Thursday, May 14, 2015

Scary sailing weekend part 1

Lots to tell you. Funny how the more I have to tell, the less time I have to tell it. We're aboard Herbie at the moment, sheltering from the rain at Grafton Regis on the GU, but I'll start with last weekend - our annual Norfolk Broads sailing bash.

We arrived at the boatyard at Martham on Saturday morning with the wind blowing a real hooley. Surely we weren't going to risk life and limb in these conditions were we? According to the met office the wind was 25mph gusting to 30 odd. That's force six on the Beaufort scale "strong breeze - large branches sway - sea conditions Rough"

Mercifully I was spared the ignomony of chickening out as the man from the boatyard said it was too windy to let the sailing boats out. They offered us a motor cruiser for the day instead so that's what we did. Ten of us on board the nice old wooden Judith V, a well worn old barque with a centre cockpit and a nice old BMC 2.2 engine which seemed amazingly powerful on such a light boat.


The picture above shows us waiting to go through Potter Heigham bridge, which is so low and narrow that most of the big plastic cruisers on the Broads can't get through it. I have written about it in previous years. When we have to get the sailing boats through we have to drop the mast and paddle them through, which if the tide is running the wrong way is knackering to say the least. Here we are doing it in 2012.

Maybe you can tell from the two photos that the cruiser is a very tight fit under that bridge arch. I was wondering if we would fit the bridge hole at all! Hired motor boats have to be taken through the bridge by a pilot, so one of the men from the boatyard met us there. It's not the sort of place you would want to get stuck, believe you me. The pilot took every scrap of stuff off the boat roof and steered us out to the middle of the river. The wind was blasting up the river raising sizeable waves and there was a tide running. Warning us to crouch down, he wound up the engine revs to full whack and pointed us at the tiny bridge hole. We shot through at what seemed like twenty miles per hour although I suppose it was less. We didn't have more than an inch or two to spare. It was all very exhilarating, but I was glad it was his responsibility and not mine!

We dropped the pilot off and continued on down river and chose to tootle up the winding river Ant, which we never have time to do when we are sailing. Then back later to shoot the bridge once more in an equally scary fashion.

On Sunday the wind had dropped to the point where is was just safe to sail and we had another day I won't forget in a hurry, but I'll save that to tell you about next time.



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