Discussion on Tuesday evening had led to the decision to have a Fleet Dinner on board on Wednesday evening as we were within striking range of Horning. The Catering Team were to make for Horning, and its famous butcher’s shop, so as to purchase the necessary comestibles and then, weather permitting, continue on the Salhouse Broad.
We left Gay’s Staithe at 09:30 with the sun out and a gentle breeze this time from the North, even in the trees. Hoisted the jib at the staithe and raising the main when underway we were wafted gently along the cut away from Neatishead and out onto Barton Broad.
Again, practically no boats.
There were two of our companion boats in view and we only saw one other motor cruiser as we sailed up and down for half an hour enjoying some fine sailing in these excellent boats in the fresher breeze. This area of water, being wide and open, is an excellent location for teaching newcomers the art (and science) of sailing. Indeed it is believed that this was where Admiral Nelson learned to sail.
Then our companions set off back down the Ant towards Irstead village. As the river is narrow and tree lined, even though the wind is behind us, there is every likelihood that, had we followed immediately, we would all have ended up in a bunch blocking the river. So we took another turn round the broad first, circumnavigating the rebuilt island.
This used to be a favourite picnic spot a hundred years ago, but steadily eroded into a marshy lump. It was rebuilt as part of the extensive works carried out over the whole of this broad around the year 2000. No landing is permitted, as it is part of the nature reserve.
We were fortunate that the wind pushed us down through Irstead as the tide was flooding and there was a small but noticeable stream heading our progress. It would have been a very long quant otherwise.
Once into the open below the tree lined village area, progress quickened and, in the distance, we could see the advance guard approaching the bridge at Ludham. Making preparations for our landfall we put out the fenders and then scandalised the rig to reduce power. On landing we saw Wood Avens with their inexperienced crew being given a Master Class by Pete, he was showing them how to set up the rig properly. They then set off up the Ant towards How Hill.
We lowered the mast and quanted under the bridge, mooring on the West Bank just below the double bend in the river. There is a notice demanding a mooring fee to be paid at the Bridge stores, however on enquiry, that was waived as we were Hunter boats and only stopping for lunch at the “Dog”.
Pete then arrived and told us about the follow up to his Master Class. Apparently, when he cast off to quant under the bridge the crutches supporting his mast and boom fell into the water causing much amusement and some embarrassment. At the pub we found two new beers from a new micro- brewery at Acle, Tipples, both excellent At the end of lunch Danny had to leave us to head home, we were sad to lose his company.
We set sail, raising the jib only, and then turned down wind, hoisting the main sail as we went in the light airs. The others followed and we went in company down the river Ant turning right, upstream, when we met the Bure.
The wind, now from the west, but guided by the trees to follow the river’s path, was both on the nose and getting lighter. I had turned on my mobile phone so we would hear from the advance guard if there were a change of plan. It rang, and there was a crestfallen Catering Officer reporting that the wind had died where they were and they had stopped at Horning Ferry, well short of our ultimate target, and, more importantly, the butcher’s shop was closed on Wednesdays. On arrival at the Ferry Inn mooring we were greeted by a £5 mooring fee which could not be offset against any expenditure, and beer of indifferent quality.
After eating we walked down to the New Inn as Mike C and I had stopped there two years before and been welcomed. A welcome, and decent beer, awaited us there and we were assured of free moorings in future if we called in advance and booked.