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When to Cross Breydon


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Hi All


Back on the Broads for a week on 26th September with the wife, our son and his fiancee, following a fantastic week last year on Royall Commander -   This time we will be aboard Grande Girl 1 due to us having two dogs in tow and Royalls limiting the number of pets to just one.  I have been on Grande Girl 1 back in 2004, so both the boat and Summercraft are known to us and we know that the boat will be of the same high standard experienced last year on Royall Commander, so no worries there.  I also know that the holiday is drawing closer because I've got to pay the balance of hire at the end of this week, so just over 8 weeks to go then (not that I'm counting).


My concern is the tide times for crossing Breydon that week.  In all the years I have visited the Broads, I cannot remember looking at the tide times and thinking whens best?  We went to Norwich last year and wanted to do the Waveney and Beccles this year.  I really do not relish the thought of spending the night at Yarmouth, so if we moored in the Stokesby/Stracey area on Sunday with a view to crossing Breydon on Monday morning, how strong would the flooding current be given that slack water is 05:36 and we would be likely to go through about two hours after that?  Obviously, the wind and weather will play a part, but we will need to look at that when we are there.


The return would probably be on Wednesday to  give us a chance to look round the Northern rivers, so if we moored at Somerleyton/St Olaves on Tuesday night and with slack at Yarmouth at 07:07, again would be be able to fight the tide across Breydon and get through Yarmouth.


I can't help feeling that I should know the answers, but I cannot remember ever having to consider risking crossing Breydon when the tide times aren't favourable, so I would welcome your thoughts.




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Slack water on the Monday is, as you say, at 05:36. The flooding tide is not normally an issue for around 30 to 45 minutes or so afterwards as complete  drainage of the tide  from the Bure is later than from the Waveney into  Breydon . Sunrise is at 06:51 so you would struggle to get there for 07:30. Assuming however that you did, then you would have left Stracey at around 06:15 or so and have the draining water with you for part of the way. Bure mouth  is your issue and its not the most pleasant of experience when in flood as even at full throttle you do not feel you are making much head way (but you are)  and if wind against you then  perhaps not to be recommended unless you feel confident. I would suggest  that you check with the yacht station (01493 842794) or the Harbour Master (01493 335502) the day before and take their advice as to actual expected up to date conditions and timings.


Returning on Wed, St Olaves  to Gt Y is nearly  two hours cruising (although could likely get this down to 90 mins with ebbing tide/wind etc) and sunrise is at 06:54 so you are likely to be on Breydon around 08:30. Even with the tide against you,  its not such an issue as you come over  Breydon as it is at Bure mouth   (unless  the wind  is also against  you and then  its uncomfortable)   This is because its a much wider expanse to flood into and therefore the flood is  not so concentrated. Just be careful as you turn  at the yellow post and you will  then have the Tide push you  all the way up the Bure.


One other  thought for you however. You could take the Sunday slack at 17:14 or even a bit earlier and then moor up at the Berney arms which is  some 45 mins cruising  from Gt Y.  Sunset is not until  18:41  so plenty of time

Just check your  lines during the night as the  tide comes in and High  Water  is around 11:00 ish that night.


You could always use it  or for the return crossing  as well


NB there are Spring tides on the Thursday so things may be a little more extreme so again  suggest you use the Yacht Station/ Harbour master for their  advice which is always the most up to date               

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Good advice, Mark... especially the mooring at the Berney....


Mouldy, if you don't like the idea of mooring at the Berney why not give Goodchilds a bell and see if you can book a mooring on their floating pontoon (at Burgh castle) ? The Fisherman's Pub next door use to do good grub....

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In desperation just do what we have done a number of times. Just make sure the bridge clearances are OK and punch the tide! Yes you will use more fuel but, then again, you are on holiday and want to see these places. You take your choice. "Grande Girl" is well capable of doing this. Just a wee bit of a red face job as pedestrians overtake you at a pace!

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Punching the tide imho is never a good idea as it puts far too much undue pressure on the engine and should it go bang through there the best outcome is a few hours on the mud... the best plan by far is to carefully plan a passage and if you mess up then stop at a pub! Planning is also a key part of the experience. 

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I see no real issue with your plan to go down to Yarmouth at the times you speak of, since your only problem will be it taking longer than usual (going against the tide) and having to use plenty of revs thus increasing fuel burn.


Let’s keep things simple...


First you know you can’t cross when ‘you should’ and that is because of the available light at this time of the year and frankly also because you would not want to be up at the crack of dawn even if it was to be light since you are on holiday.


You also know that when you arrive at Yarmouth your be hitting the flood tide – that is to say the incoming tide, which actually is no bad thing and far better (and safer) than to be coming to Yarmouth with an outgoing or the ebb tide.


You will need to take into account the bridge heights, which you can only know for certain when you arrive – but this is not a worry because your first bridge height indicator is well before the Yacht Station let alone the bridges. Because you will be going against the tide your have plenty of steerage and be able to slow right down and not be risking being carried towards the bridges.  If you can fit under, proceed because once around that yellow post the tide will turn and be in be in your favour and you will ‘shoot’ over Breydon.


The only issue will be what if there was not enough height – in this case the moment you turn the boat, the more of the keel sees the flood tide then  it will want to take the boat back towards Acle – but sideways. 


This may be not something you wish to contemplate doing so, since the current will be against you at this stage it is ideal for mooring.  I’d use such to then slowly come into moor at the Yacht Station – then once the worst of the current had passed, leave the mooring and make your turn. And head back to Acle, alternatively you may wish to stay there at the Yacht Station and wait until the next low water to make your crossing to the southern Broads.

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Thanks all for the replies and suggestions.  I might rethink the itinerary and cross Breydon on Tuesday morning.  Although it will still be after slack water, it won't be by quite as much as on Monday and cross back on Thursday morning, which should also be easier, except perhaps for the Spring tide.


I'll have to check the weather etc. when we are there and consider the options.


Roll on 26th September!!

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Mr Jaws, I wasn't advocating making a habit of it. Us privateers tend to forget that many holiday makers are only here for the week and they are stuck with the prevailing tides.

I would only consider doing this if  time was that limited that this was the only opportunity to visit . As for "undue pressure" on an engine, the majority of diesel engines on boats are never run at anything like their optimal rate and will benefit from blowing g off a bit every now and again.

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We will be trying to moor up at Yarmouth on the evening of the 26th September from Wroxham. Up early on the Sunday morning and under the bridges as soon as enough light is available and on to the WRC for the Autumn meet. Will probably come back through on Thursday morning also.


Good luck to us both.

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