Another record broken. A second whole weekend sailing on the Broads without crashing or sinking a boat!! This either means we’re getting better at it or we are getting more cautious in our old age. Maybe next year we’ll return to form.
Despite all the rain, even in Norfolk, river levels were pretty normal, thus demonstrating that if you have enough wetland not built on, it can prevent flooding. The fact that our boats only just scraped under Potter Heigham Bridge was more due to the state of the tide than any rain.
Hickling Broad, despite having an average depth of half a meter never fails to scare me because the wind always seems to howl across it and we could easily have towed a water skiier in our wake. Peter (PDS), our skipper at the time got a slap on the wrist from spouse Pat for scaring the living daylights out of her, while Kath gritted her teeth and smiled as the waves smashed over the bow and down her neck. I just feigned calmness whilst my knuckles went white as I clung on to the jib sheet.
We always seem to see the Wherry Albion on these weekends, surely the finest boat on the Broads and especially dear to me as I was in the crew aboard her for a week in 1974 or thereabouts. Quite the finest boat I have ever fallen off. Since then she has been spruced up to look like new although she is now 114 years old.
We caught up with her at Ranworth Broad and had a nostalgic look at some of the detail.
Everything about Albion is massive, especially the oak mast which is thicker than the thickest telegraph pole. You wouldn’t guess that this huge mast is so finely balanced that lowering it to get under bridges is quite within the capability of two people. There’s an enormous lump of lead below the tabernacle (fulcrum) to balance it. I suspect that Albion’s new sails are not nearly so heavy as the thick tarpaulin stuff it had when we sailed her. That winch you can see in front of the mast is where you wind up the sail. It used to take two of us several minutes to do it and we had to go and have a lie down afterwards. Sad to say Albion now has motor assistance to push her along when the wind is unfavourable. Tut Tut! In our day we had no such luxury, and if she wouldn’t sail we either quanted her along with the poles or send a rope party ashore to haul her along.