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A Weekend Away...

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I should preface this to say this is not just a ‘Holiday Tale’ but a story of my experiences prior to booking, arriving and the trip itself. So as you will see this is a ‘all in one’ account the last instalment will feature the ubiquitous ‘Captains Blog’ so settle down and enjoy the journey.

I have got used to starting a boating holiday at either Stalham or Acle and doing business with Richardson’s.  It made a change to start from Wroxham which meant I could simply walk to the boatyard and having Roys close by would mean for easy access to supplies.

I had decided to take advantage of some of last minute deals that were being offered – had I not done so I simply would not have been able to have afforded the higher costs this time of year bring. My experience with the booking of the holiday was not the most streamlined – I used a discount website that linked in to Barnes Brinkcraft – the first problem was when I noticed that while the website stated “25% of these dates” it was not quite correct, upon working out what 25% off the price was it did not tally to the sites advertised pricing. It turned out that the percentage the site shows in real terms was not 25% off, but 23.35%.  I decided therefore to call and point this point out – whereupon I was asked where I had seen such a discount – for officially they were offering 20% off over the Bank Holiday weekend – I did get the feeling I was being asked to show and prove something to which the company should have been aware of (in short how much they charge for they holidays). I decided to not book there and then, but wait – for though the main website showed special offers ending on the 21st May, the discount site was showing 30% off prices without an expiry date.  With just over a week before the May Bank Holiday I bit the bullet and booked my train tickets (for these were steadily rising in price the closer the date of travel was getting).

To cut a long story short with the website freezing at the crucial point and then showing my boat chose was booked, booking another alternative then the following day finding my first choice was available after all, calling – changing the booking – getting a 30% discount - I was happy.  I had a lovely looking plush boat booked at a price less than a basic boat such as a Calypso.

Friday 24th May – Day One:

Looking at the weather forecast things were looking very much typical for the Bank Holiday – cooling temperatures, high winds and rain – lots of rain! I left my house – the sky was thick with grey cloud and it had rained over night but appeared to be holding off for now, down on the Underground it was not long (two stops actually) before the train came to a stop in the tunnel and the driver came on to announce that due to a failed train ahead we would be held here for some time. This is why I always leave so much extra time to get to Liverpool Street.  After many delays I emerged from the tunnels and into the bright light of the station and found a ticket machine.  For the first time ever I had opted to collect my tickets rather than have the same posted to me. I put my card in the machine, then entered the booking reference and up popped my details.  I pressed ‘print’ and the machine whirred into life however problem number 2 of the morning, I had two travel tickets but only 1 seat reservation had been printed.  Without the seat reservation (outward as it happened) my travel ticket was invalid.

After a long queue I spoke to a chap at the ticket office – he would not have it that the machine could have not printed the seat reservation, and told me to check the machine number and if the ticket was in the shoot but not dropped into the tray.  I went, I looked and it was (as predicted) not there.  Back to the ticket office – queue again – and this time a lady again told me this was just not possible.  I protested, she got a manager and he got someone to open up the machine – ahha! no ticket paper left in it.  So now I had to wait while some rule and way left over from the days of steam most likely was brought into effect – where was the paper ticket book kept – they looked and shuffled and then ahah!  it was found, hand written ticket and full explanation duly given and signed I was set to catch my train – urm no.  At the automatic gates I was stopped and told ‘that ain’t been stamped mate’ – with 8 minutes before departure this slight issue with a bit of paper and a Greater Anglia office stamp was not going to stop me getting to the Broads.  Out with the Oyster card, gates duly opened and I was through and off – I’ll deal with the ticket inspector on the train...

As we left Liverpool Street the rain began, and got worse the further out of London and east we travelled.  The ticket inspector came, and did nothing more than a cursory glance at my unstamped travel pass which served as my ticket – I settled in expectant excitement for Norwich to come.  I changed trains and it seemed all very matter of fact and increasingly ‘every day’ to me to get off at Hoveton & Wroxham.  It was raining but I was prepared – umbrella and black bin bag to protect my wheeled case I set off for the Boatyard.  I was not expecting however to find Riverside Road flooded and impassable to wheeled case traffic – I had to lift it up and carry as my feet splashed through the couple of inches of water outside Royalls boatyard - the walking boots were water proof after all.

