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2 steering wheels, a bow thruster & some sun-stroke


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Whatho Everyone

At the risk of boring the pants off everyone I thought I would post a bit on each day of my recent four day break with Ferry Marina.

We did the usual of doing the 5 hour drive on the Sunday and staying in a hotel so Monday morning we were in Norfolk and I could concentrate on being as excited and getting as much in the boating mood as is possible, much to the delight of my other half, who it's fair to say is a little less into the boats than me, but agrees to come with me for two of my boating holidays each year!

Anyway, we're up and off to the supersized Tesco for our breakfast and shop. I'm keen to be off to Horning ASAP so after a bit of a telling off for trying to hurry round as quick as possible and get gone I manage to concentrate my attentions and head off to select some wine to crack open later. It's looking like for the first time this year we've got the weather right. Brilliant blue skies and my eyes are feeling pretty rough, a good sign of great weather through bad hayfever!

Off we zoom towards Wroxham, I get told off again for not concentrating as we drive over the bridge at Wroxham and I'm looking at the boats instead of the Shearings coach thats nearly pushed us over the bridge whilst I'm distracted. A little later we're winding our way round the road at Horning, the sun out in force, and another glimpse of boats, happy people and the holiday scene I've been looking forward too so long!

We're starting at Ferry Marina this year, a bit of a change of routine. We normally head to Richrdsons, with the occasional change but this time, in an effort to try and appease my other half (who finds some of the characteristics that go with and I love about boats a bit of a nuisance) free reign has been given for them to choose. Horning is my favourite place in Broadland, so I'm sad to not be at my favourite boatyard, but starting in Horning is nice - so not all bad, but the boat is a bit contentious.

31ft Silver Emblem looked reasonably smart in the artists impression in the brochure, but since seeing it launched I was a bit more worried. It's new for 2009 and the selling points were the 'island' double bed - my OH hates having the bed squeezed between bulkheads and gunwhales so you feel crammed in etc, the nice looking galley in the brochure, the fact everythings going to be new, and seperate shower so you dont make a mess of the bathroom when you have a shower.

Anyhow, after a bit of trouble we find where there reception is and the women in the office are incredibly friemdly & accommodating and tell us the boat will be ready slightly early, in about half an hour. So we tootle off to where the Ferry Inn was, sit on the bench, watch the boats go by... bliss! The friendly heron also wanders down to see what we're up to!

Once back at the boatyard the lady on reception shows us onboard, the key features of where things are, and that the table is stored in the toilet "to give you more space". Interesting I think... I immediately know what someone will be thinking and that the table shall therefore be staying where it is for the entire trip! :grin:

The boat is very nice inside. The flooring is a kind of teak effect laminate, which is clearly false but looks quite modern, and as the boats only a few months into hire still immaculate. The galley and saloon feel very soacious and the units are a nice home from home, the settee is in a suede effect fabric which seems an odd choice for hire use, but again being so new is currently looking very good! The aft cabin has seperate wc & shower off and is a nice size.

We throw everything on, and as the sun is shining are soon having our instructions from a very friendly chap who tells us all the key things we need but seems happy with our abilities and ok to let us go on our own, but stays closeby incase of disaster! Luckilly 31ft and with bow thrusters make it a bit of a doddle and we're on our way...... More to follow tomorrow after a sleep!






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what do you mean sleep so you are going to keep us waiting very nice boat dan very luxurious looking next instalment please in your own time ;)

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cheers folks!

On with the tale...

So, we need to make a decision as to where to head for the first night. It's such a gorgeous day that Coltishall is my preferred option, but of course the boat is far to high, at 8ft 2' if I remember correctly to get under Wroxham bridge with the flybridge still attached, so we weigh up whether we try our luck at Womack Water, and decide to give it a go, with Potter Heigham as our plan B if the moorings are full.

Off we tootle, having caked on the factor 15, me steering and my other half happily lapping up the sun. The boat handles very well, better than I'm expecting by the look of the design and the flybridge is quite a large area, with only one cushioned seat for the helmsman though but plenty of space and moulded areas you can sit/lie down on, so everyones happy.

