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LondonRascal

7 days, 1 Rascal & Distant Horizon 2

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Day One:

 

Watch Day One Captain's Blog Below:

 

 

 

So it was time once again to leave London and head to Norfolk – Acle in fact to take over Distant Hoirzon 2 from Horizon Craft – part of  Richardson’s Boating Holidays.  

 

I had hired with them before, the most recent being in October 2012 and knew the welcome would be first class and the boat tip top.  I’d arranged for a new taxi service to come and collect me from the station, wait while I popped into Budgens and then drop me at the boatyard – great service, lovely Ford Galaxy people carrier and a reasonable price –

 

After completing the paper work, meeting the usual friendly staff (and Paul Richardson as it happened) it was time to set off with the destination of Womack Dyke. 

 

While the boat class I was used to (having previously hired San Julian) I had no idea what this Distant Horizon 2 would look like internally, since there are no photos of it online or in the brochure.  I was impressed.  Huge windows, tinted too – lovely interior with a new cooker, huge sink and lots of storage from drawers to cupboards.  The aft cabin felt light and airy and I liked the fact the heater switch was in there – as was the heater itself.  This meant the first outlet from the heater was this cabin, which meant it would be nice and toasty in the cooler evenings – something San Julian lacked for its aft cabin was decidedly cold since only a slit puff of fair would come from its heater vent there.

 

This boat was a great find, I’d got 20% off being my second out of season holiday this year, which had brought the already keen weekly hire charge of £414.00 down to £331.20. Outside raised steering and a lovely fitted boat at ‘bath tub’ prices can’t be bad!  Distant Horizon 2 is (in my opinion) streets ahead of her sister Distant Horizon 1 – A better internal fit out, a better arrangement of sleeping accommodation verses heads in the aft cabin and a nicer galley makes me think it is best to book midweek so you can have number 2 rather than have a Saturday start and get number 1 in the class.

 

The only downside I could find to the boat was the fact the aft toilet is electric flushing – using the domestic water supply to flush it – not as most, the water from the river.  So it is best to keep the water tanked topped up daily.  Also, it has a BMC 1.5 litre diesel engine, which while in a soundproofed enclosure (and very clean and well kept) is certainly no Nanni in terms of smoothness and power delivery.  I guess I’d been spoilt in recent trips having boats with new engines.  It is of note you must top the header tank with water up each morning and keep a keen eye on the oil level – I did a lot of miles and used over a litre and half of oil – but also consumed a reasonable frugal £84.00 of diesel.  Not bad I thought of the amount of miles I covered – but more on that in time, this after all is only the first days account.

 

I arrived at Womack Dyke and was annoyed with mother nature, for there was a constant high wind, with big gusts and wouldn’t you know it was not blowing in my favour.  I’d much rather be blown on to a bank than off it, but as I came into the moor it took a good 10 minutes of trying to get alongside and off the boat with the Rhonde anchors before the wind had chance to blow the boat away.  Even when on the bank I dare not let go of either ropes for a moment so waited until there was a lull and in a moment pounced and got the bow line tied to a hurriedly buried Rhonde anchor.

Once the boat was secure it was time to unpack and make the boat comfy. I must say this was the first time in my visiting Horizon Craft that the berth had not been made up, not that putting a sheet on a bed was a big deal, but I wonder if that was just that day or if this may be the way of things from this base from now on. 

 

It was not late by any standards, early afternoon in fact – so I went for a walk along the bank and just enjoyed being back where I love – the Broads, and despite the wind it was very mild indeed and was forecast to be ever more sunny and hotter as the days passed – great timing I thought.  But the hear and now was just to take it easy without a care and just relax, so back to the boat – open a can of beer and sit out on top and watch the scenery (and other boats come and go).  Tomorrow would be an early start for I would be needing to get all the cameras and wiring done since I was departing Womack Dyke and heading south – as far as we could before the sunset – so it was an early dinner and to bed ready for the next day’s adventure.

 

 

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Day Two:

 

Watch Day Two Captain's Blog Below:

 

 

 

It was an early start – around 5:30am.  I had not intended to be up at this time, but I could not seem to rest easy thinking a lot about the day ahead – when should I leave the mooring to get the ebb tide to Breydon?  Where and how was I going to place the cameras and would the new cables I’d bought work for those who would come and watch live later and where exactly would I be making for as an overnight mooring?

 

Breakfast was had and after a couple of coffees I was feeling much more clear.  The usual messing about with cables and cameras resulted in the also very common issue of none of them working when they were plugged in and had power – a lot of choice words and configuring software later everything was set and working.  Time to chill out and go for a walk.

 

It was a glorious morning, but the wind was just as bad today as yesterday.  I walked along the dyle to the River Thurne and just sat down by the river and let all the worries ebb away – a stroll back to the boat and time to give things a trial run, which went well as far as the cameras and computer went. 

 

I guessed to leave about 11:45am t 12:00pm would mean I could take it easy down to Acle and planned on being at Acle Bridge by about 12:45pm – frankly my timings were all shot to bits because I arrived earlier than I needed to at Acle Bridge and soon found that at this rate I would be at Yarmouth very much before 3:00pm which is when I had said I would be going live with the broadcast.  As it happened being earlier than I had wanted worked in my favour.

 

It is not that common to be able to be outside on a lovely sunny day and not have any worries about what time you need to be somewhere by and at the end of the day no idea where you may end up being.  In taking it so slowly in idle down the Bure meant I began to see things around me I would otherwise have missed – not only see things but hear the bird song more as the engine was ticking over you could hear so much more.  I can thoroughly recommend you try doing this – even if just for half an hour somewhere because you do  see so much more about you and even butterfly’s would come and flutter about the boat – it was really lovely.

