Jump to content

A Magical Week


Recommended Posts

Saturday 15th August

It was here! The day I had looked forward to for two years was finally upon me. However, I was not as excited as I might have been.

My parents were meant to be joining us for our week on Magical Light. However, Mum had fractured her hip a few weeks previously and would clearly not be able to cope with moving around the boat. Mobility issues have prevented Mum and Dad from visiting the Broads in recent years and them joining us was meant to allow them to experience it again with a crew to take care of mooring etc for them. It was sad that circumstance had prevented them from coming again.

The practicalities presented by this turn of events also weighed on my mind. Our eldest (Joseph) is 11 and a sea scout who goes sailing regularly and has been around boats for a few years, but our youngest (Matthew) is 6 and would need watching. With Mum and Dad there would always have been someone to keep an eye on him whilst the boat was being moored, but this was now not possible. On top of this there was also the prospect of me employing my rusty helming ability in a 44ft boat with a dinghy and no bow thrusters to consider.

Having discussed all this with my wife, Janine, we agreed to proceed with the holiday but resolved that if we did not feel safe at any point we would come home. As we drove up the M25 and A11, I was looking forward to being back on the water after a 14 year gap but also concerned at how long our holiday would last.

Turning to more jovial matters, we discussed where we would have lunch. A plan was hatched which involved doing our holiday shop at Budgens in Acle before proceeding on to The Nelson Head at Horsey. Having bought everything that we felt we would need and packed it into the car and freezer bags that we had prepared for items for the fridge, we headed for the pub and now much needed food.

I was determined to visit The Nelson Head having discovered this traditional Norfolk hostelry on my last visit to the Broads. I had been following a thread on the forum about water levels at Potter Heigham for much of the previous week and it seemed Magical Light would not fit through, so the chance to visit now could not be missed. The pub was just as good as I had remembered with a field for the kids to run around in, hearty home cooked food and Woodfordes Wherry on the handpump.

After our meal we still had two hours to kill, so I ordered another half and we sat outside while the kids kicked a ball around at the bottom of the field. The field was carpeted with flowers and was full of bumble bees and butterflies- Norfolk was working its magic on us already.

We arrived at Herbert Woods at 1500. As expected, the boat would not be ready until 1600, so we wandered around and found Magical Light being prepared. After a while we picked up our life jackets and began loading our possessions on at 1600. Now there were just four of us, we would certainly have ample room. Matthew had the twin cabin to himself, Joseph had the double bed in the middle cabin and Janine and I occupied the forward cabin.

The trial run passed off well, apart from an irate exchange between a fisherman in front of whose bungalow we had turned around and our man from Herbert Woods (who had suggested we turn there). After returning to HW’s yard and turning the boat again he was dropped off and we were loose on the Broads!

Things did not get off to a good start. Underestimating the sheer amount of boat behind me I clipped the quay with the stern when turning out onto the Thurne. My confidence shaken, I then tiptoed hesitantly around other HW boats turning on their trial runs and felt the fisherman’s  glare as we passed him again. However, as the bungalows along the river gave way to countryside and traffic levels abated I felt myself becoming more comfortable with how the boat handled. The early evening light was fantastic and the kids were clearly enjoying the experience as we turned right onto the Bure.

It was now quarter to seven and we were keen to moor up to sort out the beds and have a meal. I had read that moorings on Fleet Dyke were generally the quietest near to Potter, but they were all full. I was encouraged by how well turning the boat around on South Walsham Broad went and that I was not fazed by how relatively narrow the Dyke was as I headed back to the river. I was ready to try a mooring and I now decided that it would be in the same location where I spent my first ever night on the Broads with my parents in 1987.

We had passed it already. I had recognised the quay heading on the left where the speed limit changes from 6 to 5mph heading upstream on the Bure after Thurne Mouth and that there were no boats moored there. Having picked up Dazzling Light from Herbert Woods, Dad had tried a test mooring here and we ended up staying for the night having being transfixed by the sight of the sun setting over St Benets Abbey.

Back in the present ,our pre-arranged mooring procedure sprang into action. Matthew went into the front cabin so that we knew he was safe. Joseph went to the bow to take the rope there and Janine went to the stern. I prepared to go past the moorings, turn round and moor facing into the tide.

When we got to the moorings it was 1930. They were no longer empty, but there was a large gap just after the private boat “Springtide” that I felt I could take us into. Concerned at how quickly the moorings had filled up, I made a snap decision not to turn round and potentially lose the space but to moor up straight away. Like most decisions made in haste, this was not a good one.