I opened the door to reception and was expecting a warm welcome ‘hello how are you’? or ‘terrible weather isn’t it have you had a good journey’? – What I got was ‘yes’? – I was back in 1993 in the head mistresses office of my Secondary school – I felt as If I was somehow in the wrong and hesitantly presented my paper work (which seemed to not be needed in the end) a radio call went out – the boat was ready – a few crosses put on the large blackboard behind the desk and I was taken off to my boat.  Well, it was an efficient if ungracious service. Before long a young man came aboard to talk me through the boat.  I said to him at the time that his service and attention to details was second to none, going through the points that needed to be shown but knowing to miss the points I clearly knew such as how to use the throttle and so on.  I must be fair their overall service was good and the 'people on the ground' were working hard, attentive and taking care of people - or requests - I asked for an extra bow line so I could have such along both side decks making it easier for me to moor whatever side of the boat I came to moor on –  a line was duly taken from the adjacent boat – I hope another was found to replace it before the boat was allowed out, the insert for the forward cabin to make such into a double berth I had asked to be taken off the boat to free up a little space – and that was pretty much that – I was let to get on with my trip it was now about 1:20 in the afternoon, so not bad going having only got off the train at around 12:00pm

First things were to go off to Roys for supplies – but I thought since I had not had anything to eat I might as well grab a McDonalds – it was rather new to me being given a cup and ‘fill your own’ at the self service machine, and then someone called my name – yes it had only taken about an hour and half since arriving in Wroxham to be spotted and I was introduced to a family who were avid watchers of my Captain’s Blogs and come to the Broads from Scotland a couple of times a year.  I’m still getting used to people who ‘know me’ popping up to say hello or shout my name and me surly to have a bemused look on my face in return ‘who are you’?  With shopping done – and a decent windscreen wiper from Roys DIY obtained – it was back to the boat, the rain had stopped and dare I say the sky looked a little brighter.  I packed the supplies away, during which I found the first water leak of many on the boat forming a pool on the galley floor – good thing I bought plenty of kitchen towel.  Next up how to get out of the small berth she was in – I’d have to back out on to the main river, the high level of the helm affording a good view over the double moored boats along Barnes ‘outside’ quay moorings which front the River Bure.  Job done, no scraps I passed the moored private boats heading towards Wroxham Bridge before I made my turn and then headed down the Bure – destination Womack Dyke.

Not too far into the journey I stopped at Salhouse Spit to take some photos of the boat and found out just how high the freeboard on the boat was when mooring side on – no exaggeration this was likely a 3 ½ to 4 feet foot drop from deck to terra firma – one simply could never step off this boat, it was a leap.  More over the even harder part was then getting back on the boat.  I soon found out there simply was no graceful way to get back onboard, one having to cock up a leg, get one’s knee on the deck grab something and hoist the rest of you up. Blimey I was not expecting to have a work out – but having been asked if I was staying for any length of time by a very polite lady in a dinghy collecting fees, it was time to be off – I’d attempted to fit the new wiper but butter fingers had put pa t that, dropping the correct sized plastic adaptor for the arm into the Bure.  

It was not too far after departing Salhouse that the rain came down in rather epic proportions – but as soon as it had come, it went as if the tap had been turned off – this repeated itself the most spectacular was when I turned off on to the River Ant to see what the levels were like at Ludham Bridge. 8ft dead – in a 9ft air draft boat – I think not.  With the rain brought a new menace some serious condensation – the wiper to be fair wiped 50% of the time, that is to say right to left juddered and did nothing, but the return left to right cleared the water to some degree.  I was then up and down with clothes wiping away at the condensation – fortunately with the patio style doors open at the rear it began to clear. By the time I had turned on the Ant, returned to the Bure and was heading towards the river Thurne the rain had once again stopped.  It was busy, but not overly so with boats and upon reaching the Thurne (whose mouth was full of beautiful sailing boats and several wooden cruises including Broadsventure  XII which was looking mighty fine) for the Regatta which was to take place over the weekend. I headed on and suddenly thought where on earth at the Rhonde Anchors? – Come to think of it what about the curtains for the front screens (they would be the Vinyl type which clip over the windows outside).  I found the Rhonde Anchors in the gas locker – no sign of the window covers though.

It was time to take the left turn onto Womack Dyke – and moor where I had just 3 weeks previously on Distant Horizon 2 – the mooring was free – it might not be quite as scenic as ones found on the Ant, but it offers the ability to be able to go for a nice walk along the bank and once can see for miles around over the marshland.  Honestly, I think my true favourite wild moorings are on the Ant – but since I cannot get up under Ludham Bridge, this would have to suffice.  Not long after mooring, and as I was taking photos – Crusading Light passes by ‘Oi London Rascal’ gets shouted over – yep I’ve just been spotted by more followers of the Captain’s Blog.  Now moored it was time to get to know the boat some more – I found another locker on the left side of the boat, it contained the vinyl covers for the forward windows – from their dirty nature and manner in which were folded it seemed as if these had been hidden away here for months – likely most hirers unaware the boat had such and put up with less privacy afford by their use. They fitted – in parts – but with some missing ‘press studs’ it made securing them a tad tricky – but the Velcro tabs in the end held firm and once were up it actually felt very cost and nice inside. Let me be clear this is a lovely boat – it has laminated Holly & Teak effect flooring, comfortable seating and a modern light wood interior with lots of drawers and storage.  It has a larger than average flat screen television, Microwave, gas hob and oven (these days increasingly rare to find on Barnes Brink craft boats) and the most effective and controllable water heated heating system.  No less than 3 heater outlets in the saloon, one for the dinette/galley and one for the forward cabin – the heating also heated the domestic water supply – so no need to run the engine for piping hot water it was on tap whenever one required it.  It also featured two thermostats so one could have the forward cabin at a separate temperature to the salon – what a boon and while on the subject of the heater no annoying ticking of a fuel pump.  

