then we got the sail up, and played a while before heading again downstream for Ranworth.

 

It was all tranquillity until we were near Horning Hall, much to his later embarrassment, Richard cut a bend too fine and we went aground.  We all went into action. The sail down, Richard and David pushed on the quant poles against the bank and I took the tiller, rowing against the mud to free it and then to flick the bow back around to point downstream. It was all very unfussed. ‘Nobody panicked and you all stepped in to help’ said our skipper.

‘Well its not as if we haven’t been there before,’ I replied. (Because we have!)

No damage was done and it just added to the fun really.

 

When we got to Ranworth Dam, Richard asked me if I’d like to take the tiller-well yes!

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I sailed her down into Malthouse Broad and passed along the moored boats for the holidaymakers to see her close to. Then it was James’ turn. He was loving every minute of steering this giant-sailed boat. One dinghy was being rowed about with a gentleman enjoying a glass of wine in the stern. He had raised his glass as we came alongside, and the look of amazement when he saw who was steering for us  was a picture, it made him shout ‘Cheers’

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We dropped the mudweight, and tucked White Moth up for the night, then all set off for The Maltsters. Richard was meeting his partner and small daughter, and we were meeting Steve and Nik O. I will leave you there as we were finding a table and settling in for our meal.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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It was super to catch up with Steve and Nik, as Steve said, it had been far too long.

The meal was a mix of pizzas, and other pub food, all cooked nicely and delivered quickly on a busy evening. We sat outside but by about 9 we were all ready to head back to the warmth of our cabins, while Steve and Nik headed off to their home mooring in Windmill Lady.

 

As we got aboard there was a sudden and quite spectacular burst of fireworks from the marsh side of Malthouse Broad which was repeated later. Thank goodness we have had a lot of rain.

 

We sat under the cockpit tent enjoyed a hot chocolate and soon got off to bed, I think we all slept well.

 

I woke at about 7 and by 7.30 was out on the stern with a cuppa, enjoying the loveliness and peace of the morning. There were a few ducks pottering about and a couple of Grebe fishing. Two coots were there and a great treat to see; where have all the wildfowl gone?

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Sharon joined me, having slept all night, a rare thing for her, but boats can be so soothing to sleep on. We enjoyed the tranquillity until a boat across the broad ran up its engine for about 20 minutes. It was great when it stopped!

 

We needed a refresh on a few bits of food so Sharon and I took the dinghy across to the staithe and had a lovely chat with Steve. He was sad to hear Phill had died and asked for a photo. He is doing a memory wall in the shop for all the regulars who have passed away. Thanks Steve, that is what makes Ranworth so special for me.

 

Back at White Moth and James and Claire were up for a trip in the dinghy. He is really pretty good at rowing already. I have decided that I will keep The Whimp, our dinghy, after all for him.

 

We had a morning discussion about times and tides. There was an option of pressing on downstream and turning back at St Benets or go up with the wind and tide towards Wroxham. This would be a fast passage and allow time for a play on Black Horse with a leisurely lunch. We opted for the upstream passage and Black Horse.

 

We got under way and I got going on bacon and eggs for everyone.

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James has a new hero and hung on Richard’s every word. ‘Oh no,’ sighed Claire, ‘a third generation of the family bitten by the sailing bug.’ I think I mentioned he is now part owner of The Whimp? One of James’ duties was tooting the brass trumpet, once for right, twice for left. His first effort sounded like breaking wind and, being  a boy of 7, left him helpless with laughter, subsequent efforts were more successful. He was very pleased to hear that I have one just like it at home, mummy was less so!

 

Sailing along with the wind fair was very good. We exchanged greetings with other river users and heard the trip boat skippers telling their passengers about White Moth and the other wherries that sail the Broads.

 

We gave White Moth a good run on Black Horse, and then as the wind got a bit fluky, dropped the mudweight for lunch. Cheese rolls and Steve’s recommendation for cakes were very good.  We were in no rush so Richard took the opportunity to shine up some of White Moth’s brass work.  I told him about Griff’s tin of Duraglit and his way of cleaning just a bit of brass for the unsuspecting, say the size of a cleat or a 10p piece, so that the victim has then to clean all the rest to match.

