The fleet’s Quarter Master and Catering Officer were off early to the butcher’s shop to purchase the supplies for the postponed fleet dinner. Half of the rear end of a cow, with the addition of vegetables followed by some slicing and sloshing of red wine with a generous mixing together and the marinade was ready for its day of maturing under sail.
We left the Ferry Inn in bright weather with a steady force 2 wind. We were headed for Ranworth Staithe, which is a relatively short sail away so we went upstream first. We passed the New Inn and reached the turn in the river by Horning Staithe, and the Swan Inn.
Round the corner the wind was on the nose, so we were about to turn around when we saw the impressive “Hathor”, the pleasure wherry, coming downstream and hoisting her sail with a clinking of the winch. “Hathor” is pronounced ”Heart – or” and is named after an Egyptian vessel.
So we dug out the camera and sailed up past her, turned and followed her downstream – what a magnificent sight she is. “Hathor” was built in 1905 for the Coleman’s family of mustard fame and is a full size wherry hull but fitted out with cabins and a saloon rather than holds for cargo.
She glides in stately fashion along the river pushed by the breeze blowing on her huge white sail.
We first followed and then overtook her. On enquiry from the skipper we discovered she was heading for the Ferry Inn and then onto Ranworth for the evening. Shortly after passing the “Swan”, the boat “Southern Comfort”, modeled on a Mississippi steamboat, pulled out from its mooring outside the pub and followed Hathor, a complete contrast between the traditional and the kitsch.
Further downstream, after we had left the wherry behind we were caught by the Bermudan rigged yacht “Fine Lady Anne ” She was able to catch us when we were surrounded by trees as she had a much taller mast- but when it became more open we were able to hold our own. We reached the run down Ranworth Dam, past the nature reserve of Ranworth Broad to Malthouse Broad more or less together and she kindly took an extra turn in the main river so we would have some room.
With the northerly wind behind us, we started to assess the mooring at the staithe and, more importantly the approach. Mooring at Ranworth is at the far (south) end of the broad and is “stern on” mooring. Today’s wind is blowing straight onto the mooring making the approach tricky. We decided to scandalise the mainsail and come up to stop head to wind in the broad about 3 boat’s lengths up wind of the mooring point. Then we dropped the mud weight over the bow to hold us while we lowered the sails. The wind was quite fresh by now so gathering in the sails was a bit tricky.
Having lowered away we then gently raised the mud weight allowing us to slide very slowly back on to the mooring spot. It was not quite as easy as it sounds because the boat was swinging on the weight in the breeze. so we had to be careful about when we lifted the weight. It was also very heavy as it got coated with a load of thick, sticky mud. Ugh!
The staithe itself has been refurbished with new piling, quay heading and pathways making a very pleasant and free mooring.
The day was warm if you were out of the direct wind, with plenty of sunshine. Pete, Bill, Mike and I went for a walk up the road to Ranworth church, called the “Cathedral of the Broads”. It is light and airy inside, with an ancient rood screen and a tall tower.
You can climb up to the top, but be warned. There are 89 uneven and narrow spiral steps to the bell level and then two step ladders and a narrow trap door to get to the roof.
Once there, on a bright and clear day like this, you can see clear to the horizon in all directions. We could also see Wood Avens exploring Malthouse Broad. Coming down the stairs is at least as much a challenge as going up, especially if, like me, you have a knapsack – not advised!
Then back down the hill for lunch at the Maltsters. A limited choice of real beer, and a bit on the chilled side as well. But very pleasant sitting outside the pub in the sunshine. Discussion over lunch showed a majority favouring staying here for the overnight stop (and fleet dinner) as the proposed alternative at South Walsham is very limited on facilities, water etc.
The fleet then split into two, those concerned with cooking and the others. The second party then took the two Hustlers out for a sail on the Bure. Brian came with Mike C and I. He was obviously enjoying himself and well in control despite the fresh breeze, so we both had a post-prandial nap in the sunshine as we sailed along.
Back on our mooring, we set up the appetizers and pre-dinner reception on Hustler 3 whilst the cooking was being completed on Wood Sorrel. Several cookers were pressed into service to generate the meal, hot water for warming plates and washing up water. Tables ferried onto Wood Sorrel seating two in the fore cabin, and seven in the main. An excellent meal with very tender and tasty meat was enjoyed by all, accompanied by a glass of wine.
At the end of the meal Mike D made a very amusing series of presentations for efforts or performances noted as being beyond the call of duty. In order to protect the guilty let’s say that it was enjoyed by all.
After clearing away, washing up and sorting out the crockery half the fleet retired exhausted and the few with any remaining stamina retired to the pub to round off the day.