 

The sun was bearing down on me all the time, but the stiff head wind was keeping me cool – as it happens this was masking something that I had no idea was going on – I was slowly cooking.  The first I knew of this was on Breydon Water when I thought ‘odd my lips feel a bit sore’ and my face when the wind was not blowing felt unusually ‘warm’.  Little did I know just how bad the sun burn would get.

 

So through Yarmouth I went, out onto Breydon Water and past the Berney Arms – the pub open for business with a couple of boats tied up and people enjoying a drink in the sunshine.  Onwards I went and it felt great having a bunch of people in the chat room talking to me, telling me ETA’s to places and where I was and so on.  Reedham came and went, then the chain ferry – indeed it began to cross over the river just as I was approaching it, so that was another first to see it in action. Not too long the mouth of the River Chet came – I was tempted to scrub all the plans and head to Loddon – but no I wanted to get as far south before the sunset as I could – so pressed on.

 

Then the Cantley Sugar Works loomed into view – they are not beautiful by any means, yet their sheer scale and impact somehow does not feel out of place – I thought about how this river once would have had the coasters running along it but now it is a very different place – even the number of hire boats thinned out past the Reedcutter pub and then I had the rivers to myself. 

 

Up next of interest was the Beauchamp Arms and then Rockland Broad a few minutes later – this had been one of the plans for a possibly over night – but I was doing well and with good guidance being given in the chat room pressed onward.  Next up was Brundall – Coldham Hall and the start of what I thought looked like a posher ‘Potter Heigham’.  Instead of quant and sometimes eccentric chalets and riverside bungalows, these looked grander and instead of a dayboat or old Calypso would have a Broom worth a few hundred thousand. 

 

I liked it to look at, but I could not help feel as if I had motored into a sort of elite riverside club – where perhaps keeping up with the Joneses had moved on to something more akin to keeping up with the Kardashians. Let me explain – if you turned up to a party in Dartford in a BMW M5 you would make a statement, you would no doubt get a lot of the fairer sex take a great interest in you  and leave very much not alone, However if you took the same car to a party Chelsea you would not get a second look.  So as Sealines, Brooms and the like lined the river banks – they all blended in to be much the same; different sizes of shiny white plastic boats that cost a fortune – perhaps I thought you could have too much of a good thing after all.

 

Moving on through Brundall  Birds Dyke came and past – this Leads to Surlingham Broad (or is it Bargate) now this I must say looked very tempting – indeed the whole scene was very lush, very beautiful with the trees – I was frankly lost thinking I had less distance to travel that I actually had, for it was decided (I am not sure by whom or how) that Brampton Common would be my overnight mooring and I was informed I would make this with time to spare before the sunset.

 

Further along the river the Ferry House pub came into view – what a lovely looking pub this was – in fact the pubs in this part of Broadland seemed to be that little bit more special, as if plucked from a nice country lane and put by the river’s edge. The river was not so wide now, the sides lined with greenery and with the sun’s rays casting a soft shadow over the landscape it felt as if it was August not April.   It was not far since passing the Ferry the trees thinned and a great vista over the marshland greeted the eye.  Sure the Southern river’s may be reed lined and wide and sometimes don’t offer such interest as their northern counterparts in the pretty stakes, but they also have the ability to astound around the next corner.

 

And then ahead I saw the moorings come into view at Brampton – they have electric if you need it at the ‘Norwich’ end of them, which is where I happened to moor – well looked after too.  I looked down and found at some point the live stream had gone off air, a shame as I had not the opportunity to thanks those who had joined me for the trip – requested music to be played and kept me company in the chat room.  For those who were there though – thank you now.

 

I had little time to get the cameras in and cables off – I’d not weatherproofed any of it and the dew was beginning to settle.  I was tired – I had left the moorings at Womack Dyke around 11:45am and now I was moored up and having brought the cameras in it was getting on for 8:00pm.  It was not until I went below and thought I had better look in the mirror and see my sore lips, did I see the full extent of my sun burn – in April just a week previous it was raining and in parts of the UK snow – now I was burning up with no cream and no hat!  I knew tomorrow would be even hotter and so was worried how the long trip back north to Acle might affect my skin.  As it was, it was time for a cool shower and put the dinner on – an actually very nice Pepperoni Pizza with salad and garlic bread – oh and a couple of beers.

 

 

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Day Three:

 

 

Watch Day Three Captain's Blog Below:

 

 

After a lazy start and a breakfast the sun was soon out and I could tell today was going to be another scorcher.  I toyed with heading into Norwich for it was not too far along the river – but I felt pretty certain if I did this I’d miss the tides for the return crossing over Breydon Water – so instead opted to get something to sooth my now very poorly skin at Reedham.

 

Brampton Common is a very nice over night mooring and the scenery here is lovely – I however do think that it would be better to hire on the southern rivers to explore this area more than come here from the north to do it justice and soak up the area.  That way one can enjoy without the need of having a long slog back to your boatyard on the northern rivers.

 

Shortly after I left the moorings I did a sensible thing – went below and used the inside helm almost all the way to Reedham.  It is funny how the night before I was going along here feeling a tad tense wondering if I would get to where I wished before sunset, and now I was taking it easy and enjoying the sights.  My only real negative points about the southern rivers are the lack of easy to get to amenities such as water points – they are out there, but with far longer stretches between them than you find on the northern rivers. 

 

The other is to do with the tides – not just the rise and fall at a mooring, but the fact on the northern rivers they run so slowly you barely notice them, down south going with the tide makes a real difference and one can cut the revs down save fuel and yet maintain the same speed – but you need to think, work out and plan your moves to coincide with mother nature – rather than get up and go.  All in all I think one of these fine days I shall have to go from a southern base – even if it was just for a short break because if you like an out of the way mooring, or a decent pub which is not chocker full of boats outside you will find this sort of place on the southern rivers.

