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Planes, trains and automoboats

Guest plesbit

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And so it was, sun shining on Thursday morning as the alarm clock biddly beeped at me and it was time to gather the already packed stuff and head boatwards.

Slightly short on time, once in the marina we dumped our stuff on board, struck up the engines and put out on the river at Brundall, heading down towards our 1300 lock at Oulton Broad. The fridge had been on for several days already and was nice and icy cold and pre-stocked with beer which SWMBO then packed in with yoghurts and rabbit food. Beautiful timing meant that we were going to get a push from the tide all the way to Oulton Broad, a rare event. We pushed off down the ebbing Yare and hit the Cut with the tide on the turn, emerging into the Waveney as the flood got properly underway. This good fortune meant we actually arrived a full hour early for our lock and plugged onto the broad for some lunch.

Lunch done with and Mutford got on the radio and called us in. Once through the lock it took practically forever to swing the railway bridge, and even then they only opened it a fraction so we had to squeeze around the edge! Unfortunately my lack of careful forward planning came back to bite us though. I had assumed that the powers that be would have timed the scheduled railway bridge swings to coincide with the scheduled lifts of the harbour bridge. Wrong! It was actually 1 hr 30 until the next lift of the harbour bridge, a fact I knew by then but hadn't at the time I made the original booking (which was done so as to provide the least inconvenience to SWMBO's awkward shift pattern). We trundled down to the harbour bridge and back but had still only succeeded in wasting 25 mins or so, so put in at the Haven Marina in Lake Lothing for a short wait.

Eventually the time came to set off for our bridge lift and soon we took up an increasingly familiar position at the back of a fleet of allsorts of waterborne craft turning in small circles. As you have to book into a given lift I decided to do the courteous thing and radioed the harbour to inform them we had arrived and taken up a position to await the bridge lift and then intended to proceed into the RNSYC. The harbour acknowledged but a moment later the yacht club came on the radio themselves requesting we took up a conversation on another channel at which point they informed me they had no space! However they promised to look into it and get back to me. But after a few moment's silence I began to twitch because all the time I was monitoring the channel for the yacht club I wasn't listening to instructions from the harbour and the bridge lift was due any moment. In the end I called the yacht club back to say I needed to return to the harbour channel so they agreed to re-contact me on that channel. And sure enough, just as the bridge began to lift the yacht club radioed back and said they had found somewhere (talk about 11th hour reprieve!) and someone would be waiting at the entrance to the harbour to guide me in. True to their word the marina manager passed on the relevant information to SWMBO who had been positioned on the bow for this purpose and within minutes we were tied up in someone's private berth who had put to sea for a few days, the visitors moorings long since gone!

We wasted no time in joining up with our friends based down there. But despite the glorious weather they insisted this was no time to go to sea and instead it was announced it was Pimms O'clock. Actually it was some odd drink called Austin's, not Pimms, and it was brewed by the cauldron load, entire plantations of fresh fruit being heaped into the giant jug as we all sat and burned ourselves in the huge cockpit of their sports cruiser. It was like being in the Med, all the while the aerobatic displays tumbling around above us. But the attitude changed as the time approached 1600hrs as Madam Vulcan made her approach. Down went the Pimms glasses as everyone scrambled for their cameras and a good vantage point soon the magnificent old lady of the skies came into view even prompting a "wow" from my hitherto non-plussed wife, her good Scottish complexion slowly turning pink in the face of a combined assault by Pimms & Sun Ltd. After that it was up the yacht club tower for the Red Arrows and then back to the Pimms glasses, or in my case a bottle of Spitfire - entirely appropriate for the occasion I felt. A certain amount of energy was also expended avoiding the badly aimed water bombs being bandied about by a group of bikini clad Dutch teenagers off a large flottila of Dutch yachts that filled the visitor moorings from one side to the other.