For those of you that dont know me so well my Broadland holidays are maybe slightly different, because whilst I love the area it's the boats that I'm most bonkers about! Well, the hireboats anyway. Somehow when my first Hoseasons brochure dropped through the door as a ten year old the mass of hireboats inside caught my interest and twenty years on it's only got worse! So as we cruise along I'm loving seeing all the boats out, and am snapping away as I'm determined to try and have a record of every hireboat! Something I've probably done twenty times over but still, it keeps me quiet!

No-one seems to be waving this holiday, though plenty of people are looking our way. I cant figure out whether the unusualness of the new boat design has caught their attention or they're just not enjoying their holiday as much as me, but the odd cheery wave keeps me convinced this is the friendliest and best place in the world to be!

Anyhow, the sun is getting ever hotter and we're made up we've got the weather right this time, as my last holiday I got rather wet stood on the back of a narrowboat for a week! :grin:

As we near the turn for Womack a boat seems to be rather close behind and keen to pass, I sense they might be heading the same place and getting edgy that the last few moorings could be going so we go a tad faster just incase there's only one spot left!

Down to Womack and as with my last few trips this beautiful spot appears to have been high on lots of peoples list! We nose down the mass of hireboats all tightly moored up but alas, the place looks full. We are just debating whether to moor at DRL Marine's hirebase and enquire if they need the soace for their returning boats or not when the crew of Royall craft shout to us they are taking up two spots and are moving across, think they must have just arrived. Anyway a 12ft wide gap appears as does a bit of interest from some of the other moorers, anticipating a bit of a pantomime I think! No pressure then! Anyhow, with no wind and a couple of bursts on the bowthruster Silver Emblem is moored tightly in with no disasters! I'm always a bit releived as day one or two with a boat you're not used to can occasionally end in embarassing disaster! Still, at just 31ft and with bow thrusters I would think someone doing well to get themself in a pickle! ;)

We have a brief chat with the girls on Royall craft who seem friendly, and are impressed we havent taken all their side windows out through our little operation!

Anyway inside we go, and I suddenly feel very ill. I struggle to accept its sunstroke after I've done all the sensible things - hat, sunscreen, water, but I immediately get told off for not drinking enough water. I sit down and feel sorry for myself but feel increasingly worse and like I'm going to pass out, throw up or both! At this point I decide the best option is to delay my boat noseying that would normally follow and take myself off to bed! A little sleep later and I'm feeling more like myself again and we decide to follow up rumours that the Kings Arms is worth a look.

We take ourself off for a few beverages and a nice meal in the bar, and must say it was all very good. We cant help overhear some of the locals conversations with the barman, and have to smile and try and comtain our amusement at some of the stories. Agnetha from Abba was Anthea who now lived on her own island somewhere and the two couples of Abba had swapped partners. I dont know if the second bit was true, but true or not it made us smile!

Anyhow a bit later we're back to the boat and I decide to crack open one of the nice bottles of wine from Tesco. I am less impressed when I discover the cork has gone brittle and will not remove. My annoyance causes much amusement to my deck hand, which only makes me more determined to get in! Amongst the moans at Mr Tesco (never my favourite store and only our shop of choice for holiday!) and that suddenly their half price decent bottles of wine seem such a bargain appear to fall on deaf ears and I am told to write a letter! More chuntering follows and with the aid of the vegetable pealer I manage to massacre my way through the cork and into the wine. After a bit more moaning that it will now be totally ruined and corked I decide to sieve it through the lettuce strainer in a last ditched attempt to not waste £4.99 and try the next bottle! Well, there is a recession on afterall! Plus I'm a northerner of course!

Anyhow, my patience (!) and tolerance are rewarded as its actually still quite enjoyable and out we go to sit on the roof and enjoy the evening sun.