Approaching the bank with the bow, I found it hard to judge the gap to the bank. Joseph did the right thing and waited until he could step onto the bank, but by the time I had got close enough for him to do this the tide had started to pull the stern into the middle of the river, which fortunately was quiet by this time.

By now, a gentleman from the private boat had come over to help. He took the bow rope from Joseph and advised me to let the tide bring the rear of the boat all the way round. I had been so cautious in assessing the gap that there was plenty of room to moor up this way. As the stern came round he took the rope from Janine, waited for me to hammer in the rond anchor and then tied us onto the cleat. When we had secured the second rond anchor, he headed off with Janine and I both shouting heartfelt “thank-yous” after him.

It had not been pretty, but we were all safe and moored up for the night. I made us all some pasta with sauce for tea while Janine made the beds up. After we had finished, I noticed that our bed in the main cabin had been made up the opposite way round to that indicated in the brochure, but Janine insisted this was the right way. I was not sure, but experience has taught me to work on the premise that Janine is right 80% of the time so I did not argue.

After washing up and getting the kids settled in front of a DVD, Janine and I went on deck and settled on the roof at the front of the boat with a glass of wine. All was quiet apart from the occasional lowing of cattle in an adjoining field and the sound of fish sporadically coming to the surface.

St Benets looked magical as the sun was beginning to set behind it. After a while, the boys came out to join us. It was great that they had voluntarily given up looking at a screen to come and enjoy a quiet Broadland evening and I felt a warm glow as I remembered how I had done this with my own parents and brother on this very spot twenty eight years previously.

Tired, but happy we all came inside at about 2200. Janine and the kids went to bed while I checked the ropes. By the time I climbed into the far side of the bed, Janine was already fast asleep. I settled down and noticed that my feet were sticking out of the bottom of the bed- a new experience for me being 5ft 5! Looking across to Janine, I could see that my pillow was at least 2ft lower down the bed than hers despite it being fast against the curve of the bow.

I had been correct about the bed after all! I was experiencing the rare sensation of me being proved right and I felt a strange sense of elation. Then I realised that my feet were cold and it subsided. It was going to be a long night!




  • Like 17
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Just beautiful , thanks for posting.

Sorry to hear about your mum's hip, hope she is recovering well. As for the minor mooring mishaps, I shouldn't bother yourself too much about it, even the most experienced helmsman can mess up (even me lol), show me someone who say they don't, I'll show you a fibber :naughty: The private owner coming out to help is part of what it's all about in my opinion, can't wait for the next bit



  • Like 4
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hello Villan,

Looking forward to day 2.

People can be very helpful on the Broads, make use of their offers to help.



The helpfulness of other boaters on the broads was the very first thing that made me properly relax and begin to enjoy it properly! 

We learn loads each time we come - 10 days to go before we're back - bring on part two, you're making me positively salivate for the broads!




  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for the kind words. Writing this is proving to be a good way of keeping memories of the holiday alive. Everyone we met was friendly and willing to help and advise with one exception........more of which when I come to write up the day concerned.

My Mum is doing well now thanks, Grace. She really enjoyed seeing photos of the boys visiting many of the same places and doing the same things that we used to that we sent over whenever there was a 3G signal.

Talking of which, I have tried to upload some pictures to go with the post using the "choose files" option, but I keep getting the message "There was a problem processing the uploaded file -200". I would be grateful for any tips that anyone may have regarding what I am doing wrong!

Many Thanks- Andy.


  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Andy,

Brilliant tale looking forward to reading more.

With regards to the image issue. I'm not quite sure what the problem is. Can you try again but message me over the full error message you get. Are you doing this on a mobile/taplet or desktop/laptop? 


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Alan and Janine, Steve was only to happy to help you on your first night. Your visit in the morning was much appreciated by us both. Reading the first part of your holiday tale makes us both re-appreciate the wonder and joy of the Broads. Hoping the rest of your holiday was as stunning as the sunset that night. Can't wait to read about your further adventures.

  • Like 4
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sunday 16th August

After tossing and turning for a few hours in a vain attempt to get comfortable, I finally drifted off sometime after 1 am. I got up at 0600 and my tiredness and cold feet were temporarily forgotten when I saw the windmills near Thurne silhouetted against the sunrise whilst looking out of the patio doors. Everyone else was up within 20 minutes and we all sat in the dining area with a cup of tea admiring the view.

