Categories: Travelogue

by chris


I’d decided to make the weekend clear to sort out a few jobs on ‘Lady’ before getting into the season. The previous weekend was spent washing down and polishing the topsides and my mission now was to fully service my engine water pump which needed new shaft seals, replace the fuel filter/water separator element and fit a new horn (to save me swearing at people). On hearing I was heading up to the boat, my daughter piped up and asked if she could come too. Of course this was going to be welcome company on the understanding I had work to do.

As it was the end of her half term, she asked if she could bring along her best friend for the weekend which I agreed to given that they would mostly have to please themselves. I also remember my first introduction to the broads being at a similar age, jumping on board a hire boat called ‘Aviemore’ with my best friend and his father for a week so it was lovely to complete the circle.

Incredibly, all my jobs went smoothly so we decided to go for a run up to Wroxham on the Saturday afternoon in the hope of grabbing a pizza in the town. We did have provisions to cook but laziness took over.

There was an inkling of concern as to whether we would get under Wroxham Bridge to moor following flood warnings for the Bure however with our screen down we had plenty of clearance. The Hoveton free mooring was fairly empty so we pulled up and tried a new pizza enterprise in the precinct. It wasn’t bad but neither was it amazing and did feel guilty for loading up on enough carbohydrate to power a small town for a day.

On returning to the boat, the pervasive smell of ‘weed’ being smoked nearby suggested an imminent gathering of people that take pleasure in casting off moored boats or generally ‘having a laugh’ at others expense so before settling down we decided to make use of the remaining daylight to move further upstream to Castle Staithe for the night. This mooring is normally occupied but as the season hadn’t really got going, we fortunately found a spot.

The girls got stuck in to revising for their mocks and I grabbed a beer to enjoy the first overnighter on the boat of the season.

I did put the heater on for the night and I’m glad I did as the temperature was still pretty chilly.

The following morning was bright and sunny with a light breeze with breakfast being a casual affair and the girls heading off to explore. The church bells calling to service left no doubt it was time to get the boat ship-shape. A young lad appeared and took great pride in performing running dive-bombs into the river which must have been freezing ! One or two day-boats passed, but nothing like in high season.

We decided to head back but first stopping off at Wroxham to become tourists and buy some Chinese tat and postcards which were duly sent. The girls decided that lunch would be an extended version of breakfast only with more chocolate spread and crisps involved.

We were beginning to run out of time as there were exams the next day for the girls and a late night wouldn’t have been great. On departing Wroxham, my good friend Martin (of mechanical fame) messaged to say he had got to Salhouse Broad, towing a Miracle dinghy to try out. He wasn’t entirely sure how to rig it and certainly hadn’t sailed before so we agreed to meet up briefly for me to take a look. A few adjustments and changes of shackles later, the boat was rigged to sail and with Martin’s son, I went for a couple of tacks across the broad. It wasn’t easy as the small broad is surrounded by tall trees making the wind extremely fluky and unpredictable but it was enough to prove the boat could be sailed.

Sadly we didn’t have enough time to stay more than half an hour and left off just as the toll-collector came sauntering over the hill (A song by ‘The Automatic’ springs to mind). Hopefully Martin explained that we were only there for a few minutes.

The trip back was beautiful but uneventful, passing ‘The Pirates’ moored at Cockshoot Dyke and using the opportunity to blast my new horn. The SS Gimme Gimme Gimme (Southern Comfort) was also out for an afternoon cruise and then before we knew it, the weekend had come to a close.

A great start to the season.