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Windjammer For The Week


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August 6th to 13th 2022


I set out from home at 0930 on Saturday morning, headed for a rendezvous with my daughter at Cambridge Services to collect grandson (8). The car was loaded with the usual collection of clothes, basic foods and sailing bits and pieces, (though not enough of these as It turned out).


We had lunch together and then GS and I headed away to Norfolk. We arrived at Eastwood Whelpton Boatyard Upton, where I was welcomed with a cup of coffee and we were able to go on board Windjammer.


The boat was in excellent order as I expected from this yard, super clean and well equipped. I was taken around and shewn the ropes, literally, and settled down to wait for David and Jessica to arrive later.


 This was an opportunity to look over Whimp, my sailing dinghy which the yard had launched for me and which we would be towing astern on our trip. I haven’t been able to use the Whimp for a long time so it was an important aspect of the holiday for me; I have spent many happy hours sailing Whimp, especially when we had a mooring at Ranworth. Ah just one problem, no sails. I thought I had left them on Brilliant, as indeed I had at one point, but, as David confirmed, they were now in my loft at home. Oh well we could still row it and head for the pub in the evenings.


One lovely surprise was that Doug and Hele moored up with Papaver late in the afternoon and it was great to catch up with them and admire their lovely Broom. It is in immaculate order and a real home from home.


David and Jessica arrived in the early evening and we all headed for The White Horse in Upton for an evening meal. This community run pub never disappoints. I took GS back for his bedtime and they stayed on for a quick drink together. GS loved the forward cabin on Windjammer, creating his own ‘den’ where the berth passed under the foredeck.


Sunday morning was a quick trip by car to Wroxham for a few essentials from Roy’s. I tried to go to the chandlery for some Deks Olje 1 to pretty up the Whimp’s topsides but they were closed being Sunday, it could wait.


Back at the boatyard we set off, intending to have lunch on South Walsham Broad. We wanted to ease GS into the sailing thing, so were planning to  actually make sail at South Walsham. We gave GS the helm at the end of Upton Dyke and he steered the boat all the way to our planned stop with considerable skill, good going for 8 years old. We just sat about in the cockpit and kept an eye on proceedings.


Lunch over, we set sail for Ranworth, intending to mudweight there overnight and row in to the pub. This was an easy sail while we got used to Windjammer and how she performed. It was so good being back to a place where I had spent so much time over the years.


We always like to have the option of a dinghy here as the staithe is so popular True to expectation, the moorings was indeed full, but we were happy on the mudweight and took the dinghy across to the dyke to the Maltsters. I ordered GS his pizza early so that he could eat at his usual time. I waited for Dave and Jessica and then got my order in. GS ate well and it was a good thing he didn’t have to wait too long. We rowed back to the boat and I got GS to bed, after which we adults engaged in a high stakes poker game. Jess cleaned us out.


Where are the coots? We fed the ducks, watched terns and cormorants, black headed gulls and great crested grebe; but not a single coot, not one.


The weather was so hot that we were following a policy of shade seeking until early afternoon then moving on. As this was Ranworth, it meant breakfast teacakes at The Granary followed by Ice creams. We took a walk down to the wildlife centre and spent some time bird watching which we all enjoyed. GS bought presents for his parents. Next, we walked through to St Helen’s Church and spent time admiring its art treasures. Obviously, the tower had to be climbed so I concealed our baggage under some handy drapery and up the steps and ladders we went.  Passing the bells made us grateful that the clock had finished striking the hour some while earlier. The view is always worth the climb and we could see from Windjammer out in the Broad to the rise in the distance that was the sea defences. Looking at the monk and coracle wind-vane, we continued our talk about the abbey at St Benets which GS found fascinating. We climbed down and GS immediately announced that he wanted to go up again, there were no takers on that proposal! A quick drink at the church tea rooms later and we were walking back to the Staithe.


Steve had lots of piratical gear in stock so a flag and pack of weaponry was bought. I also managed to get a copy of Coot Club from the Information Office. The flag turned out to be enormous and, later, we flew it from the peak, much to the delight of lots of small day boaters. It looked suitably ‘arrrgh’.


There ensued a leisurely time of it sailing up to Black Horse Broad and enjoying the peace there. We thought of dropping back to The New Inn for dinner and mooring outside but, amazingly, there was a space on the staithe, so we hopped in!  A passing boat shouted greetings, this turned out to be Steve and Nik with their grandson and the result later was a happy companionable meal together at The New Inn and a good catch up. I realised, reminded by the mozzies, I had forgotten the Skin So Soft, bought specially for this trip. Steve came to the rescue later by delivering one of their bottles for me on his way to dropping the rubbish. Thanks Steve!


Next morning, our destination was Salhouse Broad and a BBQ, so Dave headed out and stocked up with goodies at the Deli. Just as we were preparing to leave Broad Ambition came by and spoke.. Griff was also headed for Salhouse, so we would see them later. We again sailed Black Horse Broad and then turned upstream tacking all the way.