I settled down for the evening, the rain had cleared the sky was putting on a grand show with the sun setting – I sat in the after cockpit with a glass of Merlot and some ‘moody music (ambient) which fitted the scene perfectly.  Bliss.


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Hello Robin,


I guess you were pretty wound up after your journey up to the boat  and by the sound of it you were lucky to get there with all the jobs worths you encounted.


You would have thought that after the boatyard had accepted your single handed cruising booking that they would have set the boat up with longer ropes.


I bet you would have loved one of those fender ladders to aid you with the drop on the side of the boat.


As usual a very good story please keep up with your bloggs.




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Great log Robin but which boat are you on!


Have used Barnes Brinkcraft twice after my regular yard Pearson Marine closed and found them ok but not great. Boat (Omega) was great but little niggles like you with things like missing studs etc and the rather matter of fact welcome could have been improved. Heavy rain on our last day resulted in a fore berth becoming wet from a window seal leak. This was mentioned on our return but not even written down by the reception staff. Also BB are the only yard I have used that have actually taken  from us the extra deposit for same sex parties. Must have had something to do with amount of wine that went on board!


On  the subject of welcome, the yard I use now, the family or staff are waiting outside their reception to welcome you as you drive into the yard. You are shown to your boat and told to pop into reception when ready. No rush, no hassle and totaly at your own pace.


Waiting for the next instalment.



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First off - Belmore was the boat name.  Honestly, a nice boat - really nice - but for every positive was a negative (which I may add was not a lot to do with boatyard but design of boat) however something were to do with boatyard - as you will see, this caused an issue with the second days dinner cooking.


Saturday 25th May – Day Two:


I had not had the most restful of sleeps partly because when I had made the berth up the previous night, I found under the starboard mattress quiet a bit of water – I was not sure where this had come from, perhaps from the window seal (the forward cabin windows did not open) but wherever it was from, it should not have been where it now found itself – and of course foam being what it is happily wicked the moisture up.  The port berth was dry and after making this up found another problem – the ‘escape hatch’ would get a lot of condensation on it (they often do) but because it had no arm to adjust and fix in a partial position, it was either open completely or shut and this hatch formed the only ventilation for the cabin. Said condensation would now drip happily onto the floor – I could take it no more so got up and made up the dinette – this became my sleeping accommodation for the remainder of the trip, comfortable, large but annoying to put up each night and then put away bedding in the morning.


I had a lay in by my standards – but now up and about it was time to think about where I should go today – Potter Heigham for sure so after I had attended to the ungracious messing about with the external vynal window covers trying to wrap around me, then blow off in the breeze – I left the mooring and headed up the Thurne.


Upon mooring at the Broads Authority moorings I did something I have never done before, I ‘plugged in’ the boat to the electric post.  Why not, someone had left a little credit and some free leccie was welcome – I presume that is how it worked, either that or it sat plugged in looking fancy and doing not a lot lol.  Anyway I needed more kitchen towel and Lathams sold jumbo rolls of the stuff so it was first stoop Lathams but as seems inevitable when I visit this place I ended up getting more than I ever really needed .  Once shopping was complete popped over the road to Waterside Marine Sales – I had seen a boat on their website that looked tidy, and good value – however in the flesh she looked unloved and clearly one would need to undertake a lot of work on the superstructure around windows and so on as the wood was rooting.  It made me think just what a big step ever taking the plunge to ownership would be, come the time – certainly something that mind would need to rule over and not heart.


I had a wander around and was surprised despite the fact it was early morning no one was about wanting to take over day boats – they were lined up waiting expectantly for someone to have a day out – the only activity was the teams of cleaners working over the hire boats in Herbert Woods – I looked on thinking how ‘up and down’ this boatyard has been over the years, and how now it is looking mighty fine the buildings painted and smart, the boats lined up looking very smart.  I walked back over the bridge, only 6ft was showing – I made an educated guess that likely meant that Ludham would be around 8ft clearance – and then took on board that I would not be on my favourite river, the Ant this time around.


