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Our long weekend away


Guest gcb

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Well we made it back in one piece, well almost! A long weekend on the Sonata 2 out of Barnes our third trip in as many years. We arrived at the yard at two o'clock a half an hour earlier than when we were told the boat would be ready. The car park to the yard was dead quiet and nothing like what I would have expected. We booked in and looked at the boards behind reception only to find than less than a third of BBs fleet was booked for hire. We drove the car down to the end of the spit next to where the Sonata's were moored and started to unload the car, it was exciting to be back on the boat again and it brought back all of the memories of our first ever trip as this was the same boat.

I was so glad once we had got on board and checked everything over that she wasn't showing many signs of ageing and looked as good as she did on our first trip (as this was a brand new boat in 2007). So everything hauled on board only thing left to do now was to drop the car keys back in at reception and collect our life jackets, not forgetting the free bottle of bubbly! I recognised the chap behind the desk, a tall, blonde haired chap, very well spoken and very helpful indeed, if I remember correctly he showed us around the boat the very first time we had sailed on her (and The Broads). Keys in hand and some general convincing that we knew this boat like the back of our hands meant we could turn the whole thing around in fifteen minutes and that is exactly how long it took from arriving at BBs to sailing down the river - not bad hey and fifteen minutes early that we should have been.

Now let's go back a little we had got on board, surrended the car key's, grabbed life jackets and bubbly, located the ignition and started the engine and un-moored. Now in all this excitement I had forgotten three key facts, firstly exactly how you put the Sonata into forward, secondly to look left and right before setting off as river traffic generally passes from time to time and thirdly exactly how strong the current is that passes the spit where the boats are moored. This was a severe overlooking on my behalf because before I could remember how to put the boat into drive the current had caught the bow of the boat and not only was pulling us away from the spit but was also turning us directly into the path of Brinks Concerto (not a particularly small boat!!), so I was left at the helm desperately fighting with the throttle making all the right noises but not actually going any where. I then very soon realised that had I not have pulled the throttle out and instead pushed the button on the throttle and move the stick forwards then would we be under some sort of control, I quickly acted and realised my mistake, but no harm done the Concerto has seen us and moved over just enough for the current to carry the boat with the current towards our first port of call and overnight stay at Horning.

The journey from Wroxham to Horning was lovely, although I noticed that many of the trees, now bare desperately need to be cut back from the edge of the water as they are starting to become a bit of a hazard for river traffic, huge trunks and bows stemming from the water is surely go to end up by someone or something clouting into it, I thought. I left the other half in charge at the helm and went downstairs to use the bathroom, now using the loo in the Sonata isn't something that is massively easy to do, unless you are either a dwarf or a contortionist, it's a sit down job whatever you want for a strapping six footer, if you see what I mean? Well anyway I was going about my business when suddenly there is a huge bang, we've hit something but exactly what, I quickly return above deck to find out what had happened but could see nothing after around 70 yards we start to see signs that say "Keep Away - Submerged Pillars" or words to that affect. Now forgive me here but I am under the impression that signs were supposed to warn you of dangers before you actually end up in a dangerous situation because if that's the case these signs need to be shifted quickly before someone else runs into whatever it is that it submerged below the waterline because they are in the wrong place!!! After Lynny (the other half) had got her breathe back and I examined what I could I found that everything still looked in one piece and we continued despite the incident.