Feeling guilty about my cold feet (which I may have mentioned a few times over our tea), Janine started a cooked breakfast while I remade the bed the correct way. After breakfast, showers and engine checks we lowered the canopy and prepared to set off. I noticed that the occupants of “Springtide” were up and about and went off to thank them again for their help the previous night.

On approaching the boat, I noticed that they had a NBN burgee showing. Having thanked them again for their help, we had a chat and they made a number of excellent recommendations which helped enormously over the week. Thanks once again for your help and encouragement diastar! It’s great that people like you are so willing to help others out and share your experiences.

Buoyed by this, we set off down Fleet Dyke again- this time in search of water. The mooring at Russell’s went well and I sensed that Janine and Joseph were feeling more comfortable with our collective abilities. We then enjoyed a pleasant cruise to Malthouse Broad in the sunshine, where I turned the boat into the wind, dropped the mud weight and cut the engine.

Janine was unsure about this, but I assured her by demonstrating over the next ten minutes that the boat was staying in the same place in relation to landmarks. It was 1100, so we put the kettle on and all sat in the rear well with tea and a slice of cake. A gentle breeze blew, the temperature was rising and chimes came from the tower of St Helen’s over on the shore. It was perfect.

Having finished our cake, we climbed into the rowing dinghy that we had hired with the boat for the first time. After a pleasant row we entered the dinghy dyke at the staithe and tied up the single bow rope through the same ring as another dinghy, leaving space for a dayboat and canoe moored further down the dyke.

Matthew had been keeping a note of birds that he had spotted all morning, so we got him a bird spotting book from the shop before dropping off our rubbish and walking to St Helen’s to climb the tower. The boys enjoyed the view and the fact that we could see Magical Light in  Malthouse Broad. We then had a look at the Rood Screen before walking back to the dinghy dyke.

Our dinghy had been moved when we returned. On seeing us, a man from the Norfolk Wildlife Trust politely explained that we had taken the mooring they use for trips. The “No Mooring” signs were on the top of the quay facing upwards and we had missed them completely. We were clearly in the wrong and I apologised profusely, which he accepted gracefully. We had goofed, but the issue had been resolved amicably.

Or had it? Another voice entered the conversation, this one not so conciliatory. “Why didn’t you tie up your stern as well”? The canoe at the far end of the dyke was being manoeuvred out by my questioner, who scowled at me. Feeling that a direct question merited a direct answer, I responded “Because there is no stern rope to tie up”. “Well, you need to fit one then don’t you”, he shot back.

Looking back, this was probably a good man having a bad day. It must be frustrating negotiating scores of moored dinghies in that dyke in the summer months. However, his tone had put my back up as had the fact that he seemed to believe that I should know some arcane aspect of dinghy dyke etiquette that was not backed up by inclusion in the skippers manual or the equipment that one of the main hirers on the Broads provided with their dinghies.

As I was preparing to make a response along these lines, Janine stepped in and took the sting out of the situation. “It’s not our dinghy to fit ropes to- it belongs to Herbert Woods”, she soothed, “but we will raise it with them for you”. He rowed off silently. This was the right response and mine would have been wrong. Normality had been restored.

Back on the boat, we took the canopy back down and had a quick sandwich before hauling up the mud weight and setting off again. By now there was real heat to the sun and Janine and the boys went to sit at the bow of the boat to get some breeze.

As we went down Ranworth Dyke, we came up behind a day boat which had a clearly well refreshed party on board. The mood was jovial and they raised a few smiles by waving at oncoming craft. On leaving the dyke, they turned right towards Ant Mouth and I prepared to turn left upriver. They then changed their mind and turned tail oblivious to the fact that I had to slam hard into reverse to avoid a collision.

Wishing to avoid another potential contretemps, I bit my tongue and stuck behind them. By now they were rocking the boat from side to side as they went along. As their helming became increasingly erratic Janine brought the kids back into the boat until they moored up at The Ferry in Horning to take on more alcohol, upon which she took them back out again.

As Horning slid by, my thoughts turned to our intended destination- Salhouse Broad. I was feeling increasingly confident at the helm, but I was a bit apprehensive about the impending stern on mooring. As we pulled into the Broad I spotted a large gap between two private boats and began to cruise up to it. Matthew had been despatched to the front cabin and Janine walked the dinghy around the front as I turned the bow away from the bank and engaged reverse.

I was delighted at how well it went. Guided by Janine I adjusted my line a couple of times before slowly reversing up to the Bank and giving it a faint kiss with the rear fend-off as Janine and Joseph stepped ashore. There was no wind and the gap was wide enough for three boats, but it still felt good. We then roped the boat over to one side of the gap to allow room for another two boats to moor.