Back on board it was time to do some breakie simply a sausage on toast with some scrambled egg.  Went down a treat and the cheap Kenco Rapor coffee I had bought was not actually that bad of a cup. I sat sipping wondering – if I could not go up the Ant, what could I do?  Well going down towards Acle was not exactly going to be full of interest – and with the Thurne Mouth Open Regatta on surely would prove to be a trip where ones wits would be needed at all times. No I thought, I’ll head back to the Bure, check in once again on the Ant and see just what the clearance was under Ludham and if no luck then I would make for Wroxham via Ranworth and Horning.


I am not sure of the time, but I left Potter Heigham and heading up the Thurne – taking it easy and despite the stiff breeze, pleased the weather was warming up and brighter than yesterday.  Not too long into the journey and past the turn off for Ludham,  Thurne Dyke (well the drainage mill) came into view.  It was only as I past the mouth of the dyke I looked back and saw Broad Ambition was moored – so about turn and came down the dyke to moor just behind them.  Griff and Macie dog were on the bank and after showing him the boat spent some time later onboard having a chat and a coffee and meeting a very nice couple who were onboard for the weekend.  I also gave some of the goodies I had been given in my hamper Barnes Brinkcraft had given me.  The wind had not eased any by the time I was back on Belmore ready to depart the mooring – I had guessed I could turn her in the narrow width of the dyke and use her ample power to get the boat round.  Well first attempt mother nature was not helping and I was once more perfectly ‘moored’ against the bank where I started – second attempt the boat won against the wind and whilst it was not the smoothest of turns and nothing ‘3 point’ about it I was none the less now facing the right way and then it dawned on me it would have been far easier to have backed down the dyke using the mouth of it to turn in, rather than turn in the narrow confines of it – live and learn you do though.


As I came to the mouth of the Thurne there was some good racing already under way and several sailing boats making of the buoy to turn at – just as I was approaching to turn right and head up the Bure – I stopped and kept close to the Reeds and not only did I not get in their way, had a great view as they came for the turn, the sails catching the wind once more, the boat heaving over and the look of concentration on the crew was amazing.  As I headed towards St. Benets a couple more were taking up the river - but good timing and the fact I was starting to learn from watching the ripples on the water and reeds blowing where the wind was, and a quick look at the sails I had some idea when a tack was going to begin and at what angle such would be at as their direction would change. 


As I came past Fleet Dyke there was nice swell and the narrow beam of the boats ‘V’ hull meant a good bit of roll was the order of the day – and a smile on my face, indeed I contemplated turning back and going through it all again for sedate waters are all very well, but a slight roll and pitching is just as welcome.  I opted not to as I was trying to be as frugal as possible with fuel – this after all was a trip which was on a tight budget and the likes of food and fuel had to be carefully calculated.  After the fun of the sailing it was time to head towards Ranworth Staithe – I am not sure what I was thinking – I mean it be free on a Bank Holiday weekend, no of course it was not but Ranworth Island was. I moored up and stepped on to what later seemed the only bit of wet soggy mud along the whole quay and now most of it was on the ropes, and in the boat.  Still I waited there for about 20 minutes keeping a careful look out at the staithe to see if anyone would be going and might I be able to get lucky – I fancied a walk and around Ranworth are some lovely walks.  It was not to be so I departed and headed for Horning.  As I came past the Ferry Inn it dawned on me how many boats were now out – lots of day boats, and a lot of hire boats – not long after one passes the Swan you come to Little Hoveton Broad (Blackhouse Broad) and despite the fact I was to begin going to head to Salhouse overnight, I decided I would instead mud weight on Hoveton Little Broad.


By the time I arrived, found a nice spot, put the mud weight over it was getting on for 5pm now – wherever had the day gone to I wondered – but I was now having a right dilemma as the sign at the entrance of the Broad stated no mooring or shore side amenities.  The map simple stated it had no mooring facilities – this left me wondering therefore if mud weighting was also considered mooring – was I allowed to or not?  Well after some thinking about it the lack of single on my dongle and the fact the wind had got up and the water was once more slapping at the hull made my mind up – I would be leaving, so up with the mud weight and head back towards Horning.  I thought to begin I would go all the way back to my previous nights mooring at Womack Dyke just off the Thurne, but felt sure I’d also find somewhere to moor long before I reached there.


Horning was full, the moorings at the Swan, and New Inn – even the island opposite the Swan was full – passing the Ferry Inn it too was full indeed some had double moored and Cockshoot Dyke had no space.  By the time I had reached the mouth of the Ant I knew the Thurne was not too far away, and seeing as the moorings as St. Benent’s were all taken I knew I would be best to carry on – after all I still could not get under Ludham Bridge.  Once on the Thurne the sailing boats which had been taking part in the Regatta were all moored for the night and while sunset was not going to be for another couple of hours  there was that feeling of everyone (including nature) was winding down.  When I got to the dyke that leads to Womack Water – all the usual ‘wild moorings’ were taken, as was the formal Broads Authority ones – and those on the island. There was only one thing for it – I’d have to have the space just at the mouth of the dyke – which would not be ideal and I was aware that I could not stick around in the morning for long either as I was concerned mooring here may cause some sighting problems for boats leaving the dyke or turning on to it from the main river but it would do for the time being and it was getting on for 7:15pm and frankly what had begun as a day I intended to do very little in fact had ended up with me doing rather a lot – at least as cruising was concerned.


