Well our annual Norfolk broads sailing weekend was er, fun although we didn’t do much sailing, and what bit we did do was pretty scary to say the least. On Sunday, for the first time I can recall in eight years of these trips, we didn’t sail at all because of the wind and weather. Our boats lay forlorn in Thurne dyke as we walked back to the pub after our inspection of the conditions.
Out on the river, the waves didn’t look much but we knew from the experience of the previous day, and the lowering skies that hoisting sails and venturing out was not a good idea.
Saturday morning was when we picked up the boats, and it was not too bad as we ventured up towards Hickling Broad, turning back just before we hit the wide part, or rather just before it hit us. The wind was picking up fast. Once down through Potter Heigham bridge where you have to lower the mast and paddle the boats to get through, and then of course re erect the mast and sails, it became dangerously squally as we zigzagged through the narrow channel between all the plastic boats moored on either side of this narrow stretch. Quite how we managed not to impale any of them on our bowsprit I don’t know. Each tack was only about a couple of boat lengths long. We did on more than one occasion run into the banks of the gardens of the wooden chalets. The squalls were so fierce and sudden that we came close a few times to turning the boats over. The wind snatched brutally hard on the sails making my hands and arms ache from the effort of hanging on to the jib sheets. When at last we got to our resting place at Thurne we were all completely knackered.
Never mind, the fourteen of us had a good time in our big shared house next door to the Lion Inn having a big quiz in which everyone provided ten questions each after a superb self cooked banquet.
On Sunday afternoon we had a compensatory treat because the local windpump was open and in operations so we had a guided tour. Not far off 200 years old this wind driven drainage pump still works perfectly.
You can see that the vanes on the arms are almost fully open because the wind was so strong, and still the arms were turning at a fair rate. Pumps like this were installed all over broadland at one time to drain the land but the rest are all defunct, replaced now by electric pumps. On Monday morning the boats had to be sailed back to the boatyard and mercifully the wind had stopped, but luckily for me I had a tummy upset and elected to stay behind. I say luckily because an hour or so later as the boats were wallowing completely becalmed in the middle of the river the poor crews suffered a monumental rain storm with thunder and lightning and torrential downpours. They all arrived back at the house several hours late and completely drenched.
So not the best sailing weekend we have ever had, but one to remember, that’s for sure.
Driving home we had some fantastic skies to entertain us including this one as we neared home.
PS Those of you looking at the blog on mobile devices might now find it easier to read because, prompted by Carrie, I found out how to change the colour scheme. I hope it works.