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Trials, Tribulations and Triumphs of our first Broads Holiday


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Well we made it back! Got back yesterday evening after cutting the week short by 1 night because of my wifes work commitments. Will add a few paragraphs about each day in this thread as soon as I have typed them up.


A quick recap on the situation so far:


Booked 1 week on Classic Gem 2 for Myself (Nick) and the wife(Clare), our son Dan and his friend Sybil both 13. Never driven/sailed a boat before and a bit nervous to be honest, anyway here goes -


Day 1, Mon 26th

Set off from the sunny south coast at 9am with an eta of 14:00, hoping that as it was the end of a bank holiday all the traffic would be in the opposite direction. Stopped for breakfast and after a bit of traffic on the M11, overturned caravan on opposite carriageway and 30 mins stuck at Elvedon/Thetford we drove into the Yard at Stalham at 14:25. Into the reception (very nice lady) to book in and then to collect our life jackets then all aboard the Classic Gem 2!!

First thoughts were @%*& me I will never be able to drive/sail that thing!(whatever the term is!!) It was mahoosive. Unloaded the car and loaded the boat then it was off on my trial run. The guy taking me out was very good and showed me the basics quite quickly and I soon felt comfortable controlling the boat with him standing next to me. Classic Gem is a ‘bathtub’ type boat, as I am sure most of you know, with loads of living space inside. However, the bedrooms were very cramped and not at all comfortable. No dvd player, though it says it has on the Richardson’s site, and we couldn’t get the cd/radio or TV to work anywhere we went!!

A quick dash to Tesco’s for a few last minute stores and away we go at about 16:30. Slow and steady out of the boat yard and down the Ant absolutely beautiful, the sun was shining the birds were singing (just as well as the radio wouldn’t work!) and our 1st Broads holiday was underway. Got to Barton Broad and there were still a few sailing boats around but using my new boat handling skills we navigated the broad with no mishaps and continued on down the Ant. It was now about 17:30 and I was a bit worried about finding a mooring so when we got to How Hill and saw there were a few spots I decided this would be where we moored. Life jackets on, my crew were at their posts and I drifted her in almost perfect, lucky/fluke I imagine, Dan and Sybil tied their ropes perfectly and we had moored. A quick look around the staithe and it was decided that it can’t be too far to a pub and off we went. 30 minutes later we were in The Dog Inn at Ludham Bridge which was very nice, needed a pint after the walk there, but only had time for 1 as we needed food and it was quite a trek back to How Hill. Had a nice meal on board, a couple of cans and a few board games and it was time for bed.




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Nick, Hi

A great start to your blog... you must all like route marches I you did that one in 30 mins!  :clap  :clap  :clap

It was across country and it may have been a tad longer, 2 hours we were away and on the way back we followed a footpath across 2 fields!!


Hi Nick, Keep it coming. Was the DVD not built into the TV?  :???:



No DVD, even the trial run guy was surprised when he was showing us around the boat.


Anyhoo here is day 2 (if these are too long let me know, i start typing and all of a sudden i have written 1340 words!!)


Day 2, Tues 27th

We woke quite early; well the kids didn’t, obviously!! Opened up the boat and had a coffee and some toast and checked the map for our days cruising. It was decided that Wroxham would be a good place to go, maybe get some fish & chips for lunch. After the kids had woken and everyone fed and watered it was time to set off. Little did we know what the next few minutes had in store for us! There was a boat in front of us but no one behind so I thought no problem just a little bit of power astern and we would have plenty of space to pull away from the staithe. Didn’t work!! Boat went back about 15/20 feet, then full right wheel and engine in forward and we just bounced along the staithe, the stern did not want to leave. Stopped and reversed further and again once in forward gear the stern would not allow us to pull away, it just bounced along the mooring. Eventually we got ourselves off but it involved coming out from the bank at almost 90 degrees then snaking up the river trying desperately to straighten but each time over steering and then over steering back to where I was originally. This boat is huge and as I couldn’t see the back was relying on messages passed by my crew. Any confidence I had had gone and I was now cruising down the river and wishing I was laying on a beach somewhere instead of trying to sail/drive( what is the correct term??) a 44 foot bathtub with a lid, with no idea what the back end was doing, down a river.