 

Cantley came and went and it was not too long before the chain ferry at Reedham came into view – upon reaching Reedham itself I was surprised how busy it was – with other Richardson’s boats all seeming to be doing what I was about to – moor up, wait for the tide to turn and use it to head over Breydon.  It was handy the Broads Authority ranger was there to take my bow rope – but I was confused by the signage.  A black board had low water times at Yarmouth – but they were very much different to shorebase.co.uk (who I had used online to get the tide times) or the tide table in the Skippers Handbook – then the fact the Ranger said water top up was £3.00 but the sign said £2.00 .

 

Topped up with water, it was time to head off and find some sun cream.  The Post Office was the first stop – now selling basic provisions, but alas none was to be found there – I did however get myself a Cowboy hat  - I then headed up the steep road to the store which had all sorts of things for sale, but no sun cream. Indeed I could find nothing of anything that could help soothe the burning – but at least now I had a hat.  You can imagine the looks I got as I walked about, red face – white rings around my eyes and a large Cowboy hat.

 

I went into ‘Cupcakes’ - www.cupcakes-reedham.co.uk - for a coffee, but then found they did a wide selection of food – from sandwiches to light meals.  Now perhaps it is because I am from London but it never fails to surprise me how these establishments may very well be missing out on trade.  You see the opening times seem a bit funny, and closing at 4:00pm – even in the season – could well be a waste of good business because while there are pubs not too far away, I am sure many people who moor there might like something light and tasty and not just a pub to pop into. To shut up at 4:00pm and stop serving food half an hour prior to that may not be the most savvy of business decisions even if it makes for an easier life for the proprietors.

 

I had a Panini with cheese and Norfolk ham, salad and a coffee – and it was scrumptious and had a lovely atmosphere inside with people talking about their trips and planning ahead for Breydon - the view was idyllic seeing the odd boat pass by and the quietness that the quayside at Reedham as about it I’d toughly recommend popping in – just make sure you get there early.

 

Back on the boat I prepared all I would need for the next stint in the journey north – when your solo you need to prepare so things are to hand – then off to the Ranger to let him know I was off and would he mind once again helping with my bow rope so I could spring off the mooring and head out away from the quay in reverse.  He was most helpful but seemed surprised I had chosen such a boat alone and not a small aft cockpit – big lad needs a big boat I said as I departed.

 

Under the railway bridge and the tide was going out at a good rate – indeed it had been doing so for over an hour, but I was betting on me getting the last of it over Breydon and by the time I turned up the Bure at Yarmouth should be slack water – well that would have been bang on the money but I could not help open her up over Breydon and arrived at Yarmouth a lot sooner than I had expected and caught the last of the ebb tide as it ran down the Bure.  Of note as I head over Breydon Water was the new Broads Authority launch Spirit of Breydon.  Now some have said this will consume great quantities of fuel and others that it would only do so if it was flat out when required to do so – such as in a response to a call for help.  I had to smile as it shot up from Yarmouth, turned and then shot back down again – impressive but by the time I had got to Yarmouth myself it was again doing the third high speed trip back up to Burney Arms.  Still, I thought to myself who does not like to be throttle happy at times.

 

Past the yacht station and the tide was slight – and once I was out and into the marshes as the river widened it was neither going or coming and I followed Broads Sunset up the Bure.  I like these boats a lot and it further confirmed to myself that I had seen countless Richardson’s boats, but only three or four two from Herbert Woods, a couple of Barnes Brinkcraft and one from Faircraft Loynes – if overall hire figures are down then it would seem that Richardson’s are doing something right if the number of boats on the water I saw was anything to go by.

 

It soon cooled off as the sun went behind the clouds and so I popped back out to the outside helm – funny how on a less than bright, cooler day going up to Acle this stretch of river seems such a slog – I had decided that I was going to moor at the Bridge Inn – tuck into some lovely grub and nice pint of Ale rather than the Lasagne I had on the boat.  After what felt like forever I arrived and moored up – phew!  I am not sure I would recommend to others you go almost to Norwich and back in two days, but it was an experience – I left pale, and now was red and burnt.  In fact I did have second thoughts, did I really want to be seen in a pub looking as I did – yes I did the locals would just have to be scared – and a lovely meal was had and a very peaceful night’s sleep after.

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Nice tale Robin Rascal, but you missed nearly all the south side.

Loddon. Beccles, Geldeston, Thorpe, Oulton, etal.

Pubs aplenty.

I suppose you will have to persuade Clive to open a yard on the SAARF.

Clive I think many are available.

paul

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I

 

 

.
I suppose you will have to persuade Clive to open a yard on the SAARF.
Clive I think many are available.
paul

 prefer reading the tales which start from Stalham or Acle :naughty:

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@Captmatt: You make a good point - but I have been to Beccles and so on previously, but never been along the Yare towards Norwich.  The only reason I had, and indeed why it was a whistle stop tour was because I had said I would do a live stream along this stretch so had it not been for doing that I'd have never gone there this time around.  However, seeing as it was very nice I'd certainly say it will need some more exploring in the future.

 

Perhaps what is needed is not so much a new full on new southern boatyard but more a 'satellite base'.  A select number of boats from say Stalham and Acle are sold as ‘one way cruises’ – for a period of not less than one week you depart the north, head south and ‘hand back’ your boat at the drop off location.

 

I suppose this technically could be another boatyard that is already down there with a deal being made with them. You would then be met in a mini-bus and driven back to Stalham to collect your car and head off home.

