Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Sailing- and the bowsprit award for damages goes to . . .

What a great weather vane. This one sits atop Ranworth church on the Norfolk Broads, scene of our annual sailing weekend. On Sunday we sailed our three half deckers out from Thurne to Ranworth and then climbed the 89 steep winding uneven steps and two ladders to reach the trap door to the church roof. The view is pretty good as you would expect from such a flat landscape.
We also got a good look at the church belfry as we climbed through, something I had never seen before. My legs still ache from the descent. Downhill climbing is much harder on the legs than climbing up.

Unlike last year when we had a spectacular collision with a motor cruiser, our sail out to Ranworth went without incident and we thought sadly that maybe that the Bowsprit Trophy would not this year be won. The trophy is traditionally awarded to the crew that inflicts the most damage to their boat . At the last minute however, honour was restored when the Bunnages triumphantly clouted their bowsprit into the bank as they returned to the overnight mooring, successfully snapping the tip clean off and preserving our hard won reputation with the boat hire company. Here wee see Bunnage senior (Rick), Bunnage junior (Tim) and Kath aboard the fateful boat Chestnut. Rick reckons they deliberately make the bowsprits weak so that the hire company can collar the £50 damage deposit. Having achieved an almost identical breakage three years ago I can only concur. Anyway the boatyard fitted a new one in time for Monday morning so that we could complete our third day's sailing.

It was fairly windy on the first day and we all reefed our sails down as far as possible so as to tame the boats and allow for our general sailing incompetence. Our trip up through the wild expanse of Hickling Broad in the force 5 breeze went amazingly well and we all lived to tell the tale over a pint at the newly reopened Pleasure Boat Inn. Hanging on to jib sheets (ropes) in these conditions is hard. The rope really pulls and your cold wet hands start to ache. Kath demonstrates here The person, Jacob in this case, on the tiller and main sheet has a much easier time of it although he /she bears the heavy responsibility of not capsizing the boat. The Broads may not be deep but at this time of the year the water is cold.

This was Jacob's first time with us and despite spending the entire time with ten old fogeys, he enjoyed the experience and by the end was able to take the helm without capsizing us.

Sailing is the best way to see the Broads. Given the right wind direction you can out run the motor cruisers and because of the silent propulsion you get to hear all the birds - buntings, warblers and cuckoos this weekend. We hired our speedy but safe boats from Martham boatyard near Hickling and stayed in a big rented house in Thurne, very handy for the overnight moorings and even handier for the Lion Inn where the food and drink is good and the landlord is a jovial fellow who ran an entertaining quiz on Sunday evening.

A nice change from canal boating and I'm sure we'll be back next year. Jacob has I think got the bug and I suspect he'll be back too. Maybe he has his sights set on that trophy.


Vallypee said...

Fun stuff Neil and some great photos there from the top of the world! I admire your determination to win this trophy every year. You wouldn't catch me sailing in any conditions, let alone cloudy, cold and windy....I prefer the throb of a good motor beneath my feet and a long, straight canal with stuff I can look at. this couls all be that I get chronically sick on sailing boats of course...

Halfie said...

Shortly after moving to Norfolk I bought a 10 feet sailing dinghy and tried my hand on Malthouse Broad (next to Ranworth Broad) a few times. I didn't get on too well: by the time I'd trailed the boat to the water and rigged it there never seemed to be much time for sailing. On one occasion we got stuck on a sandbank (or something) and it was quite a time before we realised we weren't actually going anywhere!

Like VallyP I prefer to have an engine (and the boat needs to be long and thin...)