Just before entering Salhouse I cunningly lassoed a red post with the mainsheet, a fast release of the stopper knot and the engine went on and into reverse whilst Dave dropped the sail soon sorted us out with a few feet of red paint for me to scrub off the white rope when we moored. Doug sacrificed his thinners for that job, thanks Doug!


It turned out that there was quite a gathering of old friends and acquaintances at Salhouse meeting up to cruise south for the Classic Wooden Boat Show at Beccles. There was a fair bit of shuffling of boats and dinghies to make room for everyone to come in side by side and people coming in with hire boats were helped to moor up too. Hand-over to hirers really doesn’t seem to give adequate practice of the dreaded stern mooing.


 We found that a really good small snack bar and play area have been added to the joys of this lovely place, GS had a great time and cracked the traversing of monkey bars. The BBQ evening was spent chatting and drinking wine. Perfect.


Next morning, we were in no great hurry to depart. We had a leisurely breakfast and I borrowed the lovely Purdey (Griff’s retriever) for a walk up to the loos. She is a beauty and so well behaved. More chat and coffees, more monkey bars and ice cream and then it was time to go. They were heading downstream we were aiming for Coltishall at the furthest point upstream.


Next stop, Wroxham where we moored in Barnes Brinkcraft, we were greeted by a staff member who said he’d have to charge us, Windjammer being a private boat. We pointed out that is was in fact hired and he was amazed; not the last person working on Wroxham waterfront who was not aware that there are three yacht hire companies on the Broads. Showers were available here, hooray! Once made fit for human contact we set off for Roys Toys, Roys Food Hal, Roys DIY and the chandlery, (not Roys).


 All shopped out, we dropped the mast and phoned the bridge pilot, as instructed in our skippers’ manual. They said they ‘did hire craft, and only one or two of the older pilots

Knew what to do about yachts’. We pointed out we were a hire craft and were 6’5” with the mast down, could we go through? No problem, so we did, then raised the mast further upstream. 


The trip up to Coltishall was pretty, quite tree lined and narrow and very weedy, with attendant clear water. We motored up, giving the prop an occasional burst astern to clear it of weed. At the head of the Navigation there were no spaces so we asked a large hire boat crew if we could tie on against them. They agreed at once and so we were very soon having our evening meal in The Kings Arms, which is a restaurant rather than pub food option and very nice.


Back at the boat, Jessica taught GS how to play Backgammon and he taught her how to play Sorry.


Still no coots.


Next morning, we made an early start downstream to moor ready to transit the bridge again. We had terns swooping around us last night and now it was the turn of the kingfishers speeding along the heavily tree lined banks catching fish and pausing a while to eat them.


We moored above the bridge and walked down into Wroxham. We took morning coffee at the hotel and then a taxi to Bewilderwood on this very hot day. Bewilderwood is a really delightful storytelling theme park. There are mazes and slides and swings among the trees. There is live performance drama and a boat ride in and out. GS loves it. Last time, he was only three or four but had good memories of his visit. Now he made more.  It was an ideal venue for a very hot day. Jessica bought him a large stuffed rattlesnake toy at the end, his name was Thunder, and Thunder steered the boat quite a bit thereafter.


 This time the bridge pilots came up to see us, they looked down into the cockpit, filled at that point with a rat’s nest of rope and wire rigging and with the mast lying across it all in apparent chaos.  We had a lovely chat and they asked for a contact for information on piloting boats like ours which we were happy to give. Meantime, ‘yes’ we had headroom and ‘no’ they would prefer not to take Windjammer through, we were welcome to do so, so we did. Pulling into Faircraft Loynes to re-mast, we were told that ‘it was only for hire craft….’ 


We headed back towards Horning for the night, and again we found a mooring right in front of The Swan, so that decided us on evening venue and we were able to have a drink on board whilst watching the world go by. The coastguard launch passed by soon after mooring, but I don’t know why. It was not to be a quiet spot for GS to get to sleep, however, the boat club was hosting a summer camp of some sort and there was a very happy group pf youngsters noisily splashing about, falling on and off boards and the decking. I wish he could have joined them.


The next day, our last full day, was to prove the hottest of all. We sailed and motored downstream, diverting for a few hours sailing on South Walsham Broad and were only really cool there tacking across and back in a pleasant breeze. Onwards to Upton and time to have a thorough shower, then pack up ready for our departure in the morning. 


We found The White Horse to be fully booked and opted to revisit Liberty in Wroxham, we were there last September and liked it. It always seems odd to drive for twenty minutes and to reach somewhere that takes hours by river.  However, it was a good meal and GS enjoyed looking again at the bridge we had transited, this time from their terrace.


We set off home early, with GS declaring that he would miss the boat, but requesting that next time we might have one of the’ big hire boats’ he had seen and rather admired. Looks like we have created a motor boater rather than a sailor?  Darn! Oh well, he had a  really great time as did we all.

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What a thoroughly enjoyable read that was. I so envy you your grandchild of that sort of age. Ours are all grown up now and past that age of being interested in anything and everything. I remember with great nostalgia no. 1 g. Daughter helming our Fairline 29 with great efficiency aged just 4. Happy days. 




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