It's a nice scene, there must be 20-30 boats all packed tightly in, and most people are sat outside at the back or front and the weather appears to have helped everyone be in great spirits. There's a few boats where everyone seems to have a funny laugh, which gives sometjing else to smile and laugh about. We chill out for a while before wrapping the covers around the outside of the front and side screens (it seemed like there were aboute ten different covers), as the forward galley curtains are only for effect! Good job they told us.... I would have been mystified! :grin:

And so to bed... our first day over

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cheers folks! cheersbar

So onto day 2...

After having my CocoPops and brew in bed I am up and pleased to see he weather looks to be good again! We plan where we'll head today and I have my second brew on the flybridge. By now I'm starting to come round and decide I'll nip over and say hello to the chaps at DRL Marine. Being a bit of a hireboat nutter I'm really pleased to see after some years of decreasing hirefleet numbers the area is seeing a healthy improvement in demand and DRL have launched a sizeable hirefleet for 2009. Darren, the owner has used a couple of my pictures to market his boats so I decide to pop over and say hello and I'm made to feel very welcome and we have a nice little chatette about how things are going and his increasing fleet and some of the improvements he's made and has planned for the winter. Afterwards I have a look inside some of the boats that are on turn-around, only one or two appear unhired which seems good going for a new fleet.

As the mornings fast going we decide we best pull our finger out and get on the river. It's a tough job but it has to be done! Off we go, heading to Potter to have a look round Lathams and the boatyard (is anyone noticing a pattern yet?!). Herbert Woods also have boats on turn around so we pootle round to their rear pool where we hope to be less in the way. There's a stack of boats there that aren't going out, and I wonder if it really makes economic sense to have such a large fleet if they dont book well, and wonder if they are having a worse season compared to their completitors. The choice of a few slots appear and soon we're moored up.

I go for a wander on my own round all the boats. Much seems as normal, the exteriors all look quite passable with their blue and white branding but the interiors seem a mixed bag. A fair number look quite good, and a few look a bit scruffy inside, with some tired looking fabrics etc. I notice one of their totally refitted boats "Pool of Light" and nosey through the windows to the interior and all looks very nice.

When I've satisfied myself no stone has been left unturned I wander back to the boat and off we go to Lathams. I remember there's a Safari for sale at a reasonable price and talk my OH into having a look, though they seem less impressed with it's beauty and so we head to Lathams. A few items that are not really needed but seemed a good price are picked up and then the pull of a few cream cakes takes hold as we wander out!

After some lunch on the boat we set off and have decided to head for Stalham and take advantage of the free mooring at Richardsons to other hirecraft. It's a fair cruise but the weathers good so it seems a good plan. This time we're armed with bottles of water and to make sure there's not a reapeat performance of yesterdays sunstroke I'm drinking record amounts! It seems to do the trick but when we get to How Hill the sun is out in full force so we decide to moor up for a little bit, and I can snap some boats as they go past, and spend a bit of time out of the sun! Not long mind... didnt want to miss any boats!





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Hi Folks

Sorry for the wait, was a bit short of time yesterday.

On with the tale.. day 2 continues:

After a little while at How Hill one of the green Blue horizon's appears and heads to moor behind us. Somehow you can sense that the crew is a bit tense and the boat suddenly heads in towards the bank at fair speed. I'm not sure what it is with the blue horizon's, but it seems that each holiday we have a close encounter with them. The last time one was trying to squeeze a 38ft boat into a 35ft gap next to us! We're sat on the roof enjoying the scene and as the boat nears the bank they slow down to a stop, as Dad wanders along to get off with the rope, only the boats not quite there, and his commands to Mum at the helm seem to be causing a bit of stress and the opposite to happen from what he intended. I'm always a bit wary to offer help, because I know this can offend some peoples pride, and some people would rather be left to it, whilst some are delighted to have a hand. After debating it out, they seemed to be struggling so I wandered down and asked if they wanted me to take the front rope, they were glad to have a bit of assistance and a few minutes later they were tied up.

Soon after we decided to set off and comtinued along the Ant. This is one of my favourite rivers, and we cruise along taking it all in, everywhere looking even more spectacular in the great weather. We go round a few twists and turns and past the picturesque houses at Irstead and then soon onto Barton Broad. The Broad' fairly quiet, just a few motor cruisers heading in opposing directions, and a few mudweighting the wrong side of the posts, which always makes me wonder whether they'll be stuck when they want to go.