Not long after mooring up I decided to it would be a good idea to put dinner on – I’d bought one of these Lamb Shanks that had been pre-cooked and you put in the Microwave – well I thought, give it a whirl – so I duly started the engine, put the Lamb in the Microwave and after 4 minutes the microwave made some rather unhappy sounds and the inverter ‘tripped’ – yep despite having the engine going at 1,200RPM the volts had dropped below 11v and I was now having to wait for some charge to get into the batteries and start the Microwave again.  This process of cooking, waiting, cooking and so on went on for some time – especially since I was also doing Microwave Mash  and could only seemingly keep the thing cooking for around 4 minutes a pop.  It was not actually too bad of a dinner – the mash was buttery and fluffy, the Lamb minty and tender – carrots and peas and some wine added to make it really rather nice, but goodness me what is it with boats and their batteries these days – I really get annoyed because it is one thing someone not doing enough hours cruising, or trying to use power hungry things without the engine running, but when you do things ‘by the book’ and you still encounter such it boils down to the fact the batteries are simply worn out, have done too many discharge and recharge cycles.  Another niggle to be put on the growing list of points for the boatyard to be aware of on my return.


Still, since this was only a weekend away I would not let it bother me too much and so after dinner sat out on the aft well deck and enjoyed watching the sun as it set, feeding the passing ducks and enjoying the wine.  It had been a lovely day, and tomorrow was forecast to be even warmer – I could not wait.

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Terrible Dan I know - I was not even keeping a tally but sometimes a good offer presents itself and - you know how it is, hard to say no.  So how about we all party and not make war.  Oh the drinsk are not on me, spent all me money on boats haha  :party1:

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How about writing a book Robin of your tales.   I am sure it would be a best seller and something we would keep on the boat to read.     I was thinking if you did it would help pay for your trips.       I also agree a special area for these blogs would be a very good idea.    I can read them over and over again because they are so relevant to us all.



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Dan and Robin just had a vision of you coming in opposite directions on the Acle straight, spotting each other and in a Clint Eastwood scenario both refusing to move until....... :pirate

 Great second instalment Robin. Can I just say though, after reading your blogs and enjoying you on YouTube I do worry about your onboard diet!

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Hi robin greag read again, i hope you remembered to take your own tin opener this time lol, i never laughed so much seeing you trying to get into that tin haha , i'm surprised you don't get writers cramp doing all that blog, look forward to seeing more stories, lori ;-)

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Sunday 26th May - Day Three:


Now you've all been most patient reading all about the trip, and the final day's account is below - but you can now settle down and watch the Captain's Blog - a feature length edition none the less - enjoy :)




I was keen to leave my over night mooring at the mouth of Womack Dyke early – I had worried that because of where I had to moor it may cause issues for boats wishing to enter or leave the dyke in seeing what may be coming.  One of the things that I noticed at this time of year is every one seems to get under way later – whereas out of season people are up and off making full use of the available light in the shorter days. It is often the case in Broadland however that the early bird is treated to some of the most amazing sunrises and should you take a stroll along the bank at such time the bird song and activity is equally impressive.


Since yesterday’s ‘easy day’ had turned into anything but – finally mooring at around 7:00pm, I was determined today would be a day of not very much – I’d decided that my over night mooring would be Salhouse Broad – a place I had not moored on overnight in the past, but was an easy morning cruise back to Barnes Brinkcraft to hand the boat over the following day.  


I passed the mouth of the Thurne and the sailing boat crews – some making preparations for the day ahead, but there was a different feeling today – despite the fact it was not long after 8:00am now the sun was in a cloudless sky and it was already a lot warmer than yesterday.  With the sunroof open, and ‘patio doors’ slide back this made for an ideal fine weather boat.  Whilst you may loose some space internally to the seating area outside, on days like today it was all made up for.  I wondered where I should head for – Salhouse in one trip – or break up the journey stopping here and there.  I noticed that the water levels were lower than yesterday, but still on the high side and frankly I had given up on the idea of getting up the Ant.  I decided instead to head back to Hoveton Little Broad where I could make breakfast and sit in the sun.