 

Meantime someone has to drive the boat back to Stalham – that would cost hmm that is why I’d never make a good strategist lol – unless you could do it so you had a party who then takes over the boat on the south to one way cruise back north taking the hard part out of the equation.

 

Anyway in day 4 I attack a can of hot dogs with a screwdriver and show you how to get back from Tesco’s to the Stalham boatyard on foot.

 

 

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Great stuff as always :-D Glad to finally see a decent reedham to yarmouth video. Reedham is the furthest i've gone so far in my boat, so when the weathers better it'll be a trip onwards to yarmouth. Keep up the good work

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I  prefer reading the tales which start from Stalham or Acle :naughty:

Oh Dear, Clive........... I'd better give up on our "Spring Cruise", then! :bow

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And before you ask why I'm up at this ungodly hour.... I need to leave here, Acle, at 05.45. And I don't like to rush about at this hour of the morning!

We had a lovely meal in the Bridge last night and were well looked after by Phil and his team throughout the day. :clap

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:wave hi robin thanks for sending the 1st video of distant horizon, thats actually the one we're having, it really looks a nice boat  but that throttle does worry me abit, & the fact that it's got no dials up on the top driving position,which is abit weird , i'm really looking forwards to september now, thanks for posting your videos ,great stuff, maybe next time you could do loddon & beccles & oulton, although that ladder at the back does worry me a todge, it does seem to stick out quite abit does'nt it  ? lori  :Stinky

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Lori,

 

Beccles is nice, never been to Loddon - perhaps one day I will have to spend a week down south - personally I do prefer the northern rivers as there is a lot all within easy reach and can pop into Potter Heigham say, then head off to Ranworth - two very different places, but not too far apart. 

 

As you probably are aware from previous trips, each boat you hire has a different ‘feel’ about it – even ones in the same class.  This boat, while no spring chicken is far from over the hill and never missed a beat all week despite hours and hours of cruising in long stints.  You soon know (from the upper helm) what noise the engine make, vibration etc that is a good reference to the RPM – you can also glance down the hatch and see the interior helm and gauges to be sure.  In short the lack of a gauge up top is not much of an issue (least was not for myself).

 

The ladder on the stern was a godsend for getting on and off the boat when moored stern on, and when you do moor stern on as long as you go real slow in backing up and allow an extra ‘foot’ of space for the ladder it makes getting on and off the boat far easier than boats in this class which have no ladder. 

 

The only point I’d make (and did so upon return to the yard) is having a fender tied to one of the ladder rungs – not only help protect the ladder, but will mean it does not rub against the quay heading (and thus make horrendous noise inside the boat).  I found this out when moored woken up by this awful groaning and squeaking sound at 1:00am – and had to get up, in the rain to take a fender off the back and tie it to the ladder – and then silence was restored.

 

But if the only thing to ‘write home about’ is a missing fender and no RPM gauge up top it sure is a good boat – other things I liked about it was the endless drawers and storage, the plush carpets in the forward and aft cabins, the cooker that cooked as good as any home cooker I’ve used and the really good heater for a chilly night.  She is a boat that if you look after her, she will you – the water and oil checks are needed each morning, but the engine never failed to start, the batteries lasted very very well never dropping below 12.5v even after an evening of TV and heater being used so as far as I was concerned the boat was faultless.

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Hi Robin. Your Satnav for the journey here  :wave

The stretch from Brammerton into Norwich is one of the best parts

of the trip! Calling in at Thorpe for an overnighter too.

This stretch always puts a smile on our faces and is worth the trip

on it's own. I would recommend you hire from Silverline

and try for more time to explore the south side. When we have a

week or more to spare, we always head south and although

the trek can be a bit tedious, it's something we look forward to.

Good blog as always by the way.

(I was surprised to see you helming BA when you passed us up the Ant!)

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Bill whatever you do don't tell him about Rockland or Whitlingham Park we don't want those places getting busy..........

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Day Four:

 

Watch Day Four Captain's Blog Below:

 

 

 

Waking up to the sound of rain and heavy grey skies reminded me this was April after all – and made me stand out all the more with my sunburn on a grey day – it seemed quite amazing only yesterday I was in a T-Shirt being gently roasted and yet today it was on with the waterproof clothes and a fleece.

 

I had a rough plan to leave Acle, stop off at Horizon Craft and pick up an extra blanket for the nights were forecast to be cooler too – and while there get a top up of oil to the bottle that had been provided with the boat – not to say it was out, but at the current rate of use I feared ending up somewhere and not having any to top up with.  As it turned out I did not need use hardly any more oil from this point in – showing that the only reason I had previously was the 7+ hours spent cruising for the last few days.

 

Horizon Craft really are a great team and asset to Richardson’s if you need anything they are very helpful and when I mentioned about the oil it was a genuine look of concern from one of the engineers who came over to the boat to ensure there was no leak.  There was not – and while he was there put a couple of turns of the greaser for the stern gland to stop it dripping which later proved most beneficial when sleeping in the aft cabin with no drip drip every few seconds.

 

Departing the boatyard destination was Potter Heigham and Lathams – would they have suncream? I moored at the Broads Authority 24hr moorings and said hello to a boat with a family displaying the Norfolk Broads Froum logo in the window – this honestly is the first time in my travels I’ve seen such and actually been able to stop and say hello – they too were displaying the signs of sun and like me looking most odd now it appeared the weather had got back to April’s usual mix of showers and wind.  I have to say however the rain had cleared by now and the sun was breaking through the cloud.

 

Into Lathams and not only did I get some sun cream also picked up some healing cream for burns and the like, together with the usual mix of things you never knew you wanted until you got there and took a chance with some Rump Steak – looked lovely (and turned out to be very nice indeed).