Anyway, on we plod, along a quiet stretch, past the couple of private mooring basins and the Richardsons basins come into view. The majority of boats seem to be out, and the two mooring basins now in view seem pretty empty of their boats, with a few exceptions with some of the bigger 8 & 10 berths. It reminds of the first time we visited, in full season back in 1995 when, as now the few boats dotted about are doing like we are and just mooring for the night, and they look a bit lost in the vast mooring basins which on turnaround are full of the companies large fleet. So that we can not miss any boats coming in and out we moor near the top of the first quay.

It's early evening now and the yard is very peaceful and the working day looks to be over. I decide to jump off and have a look round the boats! As ever there seems to be a bit of a magnet effect to the line of ex hire craft they have for sale. They're in varying conditions, some looking quite presentable and many looking a bit forlorn and in need of a clean off and repaint. This all seems quite appealing to me and I have a nosey round them. One of the Aquabell's is open so I have a look in, luckilly my quick reflexes saving me, just, from getting my feet wet as the front cabin seems to have its own duck pond. There's elysians, Discovery 850's, and my favourite of all, a few Aquafibre 42's which need a bit of a tidy, but are amongst my favourite big boats.

After a bit more of a wander its back to the boat. Tea onboard tonight and the rest of my hard fought for bottle of wine! Off to bed... and a disturbed nights sleep fighting out, hypothetically, which of the boats to buy!



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Day 3 and I'm awake early. I cant get back to sleeps so its Coco Pops in bed, a couple of brews, and slow progress out of grumpyness!

Once up the front screen covers are fast removed so I can let the sun in, and the view of the boats! We're in no mad rush, so we chill out at the base for a while, and I drag my other half off to look at my short lists of boats. Sadly this doesnt go down quite as well as hoped. Sadly, it seems I'm on my own in seeing their beauty so we're soon back off to the boat.

Off we go back down the river retracing our steps. We get to How Hill and decide to stop again for lunch and stay for a couple of hours taking in the weather, beauty and the boats! We've decided to head for Horning today and late afternoon we get back to our hirebase, and as Horning is a busy spot and we're not mooring particularly early we moor stern on where we started from.

I head off for a wander and take a look at the new base for Le Boat. Due to the change in economic circumstances they've brought back a lot of boats from Ireland and some are ready to run from their additional base at the old Caribbean base, some are still being tidied ready for the full season. I've a lot of affection for this base, and its place in modern boating history. See my website on them at http://www.fbwilds.horning.org.uk

I'm so pleased to hear that the site will be, in part, a hire centre again, as since the hirefleet stopped at the end of 2004 the site has seemed a bit lost, and a little neglected compared to how it used to be and the business that used to be there. I wander round and it looks like everyones gone home. Some of the boats are all fully branded with the Le Boat markings, and some are clearly being polished up, and their previous Emerald Star stripings etc removed (one of the groups Sister companies).

Richardsons who own the site have clearly poured a lot of money and effort into replacing the moorings and its all looking very smart, and with other areas tidied and the Le Boat flags flying the place looks alive, and 'right' again. It warms my heart and puts a smile on my face - even if this makes me a daft old sod!

The fleets Caprice catches my eye, as its very tall looking, and I try and work how much taller it is than the more familar Broom Sedan's moored next to her. It doesnt actually look much, but I wonder how practical it makes the likes of Ludham and Acle bridges. After snapping a few pictures I wander back to the lane and look in at the Freedom fleet. Their latest addition, a Bourne 40 seems to be getting a lot of attention with the exterior and interior being tidied ready to go out soon. A couple of the smaller buildings that were looking a bit worse for wear and had sunk into the ground have been recently removed, as I wander back to the boat I think to myself how nice it is to see things being improved, and nice to see some money going back into improving things and building for the future.

By the time I get to the boat time is rolling on, so we jump in the car and drive down to the Swan for our evening meal. The first few seconds in the car always get me.. everything seeming so smooth, quiet and fast compared to boating... but totally pants by comparison all the same!

