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Rocked By A Crimson Lady


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I know the date precisely, 22nd June 1985, as I already had a heavy rendezvous..




So, my parents would drop me at the hire car depot close to Knebworth and travel on to Norfolk, while I went to the gig, had a boogie then follow them up later.

Well, it rained, rained and rained some more. It didn't stop all day, so once the penultimate band Scorpions finished rocking us 'like a hurricane', soaked to the skin I left early.

Driving an unfamiliar car through unfamiliar roads in atrocious weather I finally arrived at Potter Heigham.


Somehow my father had persuaded my mum to try a sailing boat for a change. Now, my dad loved his sailing boats, always reading Practical Boat Owner, Wooden and Classic Boat, and sketching craft in detail on the backs of envelopes. He'd already taken my mum(pre-kids) on Gay Lady in the '50's and my brother and I joined him on the Broads with his own Lysander in '78. He'd built at least two mirror dinghies from kits, a GP14 was around once, and we owned a beautifully varnished 505 which took off like a scalded cat at the slightest movement of air. A Micro 18 too. In later life we had a few hours from Hunter's yard.

So he had the knowledge and the will but, due to an old rugby injury, a simple limp on land became a worrying wobble on water. Not confidence inspiring.


However, I think he chose a sensible boat on paper:



I arrived and mum wasn't happy. Not surprising as the weather had been just as bad here and shut below decks being tossed around like salad(an uncruiser-like 8' 8” beam and lightweight) waiting for me must have been a tough trial.

We decided to (try and) sleep on it and see what the next day would bring.


In the morning it had stopped raining but the wind was strong, too strong for comfort. We started the motor and moved off, hoping for a change in the weather. Once out of Potter, dad decided that it was time to hoist sails, well, the jib only, but on the main river, highly exposed by the Acle turn-off.

It was extremely windy! Rhond anchors were ploughing the turf, the sail was flapping alarmingly and mum was spinning in the washing machine. Disaster movie stuff! If either of my two older brothers had been there, it would've been okay as they have good sailing experience. I tend to just wing it really, point in a direction and hope.


With dad's wobble, my inexperience and mum's discomfort(definitely not in that order!), a meeting was called and the decision was made to return to the boatyard to negotiate an exchange.

They kindly gave us this:




I think it was Crystal Light, but could have been Western Light, and all I can remember is that we had a great, if conventional, time.


Even if we'd held out for the better weather which eventually arrived, the boat wasn't pleasant enough for mum, which was understandable. I think everyone on board needs to be 100% committed with a boat like this, able to deal with whatever comes your way.

From purple to crimson to crystal! Sounds like a road to enlightenment story.

Just a little tale to hopefully amuse and entertain. I'm sorry if it's a bit negative, but it's all I remember from that holiday. Probably says a lot about me!

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Thanks for sharing that, it brought back nice memories of Pennant Holidays. I was a teenager at that time and we had our first ever Thames holiday at the end of May which was very wet also. We also went to a wet Lake District that August, I think it was a wet summer all round. 

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