 

I got back to the boat and as I got onboard I did not much like the look of the after line riding up the mooring post.  You see on this type of boat, with the aft being so high up it means the cleat too is very much high than the bow cleat and if the mooring post is not very high it puts the rope at an angle.  Not long after being onboard, and unpacking the shopping there was a bump from behind.  I thought I’d been bumped into by a boat mooring, rushed out to find it was me who had  bumped into the bow of the boat behind – Rhapsody as it happened from Stalham.  The stern rope was now off the post and thankfully the wind was blowing me onto the bank and I only had nudged them.  I was very embarrassed but the blushes were being well hidden behind the burnt face – oddly they had seen the rope slide up the mooring post, come off and yet sat waiting for me to nudge into them without saying anything, still no damage but I’ll have to be double careful with the stern ropes on posts in future.

 

Back onboard it was time to have some Hot Dogs.  I’ve not had any for absolutely ages and it was only the fact Weatherspoon have added them to their menu of late that made me think it would make an ideal lunch.  I looked at the tin, I looked at the old fashion can opener – just how on earth did the thing work?  After much struggling and having only made a small hole in the top of the tin (I think now I was using the can opener the wrong way round)  it was time to unleash some ‘man engineering’ on the tin, out with the flat head screwdriver.  Let us just say, it was at time dangerous with jagged metal at every turn, but I do now know how to get into a can with a screwdriver – also noted to get a can opener later when I visited Tesco in Stalham.  The Hot Dogs were actually very nice and with some soft baps and ketchup went down a treat.

 

Departing Potter Heigham it was not long before I was turning back onto the Bure and heading in the direction of Wroxham.  The wind was once again blowing hard, but the sun was out and now it was getting warmer all the time – perhaps the unseasonal warmth was not going to go away after all.  Past St. Benet’s Abbey ruins and soon the mouth of the Ant was upon me.  When I was hear in March they were working on the banks and re-profiling them with, now with the lack of rain the previously dark earth was now a parched grey colour – yet already there were some green shoots coming though here and there – nature is already taking over.

 

At Ludham Bridge there was a bit of confusion, I was set to go through when I noticed Broads Sunrise approaching – I stopped and waved them to come through for the current and wind meant I could hold station easier my side of the bridge – only they also stopped and began drifting – I again gestured them to come through and after what seemed an eternity began to creep forward through the bridge – I can’t imagine how on edge I would feel having my boat moored on the approach to the bridge and how at risk of being hit one would be here, especially in high season.

 

Once the other side of the bridge it was very quiet as far as boat traffic was concerned and as I came through Irstead a lady was tending to her garden – what a perfect place, and perfect (as far as I can see) life to have to tend to the flower beds, and have the river and birdsong for company.  Soon after it was onto Barton Broad, it seems the more I traverse this stretch of water the smaller the scale seems to get – but I have many found memories of Barton Broad – it was always exciting (still is) if you have just taken over a boat and arrive when there is a bit of a swell going on and the breeze is up and many a time have gone over, only to turn about and go back enjoying the slash of the wavelet’s on the bow – today though all was quiet.

 

I arrived at Richardson’s Stalham yard and despite there being a fair few boats out, there were plenty in – such a shame I thought, all this lovely weather – a Price Band A cheapness and so few had decided to holiday.  Still, for those who had we had some great days and little traffic to worry us and the best moorings to pick from.  I moored next to Eastern Gem – a boat I really can’t make my mind up about.  I like the sleek look, I like the recent re-paint and internal spruce up – but that beam of 10ft 9, only side door access and narrow side decks have so far stopped me plumping for this boat.

 

I popped into Reception and chanced my luck if Clive may be about, having met his brother at Acle – I got the look of ‘and who are you to ask’ and then  when replied It is Robin, ‘London Rascal’ the look changed to ‘ahh that is ok then’ but alas he had left for the afternoon – maybe another time.  Off to Tesco then where I had to deal with people looking at me – horrible I know, but the face was now about to peel and not very nice to look at one bit – I kept my sun glasses on – at least the ‘Panda Eyes’ would be hidden – however I was now finding it hard to see what it was I looking at.  Shopping in shades ain’t that easy!

 

So with some beer and wine and a can opener (whose price was steep and quality questionable) it was back to the boat.  It is nice to pop into somewhere full of people, and then pop out back to your floating home to be able to then head off and moor up once more with just Swans for company and have complete peace.  And so it was that back on the boat it was time to head down the Ant once more – not as I had planned to what is one of my favourite ‘wild moorings’ but instead to the one which has it’s own little lawn – that of Johhny Crowe’s Staithe – and having moored sat out on the aft deck with a can of IPA and some bread feeding the passing Swans.  Life can be perfect sometimes, even if I am not tending a flower bed and own a large house by the river.

 

 

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Hi robin, nice video, how did you cope with ludham bridge with the height ? Did you get through ok ? By the way, next time you have to moor up in stix , get both wrond anchors out , that way you can use the other one to knock the first one in lol . Lori :-)

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Lori,

 

I have never had a problem personally with Ludham Bridge - while the boat says it is 8ft 5" I went under at 8ft 3" and had bags of room.  I also always steer from the upper helm as I go through this bridge, but be read to kneel down quickly as you do!  

 

As for the Rhonde Anchor tip - I did that once, and caused the one I was hitting (with the other Rhonde Anchor) to dent in, so I now just stomp on them with my foot and so far have had no problems - but I got big feet lol.

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Typical Robin, I only had a couple of hours off last week !

you will have to book another visit!