Anyway, I safely navigated Ludham Bridge and the mouth of the Ant, and turned right up the Bure. A quick check of the map and it was left into Ranworth Dam and on towards Malthouse broad. I was hoping to moor at the Ranworth staithe but it was full so I thought it was an ideal time to try out the mud weight.  Weight was duly lowered into the murky depths and we settled down for a calming cup of coffee! During this stop I noticed free mooring space at the island staithe so decided that some stern on mooring practice was needed as that is probably what I would need to do at Wroxham. Pulled the weight up and attempted my first stern on mooring without the assistance of my trial run guy! Well it went quite well, probably hit the mooring a tad too hard, but nothing broken and no-one in the water so we fed the ducks a few crusts and then it was off to Wroxham.

A leisurely cruise along the Bure followed, through Horning, packed solid, loads of craft of all sizes and on towards Salhouse and Wroxham broads. Everything was great, sun was shining down, temperature was in low 20s there were a lot of other boats all along this part and I had to do a fair bit of manoeuvring on this stretch. And then we were in Wroxham! What a nightmare……………… Boats behind me, boats in front of me, pretend paddle steamer right up my stern and another pleasure cruise boat behind her, day boats to the left and right of me and not a single spot to moor, which probably was a good thing as there was no way I had the confidence to even attempt it. I tried all the boat yards and some of them were very tight for a boat my size. After 30 mins of panicking and near misses I managed to turn around and head off to the relative quiet of the island staithe next to Wroxham broad where we had lunch. By now the doubts had set in and I was worried that this would not be the week of complete relaxation that I had hoped it would be.

Checking the ship's clock (my phone!!) I saw it was getting on and we cast off and headed back down the Bure not really sure of where were headed. As we got to the Ant I swung her left and headed for Ludham Bridge, hoping there would be an easy mooring spot. As we negotiated the sharp bend just before the bridge I was forced to stop/reverse as another 2 boats were coming through. This must have taken me a bit off course as I lined her up to shoot the bridge gap Clare says ‘it’s a bit close this side’ as my bow fender bounced us off the bridge!! The staithe was almost empty up river side so we moored up and I checked to see if I had hurt the boat! The only thing I could see was a squished fender that soon returned to its original shape. This mishap was the last straw and I was preparing to head back and hand the keys in. However, it was too late and we had moored, so it was off to the Dog Inn, this time for food as well as drink. Both of which were excellent. After a few pints I had relaxed a bit again and we returned to the boat where the tv refused to tune into any channels so we hit the (very small) sack wondering what the morning would bring.





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Nick, Hi




We all have to start somewhere and you've probably chosen the most difficult time/place to do so! With all our experience we wouldn't lightly go into Wroxham at this time of year unless we were certain we could get under the bridge. 


That being said you haven't hit or hurt anybody and no-one expects to get it right every time let alone a first timer.


If you're stuck on a mooring with the wind blowing you into the bank, try pushing the stern off first as you leap aboard and then reverse off. This also works well when you've go a fair tide coming from behind you.


Whatever, please don't give up! There will probably be worse cases of first-time blues than you mention! As a tip, we try to arrive at the next destination by 10.30-11.00 when most boats have just left.


We look forward to the next!  :clap  :clap :clap  

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I think this is a very interesting account not often heard - that of someone who has never been on a boat before and how that feels.


It is easy to forget how daunting things seem at first, and I know this is only two days into your adventure - but hope by the end ot eh week you had got more chilled out and confident with the boat - that said, 'bath tubs' are never that easy to steer and control, let along one as long as Classic Gem - so for a first timer I say congratulations and for being brave enough to opt for that boat to begin.


I've never walked along the 'footpath' to the pub over the marshes, but it looks very nice in your photos I must try that one day.

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Hello Nick,


John & Robin are correct we all started on the Broads at some time, we may have been on different waterways such as canals or lakes etc.

We had been on the canals for years before we started on the Broads in 2001, the only training we were given was doing figure eights on Hoveton Little Broad and then we were let loose. We were alright on the river no problems until we tried to moor at Acle to take on water, we did not hit anything but had to have several goes at it, it give not help with a guy on the bank saying "That's not the way to do it", who had drifted off by the time we were fully moored. We soon learned that tidal waters can be tricky, the wind does not help at times either.


Getting away from moorings can be difficult at times  at certain places such as Reedham Ferry and Stokesby where the current tends to push you back into the bank. In cases such as this you did right in reversing off of the moorings.


When I now give training to our new owners we practice mooring on both port and starboard and stern mooring, with and without bow thruster, we try this several times until the owner is confident that they can do if fully themselves. 


It is only when you are in charge of a boat yourself that that you can moor without any glitches and looks as if you having being doing it for years, two people just step off the boat with the ropes and the boat just  glides into the mooring, perfect. The next attempt everything goes wrong and the mooring is full of people looking on (Gongoozlers is a canal term for onlookers but is apt on all waterways) usually just grinning away. That is boating for you, it gets better over the years but we all still have our moments.