The Swan's pretty packed, theres a lot of staff on the bar, but organisation seems a bit lacking even under the circumstances but we manage to get our order in, and find a nice table overlooking the river. The outside of the pubs also busy, and a really ideallic summer holiday scene - the umbrellas up, all the tables packed, everyone looks happy! We enjoy our meal.... the gammon's really tasty and the meal arrives without too much of a wait - good going seeing how busy they are. Back in the car and off to bed, ready for another brilliant day!




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cant beleive you got in your car to go to the Swan, why didn't you wander down the middle of the road like everyone elce? :naughty:

(have you noticed how the 'miss DANa has your name on it? :grin: lots of work going on those boats at the moment )

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Good heavens Clive... we were hungry!! :naughty:

Maybe thats what the pull was.... I hope your not doing them up to sell Clive... I shall miss having a nosey at them, and as you say, it's got my name on it! :cry


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Apolagies for the delay in the next installment.. I got distracted for a few days by a few lorry loads of **** that my Sister talked me into helping them move into their new home!

On with the tale...

Day 4.

I wake up to the sound of engines and boats cruising past. It seems that, as ever I have managed to sleep on longer and after a lot of shouting I manage to get some hard earmed attention and my coco pops and brew are soon delivered to me in bed! :grin:

I'm never to enthusiastic at jumping out of bed, but today the not knowing which boats are passing, and the feeling that I'm missing something is quite present! I decide the best approach is to shout up "what boat's that", followed by "what boat's that" and then as Horning appears to be a bit like Piccadilly Circus the steady procession of boats passing "which one's that". After a few minutes it appears that only I like playing this game and I get a few things thrown at me followed by a few obscenities! I decide at this point maybe it is time to get up, and soon I'm removing the front screen covers so I can see what's going on. The kettle's put on and I'm starting to come round by brew two, and I sit snapping a few of the boats passing. The weather's already warming up and it looks set to be another cracking day.

After a while we decide to get going and off we set towards Wroxham. We've decided as we cant fit under the bridge (boooo!) that we'll just head there and back today. I'm as excited as ever as I know they'll be lots of boats and boatyards to keep me quiet! We pass through the village, and past the pub, everywhere looking busy and alive, and the sun shining down only adds to the really picturesque scene.

On we go to Wroxham.. a nice, sedate cruise, a bit of entertainment added by the usual race of dayboats that seem to have left common sense behind and are doing all manner of silly things, and one of the Gold Gem's overtaking us rather slowly and almost pushing one of the Wroxham trip boats into the reeds only to trundle along infront of us at the same sped! Oh well, I guess they got to Wroxham 15 seconds before us! :naughty:

With our boat not fitting under the bridges Wroxham mooring spots are a bit more limited. Either Faircraft Loynes basin or Barmes Brinkcraft seem favourite. As we approach Barnes Brinkcraft their main hire basin looks a bit full, as does the river side moorings, but we manage to squeeze into a spot just infront of the sail loft. I get off to tie her up and immediately make a bit of a prat of myself by tripping over their very low/short mooring posts! I manage to keep on my feet and have to laugh at myself!

One of the Brink of Joy's soon appears with the crew looking a little concerned as to where to moor. They spy a spot near us but their crew look a bit panicked, and I ask if they'd like me take a rope. They're grateful as only one member of the party is able to jump about with the ropes, and steer, so I go off to get the back rope and immediately trip over another of the very low mooring posts! Feeling a little more embarassed I manage to avoid diving into the water or through their open sliding canopy and we have a bit of a laugh over my continued stupidity and I try and engage brain to remember these little posts!

Anyway, it's decided I'll go off on my own to look over all the boats, as it's scorching by now, and wandering around in scorching heat looking at boats only seems appealing to me it seems! I have a look round Barnes Brinkcraft's two mooring pools and all boats look in reasonable condition. I decide not to look at the boats for sale as I know they have a Westward 38 for sale that I'm rather keen on and know that my willpower is not strong enough to resist!