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Day Five:

 

Watch Day Five Captain's Blog Below:

 

 

The overnight rain had meant for a less settled sleep, the fact that the aft cabin of Distant Horizon has a lower ceiling over the double bed seems to make the noise of the rain hitting the outside deck above all the more loud – or maybe it was that special Norfolk rain.

 

When I woke and peered out the window the wet scene that greeted me did not make me want to rush to get ready – so I took my time and had breakie and listened to the radio – these two simple things are both things in the morning at home I usually skip – more a case of a slice of toast and out the door to work.  By now the rain had stopped and there were some breaks in the cloud, perhaps today was going to be another sunny day after all. And so I left the mooring at and slowly headed down the river Ant – my intention being to stop for a top up of water before the bridge and dispose of my rubbish.  Just after I had filled up with water a couple walked past – they asked me about how I found the boat, and as I was talking about this I asked if they used You Tube – well that is as far as I got because they then let on they knew exactly who I was and were avid watchers of the Captain’s Blogs.  I think they were on Siesta from Richardson’s and very nice they were too.

 

The being recognised is rather nice because it means that despite the fact I may have hired the boat alone, along the way I bump into people – be them members of a forum, or just people who watch videos on You Tube – of followers of my Twitter account.  The only disconcerting thing is they know me – well as far as the person in front of a camera, but I have no idea who they are – and am terrible with remembering names.

 

After heading down river to the Bure, it was time to turn right and head towards Horning – I had thought of stopping off here but then figured it would be better to carry on for Wroxham and stop on the way back.  Just before after passing Cockshoot Dyke I experienced my first ever telling off from a Broads Authority Ranger. 

 

I had been following a large Barnes Brinkcraft centre cockpit boat full of lads – one moment it would be going along slowly, the next speed right up and then almost come to a stop, drift a bit and repeat this – I wanted to get past them to stop this game of ‘guess my next action’ but seeing Cock Shoot Dyke approaching thought better of a move – and then saw the Broad Authority Launch and thought that it was a good choice to have held back.   Past the Dyke around the bend I took my opportunity to pass – and just as I had almost completed the manoeuvre (without going very fast I may add) I spied a bright high vis jacket in the reeds on the port side, following by:

 

“Oi! What do you think you’re doing?”   

 

In a split second I wanted to say “what does it look like” but he was already sticking 4 fingers up at me and reminding me this was the speed limit.  I shouted back over “very sorry” and eased back a little on the throttle only for the Barnes Brinkcraft boat to speed right up and now over take me! I shrugged my shoulders and tried to not get too annoyed.  About 5 minutes after this episode the Barnes Brinkcraft boat once more almost came to a stop and reverted back to the ‘guess my next action’ game -  I passed – once and for all this time.  I saw the work that had gone on at Salhouse and just how much mud has been pumped into making this new bit of land – and it reminded me once again that I have never spent a night at Salhouse with on the Broad or on the Spit – I don’t know why that should be the case for it is a lovely spot.  It was not too long past the Broad I decided to call Royalls Boatyard and enquire if they would sell diesel – I got the impression to begin this was not a good time to call being a Friday afternoon – but they were very helpful and said I could pop along but could not moor for the day for they were busy with their boats.  

 

Now I know it perhaps is not the most ‘accepted practice’ for someone to top up with fuel but  you see I had been worried about the fuel (I worry a lot you see) and had begun to think of many possibilities – had the boat been up to Stalham for the winter, taken to Acle and slipped through not being filled up prior to me taking it out? I knew the fuel tank was smaller (located on the port side) but the slight list to starboard since returning from the southern rivers seemed noticeable outside the boat on the waterline at the transom – the only thing I could think was there was a lot less weight on the port side – and the majority of that weight would surely be fuel, less of that = me worrying if there would be enough. I digress, so it was I was greeting at Royalls with really warm welcome – what a lovely small yard, with boats gleaming and staff who had to put themselves out to get the hose from the shore, over the roof of one of their boats and to mine.  I asked for £40.00 and it seemed but a moment and it was done – receipt issued – and then we turned the boat on the ropes.  And you know what, it made no odds to the slight list to starboard lol.

 

I left them and made the very short journey round and past Barnes Brinkcraft – full – and then spotted the moorings at the Café – in March I moored here and was charged £10.00 – this time I was charge an hourly fee and I think it cost something like £4.00 – same mooring, but paid the chap iat the day boat place.  I’m confused but pleased it was not another tenner.  I am getting ahead of myself here since you pay on return. I had read about Ken’s Fish & Chips now being under new management, so instead of popping into Grays Fish & Chips – which is my ‘usual’ I went to Ken’s, and alas since I was last there (admittedly that was October 2011) the large choice of fish had gone – they were however doing a roaring trade – I orders Haddock and chips – both freshly fried.  I took them back to the boat and the verdict:  Well the chips were a little fluffier on the inside, perhaps also a bit more ‘random’ in length and shape compared to Grays – the fish however was very close – fresh, crisp batter which was neither too thick nor thin – perhaps the size of portion and overall cost was better so Ken’s you win by a whisker.   Once this was had back off the boat for a walk about.

 

I popped into Roys where I chanced upon a bargain – bottle of Shiraz reduced down to £3.99 (turned out to be very good actually) along with a few household essentials like kitchen towel, bottled water and the like – and then I saw someone with an ice cream – not just any but a huge one with both strawberry and vanilla in the same cone – I could not help myself, I needed one too and so I stood by Wroxham Bridge watching the world go by enjoying a cool ice cream in the now once again warm afternoon sunshine.  Lovely.

