It’s hard to believe our week is almost over.
Friday morning saw a windy day and Mike D commented that it was always worrying when the skippers morning conference was discussing how many reefs to put in the sails. Two was decided as the optimum. The destination did not need to be discussed as it is traditional that, on Friday, we go down the Thurne to Acle bridge and then back to Upton for lunch, more later. Pete and I decided that we would try to go below Acle bridge for a short distance if practical as the tide was favourable it being high water at Acle at 13:00.
After putting in the two reefs we still had the problem of getting off the lee shore, as the wind was still onshore, slightly west of north. Brian, Peter and Alec pulled up on the mud weight and then quanted two or three boats lengths into the wind, dropped the mud weight again and put up the sails. Then they had enough sea room to raise the mud weight and sail away.
Richard and Mike D attempted a pull up and quant, but with only one person to do both the mud weight and quant there was not enough time to get from the mud weight to the quant so he was blown back onto the two remaining moored boats. We were able to fend him off and give him a bit of a shove so he could get the quant going and make enough to windward to be able to set sail like the one before.
We decided to do without the quant and, pulling hard, use the mud weight to pull us forward and then allow the boat’s momentum to go as far as it could into the wind, then throw the mud weight forwards again. We repeated this twice to get our sea room. With the mud from the bottom of the broad caked onto the weight it was both unpleasant and very heavy making this very hard work.
As we set sail Hathor also set off from the other end of the staithe under double quant and raising sail. We both reached the entrance to Ranworth Dam at the same time. The skip of Hathor pulled over to the windward bank and dropped his sail, continuing under quant alone. While the sail was lowered his crew took in one reef, then they hoisted the sail again. He then sailed away from us as he was catching the breeze above the trees to supplement his quants as he went straight up the Dam. Meanwhile we had to tack in the lower and very fitful wind. It was very tricky getting up there as the wind flicked about and was light; with two reefs in the Hustler’s sail is small and flat making it very inefficient for this type of sailing.
Once were out of Ranworth Dam and onto the main Bure we were away and really appreciated having taken in the two reefs. Hustler 3 fairly sung along when on the reach, even with the small and flat sail. We turned at Windy Corner (Thurne Mouth) a great name today, and set off down the Thurne for Acle on a dead run. Just after the corner there is a measured quarter mile and we set the stopwatch. I was not expecting a great run as the wind was moderate as we crossed the start line. However, within a few moments it piped up and the water was covered with wavelets and the bow wave became very noisy as she tried to dig in with the pressure of the wind. A hairy ride with balancing being the main point at issue. We complete the quarter mile in 2 mins 08 secs. A record breaking 7.03 mph, 6.1 knots. This compares to the maximum hull speed of 6.3 knots showing that she must have been travelling at that maximum speed for most of the quarter mile.
Because of the length of time it took to get up Ranworth Dam, and the strong headwind coming north from Acle, we decided that the attempt to explore below Acle bridge was not on for this year. So when we met Pete coming north back from Acle at the bend just below the Northern Rivers Sailing Club race control we too turned to head for Upton. All was going well, even if somewhat stretched, until the boom clipped my sailing cap knocking it into the water. We then executed a ‘Cap overboard’ drill, returned down river and made a successful pickup as it reached the reeds lining the river.
Then we sailed into the entrance of Upton Dyke to moor for lunch. It is important to remember that this dyke has a small bar at its entrance, and it is relatively shallow, and so it is better to moor right on the end and be certain of getting away smoothly even at the expense of a longer walk. The walk takes you through Eastwood Whelpton’s yard, usually full of interesting boats. Watch out for a large broads style yacht with a huge brass tiller. She is gorgeous.
Then on to the White Horse pub in the village for a good and unusual pint and enormous fish and chips where we were joined by Chris for some reminiscing about the old days and to share a drink on behalf of his late father, Ralph.
Back to the boats and a long sail back to Hunter’s yard, beating all the way with the wind sustaining a good Force 5 all afternoon.
Just as were approaching Thurne dyke another Hunter’s boat, a Lullaby class, pulled out of the dyke, also heading for the yard. With her extra sail area we were evenly matched along the main river, but once we turned up the narrower stretch of Womack Water we were easily able to catch her.
In the evening we went to Smallburgh, not far from Wayford Bridge, to the recommended Crown Inn. Again excellent beer, with a guest beer and good food.