 

I was below, sorting out the galley when I head Claire shout, ‘Hang on we are coming across!’ I grabbed my lifejacket and ran up on deck.

 

Richard and David were in the dinghy already and were headed across to a hire boat moored a short distance away. There was someone in the water, apparently unable to get out and someone aboard who was talking to the MOB.  David pulled the man into the dinghy and then assisted him into the stern of the boat.

 

It seems that this was a fisherman who had lost his net from the bow of the boat and followed it in. He then worked his way along the boat to the stern but hadn’t made it up into the boat. It’s an awful long way up when you are in the water. His wife had not managed to help, the life ring was behind her on the roof unused and I don’t think she had dropped a rope. She was probably shocked. It was a good thing we were there with a dinghy to stage him up.  Ten minutes later he was back out sitting on the stern drying off, it was a hot day, still without a life jacket.

 

 I think he couldn’t have been a proper fisherman because he didn’t ask them to rescue his net. My dad would have.

 

Excitement over, we headed on upstream. It was really hot day so we planned to pick up Ice creams if the boat could come out to us under way. It could, so we all had vanilla flakes to cool off and all the nicer for getting served on the move. It is really nice, that ice cream.

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Shortly afterwards we saw BA headed downstream and waved, ‘That was the brass polisher,’ I told Richard.

 

‘Unusual to see all the fenders up on a boat, doing things properly,’ he observed. I told him that the precision we had observed in managing White Moth was much like that on BA, Navy Fashion.

All too soon we were back at the base, clearing down, tidying up and covering White Moth. James had fun with the bridge again and then it was time to say thanks and farewell.

 

I hope you enjoyed this holiday tale; for me, it was a dream come true.

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Katie and I had a long chat with Steve on Sunday , he asked us if we knew Phill , we told him we were proud to have made his acquaintance on numerous occasions , as well as your good self, and that the memories wall he is going to display is a wonderful testament as to why the Broads are such a special  place to so many.

When I broke my ankle , Katie phoned Steve in the shop to see if he could pop over to check on me , he immediately put the phone down , shut the shop and rushed over something very very few people would do for an occasional or regular customer , individual genuine characters such as Steve are sadly becoming an extinct species .

Through the NBN and by our adventures afloat Katie and I have met numerous people and feel most fortunate to be able to regard many of you as friends .

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Fascinating! We were moored up at Ranworth (Sovereign Light), next to the day boat jetty when you arrived at the Broad (we're the other side of the Faircraft Loynes boat that you can see on the left of your photo of the staithe.  I watched as you came across the front of us (not literally!) and then mud weighted.  It was so interesting watching how the sail was lowered and watching the young lady using the winch? (sorry don't know the technical terms!) at the front.  I took some photos of White Moth but for the life of me can't find them at the moment!  We must have said hi a few times when the dinghy came across to the jetty on Saturday evening and I also remember you when you came over in the morning!  We too heard the fireworks and wondered if someone was celebrating a birthday!    I envy you all, although not a saily type person myself, it was an experience to watch as you all went about your tasks.  One of the highlights of our week on the Broads - thank you! :default_smile:

Chris

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Thanks Pauline, for a delightful taste of what it must have been like to holiday on a pleasure wherry in days gone by. It was great to catch up with you and the family on the Saturday evening. The weather behaved itself too, which is always a bonus. Pleased to hear that you are keeping the Whimp.

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Thanks all, especially Simon and Katie. I sent Steve a really nice photo as requested.
Cee Pee yes we spoke to you coming on and out of the Dyke. That was my daughter Claire on the winch. 
So great to see you Steve and Nik.

I am off to see the Great Spitfire Flight later today.

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6 hours ago, grendel said:

dont forget to take a Bosch cordless drill to threaten Charlie with.

I saw this post appear on my unread page earlier, when I didn't have time to delve. I did wonder what you were on about, but it makes perfect sense now.

:default_rofl:

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