 

Back to the boat, mooring fee paid – and time to depart – I wanted to go back to somewhere quite and out of the way again, and I do love the river Ant – so despite being there only last night, headed back.  I do like the changing scenery as you leave Wroxham, and the broads and then the scene as you approach Horning and the Swan.  I did not much like the fact behind me was blue sky and sunshine and ahead of me was bleak, dark clouds and surely rain.  The further I made down the Bure the more imposing the sky seemed to get, the wind had got up the warmth was gone and it was getting chilly.  By the time I turned onto the river Ant, things were not looking good to make How Hill (my intended destination) before the heavens opened. What surprised me were just how many boats were now heading past me down the Ant having taken over from Stalham, not just one or two but 5 or 6 in a line – I’d expected this to be the case on Saturday, but it seems many perhaps decide to take over on a Friday, or weekend breaks are increasingly popular. 

 

It was not too long before How Hill came into view and with the rain clearly falling ever closer behind felt I would just make it – I did only Challenger was there with a bunch of lads who had already cracked open the tins and their dancing on the roof made me question if a peaceful night would be had – I continued on – the rain now falling.  Past my previous nights mooring (now taken up by Melody) and then a few bends later – yes it was free the mooring between the two trees.  By now the rain had stopped, and once secure and engine off it was silent...

 

I went for a walk – there seemed a rough idea of a path and despite the midges and spiky plants that wanted to rip my waterproof, it felt like I was a kid exploring again – and then I spotted a nest – I’ve no idea of what bird – but complete with two eggs.  How lovely that just the other side of the river bank this little world was going on hidden from view.   Just a moment later and Bittern from Whispering Reeds came past – a lot more than 4 MPH despite the fact they had eased off the throttle a touch when saw me.  I felt a touch annoyed when people do this on such a narrow pretty river as the Ant.  But it got worse, walking back to the boat I spotted a complete carpet left on the bank, with the leaf fall over it clearly it had been there some time, then a black bin liner full of rubbish floating in the soak dyke rotting – oh how can people be so selfish?  I thought of how much we pump out from industry and how this in comparison was nothing – yet this was individuals, people who visit and apparently love the wildlife and so on the Broads is famous for – then deposit such waste as if would be picked up by the bin men as if were a street.

 

Still, I did not want to moan too much or get too upset over this – but the final straw was when I heard the noise of a boats wash approaching, some male voices and laughter – to begin I thought it was going to be a ‘stag party’ and as a laugh on camera was going to hide and film the men in ‘the wild’ and do a David Attenborough – only the idea of more bits from midges and scratches from thorns put pay to that.  Low and behold it was Bittern back – this time no easing off and full pelt down the river – while oddly a chap was cleaning the front windows as they went.  Not a lot I can say to that – I got back on board, opened a can of beer and thought of happier things.

 

 

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Robin, Hi

Another wonderful instalment!

 

Next time I suggest you fill up at Boulters in Horning, usually the cheapest on the Broads (£1.18 /L at the mo).

 

F&C in Hoveton? ALL the locals tell me you can't beat the Chinese Chipper next but one to Ken's. They've been there for years and the son now runs it. We had them last week and they were delicious. :kiss

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Wow i'm speechless at this blog, IT has to go down as one of the best EVER !!!

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hi robin, loved all your vids , next time you go down to the broads take a little penknife with you, just in case you forget your tin opener again ,that way you can cut around the edge with that, instead of using a scew driver, ive never seen anybody try so hard to get in a can   :lol:  :lol: ,   for the time that you kept going backwards & forwards on the north side, you could have have stayed for abit more time south & gone down to loddon, & had one of carolines beautiful cakes :wub: ,at rosy lees, it's a lovely little cafe, & carolines so welcoming bless her , you don't know what you missed  :lol: . lori  :teddy:

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Day Six:

 

Watch Day Six Captain's Blog Below:

 

 

 

 

I had an appointment to keep this morning, which when you are on the Norfolk Broads is a rare thing to have to do – but I was to meet Lord Paul – photography extraordinaire  and as it turned out pretty nifty with gadgets and electronics and the cherry on the cake an all round good guy and very welcoming too.  So what was the deal with meeting him on this sunny morning?

 

The previous evening I had a call asking where I was moored and would it be ok to meet and take some aerial footage of me on the river – since I was on the Ant and he was going to be coming down from Stalham it was ideal – in fact he came down just as dusk came and the sky does that beautiful transition from day to night and moored a few corners down the river from me.  I left my mooring and just a few minutes later I spied his trust Freeman moored by Clayrack Drainage Mill and kindly helped with the Rhonde Anchors and ropes and invited on board his boat.

 

He has taken an ‘off the shelf’ quad copter radio controlled flying machine – okay it is a bit more than that, I mean it has built in GPS and can using this know where it is and keep pretty still within an area of sky without user input.  But Lord Paul was not happy with bunging a camera on that and away you go, so he has rigged up a monitor and various bits of kit to downlink the cameras image to the screen – which even clips on a camera tripod so he can in real time see what the ‘Drone’ sees.  Absolutely amazing and I am sure he is the sort of chap who gets excited when the next Maplin catalogue comes out and can tell you what half the gizmos can be used for.

 

Back on Distant Horizon I set off towards Stalham, turned and came back – upon which I heard the noise of the rotors and then there it was – higher than I thought but holding station in the sky – it filming me and me filming it. I passed by then towards How Hill made a further turn and came back for another run, where very expertly Lord Paul turned the Drone 180 degrees as I passed by and then followed me.  After this back to the bank and review the footage.  I’ve no idea what the boat moored behind us must have thought was going on lol.

 

I left Paul and headed down the Ant – the water point was occupied with boats filling up their water tanks, so I instead head for the Bure and onward to Ranworth.  Not long passing the Bridge, I had a shout from the bank ‘did you just come through the Bridge?’ No I said, I went under it – the chap looked at me in a bemused state, the joke was lost on him but he was on Brinks Concerto and worried if he would get under, I assured him he could. 

