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A Clean Weekend On Salerno

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Day 1:

Day Ones Captain’s Blog is here: http://youtu.be/bWCHwEBylSc (This marks the beginning of a new series of ‘Captains’ Blogs’ coming in the future. Longer, with a greater mix of myself talking to the camera together with river scenes, boat walk-a-rounds and reviews).

It began early because I had booked myself on the 8:30am train from Liverpool Street to Norwich, not only did this mean my fares were just £8.50 each way, but would have meant by the time I made my connection to Hoveton & Wroxham, I could get the 11:35am bus to Stalham.

I left my home bang on 7:00am and arrived at Liverpool Street in good time – I thought I’d try a Burger King breakfast – never again!

On the train and it was relatively quiet, past the Olympic Park at Stratford and time for a nap. We seemed to be making good progress until just outside Ipswich we stopped and then the air conditioning went off and I knew something was amiss. There was an over head line problem and my heart sank. Fortunately we were not held up too long and back on our way. I made the connection at Norwich and I was then getting more excited, the first glimpses of the river and boats as we headed out of Norwich.

I arrived earlier than expected at the boatyard and checked in – the boat was not ready but that was OK. I left my case in reception and headed off for a stroll around the village. It seems Stalham is full of takeaway places and hairdressers. The Grebe pub had music blaring and certainly seems to cater for a clientele I am not part of, I much prefer the Swan.

I had a look in the ‘factory outlet’ shop – yet was surprised much of the items I see back home in the local pound shop were well over a pound in there. If they were inflated in price one wonders how cheap the other things may be, out of there and into Boots for some Hayfever pills. Boots in Stalham feels very strange. It is the fact everyone seems to know everyone else (not bad) that ‘Frank’ can be greeted by his first name and they know what prescription he has – but the thing was I was an interloper, some strange chappy from out of town and I was looked up and down as if people were taking mental pictures of me and if anything untoward happened in town they would say ‘there was this stranger you know in Boots, not from round here’.

A quick stop for snacks in Tesco and off back to the boatyard (via the staithe for a sit down and relax in the sun) the boat – Salerno No. 2 – was now ready and off I trundled over to the quay. I must admit the only failing I find with Richardson’s is they are entirely geared for those arriving in cars. It would be helpful if they had a couple of trolleys like Herbert Woods do to put bags and stuff on, suitcase wheels don’t like gravel and wooden slatted quay walkways.

I got on board and initial thoughts were ‘aww’ – Salerno looked every so cute in a way, short but everything you needed, large rear cabin, good sized toilet, a little galley but a full size saloon akin to what you get on much larger boats.

Soon after the chap from the yard was over – and a miss understating ensued. He said he was here to take me on a trial run, for which I assured him I did not need – he then told me it was a requirement of health & safety and I accepted that but in fact he did not mean ‘trial run’ but ‘talk over of the boat’ – once this was sorted all slotted into place and showed me where the gas bottles were, rhonde anchors and so on. I did not get his name, but my he was helpful. Off the top of his head he gave me the Landlady’s number and name of the Kings Head in Ludham and because was alone told me to call and I’d be picked up and taken to the pub. He offered a wealth of advice on other places to go and things to do. This was not just a script reeled off to everyone, but genuine helpful nature. Thank you and sorry I don’t remember your name.

Once hand over was complete it was time to get going and it felt great to be back on the water – the sun was out, and all felt just right with the world. I was planning a long cruise from Stalham to Wroxham – the idea being to moor in Barnes Brinkcraft’s yard over night. I wanted to get there because it would make going out for a meal easy, and a good place to start off on the Saturday to do the live stream for Norfolk Broads – LIVE! from.

I left the confines of the boatyard and before long was on Barton Broad – the mad rush of other boats now coming thick and fast, I knew that this week was going to a busy one because the price bands had dropped from their summer highs but schools were still not back so a lot of holiday makers were taking advantage of this.

I mud weighted on Barton Broad just outside the marked channel to set up one of my gadgets – a reversing camera for a car that I had fitted a cigarette lighter plug to. This set up first trialed on Dream Time would mean not only would stern on mooring be a breeze, but at any time I could see what was behind me without sticking my head out the window. The colour camera, flat panel monitor and cable had cost me £39.00 – bargain and say this much for under £40.00 I think such a set up could well be the next addition for many a hire boat to have, least it should be I say.