 As I came towards St. Benets things were getting busy – the moorings were pretty full still, but there was activity of all types of boat on the river – small weekend boats, sailing boats, large hire boats it was nice to see so many people out and enjoying the water and the fine weather for which we seem once more to be having very little of so one must make the best of a good day.  I did however find myself having to be far more ‘on the ball’ and aware because of the increase in traffic – not just boats deciding to turn at the last moment but then you would spot four canoes hugging the starboard bank and one would need to give them a clear berth and I always slow – many seem not to bother, as if the canoes as they have increased in number in recent years are akin to the cyclists on the roads  – many a car driving seeing them as a pain in the backside and I wonder if some helmsmen may see the canoe paddlers in the same vein.


Ranworth Dam came and past and I continued up the river and it was not too long before I was on the ‘outskirts’ of Horning.  By now the river traffic had reached a new high – and I was often left perplexed – I mean sure a sailing boat needs to tack and you may well not have much of a clue what their next move may be, but you expect that none the less – they are driven by the unpredictable wind – but a motorboat is a different story, but today it seemed as if they were the unpredictable ones on the water.  From boats weaving about, being towed, coming to a stop and when I used caution and slow up behind this often as not those behind me would pull out and over take only then seeing what it was I had slowed for.  In short I got the impression many were i a rush to get from place to place whereas I was just content to take it easy and be patient – is that not what being on the water is all about?


As I came past the New Inn it was busy enough with a boat waiting to turn and moor outside the pub, but it was just a little way along I was greeted with the sight of Gold Gem – a forward drive boat straddled across the river.  It looked impressive neither going forward nor back and seemingly to hold still just where it was outside the Swan.  A chap in a Dinghy zipped out – I slowed and came almost to a stop, Gold Gem moved forward and for a moment I thought I may have done the wrong thing to then begin to pass behind their stern – I said allowed ‘please don’t reverse’ but all was well and it was clear the lads bedecked in pirate gear and bunting were simply in need of some held as to moor, and the chap in the Dinghy was proffering his wisdom.  It is nice to see when it all goes a bit pear shaped, there is often help on hand on these rivers.


I made the sharp left hand turn and was greeted ahead with a bunch of small sailing boats that had come from Horning Sailing Club.  They were heading down river but not moving very quickly as the wind on the river today was far less stiff as it had been yesterday – I was soon in a ‘sail boat sandwich’ with 4 or 5 in front of me and 2 behind.  I could not over take the ones in front for as one tacked left, two might tack right as if I was part of a game show where someone must make a run through a line of swinging balls and not be hit. I was actually rather enjoying the spectacle and meant I could get in some ‘training’ on slow speed manoeuvring keeping a watchful eye for those behind catching me up and those in front doing their almost ballet like routines.  As it happened  we were all moving at the same speed so I was able to be in amongst them but not cause alarm of evasive manoeuvres from crews.   The real issue was they were all going onto Hoveton Little Broad – just where I was also wanting to go to do my breakfast – which was fast approaching to become a brunch.  I was to begin unsure if the turning they were going down was indeed the Broad, but upon seeing the sign I could see it was and they had lost a lot of wind in the trees and were paddling up the channel.  I decided therefore to continue up river for a time, turn and head back thus they would all be on the Broad and I’d have clear passage up the channel to it.


Once I was on Hoveton little Broad (does anyone know why it is called this or also referred to Blackhouse Broad?) there was nothing short of a spectacular sight – it seemed liked 20 or more boats were all out perhaps of two different classes completed with a floating ‘starting line’ – sorry chaps, but I am not sure what these are but no doubt the sailing people will know where they have hoisted little flags.  Anyway it matters not what it was called, or indeed if they were formally racing or just having a fun day in the sunshine – it was great to watch.  I mud weighted well away from the action had my late breakfast and then seemed to go a bit mad.  I had packed a lot of my things away so that the last night would be relaxed and no rush to pack up before the morning – but then I went further and began cleaning.  I seem to do this with boats and before long all the windows have been cleaned inside and out, the aft well mopped the floors wiped down.  Now this was all done Belmore positively sparkled in the sun.  I decided too it was far too nice of a day and early to stay on Salhouse so I departed and headed for Wroxham


As I was coming into Wroxham having not long passed Wroxham Broad I had been following a large forward steer boat – nothing out of the ordinary there, but I had latched on suddenly that the two (it turned out to be three) young girls on the back were not accompanied and they had shut the stern door – leaving the parents in the forward saloon unaware of what was now going on out back.  One of the girls then sat with legs over the back of the boat and kicking the fender, lifting it and so on.  I simply could watch this no more and actually got a bit tense – she was very young and if god forbid slipped she would be at best in the water and have to be recovered – at worst to go in and the other kids scream and dad put the boat hard into reverse to stop – well I’ll leave you to work out what may happen then. 