After a look round the visitor moorings and Faircraft Loynes base I wander down the lane to see what's going on at Le Boat's Connoisseur base. There's a couple of boats from Ireland on trailers awaiting work and I decide I'll wander over their bridge and into the base to see what other boats are being worked on. Out of courtesy I call into their reception to check having a look is OK. The girl on the desk is busy grinning to herself and texting on her phone, but after she's finished that she manages to speak to me. I ask if it's OK to have a look at their hireboats they've got in which seems to throw her. She looks me up and down quite indiscretely and gives me a funny look. I'm sensing she's not as impressed by my shorts and holiday attire and is deciding whether I've just been let out of the local loony bin or not! Everyone's on their lunch at the minute so there's no-one to show you around I get. That's no problem I'm happy to look on my own I say, oh, err, you cant do that I'm afraid, someone would have to show you. Great I think... well, can I not even just have a look round the outside I ask, reluctantly she agrees and bids me farewell and I leave with the impression she couldnt care less in helping me try and book a holiday on one of their boats. I do tend to book one of their boats every other year abroad and I wish I wasnt giving them any of my money for a second or two, but I remind myself how good the staff have been at the bases I've previously hired from and venture off to look at their boats.

One of the 32ft dual steer's has come from Belturbet in Ireland and is being worked on, with replaced windscreens by the look of it, ready for transferring to the new Horning base when complete. A few other ex Ireland boats look in varying states of readyness and after a quick wander I decide I best head back to the boat before a search party is sent out!

More later, and some pictures when I get home!





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Once back on the boat we set back to Horning. Sun showing no sign of letting up, and we think how lucky we've been with the weather - couldnt have got it better I dont think!

We've decided that rather than another night in Horning to get up at the crack of dawn and hand the keys back first thing in the morning we'll head back later today. So taking in as much of the scene as possible is the name of the game on the trip back to Horning! Afterall, I'm not supposed to be returning for another holiday until 2010 :o

We seem to get back quicker, despite our best efforts to plod along and we moor stern on back at the base. The friendly chap who did our showround appears and takes the boat off for the diesel filling. We chat over the great weather and how much we've enjoyed the holiday. Then he looks at me and says "Well, you obviously didn't go far". We tell him and he looks suprised, though I explain we've been just chilling out and not racing our way round and he agrees with us over how much fuel this saves. Must admit we probably have taken it much slower this time, and enjoyed it all the more I think, but the large amount of fuel deposit back is an added bonus!

Sadly then after throwing everything in the car we start the four and a half hour treck back up north, the air-con on full blast!

A great holiday, weve enjoyed spending much more time together than normally allows, totally chilled out and having the four days midweek rather than the three day weekend has also made it seem noticeably longer - and for the same cost -


My other half has very much enjoyed the boat and it's accomoation and sundeck! I've been impressed with the company, and their staff, and admittedly the boat has been very comfortable and spacious for the two of us. The external helm has also been great with all the sun and great weather, and given us great visibility over the reeds. Sadly though, the exterior of the boat was not for me. I warmed slightly to the side view from the back, but I could not warm to the front view, especially full on. Infact, it sent a shudder down my spine each time I saw it!

It seems the most important aspects of the design have concentrated on the living space - and its worked well. Sadly though this seems to have been at the expense of the exterior. As hard as I try I really cant convince myself a better job couldn't have been done of the front view. Maybe even a forward door/well would have been better looking if they really couldnt come up with a better solution than lots of small windows curving around the front corners with pillars between? A shame.. and sadly it will stop me hiring another, but I think if you can live with the exterior (and beauty is in the eye of the beholder afterall) or if you are less into boats and more into the accommodation comfort then it's design benefits will probably see them very popular. The boatyard and staff come highly recomended though, and their new 37ft Sedan that was just completed when we left looked much better looking outside to me.... good to see investment, friendly & knowledgeable staff and a new venture making a go of it....

All the best




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Thanks Dan realy enjoyed the holiday tale and the pictures must have a look at these boats

when im there in August and i think the front could have been designed a bit better glad

you had a lovely time and the weather was good to you cheersbar

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