Our approach to Horning was perfect with a fair few hire craft and some dayboats moored outside of the Swan Inn we managed to slip on the end where the day ferry goes to and fro and moored up without any further problems. We sat for a while and admired the view from the back of the boat before Lynny went downstairs for a shower and to get changed before we got ready to go out for something to eat. I was starving, in fact we both were, it seems that cruising along a river has the affect of constantly making you hungry despite the amount of food that you seem to eat, it was time to hit The Swan Inn. Now I believe the pub has just been re-furbed and it looked nice, clean and welcoming like all pubs should do, there were a fair few people around and we got drinks and decided to take our seats by the window overlooking the beautiful river view. Once we had quenched our thirsts we decided to order something to eat, we both chose a starter, which was served promptly by ordering from the bar and it was without no certain doubt delicious and then came the main course which again was totally amazing and probably one of the best meals we have had out for ages, this pub is without a shadow of a doubt an asset to The Broads, the waiters who were working also spotted that we needed another drink and were more than happy to fetch one from the bar for us and add it to the tab without us having to leave our seats. Both myself and Lynny were now totally stuffed, we'd been fed and watered and thought about re-tiring for the night, I am always a great believer whilst being on the river of going to bed early and waking up early. Unfortunately the weather wasn't great outside otherwise we probably would have sat on deck for a while but instead we opted for a couple of programs on the telly. So there we were watching something on the box, not sure what, when we hear a huge bang, it seems very close and it's almost dark outside. Both of us rush to the deck only to see that a large cruiser from Royalls has come in to fast against it's mooring opposite and smashed directly into the side of the river, it's to dark outside to make out what's going on but there's people from inside the boat out on the side of the river with a torch looking at the hull of the boat, they seem concerned and indeed they should be as there must have been some damaged caused above the waterline.

It's day break, the weather is appalling and it's getting very windy, I note that the Royall's boat moored opposite still appears afloat so maybe not as much damage as first thought. It's early and it's time to make for Acle for breakfast at the Bridge Inn, we give ourselves plenty of time and reach the Bridge at around 0930, we go in, it's very quiet indeed and we manage to find someone inside, but we're out of luck, there's no breakfast as according to the chap we are speaking to it's still closed season, funny but I thought it had just started. So we decide to pick his brains, Lynny and I are starving and need grub, especially after our early start. He tells us Acle is a ten minute walk away but the gust of wind outside and rain tell us to make for Acle town, it has to be worth the reward. So we do, trouble is we can't remember which way Acle is so luckily my TomTom on my PDA comes into it's own and we set of left for Acle town. We head past The Hermitage and head for the recreation centre, signposted from the road and it's a good plan as after 15 minutes walking through a housing estate we come to Grumpy's restaurant, it's open but deserted, a lovely Oriental lady greets us and we enquire about breakfast which is on. We sit down order a tea and a coffee and have a look at the menu. "Two Full English, Please", was the request and when it arrived it was well worth the wait, gorgeous and totally recommended. Then we stumble into Acle with the wind and the rain still lashing at us, we find the Co-op and pick up a few supplies we then decide that a taxi back to the boat would be a good idea as the weather has now worsened. We get the number for a taxi who takes forever to arrive and charges us £4 for the five minute journey but it was worth it not to get soaked to the skin again. We follow the towpath back to the Sonata and get on board, it was lovely and warm, the warm air heating certainly doing the job below deck, however, we notice an issue above deck, as the Sonatas have had work done on them by fitting the Arches with hydraulic jacks we noticed that the canopies now don't actually fit properly, many of the poppers which used to fasten the canvas to the sides of the boat are now missing, now on a hot sunny day this wouldn't have been an issue, now it was as the wind hurled around on deck it meant the journey towards Potter was going to be a breezy one.