Having tied up, I went with the boys to hire some kayaks. Although we had a dinghy, Joseph loves kayaking and he offered to pay to hire one when he saw there would be places we could hire them on the broads. Flushed with my mooring success I told him I would pay and that Matthew and I would join him when it became clear that a two man kayak was available.

I had always loved paddling around Salhouse Broad in a dinghy, especially the creek that runs down the eastern side. Rediscovering this in kayaks with my own kids was just as good and the creek seemed even more overgrown and magical than ever. The only slight disappointment was that the wreck of the old boat in the creek had disappeared behind the trees. Despite this it was a wonderful hour and it passed quickly.

Meanwhile, Janine had taken the chance to read her book in the sun back on the boat. After a while, the owner of the private boat moored by us introduced himself and asked if he could move our dinghy as he felt there was a risk that it could come into contact with his boat. He was polite, friendly and gave Janine some great tips on tying the dinghy which made things easier for us and our neighbouring boats over the remainder of the week. It was an object lesson in how to talk to less experienced boaters- he had obviously read Gracie’s post from a few weeks back!

We then sat on the front of the boat looking out onto the broad and the kids did more bird spotting while Janine and I split a bottle of ale. We then had beef burgers for tea before going back out onto the front roof. Later that night we realised that this was the only time that we allowed the boys on deck without life jackets. We had relaxed to a point of complacency already and we would not let it happen again.

Tobago Light from Herbert Woods then moored next to us, which brought memories flooding back for me because this had been the boat that we had on my second Broads holiday with my parents in 1988 (it was then Tobago King from Kingline Cruisers). My parents never found a better layout of four berth centre cockpit cruiser and it remains the boat they judge all others against. Following a relatively recent refit, it looked even better and a conversation with the occupants revealed that they were very pleased with it as well. Definitely a boat to consider for the future.

By this stage, the boys were tired so we put the canopy up and settled them in front of a DVD. Janine and I then returned to the front of the boat with a bottle of wine to watch another stunning sunset, pausing only to put the boys to bed. Close to us a party on two large cruisers from Horning Ferry boatyard were having a lively birthday celebration on deck, but it was good natured and they turned in just before 10, as did we.

  • Like 12
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Brilliant Tale Andy.. Really Enjoying these.. Good to see you managed to upload some pictures. I uploaded yours yesterday on your first post. Not quite sure what happened there but good to see you managed it.

Sorry you met problems with a kayaker there.. Probably just having a bad day.. not quite sure how you can have a bad day in norfolk though! I'd love to do some kayaking but really can't swim.. are they stable enough? 


  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ditto - and i'm really liking your writing style... 

I'd love to do some kayaking but really can't swim.. are they stable enough? 


A) Yup, they're pretty stable

B ) You have to wear a lifejacket anyway!!!

Give it a go on a one hour hire - i can pretty much guarantee you'll love it....:love


  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Must admit I'm tempted!.. Will try to build up courage and try when it's warm.. down by geldestone will probably be lovely in a kayak!

Sound purrfik!


AND you've given me another idea for our hols(in 9 days time!), there's a hire place down there, no? 


ETA Rowancraft do canoe hire - proper canadian jobbies too... mucho stable Jaws!

Edited by lampini
Link to comment
Share on other sites

oh are the canadian ones even more stable? (They look more unstable if anything lol) 

(Sorry for hijaking Andy.. we are really bad on here for doing this.. Never mention shoes on a thread too that really gets them going.. Fish2)


Googling led me to this Jane (and Andy your son maybe interested), although not cheap (I think);


Also in bungay  (someway past geldeston)


Rowans seem to do though: http://www.canoethebroads.co.uk/cent-geldeston.html

WRC seem to hire too.

I think next year (or maybe later this year if it warms up again) we will try it for a couple of hours.. looks fun. cheers 






  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

This holiday tale certainly lives up to it's title, the are photos stunning :clapand the boys are so cute :love

I have to say you showed great restraint with the guy and the ropes, I think I would have showed him how to tie a stern rope up his stern if you get my drift lol, why do people have to be so rude?


Jane, please don't encourage our Jaws to try kayaking, it's bad enough he's let loose on the Broads in Orca, I can just see it now, after a few bevvies, going round in circles and zig zagging all over the place, he'll put us hirers to shame lol :naughty:



  • Like 6
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Restore formatting

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...

Important Information

For details of our Guidelines, please take a look at the Terms of Use here.