I needed to get alongside and tell the parents what was going on at the back – I was along side in a shot but it would appear from those now approaching that I was the biggest fool of Broadland trying to overtake a boat where I was – I of course was not and while the parents were most grateful and got the girls he forward well where they could be seen, it is moments like this when being safe on the water is all about not taking a risk because even if you did it 99 times without bother the 100 could be the time you forever regret.

When I arrived in Wroxham it was busy but because of the boats which were out on hire found a few spaces in Barnes Brinkcrafts’ yard so popped in – loving the way the boat could be turned on a sixpence and fit into just about any space – it was as I was turning the whole event got highly pressured and me very nervous.  You see I hate, absolutely cannot stand and will run like a girl away from Wasps.  And now there was a big bugger in the boat going mad trying to get out (but as ever being stupid and hitting the windows – you would have thought flying insects would have evolved to know glass is not able to be got through) but the Wasp was getting ever more worked up and buzzing around me I wanted to get out the way but was half way turning the boat so could not.  I probably made the fasted stern mooring – and as it happened one of the best – under the pressure of wanting to get away from the Wasp.  Once out the back and on the Quay I was away from the crazed insect – phew! Oh damn I thought for in the rush to moor and get off the boat I forgot to grab a line and now Belmore gentle began to drift away from the Quay.  Thank goodness for stern fenders, grabbed one and brought her back to and could make the boat fast and get onboard and deal with the Wasp.  I had travelled light, so a can of fly killer was left off the list, a tea towel would have to do to encourage the now angry Wasp out of the sunroof – well let us just say the Wasp was not playing ball and the tea towel controller was not being the most persuasive in encouraging the way to the sunroof.  I had no idea the humble tea towel could end up quiet as good swat as it did. So with one Wasp down it was time to shut up the boat and head into town.


Wroxham by now was heaving with people and it seemed everyone wanted to get either Fish & Chips or an Ice Cream – my craving was that of an Ice Cream and it went down a treat and I took the time to wander about and look at the river, but before long the constant moving out of peoples way on the pavement and waiting forever to cross the road got to me, this was like being back home on a Saturday afternoon back to the boat I thought and so I did.  Sitting onboard I remembered when I had met with Charlie on Broad Ambition they were going to be meeting up with The Corsican – at Salhouse later and having met with Simon and Sonia when we had travelled to Southwold it would be lovely to see them again.  I wondered if such was still on, and seeing as it was now fast approaching lunchtime and I was heading for Salhouse anyway I’d head up and take a looksie. 


I left the sanctuary of Barnes Brinkcraft yard and headed out on what effectively had become the M1 – you see when it is a Bank Holiday, the sun is shining and Wroxham is busy you can be sure of one thing – many, many dayboats will be out.  Now to be fair many of them were having a great time but you always get the silly buggers – and as I was approaching Wroxham Broad one such dayboat full of young men was going all over the shop – three had decided to clamber out and sit on the front legs over feet in the water when one got up, slipped and in the water he went...oh they laughed and grabbed him in and it was such a funny sight – not for me though I’ve always been the person to think ‘what if’ and whilst it meant he was wet and his friends were laughing at his misfortune, I think of all the bad outcomes that could happen – I guess I worry too much.


With Wroxham Broad passed next up was Salhouse – only I had no signal on my phone oh the joys of using O2 on the Broads.  I did however have my MiFi unit and an App ‘TuGo’ which uses a data connection to send texts and make calls, as if you dialled them from your O2 phone – thus texts and calls come out of your inclusive bundle of minutes etc.  This in principal is a great idea, however as I found out while it works, the delay between sending a text means you may as well send a carrier Pigeon up to send a message.  Salhouse was pretty full so I did and ‘in and out’ and carried on down the Bure towards Horning.  It made no sense, I was simply burning fuel for no reason other than I was enjoying the day, enjoying the boat and driving and with some good music on was having a great time of it.  I got to Horning turned around and then saw The Corsican – I was 2 or three boats behind when I had a reply to my text I had sent at Salhouse – i duly replied to this, well lets just say it was delivered over an hour later.  TuGo not perhaps the fasted communication tool therefore.


At least I knew it was all on to meet at Salhouse – what time, where no idea such instruction lost to the wilderness of the data super highway so I continued up river back to Salhouse – not a long journey as anyone who has done this trip will know, and when I arrived I dropped the mudweight and promptly swung around, dragged a little and then was in front of the entrance.  Back up with the weight, move the boat this time drop the weight from a greater height – and my god is Salhouse mud something.  Hoveton Little Broad is sandier almost, but Salhouse is thick and dark and makes a right mess.   I looked at the goings on – it was very busy, both at the stern moorings and with boats on the broad swinging gently in the breeze.  It looked lovely actually, and it was not long before The Corsican arrived – looking out for a Richardson’s boat they were surprised to see me on one from Barnes Brinkcraft – they headed out to moor and after I had got the mudweight up in the most graceful way I could muster so not to cover myself in mud, I headed on over to moor stern on.  We were lucky that there was space for three – we positioned ourselves much the same as a young man does on the bus – one seat, but he is taking it all with his legs open – Simon text Charlie his phone being on a network that actually works and so it was that Broad Ambition was on the way.