 

Today seemed a little different, the sun was shining but it was not as warm as earlier in t e week, there was a lot more activity on the river – plenty of hire boats to spot and note how they looked ‘in the flesh’ and because of the breeze the sailing fraternity was enjoying the day too.  It does not take too long to get to a place I need to stop miss-naming.  Ranworth Dam (not Dyke) I will try harder in future.  Heading off towards Malthouse Broad behind a small sailing boat, under power.  I kept my distance and matched their speed and upon reaching the Broad looked through the Binoculars – hmm things were looking a tad busy but it appeared there was space ‘around the corner’ on the side of the staithe’s moorings.

 

The sailing boat went left then right then did a complete 360 degree turn and slowly put their fenders over and I could not really continue to stay where I was being pushed by the wind to the private moorings on the far bank from the Staithe, I gentle overtook them – perhaps passed them since they were virtually stationary – and then the woman in the cockpit told me off.  “Where did you think I was going?” I said, “Sorry I’ll back out if you wish” but as ever with comments on the Broads you never get an answer back in such situations – I am a calm person but if someone begins a dialogue like that again and upon me replying in a gesture of ‘Sorry you go then’ type response, and they ignore me I will not bite my tongue.

 

There was about 4 boats widths of space to moor, and a classic and beautiful wooden boat was already moored on the mooring closet to the pub – the name escapes me, she lives in the Wet Shed at Richardson’s though.  I knew I had enough space to turn and the wind was blowing me away from her so my heart was not in my mouth – but a friendly lady came out – offering to help – I was almost berthed and thanked her for the offer and she said “I think you’ve done that before” – tiss true I have,  but I still worry just how well it will turn out going, thankfully this time was perfect.

 

I spied Corsica (the beautiful private boat not the hire boat) and they were coming in to moor where I had just arrived.  I’d never met Simon or Sonia before, nor  they me – but I knew the boat and I knew it was they who would be join myself, Griff and Russ on the sea trip to Southwold the following week.  What timing to meet now I thought.  I introduced myself and before long Steve and Maggie moved from the front of the staithe’s moorings to the side – again I had not only never met them, I had not seen their boat Magellan so it was a case of meeting four members of the Norfolk Broads Forum in one afternoon.  We talked, Sonia made a lovely cheese and Ham toasty and I got to see both boats and hear of their history.  You are fine people with lovely boats and thank you for taking the time out to show me around and have a natter. 

 

While aboard Magellan there was an awfully loud crunch – a Fineway day boat with a group of women on had effectively gone at full revs in reverse into the bow of Pearl Horizon and done some damage too – but the day boat had simply engaged forward gear and departed – I think they moored where they should have all along at the moorings for day boats.  I know a group of people having a good time on a boat they have only a short while ago taken over, likely having never driven a boat in their lives – but it amazes me having clearly done damage they did not after mooring, come over and check – say sorry – something.  But no, it turned out the hirers were on board at the time and the chap came aboard and Steve provided some witness details – it turned out the chap on the hire boats wife, had just put their baby down to change it  when the day boat hit which was most lucky!

 

Time for me to depart and with good advice, and help from Steve with my ropes – for the wind had got up – I was able to leave the Staithe and head off over the Broad.  Today was turning out to be a lovely day not only in terms of whether but experiences and people I had met.  But, I decided equally that today and tomorrow were going to be lazy days – in fact tomorrow I felt I would do as little as possible – but where should I go to now? Fleet Dyke and South Walsham Broad – two places I have not been to for some time and so it was that I turned into Fleet Dyke and notice where some of the reeds have been pushed down and people are ‘rediscovering’ the wild moorings that were most popular on this stretch before the flood defence and bank works were carried out.  I suspect it is not for all craft, but if you are small and draw little water I can see it being a lovely place to moor.  Further down at the formal moorings there was very little activity and as I came into the outer Broad I can see why this is such a popular destination for people to put the mud weight over and swing around on a still evening and watch the sun set.  For me, today it was a mere in and out job, to see what was what and then head back to the Bure.

 

It was not at all late, early afternoon in face but I wanted somewhere I could have a stroll along the bank, yet not be sandwiched between other boats – I know, Womack Dyke was nice when I was there on the Monday so despite the time being early it was here I made for to overnight.  When I arrived the mooring in the cut away of the bank was free and since the wind was blowing me onto the bank mooring was a doddle.  It surprised me just how many boats will come down here – go around Womack Water and then head back out – it also surprised me how fast some boats will come down this narrow waterway – having had a week on the water and having been here many times previously, you truly do not need to rush anywhere and in fact being able to drive outside and take my time I have seen more wildlife and heard more birdsong than I think I had previously.  I went for a walk and took time to think things through, I remember as a kid with my parents saying how one day I wanted to live in one of the bungalows that lead into Potter Heigham – these days I just like the boating part and fear if I lived by the water but could not get on the water I’d go mad. 

 

There is plenty of rivers one can explore in this country – but for me there is something special about the Broads, something that captured my parents and then they bringing me has captured me and yet some may think I am obsessed – or mad to spend out what I do to visit – but if my drug is boating on the Broads, it sure could be a whole lot worse.  It is beautiful and as I walked back to the boat felt that excitement that this was and had been my little home and I had seen so much from it over the last few days it was a shame tomorrow would be the last full day to enjoy – I was going to be lazy I decided on Sunday.

 

 

 

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Not sure anyone has spotted this yet as i've not read the whole lot yet. someone got you!, keep up the good work.

 

Oh dear I can't go anywhere now without being spotted lol.

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