The cloud cover remained complete but high, and the temperature was not warm. Because of the number of yachts still moored at the head of the staithe we left the bank with jib only and hoisted the mainsail underway when clear of the moored yachts.
The wind was still from the northwest, meaning that a reasonably easy journey up the narrow Meadow Dyke to Horsey Mere looked likely.
As Meadow Dyke can be difficult to sail if tacking is required and so quanting is needed, we have adopted the practice of leaving half our boats at the bottom of the dyke and doubling up with people and quants. This makes for a friendly ride and plenty of muscle if needed. Wellington boots are also advisable as, if a tow along the bank is deemed necessary, the towing person can often find that the bank can be marshy in places, and is even cut with small streams.
In Meadow Dyke we found the wind had edged a bit more to the north and so we needed to quant on one stretch, but the rest was skillfully sailed by Pete.
As we drifted gently along we were passed by a reed cutter’s boat loaded down with a set of reeds no doubt destined to thatch someone’s house.
Horsey Mere looks a wild place compared with the well-kept banks with bungalows, and relatively few motor craft come there. You can sail over almost the whole of the mere, there is one area of shallows marked with withies and posts to avoid. There is good mooring in the dyke at the eastern end leading up to the windmill. The entrance is not all that clear at first; sail towards the windmill and it will eventually appear.
Take care with your entrance as the dyke is quite narrow, but in good order. There is enough turning room for our yachts, but not for most motor cruisers.
Having moored, we walk over the fields to the Nelson’s Head, a pub with much history attached. It is well out in the country, but should not be missed.
On our return, after an excellent lunch and pints of Nelson’s Revenge from Woodfords, the local Norfolk brewer, our friend with his wonderful Norfolk accent was there to collect our mooring fees. He must have some sixth sense about when we will be there as he never misses us, and is happy to exchange some good banter.
Back to our boats and off down Meadow Dyke en route for the most easterly point of West(!) Somerton. Although it is only about 1½ miles by road, it is about four by river. The journey across the Mere and down the narrow Meadow Dyke was plain sailing and Richard managed to drop off the three passengers he was carrying back onto their own boat without stopping. Some careful planning and a bit of luck there!
We cast off from our temporary mooring and set off back down Candle Dyke turning left at the bottom to continue up the rest of the Thurne. The wind was in the north and slowly dropping. This part of the journey involved long and short tacks up past the boatyards and ‘ferry’ at Martham and turning the corner to cross Martham Broad. Only the channel across the broad is navigable, and the Hundred Stream is blocked off for passage and silted.
By now a mist was beginning to roll in from the sea, a “sea fret” as it is known in these parts. The mooring at West Somerton was deserted until we arrived, and very quiet as a result. After mooring and rigging for the night the sea fret closed in further limiting visibility to less than 100 yards. We joined Richard, Danny & Mike for a ‘warmer’ and shared a meal together before joining our colleagues at the Lion pub some 10 minutes walk away.
Returning home later that evening the mist had become a dense fog and it was more like November than April.