Looking forward to your next day report and more pictures.




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Agree with all the above.  If you think about it, how many hours did you spend learning to drive a car before you were allowed to set off solo?  Yet Broads boatyards will turn you loose after an hour or less very basic tuition.  All of us have been there, all endured the same traumas.  That business getting away from How Hill ... you have to remember that (in the absence of bow thrusters) the front of your boat doesn't 'steer', the back does, by swinging out the opposite way to the way you want to go.  So when you turn the wheel 'hard right' but your boat is hard up against the mooring to the left, the rear has nowhere to go, and so you 'bump along' as described. A good push off from the shore (more to the front or back depending on wind and tide direction) to get you out into clear water before gunning the engine is the answer.


Nice picture of the Hunter yacht (post number 6 above) by the way.  I was sailing one of those a couple of weeks back.  Now there's an adventure getting into and away from a mooring - with no engine at all!

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Leaving a mooring was the thing that always got me on our first holiday a couple of weeks ago. I'd make sure the ropes were right, I had my wife at the right end of the boat to slip the line at my command, I pushed either the bow or stern out into the river (depending on current) and hopped on to ease away with my wife tending to the remaining rope........straight into the path of an oncoming boat. I did it loads of times, I just couldn't get it into my head to check up & down the river for traffic until we'd had almost the whole week. Sorry if any of you suddenly had an idiot steaming into your path, I got a few shaking heads in my direction but no harm done thank goodness.


I'm enjoying your holiday story, I wish I was still there.

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Yup Neil, sounds familiar.  You carefully go through all your routines, and just forget one crucial item - in your case looking out for traffic.


As a sailor I've sometimes checked and rechecked mooring ropes, main sheet free, everything OK, checked for traffic, pushed the boat out 'head to wind' so that I can immediately raise sail, only to discover I hadn't attached the shackle on the peak halyard to the peak, so the shackle goes flying up the mast as I pull on the halyard, and the sail stays right where it started.

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Here we go with the next 'gripping' instalment!! :Stinky


Day 3, Wed 28th

The diggers in the next field woke us promptly at 07:30!! We did know the plan for today; I was using poetic license in yesterday’s final sentence!!! We were going to the Entertainment capital of Norfolk – Great Yarmouth! I know some of you have strong opinions of Gt Yarmouth but with 2 bored 13 yr olds and the last 2 days cruising still fresh in my mind we thought it would be a good idea. We weren’t getting there by boat though as I have read enough and seen all of Robin’s videos to know Gt Yarmouth by boat was a ‘Bridge too Far’ for me. The plan was to have a leisurely cruise back up to Stalham, moor up, get water and a free pump out (just in case!) and drive to Gt Yarmouth. It was the last of the weekly firework displays as well so we would be late back so staying over in our home yard. On the way back up the Ant I chatted to Clare about the situation and we decided to carry on with the holiday as the bits in between the mooring and leaving were great. The scenery is beautiful and it was very relaxing just pootling about. As we slowly passed through Richardson’s I had a brainwave – what if we could change boats/ something smaller, maybe with a centre cockpit so I could see bow and stern during manoeuvres. I moored up, stern on, perfectly and headed for the reception. I told the lady that we were going to Gt Yarmouth and would be back late; she gave me the code for the gate so we could park back on site. Then she asked how it was going and I seized the opportunity to tell her of my difficulties and asked if there was another boat we could swap to? She asked a guy in the office and he checked out the availability and came back with a yes!! There was a boat we could swap, shorter at 37ft and with a centre cockpit – San Francisco 3. It was roughly the same price and although the living area was smaller the bedrooms were much bigger. They had to get it ready but as we were heading out to the hedonistic delights of Gt Yarmouth anyway, that was fine. The guy brought it round and moored it next to ours as we set off. I must admit I felt a bit relieved knowing that, hopefully, things could only get better from now on.

We parked in a car park towards the Caister end of the sea front and wandered along the prom, the kids were excited and with a fiver each they were let loose on the arcades whilst Clare and I found a pub and drank beer! A-Haaa!!

We did the usual stuff, had dinner at Harry Ramsden’s which was scrumptious, ate ice cream and went on a few rides. Saw the fireworks and drove back to Stalham. Went to bed for the last time on Classic Gem.


At this point I would like to thank everyone at Richardson’s for allowing us to change boats, they didn’t have to but I am sure they could see the terror in my face!! The reception lady and the boat yard guys were fantastic, customer service at its best.