Unfortunately by this time I had been abandoned by SWMBO who had to do nightshift that night. With no reliable means to get to the hospital in Yarmouth from Lowestoft she had to catch a train back to Brundall and retrieve our car from the marina in order to drive to work for her shift. Back at the yacht club the merriment continued until it was time to go to dinner in the yacht club's restaurant - a group of 22 of us booked in for it! Nicely fed a number of us went back to the comfortable sports cruiser cockpit and carried on to await the fireworks - which were absolutely spectacular and the grand finale greeted by a cacophony of boat horns as the yacht club moorers showed their appreciation. Burnt and tired I headed for bed at the early time of 2300 hoping for better seas the next day.

Alas it was not to be and despite considerably reduced wind speeds several days of Easterly had generated an unpleasant swell which was largely invisible as I set off on foot towards the pier head in the morning. My more experienced friends, however, insisted that looks were deceiving and the apparently innocent wobbles on the surface of the water (because they were barely waves) and lack of white horses meant nothing. Today, despite the scorching weather, was no day to be at sea. And with that we retired back to the yacht club to spend another day drinking Pimms and watching the aerobatics above us. In fact, problems with the trains in Brundall meant that SWMBO took some time to get back to Lowestoft and by then a friend of hers had arrived. The two Celts then positioned themselves in Silver Dream's cockpit which, with the canopy still up, was one of the few places the sun could be avoided and surrounded themselves by food before setting up home on the coachroof to greet the arrival of Madam Vulcan. With Silver Dream surrounded by yachts I took up position on the coachroof of a friend's boat to get a clear view of the skies with my camera for the Battle Of Britain Memorial Flight flypast. During the afternoon, I also heard a VHF call which intrigued me, but unfortunately it would be illegal for me to discuss that on here.

Come the evening, an exhausted SWMBO, who by now had been up since 0630 the previous day and done a 12.5hr shift in the middle of it, was propping up the corner of Aquaflyte's cockpit and barely able to raise the Pimms to her mouth decided to turn in for an early night, the rest of us then heading to the fun fair. After some spins and whizzes, plus a cracking grudge match on the dodgems, it was off to KFC (wouldn't have been my first choice) for some grub and then back to the yacht club for another 2300ish finish.

Saturday morning saw plans to watch the power boat racing from anchor and then a trip to Southwold. I'd been studying the approach information for Southwold in the previous week and found it rather daunting but an instructive session with our friends left me enthused to take it on and around 1000hrs the boats in the yacht club began to leave the marina. After a big loop out around some sandbanks we took up anchor just off the racing line but then things started to go wrong. Despite being untroubled on the trip out SWMBO started changing through different colours, none of them good. This was only the second time we've ever used our anchor and the first time was on South Walsham Broad, just to see if it worked okay. But this time we were at sea and with a 2kt tide coming down the coast we were held solidly in place by the anchor and the boat was being rolled from both sides by the remnants of the Easterly swell to starboard and the wake from the powerboats to port. Although protesting she did not want to spoil it for me it became increasingly obvious SWMBO could not stay out there much longer so, although disappointed, I decided to do the right thing and make the decision for her. Engines running, anchor retrieved I radioed the others and set off up the coast, this time keeping inside the shallows and running close to the racing line and returned to the yacht club. Once we were up and running again SWMBO fairly quickly regained her normal colour (with a bit of added pink from three days of sunshine) and we spent much of the afternoon in the harbour reading and relaxing. After our departure the others decided to give up watching the racing and set off for Southwold for lunch (only to discover the Dutch flotilla with its bikini clad water bomb enthusiasts had moved there), returning in the afternoon. Evening socialising took on a different dimension with "The Sisterhood" as the women declared themselves sitting on one boat and the blokes sitting on another, with the occasional bit of time expended throwing insults between neighbouring boats.