We make our way back up River and head for Potter Heigham the weather getting constantly worse and I can now feel the bow of The Sonata struggling to hold it's head in the correct position and I am having to constantly move the wheel to stay straight and on some sort of a course. We eventually reach Potter which is where we would have liked to have moored for the night but there's a problem, the boat in front which wants to turn into Herbet Woods' boatyard is approaching very slowly and we have to back off but we are still gaining on him no matter how slowly we are moving, he doesn't realise that we are behind him as he is to busy looking at the properties on the side of the river. We end up going into neutral and lose all steering as a result, the wind blow us towards a moored boat on the bank as the chap in front decides to go under the metal bridge and into the yard. We end up striking the boat which is moored up, albeit no damage done as we were going at no speed, I then gain control of the boat, I turn around and head back down stream to a wider stretch of the river where I can turn around for another try. Just before the boat garages we turn and head back towards the moorings, but we are scuppered again, I mis-calculate the heavy winds and despite a place being found for us to moor it's to late, we are blown bow first into a boat already moored up, end up in the space we want but there's to much speed and I can't get the boat under control quick enough, we hit the boat in front, there's little I can do and on-lookers are horrified at what they are seeing. I pull back away from the quayside turn and head back down stream, ashamed of my performance at handling, Potter was to be our overnight stay and now it won't happen so we need to find somewhere else and fast the weather isn't great and we need to rest, both Lynny and I are very tired, so heading south we find Thurne Dyke and an advert for the Lion Inn, but Lynny reminds me this is very narrow but this has to be it, as I get level with the Dyke we both peer down to the end and all looks ok, it's not to busy although there are plenty of boats around, we spot a space of the left hand side of the river with a gap big enough to fit about five Sonata's in, we approach the bank and all looks good, I slow the boat, Lynny jumps off and ties up the stern, but there's a serious problem the wind is pushing the bow into the middle of the Dyke and with another boat moored opposite we're in trouble. Fifteen minutes pass as we both try to do something but to no avail, Lynny isn't strong enough to pull the boat around, dog walkers and ramblers pass without any help, but then suddenly a family appear out of nowhere they have obviously seen our plight and tell us that they have had exactly the same problem. The chap offers me his hand and we both manage to get the bow in and tie her up.

To be continued...work beckons...

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Hi GCB

you say you were on your way to Acle Bridge this wouldn't happen to have been on the Monday when we had all the strong winds???

me & a friend of mine we passed a Sonata near st Bennett's was this you ???

Jonny ice sliceice sliceice sliceice slice

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Hi GCB

you say you were on your way to Acle Bridge this wouldn't happen to have been on the Monday when we had all the strong winds???

me & a friend of mine we passed a Sonata near st Bennett's was this you ???

Jonny ice sliceice sliceice sliceice slice

Afraid not the boat had to be back at 9AM on the monday morning so was probably one of the other Sonata on their way back.

Regards,

GCB

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Part 2

Safe at last moored up and below deck it's nice and warm, the Sonata does have a brilliant heating system at least! We decide to have a shower and get changed ready to go out. We've heard a lot about the Lion Inn so we decide it's where we'll have a beer and something to eat.

We reach the pub and all inside is very quiet, there's no one around, we walk in and order a drink. We chat to the young lad serving behind the bar about opening a tab so we can have food as well, but he's new and he knows nothing about food nor does the other girl as she's just got used to using the till but luckily they know someone who does. A tall landlord type figure with black greased back hair appears and says it will be no problem he then informs us that the menu we are looking at is two years old and much of it isn't served anymore, he appears very confused and in a muddle but he then presents us with the new version which looks much the same as the old one but luckily the two dishes we choose are still in there. I opt for a curry with rice and Lynny has a beef stroganoff (I think) the dishes are lovely but not a patch on The Swan (we both agree), for desert chocolate pudding with chocolate sauce times two. When it is served it's huge and I think you could probably have halved one of them and served it for two! We have another drink, I opt for half a Wherry as I’m very full after the meal and have read very much about it on the forums, I must admit not being a real ale drinker it's very nice with a slightly citrus/fruity tone but it washes the desert down nicely.

The pub fills very quickly with two boat loads of gents appearing from two very large cruisers which are moored up in the dyke, there is a function on as well, looks like a birthday party. It's starting to get quite late so we opt for a little telly before another early night so we are ready to face the river again. I really hope tomorrow will be different as trying to get to sleep that night was awful with the river slapping hard against the boat and the wind rustling around the bows and around the very poor fitting canopy with zippers slapping against fibreglass.