Camera working it was time to haul in the mud weight and head off for the long cruise to Wroxham. At Ludham Bridge moorings (many of which were free) I did a test side on mooring – it is always good to do this without risk of other boats being in front or behind you just to get a feel for the boat – she was very responsive on the throttle coming to stop with a quick burst of astern – the only problem was she loved to steer left, but rather hated going right, and once going left getting the wheel to turn to right was a struggle as you could really feel the prop wash on the rudder as the wheel vibrated and complained at being turned against the flow of water.

Under the bridge then, past the truly sensational looking ‘Brave Heart’ which has been extensively refurbished by Ludham Bridge Boatyard. Before long it was time to turn right onto the Bure and head towards Wroxham. It was busy again but really hit heavy traffic on the approach to Horning and outside the Ferry Inn was some new mooring techniques being tried. One – stern on outside the pub, the other go past the mooring then back in as if you were parking a car. I thought to myself if it was this full now what on earth was Wroxham going to be like – I got on to the Barnes Brinkcraft Webcam and had a look – very much a full house. I could have got in, and I could have tried Faircraft Loynes – or even MC Marine Leisure moorings outside the Café but if I was to find no room at the inn so to speak, I would be risking not having a mooring with shore access to somewhere to eat – and I had wanted to eat out and not cook on board.

Just past the Swan I decided to turn about and head to Le Boat and moor in their boatyard. Good thinking because when I arrived there (it has to be said I missed the entrance amazingly on the way and only 5 minutes later thought ‘hang on where has Le Boat gone to?’) so doubled back, and moored in a very quiet yard with just one other boat there with people on.

I did a bit to camera had a look at some of the boats which were moored and got ready to unpack my things. Peace was shattered when an Emperor class boat came and decided to moor right next to me – and once moored just left its slowly smoking and oh so noisy Perkins engine running. Why I thought, with all this space did you need to moor right against my port side. Still I thought I’ll be off soon to the Ferry Inn for a meal and drinks so not to worry.

I left about 7:30pm to walk to the Ferry Inn and when I arrived I stood next to the signed that said ‘wait here to be seated’ I was ignored as if I was invisible, even when I stopped one of the waitresses to ask if they had a table, I was looked at as if I was infected – just one? No one else with you I was asked (as if this was some kind of terrible affliction to turn up to a pub and want to eat and be alone) she vanished and 5 minutes later I was none the wiser if there was going to be room – a family of four arrived, chap came over and smiled and took them off to a table. I got his attention and again asked about myself possibly being able to eat there tonight, to which I was told they were now full and expect an hours wait!

I did not want to mess about and left. I did not fancy the walk to the New Inn or Swan so went to Harry’s Fish Shop. I ordered Haddock & Chips and a diet coke, only to be told their fridge had exploded the day before so they coke was warm. My heart was sinking. Warm coke, and a meal which I had not planned on having. I was tired having been on the go for over 13 hours now and just wanting to eat and go to sleep.

The good news was the fish was freshly cooked and it was blooming lovely! Crispy well covered batter, succulent and flaky fish. The chips weren’t half bad either and so I walked back to the boat, to find the Emperor boat had moved to the other side of the basin – I was now alone and all was quiet. I sat in the forward well on the boat and watched the sun go down and finished my fish & chips. Life was not so bad after all.

It was an early night and I have to hand it to Richardson’s they do have good pillows, snug blankets and thick duvets. A lovely berth I could stretch out in and would certainly be comfy for two without being to squashed up.

Ahh, this was the life I thought as I drifted to sleep.

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Thank you for your post on your trip, always a very good read. I really am speachless about your treatment at the Ferry Inn. Someone needs to go on a course about hospitality I think. How down right rude of them. I feel quite upset for you. Never mind at least your fish and chips sounded just the ticket.

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Thanks for the replies.

Tonight Day 2 will be coming :)

As far as moorings in Wroxham, personally I feel as if I am being a little rude turning up at a smaller boatyard to moor over night despite beign perfectly within my rights to as they are all part of the same agency. As it turned out Horning was the ideal place as you will learn.

Ferry Inn - I like. I have been 3 times previously without issue, I think being a Friday night and perhaps run off their feet I got the welcome I did.

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Great blog/holiday tale, I cant wait to see if you have broken your curse :naughty:

I saw you on Monday (I think) but was with someone and you disappeared towards reception before I could get away and introduce myself..

I was also in the Ferry on Friday but did not see you.

next installment please, hope it stays positive !

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Thank you for the kind comments, and better late than never here is day two...

Day 2:

Day Two Captain's Blog: http://youtu.be/rctruSAdMH0

After a lovely sleep it was up early and I was gutted to find it was raining lightly. Today was going to be spent cruising into Wroxham, getting a few bits and bobs from Roys and then going ‘live at twelve’ and then cruise all the way to Potter Heigham with a bunch of people watching me.