They duly arrived and when Broad Ambition does it seems to get as many looks for her good looks as does the skipper for his ability to turn 40ft of boat and come in to a mooring.  I would not call it graceful, more like an old Triumph that turns up with a roar of revs – looks amazing, sounds great and everyone stops and looks.  Once we were all tied up it was time for drinks and conversation and then the most wonderful BBQ – Sonia should really enter for Masterchef her cooking is simply divine, and after the food it was time to be merry and enjoy time in the company of friends as the sun set over the Broad.   What a great end to a wonderful weekend. 




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@ Brian: An area developed for them – it is fine by me.  I have to confess, I remain surprised people actually watch/read what I say as I do much the same things when I come.  This time around I even toyed with leaving the camera at home – but fat lot of good that did and longest single episode was the result.


@ Hylander: I may have some skill of writing handed down by my mother, the Author of the family – but while it may be something to look at doing ‘one of these days’ I think I should get a few more years of boating in before I start writing books.  Just think what will happen if I ever get my own boat.


@Trambo: My onboard diet is the least of my concerns – it is indeed far better and infinitely more healthy than the fare I usually have when I am not away.  However, I am thinking of putting a stop to the naughty food and going all good and healthy and loosing a bunch of weight.  I know this will be hard, I used to smoke for over ten years but stopped in a week – going on a diet will be a big struggle but I know will be the right thing long term.


@Lori: finny thing is when it comes to writing these, it all comes out pretty easy from memory and I tend to perhaps say a little too much but I find the tale adds a good background to the film. 

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I should have said in my write up what those who have watched the video would have seen, that Barnes Brinkcraft emailed me personally to apologies for the issues and will alert the engineers to such.  I felt that they needn't bothered to reply to my 'feedback' which I had submitted to them from an email after the holiday asking for my views etc.

No boat or boatyard I don't think can be perfect all of the time, but it is nice when points are addressed even if that is after the event - it shows they care.  I think Barnes Brinkcraft have a good selection of boats, but perhaps would suit me more for weekend/short breaks and stick to Richardson's whose service and overall boat choice and a keen price I value for week or longer breaks.

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Excellent blog Robin & great video we love watching you & especially when you talk to camera & tell us how you feel about things. We thought another informative film & you put us off the boat with the height issue, however there are still loads of boats for us to pick from. We will be down in mid Sept for a week this year & next year we are hoping to do 17 nights for our 25th wedding anniversary.

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@ laffingfish:  Well welcome here and thank you for your complimentary words.  Choosing a boat can be tricky because there are many styles out there, and then small differences within the same style of boat! Generally speaking I think a good all round boat  is centre cockpit for they are not too hard to get on or off (their freeboard is not that high) and with the canopy down means at the right state of tide bridges like Wroxham, Wayford and Beccles (old) can be passed.

Sometimes a boat that might look more ‘boaty’ – like Belmore – was not designed to be a Broads river cruiser, thus while it looks good you have to compromise in terms of practicality.  To some that is perfectly fine to others not so – so I would especially for your 25th wedding anniversary, and since such is an extended break – take time to choose a boat that is less of a compromise for you.  Many boatyards are happy for potential clients’ to have a look on the boats when they are not on a turn around day.  You could always make a day out of it, call in advance and a nosey around yards and then maybe finish the day off with a couple of hours in a day boat – and not necessarily from the popular centres like Wroxham or Potter Heigham, you could pop along the quiet river Ant for example from Moonfleet at Stlaham. Just an idea...

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Thanks for the warm welcome Robin, Alan & Hocking Admiral. I have been looking at this forum for a few years now (& the other one). Mainly for the holiday tales & fishing updates plus there are loads of extra bits of information & tips on both of them.. Me and my brothers have been coming down fishing for a week Sept or October for the last 7/8 years & had many bathtub styles (as easier to fish off) from Herbert Woods & Richardsons (both excellent yards but they both have a major problem....... we cant get on boat early enough hahaha). Last year we used the website http://www.lastminuteboathire.com/ who were offering 30% off or maybe 28.7% if Robin calculates it. Me and my wife have been down a couple of times previously we had 11 nights on Silver Emblem from Ferry Marina excellent boat & no issues with boatyard & then we had 17 nights on Summerlight from Herbert Woods.We do love the Northern rivers especially the River Ant & South Walsham (with a excellent Chinese delivery service)

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