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Day 4, Thu 29th

Geese and ducks!! Millions of the little ba$74&ds, woke us at 6ish!!! After an hour I had had enough and got up. We had some breakfast then started to pack our stuff and at 9ish I wandered over to reception where another nice lady knew all about our change and got the yard guys to refuel Classic Gem and take me out on San Francisco for a quick trial run. I asked the guy to show me side on mooring which he did and I practiced a couple of times before heading back, where I moored stern on between 2 boats almost perfectly. (Stern on mooring seems a lot easier to me). We transferred our gear and by 10 were on our way again.

Today our destination was Acle, the trial run guy said there would be plenty of mooring in the Horizon yard, with a stop at St Benet’s Abbey. The difference in the boats was amazing. I could see all around the boat and felt a lot more in control. After a bit of traffic at How Hill and Ludham Bridge we were out of the Ant and into the Bure. The moorings at St Benet’s were quite empty so I got the crew in their positions and nailed it like a pro!! This was a much easier boat to handle and I am glad we swapped. A stroll up to the ruins and on to the cross, was enjoyed as was the view across the marshes. Back to the ’Frisco and a quick lunch was prepared and eaten before we set off again. The trip down to Acle was calm and serene and the sun shone down on us all day, the river was very busy it seemed but as it is fairly wide there were no hairy moments. Soon Acle hove into to view and it was packed! Horizon yard was full as was the bankside moorings and at the Bridge Inn they were double moored. Plan B had to put into action.

Unfortunately, we didn’t have a plan B!!! A quick check of the map and another mooring was located further down the river at Acle Marina, 2 mins later we were there and there was space. Moored up with a lot more ease, not easy but easier than Classic Gem. These moorings belonged to The Hermitage Restaurant and bar and we had to pay £5 for overnight mooring, which was totally refundable on all food and drink bought there. As it was about 16:00 we weren’t going anywhere else that day so I left the kids and Clare and ‘recced’ the path to the restaurant with my £5 in my hand. Apart from a couple of ladies walking their dogs, who both said hello, I saw no-one, not even when, after a 5 minute walk, I reached the establishment, as it was closed!! So I walked back, again passing the 2 dog walkers who again said hello. Everyone is nice it seems on the Broads. When I got back everyone was chillin’ so I popped a can and joined them watching what seemed to be hundreds of swifts darting across the water feeding on the bugs. A young lad came round about 17:30 and took my £5 and gave me a ticket which I could redeem at the bar later. We ate on the boat and decided to head into the thriving metropolis that is Acle. It was a bit of a walk about 25mins to the village, but it was a warm evening and we needed the walk. We found the King’s Head and in we went. The beer was great, Broadside by Adnams, so I had 2!! Then we headed back stopping at The Hermitage to spend my £5. The menu looks great, especially if you like fish. We headed back across the field in the dark, I had a torch, to our boat where it was discovered that Sybil had left her phone in the pub so I had another walk back down the path to collect it. The beds were a lot better on the Frisco and we were all soon asleep.







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There's a man after my own heart!  My 'beer cupboard' has some Hobgoblin too.  Always loved their advertising slogan ... "What's the matter lager boy, scared you might taste something?"  Next time you're in Norfolk and in the Broads (you will be) make your way to the 'Fur and Feather' at Woodbastwick (home of Woodforde's brewery) and wrap your paws round a glass of Norfolk Nog and/or Headcracker!

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There's a man after my own heart!  My 'beer cupboard' has some Hobgoblin too.  Always loved their advertising slogan ... "What's the matter lager boy, scared you might taste something?"  Next time you're in Norfolk and in the Broads (you will be) make your way to the 'Fur and Feather' at Woodbastwick (home of Woodforde's brewery) and wrap your paws round a glass of Norfolk Nog and/or Headcracker!

I was a 'lager boy' until I tried Hobgoblin, I think I have drunk lager 3 or 4 times since!!!


Day 5, Fri 30th

It had been decided that we would be ending our holiday on Sunday afternoon rather than Monday morning, so Clare could sort things out before she was back at work on Tuesday. We would only really miss 1 night on board. We also wanted to visit Norwich as we were in the area. This meant Friday was our last full day of cruising so a plan was decided on. Leave Acle, cruise up to Potter Heigham, see if we could moor, if not back down the Thurn and into Womack water for Lunch and then a slow cruise back to Stalham for our night stop so we could get off to Norwich early. Also I didn’t want to be trying to moor up on a change over day at Richardson’s.