Every time I want to put cameras outside (which are not meant to be outside) it has to rain. And so it was today and 20 minutes of wrapping up webcams in layers of PVC tape later I was ready to figure out where they should go. I also had bought a new toy along – a PTZ (Pan Tilt Zoom) camera akin to the ones you can watch from Barnes Brinkcraft – only mine was smaller and far far cheaper I wanted to give it a go none the less. I also had purchased a suction cup camera mount that would enable a full 180 degrees panning from just above the water – this was all scuppered when I broke the arm of the camera mount just getting it out of my bag! Next time...

As it happened I had three cameras out – two forward and one to the rear once all that was done, cables run and plugged in it was time to leave Le Boat before the rush of returning holiday makers came back for 9:00am. I left a drizzly chilly Le Boat boatyard at getting on for 8:00am and headed for Wroxham.

Not long after turning on to the main river the heater which I had put on to take the chill off suddenly went from its usual humming sound to a completely different tone – also far less air was coming out from the floor vent right next to the helm. I actually punched the air and laughed – as if on cue something had happened to me again on a boat.

I got concerned rapidly though as the rev counter began to do funny things and then the whole dashboard and throttle arm began getting warmer and warmer. Off with the heater and thankfully into a recently vacated space outside the Ferry Inn. On the phone to Richardson’s and then I began to think what could make the heater change its usual noise, less air come out and then the dashboard all get so hot? Not long after making the call (I’d guess at 15 minutes) a Richardson’s van arrived, and I cringed thinking it would be the same chap who fixed the heater on San Julian back in April – For surely he would think I was a serial heater messer-upper.

It was not and in fact a chap who once took the panel off under the dashboard had the problem solved in about 20 seconds. The ducting that leaves the heater and then goes the length of the boat had half popped off the outlet of the heater unit, once this happened half of the hot air would have had nowhere to go but in the small void behind the panel, thus heating up the metal throttle body, and causing the rev counter to behave erratically through it getting hot too. Back on, clip that held in place tightened we had a chat. He had worked on Far Horizon and the Broadsman class boats and asked what I thought of those, together with the fact he liked Broad Ambition which got me talking about the cameras and what I was doing and how such had been used on Broad Ambition during the Thames Pageant.

It is nice to come across people who do a job but also have a passion for what it is they do – be it a man who works on boats in a yard to a train lover who drives trains.

Time to leave the moorings at the Ferry Inn and head into Wroxham – along it seemed with everyone else who had moored over night at the Ferry Inn. Despite the fact it was early in the morning there seemed already to be a mass of day boats coming up river from Wroxham but very few cruisers, this worried me as I really needed to go to Roys and so began to consider I may have to go under the Bridge to moor – looking on the webcam at Barnes Brinkcraft showed a full yard too. Damn!

As I came into Wroxham I suddenly remembered the moorings at MC Marine Leisure – the day boat operators next to the Café just past Barnes Brinkcraft on the right hand side. They had a space and so a quick turn and I was coming in to stern moor – the reversing camera meaning everything was so much easier. The chap took my ropes and as I came out the rear door said:

“You expecting trouble?â€

I was taken aback and had to ask him to explain

“You’ve got more cameras on this boat that my house!â€

Ahh, I the penny dropped and I explained again what they were for and what I was going to do. Came into the office and gave them the web address to go to and watch proceedings from and then rushed off to Roys. I had also been tasked by my girlfriend to get a Norfolk inspired mug, fridge magnets and pens together with a selection of postcards so she can send these home to her family.

What with going to Roys and trying to figure out what postcard scenes looked the best to get took more time that I had hoped and it was now 11:45am – blimey had to get back to the boat and upon doing so set up the live stream and depart for 12:00pm. Upon getting back, everything went smoothly the stream began and even my mum was watching and in the chat room – I was waived the mooring fee and off I went – Dave Flames (a member of this forum) somehow had control of the webcam at Barnes Brinkcraft and took a series of snap shots as I left the moorings and went live.

I know this is all not very holiday like, I know too it is very much geeky and frankly a right pain to set up – but when it was all going, people are tweeting, chatting and watching the show it seems proper worth it.

Along the Bure we went but I had been having problems all morning with getting a decent mobile signal on the usually very reliable Three MiFi unit – even in Wroxham I was only able to get 3G and by the time we left Wroxham broad (being turned around because of the racing that was going on) signal was lost completely. Once I got it back we were well past Horning – and I had suffered a problem with the USB hub which powers and connects all the webcams. The power pack for it had stopped working. Some on the fly changing of cables meant we had at least got 2 cameras back up and running.