The following morning, our final morning, SWMBO was reluctant to go back to sea, despite my keenness, so we remained on board and chilled until it was time to push out for our scheduled 1230 bridge lift at the outer harbour. A run up Lake Lothing and then a holding pattern formed with a series of 5 boats moving in a continuous circle to kill time, a 6th boat mooring temporarily to the pontoons at Lowestoft Cruising Club. Now, without breaking the law, I can reveal now what may (or may not, I am not saying :) ) have been the interesting VHF call from the previous day. One of the other 5 boats was White Lady, formerly belonging to forum member Senator. She had based herself in Hamilton Marina over the weekend and been getting used to trips to sea - so it looks like the salt Ian introduced her to before selling her is going to be part of her diet for the foreseeable future. I know all this because I spoke to the new owner whilst we were moored at the waiting pontoon after the bridge swing. Oh yes, the bridge swing, scheduled for 1300 actually happened at 1330hrs by which time the circling boats were becoming increasingly peeved. A crowd of some numbers had also gathered ostensibly to watch the lock in action, and catch the odd fish, but spent most of their time with their eyes fixed on a lady in her mid to late 30's in a tight bikini who was propping up the front of a 50ft Dutch motor cruiser which was the 6th boat in the formation - Dutch lady seemingly unconcerned at the growing audience as she ran around gathering ropes etc. Due to their size Mutford called them in first after which the crowd seemed to lose interest. A mid sized, and somewhat annoying, Sealine took the second lock with the remaining four boats (three cruisers and a yacht) to go through at the third lock. And from there it was straight back to Brundall in one hit, long weekend over - and what a fabulous long weekend it was.

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When living it or reading about it? :)

It was spread out over 4 days so plenty of time to relax. As the seventh and final Harry Potter book came out earlier in the month in paperback SWMBO is now making her way through it. In preparation for getting my turn at it I am re-reading the sixth book and managed to find the time to read about half of the book during the weekend - so it wasn't all Pimms and sunburn. :lol:

I'll post some pics tonight.

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Here's the illustrated version.

A nice view from the cockpit back down the Waveney as we headed for Oulton Broad on Thursday morning. If you look closely you can see the dreadfully devastating wake left by my nasty twin screw planing hulled sea going jobbie of a boat.


The boss takes the controls for a bit. If you look closely you can see the approach info for Southwold lying on the saloon table.


One of Lake Lothing's many "features".


Basking in the sunshine at the Haven Marina in Lake Lothing, waiting for the harbour bridge to lift and let us out.


Stealing the berth of some poor absent yachtie!


The Grand Old Lady of the Skies arrives to re-arrange a few internal organs.


Another look as she shows her inner workings!


The Red Arrows arrive - late! I was assured they are never late. I went to school with one of the current pilots. I have no idea which jet he was in though but his designation is Red 2.


What goes up must come down.


Despite the majesty of Madam Vulcan and the wow factor of the Arrows, the BoB Memorial Flight is always the most stirring site for me. I could not get many clean shots at their fly past because the of the proliferation of masts around me so apologies for the quality.


In one of the rare moments during which they were not talking shop Susan and Yvonne stop to investigate whether white gel coat has an albedo effect.


A quick snap looking forward from Silver Dream's anchor point on the Saturday morning as we watched the power boat racing. Had we stayed longer I'd have taken some decent ones with the SLR but it was clear that SWMBO needed to go elsewhere so I managed to reel off some hasty shots from the P&S before getting out of there. Looking back there were even more boats than there were looking forwards.


Again, a quick snap of the power boat racing on the P&S. I'd have relished the chance to get stuck in with the SLR but it was not to be. This shot is pretty much a 1:1 view of the action - in other words that's more or less how close the race appeared from my cockpit window.


Final shot of the week, as yet another Pimms O'clock arrived on the Saturday evening though I ended up drinking something called "Bishop's Finger" which Greg insisted I'd like. He wasn't wrong.


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Lovely shots Simon,

Thanks for posting them.

Sorry to hear Susan was not feeling so well. I can recommend Scopoderm Patches which have transformed SWMBO from someone who just looking at water felt queasy to someone who would willingly do the Fastnet :o

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Anchoring was the killer. Running along she was fine - and she had taken some TravelCalm tablets. I am told that it is not unusual for anchoring to be a real problem for some people, even though they might be fine with the boat travelling. Of the ten or so leisure craft in the immediate vicinity around half never actually anchored but continued to wander up and down under low power.

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