Once more the sun was beaming down on us as we cast off from the Acle Marina moorings, we really have been lucky with the week’s weather. Again had a bit of trouble getting away from the moorings, not helped by everyone on the river passing me exactly at the time I undid the ropes – I’m sure the river was empty when I started to untie!!! Made a complete hash of leaving, didn’t go as I had planned it to but I ended up pointing up the river which was where we wanted to go so I probably looked like I knew what I was doing from the bankside!

The cruise back up river was uneventful; we turned right into the Thurn and headed for Potter. Clare loved all the houses along the river side but I guess they are well out of our price range!! I have to admit I bottled it and decided that caution was the best policy and I turned the boat around before we got to the bridge. Back down the Thurn we headed, this time having to deal with a couple of dinghies that involved me slamming into reverse a couple of times as they tacked across in front of me. As we got to the turn for Womack water I stood up to check around the boat and my hat was whipped away behind me! Dang!! That was my favourite hat and I’d had it years. Anyway into Womack water and wow it was a bit narrow especially with a RC45 coming out. But it was a beautiful stretch of water and when we got to the moorings at Womack Dyke there was a spot right at the far end where we moored. This mooring was not shown on my map so maybe it is a new one. We had a walk into Ludham which was very nice, had a pint in the King’s Arms and bought some lunch from the deli in Throwers. We sauntered back to the parish staithe which was very pretty and not too busy either. Clare had a wander around the gift shop and bought herself a piece of jewellery. Then it was back to ‘Frisco for lunch. We cast off and headed towards the staithe to turn around then sailed around the island moorings and back out into the Thurn.

Negotiated Ludham Bridge with no bother this time and headed back up the Ant which I have to say is a really beautiful stretch of river. It was Friday afternoon and all we saw coming the other way was boats, boats and more boats!! Quite a lot of them seemed to be all male parties and a couple of them were completely decked out as pirates – eye patches, striped ragged shirts & shorts, bandanas and flying the Jolly Roger. We arrived back at Kingfisher quay at about 18:00 and there were 3 other boats moored so plenty of space to reverse on. A couple of others arrived back, but this was their last night and they were beating the Saturday morning rush by mooring up now. Dinner was prepared and eaten and to the bright lights of Stalham we headed. Both pubs were very busy but we found an outside table at the Swan Inn. There was quite a big Indian restaurant on the way through the town from the yard, which was packed so it must be good. Didn’t stay long as we had bought a DVD to watch, so it was back to the boat for a couple of cans.






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Day 6, Sat 31st

Bloody ducks and geese again!!! Had a leisurely breakfast whilst all around were boats mooring, tanks being pumped and filled, cars loaded and cleaners cleaning! After the rush we set off. Some of you may remember I had wanted to go to Horsey and see the sea so we headed there first. Parked up and headed across the marshes/fields towards the ‘gap’ in the sea defences. What a beach! And it was empty – amazing! No ice creams though so back we went to the car – saw a lizard on the way (pic is a bit blurred as the grass kept moving and mucking up the autofocus!) then it was to Norwich. Used the park and ride which was very good and only £4.20 for a group ticket as it was after 12:30. Had lunch in a lovely little café called the White Lion and had a mooch around the lanes. There seemed to be an inordinate amount of sweet shops but that was heaven for the kids who proceeded to spend most of their money! We bought a gift for my eldest daughter who had stayed at home and soon it was time to head back to the bus station.

We drove back through Wroxham which seemed even busier than it had when we were there earlier in the week, and got back to the yard at about 18:00 – all was peaceful. I had noticed, in one of the free papers we had been given, an advert for a pub, The Harnser, which was not on the map but said it was 10 minutes from Stahlam. I checked the map and saw a footpath leading from the yard to Stalham green so I set off to check it out while Clare started the food. The footpath was through a wood and it took me right to the main road and I could see the pub so I ventured in to check its facilities. After I finished the pint of Doom Bar I started back to the boat, this time going via the road and through Stalham. This way was more than twice as long as I had reached the pub in just over 10 mins but the return journey took me almost 30 mins (I had only 1 drink I promise!) After dinner we set off, not forgetting the torch as there were no lights at all on the path. A great time was had, there was Karaoke in the bar, but we stayed in the garden as it was so nice. On the way back through the wood there was much hilarity when I turned the torch off and left the other 3 screaming as a pigeon, obviously disturbed from slumber by our crashing along the path, decided to find a quieter place to sleep. We got back to the boat and settled down for our last night afloat of the holiday.






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