It was then along the Thurne and to Potter Heigham. Not much to report, most of the afternoon was taken up with just cruising along. When I arrived at Herbert Woods it was my intention of getting some water (I’d forgotten to use the hose right behind the boat in Le Boats boatyard) and was surprised to see Herbert Woods so completely full. I slowly went around looking for hoses and a space to moor. The only thing I could find was a stern on mooring partially blocked by a dinghy. After two attempts it was plain to see a 12 foot wide boat was not going to fit in a 10 foot wide space.

Time to leave – DRL Marine had water and so just shortly after leaving Herbert Woods to head to Womack Water I ended the live stream. Phew. I could relax now, for when I am doing that I ma always more on edge – aware people can both hear and see everything I do from cock ups to exemplary manoeuvres.

Once in Womack Dyke, it was as I expected full. My favourite ‘wild mooring’ was more overgrown than ever – but the other ‘back up one’ past the corner on the left was free. Down past Hunters yard, over Womack Water and moored at DRL where a very helpful guy asked ‘what can we do for you’ and actually got the hose and put it in the filler. It seemed to take an age to fill up – surely I had not used that much water? Then I began to see what seemed to be happening. There are two tanks, both have a small hole which will spurt water out to let you know when it is full, but while the right hand one was dribbling out the left hand one was positively spurting out. I wonder if in fact this was a siphon effect, where once the water had began to come out it carried on and on – anyway – they certainly were full and it was time to head off and see if the mooring I had spied on my way was free. Incidentally the public staithe was full.

And so as I came down the dyke the mooring was indeed free, and I took my time to prepare and moor. This time I did not get off the boat with it in gear, and this time I was much more confident with the rhonde anchor/rope dance routine. Before long I was settled, a cold beer on the go and the sun setting with nobody around. Lovely.

I put everything away, tidied the boat and while Salerno is not very big, she has everything you could wish for aboard. I am still amazed at the price and despite it being one of the cheapest boats you can hire its inventory included 3 saucepans and a frying pan, a colander, a sharp pearing knife, bread knife - hell even egg cups! I also like the pack Richardson’s give you, toilet roll, black bin bag, little bottle of washing up liquid, tea towels and jay cloth together with a scouring pad.

I wonder if it is just me but when you are moored for the evening, I do like a bit of Classic FM on really relaxes you. It was not a very eventful day I grant you, but I had tomorrow to look forward to as far as doing what I pleased and no rushing. I also did not need to worry about cameras and cables and the like. It had been a great day, and the evening was treating me to a wonderful light show with the setting sun and nature was all coming to rest around me. This is what boating is all about – complete mind reset from daily rush of life.

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Day 3:

Day Three Captain's Blog: http://youtu.be/jTO9XJvJpsA

Having spent the night moored on Womack Dyke I awoke early and rested. This is a lovely still stretch of water, and being alone without the noise of other boats makes for a lovely mooring. Increasingly though these type of moorings are being coming rarer and those that are about are soon snapped up.

I wanted to get underway before everyone else had got up and ready, and so just after 8am I was underway heading towards Acle. It was a lovely morning, mild with a slight breeze, high cloud meant the sun was casting an almost filtered light over the rivers and marshes.

Other than fisherman on the banks of the Thurne, I past no other boats until well on the way to Acle on the Bure. I was not taking things fast and just taking in the scenery and morning calmness. It is a shame others were not of the same idea – two boats charging up the Bure from Acle and whether they were doing more than the 6 MPH posted maximum on this stretch really is neither here not there for it was clear they did not consider what their wash may do to those moored up especially the smaller boats.

When I arrived at Acle things were beginning to ‘wake up’ but spotting the water house I made a quick about turn and came in for a quick top up. Water tanks filled it was time to set off again – and the thought crossed my mind why not head down to Yarmouth? It was a lovely morning, weather was meant to be sunny later in the afternoon but shortly after Stokesby I decided it would be a foolish trip only to have to return with a very long cruise back as I was taking the boat back the next day – I’ll do that next time I thought.

Coming back from Stokesby the river had a good swell on, a whole stream of boats where using the ebb tide to help them down to Yarmouth and now against it I was having a hoot the boat rocking, the small waves seeming larger than they were when hit the almost flat bow of Salerno and a big ‘explosion’ of water shot up. It was great and for a moment reminded me of the swell on the Thames when aboard Broad Ambition. Still calm waters are all well and good, but a good breeze and a swell sure makes for a good time.