It's Sunday, it's lovely, no, it's sheer heaven and it's seven o'clock there's hardly any wind the sun is out and there's ice on the windshield, perfect for sailing. So once we've had a cup of tea we decide a trip back to Potter where we had the two awful attempted landings is in order. We un-tie the boat, bow first and it swings awkwardly into the middle of the dyke, we untie the stern and I am more than aware of the amount of craft moored up each side including the one opposite. I skilfully managed to turn the boat around using the forward and reverse of the throttle without even hitting the bank or other craft and we turn right out of the dyke towards Potter. It is sheer bliss apart from the diesel engine chugging away, everything is calm and we don't even pass another craft on our way up, I imagine everyone else is probably still asleep but as we near the lodgings at the side of the river some early birds are starting to prepare their dwellings for the season ahead. We reach Potter, there is more than ample mooring and this time it's a text book mooring as I slowly bring the boat in, change to neutral and drift to a standstill, the boat doesn't even hit the quayside, I am well chuffed after the problems the day before. We get off the boat and walk down the towpath towards the bridge pilot station. There's still no one else around it's slightly eerie but it feels nice that we are experiencing the weather without no one else about. We hook up on to the road and walk over the bridge to cross the river, both of us are starving and can't see anywhere open to eat. We carry on walking past the pub, one of the chefs is out writing the board for lunch that day as we carry on towards Latham's and then out of the corner of my eye I spot the cafe adjacent to the boat yard, it's open and has a nice big sign outside for butties and brekky we walk in and a very nice gent welcomes up, there's no one else inside but he is very cheerful and shows us to a table, we both have a full English which is gorgeous despite the slightly iffy cuppa, we beckon him good day after settling up and go for a walk around Herbert Wood, which I think if you come to Potter is a must.

The boatyard it's self looks very quiet from the previous year, with only a third as many craft for sale as there once was, we both choose which one we would buy if we won the lottery and we also have a look at the ex-hire craft for sale for around £40k, some of them quite old. I am interested to know as to who would buy an ex-hire craft or who has £40k spare to buy one as they are huge and I just can't imagine being at the helm of a 40 footer, I have enough trouble with 25ft! Once we've dreamed and looked around the boatyard we cross the road the Latham's for a look around, Lynny needs a cardi as she left hers back at home but we don't find anything particularly that suitable and after a look around we make our way back to the boat. I remember noting that Lathams must be a dead handy place to head for if you decide to take your own boat out for the weekend and you need supplies as it seems very well stocked of pretty much anything you could want and all of it seems at quite reasonable prices.

We reach the boat and scratch our heads as to our next destination. We lost our map down Thurne Dyke whilst trying to moor the boat in the high winds and rain so now we are relying on the map in the free Broads newspaper we were given when we picked the boat up from BBs and whilst trying to decide we note that we have company. A sailing school appears as if from nowhere, there are around three fair sized sailing boats and the young lads only appear around twelve to thirteen, there is an adult with them and they moor up, some on the Herbet Woods side and some on the opposite bank. We note that the children, all boys, seem to be running riot with two children fighting to throw one in the river whilst another group are intent on kicking a rugby ball from one side of the river to their chums on the other, they luckily all have lifejackets on but the adult who is with them doesn't still particularly bothered, much to our amazement and allows the behaviour to continue. We make haste we can see yet another sailie coming up the river and both of us know exactly how crowded Potter can be when a lot of these sailie are around. We un-moor and make our way south, we find a sign for Womack Water, which again I have read a lot about on the forums, and we make our way down the very windy stretch of water at low speed, a sailie approaches but is oblivious to our existence so we put the boat into neutral whilst he meanders across the river, he suddenly catches sight of us and waves us by but by this time we seem aware that Womack Water doesn't actually go anywhere and we can see the boatyard in the distance and decide to turn back. We reach the junction of Womack Water and turn left back away from Potter and back towards Horning, we see a sign for South Walsham Broad and again decide to explore pastures new. We navigate the Broad there's corners everywhere but we then see what all of the fuss is about as we reach the bottom, wow! Another millionaire's paradise, private boats moored up with beautiful waterside properties surround the pond, a few of the boat owners turn to see us but they are busy polishing and making good their craft for the new season, we do a sort of circuit around the pond and then exit back up the Broad the way we came. We turn left at the end back towards horning and then spot Ranworth Broad, one of my favs. We enter the broad and navigate our way down to the end and we both joke about our first ever visit here and how we desperately tried to moor stern on but then in the end couldn't so we moored bow on only to find our craft being re-moored by a BA ranger but he was good enough about it all and only gave us words of encouragement, he said it was because tides could smash the front of the boat into the quay and cause possible damage.

