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The Airshow 2011. Not Really a Broads Tale but then, maybe.

Guest bing-bong

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It all looked dismal, the forecasts for the airshow were sketchy to say the least. The planned excursion to the salty side was ever looking like a bad idea. The plan was to launch from Southwold, have a nice poodle up the coast and sit, prime of place, for the airoplanes. I only planned to go for the Friday, but it looked like Little Mink II's seaward pedigree was not to be experienced.

A lot of preperation had gone into this one day. I had 100 litres of petrol onboard, the outboard was serviced, I had a nice, new Bruce anchor and warp, anchor yanker was set up. I was ready.

Every forecast was digested for a glimmer of hope, but given the information that I had available to me I made the decision not to go. After all I was taking two guests with me. One a trans-atlantic sailor, the other, a farmers son who hadn't been on a boating lake let alone the North Sea.

So there I sat, totally dejected, on Thursday night, with a pint of John Smiths and me Laptop, scanning the web. Shipping forecast, coastal and inland. Eurecka! Westerleys backing 3-4. Texts were hastily sent, a change of plan ensued.

I tried to get some much needed sleep as the decision to go came at 23:30. It was as if all my preparations were in vain, my brain refused to accept that I had every thing ready.

It was going to be a long night..................

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Morning came and the Trans-Atlantic sailor arrived earlier than expected, as I was going through the final preperations. Anchor set to trip, a couple of splices and most importantly a tool kit with spare plugs for my 60 horse Yamaha outboard. A bottle of Dandelion and Burdock was stowed aboard for refreshment.

High tide was at ten, and I hoped to make this for the launch, the slipway is only half a mile from my house, so that shouldn't be any problem, or so I thought. Remember the farmers son, who is also our farrier, well he had a call to do a horse and thought that he could "just fit it in". After much pacing and wearing of shoe leather on my part, he arrived at eleven,two hours late, and was told that he couldn't have a cup of tea. His redemption was the fact that I needed his Ranger to launch the boat as I had stupidly sold my Discovery and acquired a Subaru Impreza, great fun but not ideal for launching boats. My wife was using our other Discovery, although she had offered to run the boat down to the slip.

Hitched up, we were ready to rock and roll, and we proceeded down to our launch site at the WRC.

Halfway there I suddenly realised that I had left the toolkit on top of the electricity meter cupboard, The farmers son said that we could go back and get it but the thought of turning around on a single track road didn't appeal so I politely declined with a reference to a lump of grass, I mean what could possibly go wrong.

£7.50 slipped from my grasp as I paid for the slipway and the launch went without drama, apart from the farmers son's reversing skills. Engine lowered on it's power tilt and trim, and ticking over nicely warming up, we loaded the days provisions.

GPS was started up, VHF on, ropes were cast off and we were away. The tide was with us, and at 1700 rpm we were making 6 knots as we headed for our first destination. The Berney Arms, for lunch. :naughty:

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The river was pleasantly quiet, giving me time to study the fishfinder, not that I needed to look to hard, the water was rammed. From the entrance to Oulton dyke downstream. Typical, as a long planned fishing session the other week the river was devoid of fish. Where do they go? Admitedly on the day in question there was a brisk NE blowing, but as the day had been booked of work there was no going back. Anyway, I digress.

The height board at Somerleyton swing bridge was showing a respectable 2.6 metres, not that I was concerned, my anchor light is a few centimetres over 2 metres and is easily removed. I should think that I could easily do 1.5 metres, with my VHF mast bending on the bridges superstructure. The sound always reminds me of when we used to peg playing cards to the frame of our bikes as children.

Pottering through St.Olaves, and time to ponder the fate of some of the tired looking craft collected beside the banks either side of the old bridge. With ideas probably a lot bigger than my budget, each mouldy hull is revitalised in my imagination and my mind wonders as to the reasons of their neglect.

The river is still relatively deserted as we meander across Fritton marshes, and conversation drifts towards the reputed puma that is said to frequent those parts. I remain fairly open minded on the subject, having had a lynx run out in the road in front of me a few years ago at Spexhall.

I have to admit to finding this part of the river quite un-inspiring, the main highlight for me being the increasing numbers of Little Egrets that feed there, showing up starkly against the dark mud of the undercut banks. Before we know it, the navigation posts of the entrance to Breydon, and more importantly the left turn into the Yare are upon us. The moorings of the Berney Arms are empty, we gently nudge against the quay and jump onto dry land.

My belly thinks that my throat has been cut.

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First impressions of the Berney were good, nice moorings, a neat and tidy outside area with good views across the marsh. The Red Arrows gave us a fly past as they headed for the same place as us, a good reminder that we did not want to dwell to long in this establishment, a quick pitstop and then onwards.

The bar was small and had an old world charm, flagged floors and wood panelling. The smell of hot food and cold beer invaded our nostrils as we approached the bar. Both my passengers elected to have a beer, I choose an O.J. The menu was fairly basic, you had a choice of either Bagguette, Burger or Baked Potato. We all, after not much deliberation, chose Burger, myself and the farmers son opting for the 8 ounce with extra cheese and bacon, the trans-atlantic sailor going for the 4 ounce.

"Your only doing that to make us look bad" I proclaimed, the farmers son and I changing his order to the 8 ounce.

Taking our seats we surveyed our surroundings. The walls were adorned with pieces of art and maritime objects, all of which were for sale, I think that with not much haggling you could have purchased the pub itself. The food arrived, and although basic, was good and wholesome. I couldn't finish mine, the portions were that good. Breydon Water was calling, and we supped up to continue on our journey.

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