Past Acle and heading towards the junction with the Thurne, I took a left and headed on up the Bure towards St. Benet’s. I made a silly school boy error thinking I had suddenly arrived at the syke leading to Ranworth so took it only to find it was Fleet Dyke and so did an about turn back to the Bure. By now traffic was really thick, going up and down the Bure and had to wait to pull out on to the main river and once done thought about going to Ranworth – however after a bit of thinking thought better of it and headed back up the Ant.

Upon arrival at Ludham Bridge I remembered seeing a sign in the shape of a duck with 2nd September on it. It made sense now what that was for – but boy it was packed! It also seemed that the sunny Sunday had got half of Broads Edge out for the day for there were private craft of all sorts heading down the Ant and mooring at Ludham, mixed with hire craft and on the whole everyone behaving themselves and taking it slowly through the narrow bends these moorings occupy.

Just then a boat went and I hoped I could pass the moorings, turn and come back and nab the mooring. This I did, and though was an ‘off side’ mooring it all went very smoothly. I had some food and drink then headed off to catch the end of the first duck race across the river with Ludham Bridge Boatyard doing a great job of traffic management with Big Tow the other side of the bridge allowing the race to proceed.

After this back to the boat, wuick clean up and then underway again. I wanted to turn the Stalham side of the bridge and noticed a space on the other side of the river had become free. I could turn here and not risk any drifting into anyone else – not least the very shiny private boat opposite me. All went well, only after turning I somehow unwittingly performed a perfectly executed mooring on the other bank. Quite what people must have thought I am not sure, but now had to do departure number 2. This ended up going smoothly thankfully and I did not end up back where I began lol.

Going up the Ant I witnessed a worrying moment wne a couple on Ruby Gem tried to moor at the now very busy moorings at How Hill. As I turned the bend I was greeted with said Ruby Gem in the middle of the river facing me, a woman on the bank holding on to the stern rope with such gusto trying to bring the stern in. At the same time her partner at the helm, going away for the bank under power. She was pulled closer and closer to the edge refusing the let go of the rope, then hit a mooring post with her shin, tripped and dropped the rope. So thankful she did not trip towards the river or she would have been in and with no life jacket and a boat now heading for the bank.

A private sailing boat behind offered some help – it was ignored – the helmsman then deciding to go flat out forward towards the bank I looked away but heard the crash of fibre glass on wood – she then leaped onboard at the bow only for the helmsman to leave and walk to the stern while the boat was still under power! By now the owner of the sailing boat rightly in my opinion had enough and shouted ‘what the *#$? Are you doing’ and gave them a good push away from his shining gel coat. The helmsman was back at the controls, turned somehow and proceeded back in the direction of Stalham bouncing of the bank twice more and with no apology given.

Fun and games over with the rest of the meander along the Ant was lovely. Upon reaching Barton Broad I headed to the left and up toward Lyme Kiln Dyke to Nettishead. It was so beautiful, quiet and lush green – though the staithe was full, it was a pleasure to go along this almost hidden backwater.

Once I had turned and headed back to Barton Broad it seemed as though everyone was heading back to Broads Edge at the end of the afternoon as boat after boat came over the broad and headed for Stalham. I thought and smiled at the same time how habitual people are, they may not hire boats but they still have a timetable to get back, load up the car and head off home ready for the reality of Monday morning.

Back to Richardson’s boatyard, moored up and got under way with packing – better do it now and get it out the way. Through clean of the boat – I can’t help myself even doing the inside and outside of the windows. Salerno was gleaming, everything was packed and now time to walk into Stalham for food. There are so many places to choose from – I went to one (I have no idea now of the name) but a Chinese that did Thai Food and had neither Chinese or Thai but a Malaysian Satay Chicken dish with rice.

Back on board this went down great with some beer I had in the fridge and then with the sunroof back sat and enjoyed the last warm rays of sun and recounted the days adventures thinking the weekend had past by so quickly and it would be time to head back tomorrow.

So it may not have been the most interesting of trips to write about, but it was none the less a lovely escape for me from the rush of life and work. Since feeling nervous in the past about solo cruising, I have the hang of it now and love the fact I can come up I have money and have a break like this for just a weekend. So, until next time thanks goes to Richardson’s for a lovely little boat, a keen price and to those of you who read this and watched my Captain’s Blogs thanks too. Until nest time then...

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The final Captain's Blog link was not click-able here is the correct one: www.youtube.com/watch?v=jTO9XJvJpsA&feature=youtu.be

@ Johnny: Yes she is lovely inside, comfy bed and soft seats - at night the saloon is cosy and well lit. As I said in video, everything you need in a small boat and some things you might not expect to get. Plenty of drawers and hanging space too!

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