This time the broad is a little busy but there's space on the end for The Sonata, so we approach stern on, it take a little while to get the hang of it, it's a little like three steps back and two forward to get the boat in there just right but we manage and congratulate ourselves we no help from anyone else. We get off the boat and have a look in the shop, we speak to the shop keeper about when The Maltsters will re-open but he is clueless, we are told by another lady who has her boat moored near ours that it will be Easter but I am glad it isn't board up like The Ferry is, it gives hope that this lovely place will soon once spring back into life again. We then get back on board and have a sandwich and some other bits that we bought on our way up on the Friday and then realise that we are out of water. Now this isn't a problem because there are some water hoses on the bank but we aren't moored near any of them so we wait out the other craft that are moored there. Suddenly we are in luck as a huge private craft is under way and with other river traffic coming down to The Broad we have to hurry up, we un-moor pull away and re-adjust the steering, we back in nicely and this time there's some assistance from another BB hirer. We fill up with water and as we do the sailing school who we left some time up in Potter are among us, the instructor isn't happy with them and there apparent attempt at mooring and shouts them to get off our boat, we don't mind, we look on grinning. We speak to the instructor and warn he that we will shortly be under way and asks us to wait until the boats are in and tied up, we agree and wait it out whilst we finish lunch. Lunch is finished, the students boats are moored and we are now under way back up the Broad where we decide to go back to The Swan Inn at Horning for our last meal as we were so dead impressed with the Friday evening meal. We make our way upstream and the weather has started to deteriorate, it's much cooler and the sun seems less warmer. We moor up outside the pub we no problems and then realise that it's going to cost us to moor up over night as we're directly outside the pub and not in the free section.

We decide to have a nap before going for something to eat so we open a bottle of wine and have forty winks. We awake a few hours later, get changed and go into The Swan, it's very busy as it was on Friday evening, the service doesn't appear as sharp as the staff aren't the same ones who were working on the Friday night, but we eventually get served and find a table. We order a Sunday roast, mine's Turkey and Lynny's is Beef, both again are delicious but they seem to take longer to arrive than they did on Friday and the waitresses don't appear as sharp as the waiters did on Friday night. Nonetheless everything is enjoyed, we don't have a starter as we made that mistake on the Friday night and then couldn't eat dessert. We enjoy the food and go back to the boat to finish the bottle of wine we had already opened. After a while I get restless and I am well aware that the boat has to be returned to the yard by 0900 in the morning so I feel like some more cruising, and why not? The clocks have gone back and it's a lovely evening and still quite early, so we make our way up the river towards Wroxham for somewhere quiet to moor up, we finally stumble upon a free staithe and moor up. We finish the bottle of wine and go back down below, we watch some telly and then go to sleep.

We awake early again, it's cold in the boat so I turn the heating on to full and go up upon deck to find thick ice on the windscreen and at the stern of the boat, I can't get it off it's quite thick and even using water on the mop and then on the screen doesn't appear to be doing much, but the sun is shining bright and typically it would do as the boat has to be back today, why does that always happen? We defrost the screen using various means and we use a tea towel to wipe down the windows inside the boat as they are full of condensation, after a cuppa we make our way on the short journey back to the boatyard. As we arrive we can see quite a few people have made it back already and we have still got a half an hour left to when we should have been back. As we slow one of the boat hands tells us where to moor and it's going to be very tight as there are Breakaway's and Sonata's already moored up, but he is a good guide and we generally come in stern first under his vocal instructions. We return the life jackets back to reception and pick up the key for the car, everything's then loaded from boat to car and we are ready for the journey back, looking forward until the next time, it's been a fantastic journey but quite a trying one at times especially in the wind, we are both quite shattered but feel that's it been a really great little holiday and totally recommended to all!

Regards,

Gaz (GCB) & Lynny

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