Captain’s Log 2008 – Monday

The wind was lighter this morning and, as we had to sail through trees to get down to Barton Broad and again to get through Irstead village, we set off with a full sail. We made it down to Barton OK and sped across a broad well under control. Again, our passage through Irstead village was quite quick with the wind still being from the East. Mike & I had decided that we would stop at How Hill House as we wished to find the Hitler Oak.

Hitler Oak

Hitler Oak

This tree had been presented to the sailor Christopher Boardman by Adolf Hitler at the Munich games in 1936 when he was skipper of the 6 m class entry that won the gold medal.We found it just behind How Hill house at the top of the path leading up from the mooring on the River. Six oaks were presented to British athletes at the games and this is one of the last two to survive.

How Hill House

How Hill House

How Hill Nature Reserve

How Hill Nature Reserve

Above left is How Hill House and on the right is the start of the nature trail that runs from the gate near the landing area.

Below is a panorama looking down the Ant towards Ludham taken from a bit below the House itself. Looks calm and peaceful, doesn’t it? Read on!

How Hill View

How Hill View

For Toad Cottage PictureJust next to the mooring for How Hill House, which is in the shelter of How Hill when the wind is Easterly, is a small cottage called Toad Cottage. It is just out of the panorama to the right.This was originally built for a Marshman in around 1800. It comprises one main room downstairs approximately 10 feet square with two small storage rooms about 6 feet long each leading off it. A small tight staircase leads up to the open plan bedrooms situated above. In the main ground floor room there is a wood burning stove. Apparently, the principal resident of this house brought up in nine children in this small dwelling.

We set off from How Hill heading downstream towards Ludham Bridge. The wind was fresher now with some quite strong gusts. We set off on port gybe and followed the river as it turned to the right. Just as we were about to gybe on to starboard we were unexpectedly hit by a strong gust that caused a Chinese gybe. This prevented the boat from changing direction and accelerated rapidly towards the soft muddy left bank. We came to a rapid halt with the bow well buried. The boat was held fast and we were unable to free it despite using all the wiles learnt over many years of minor incidents with soft banks. Fortunately, a Broads Authority workman was nearby and he contacted a colleague who said he could tow us off after his lunch break, this meant a wait of an hour and a half. Eventually, a touring ferryboat was able to tow us off shortly before the Broad Authority chap turned up. We then had to set off downwind under the jib alone knowing that we had to raise the full mainsail before we turned upwind. The windward bank was not sufficiently good for us to land to do this comfortably and so we had to time our hoist precisely as the river turned up wind. Round the corner into the wind, heave ho together and mde it! Good teamwork! We then sailed on to Ludham where the rest of the party were just returning from a liquid lunch. Ah Well!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_gybe

Mast down and quanted through the bridge, this time without incident. Then we needed to be on the left bank to hoist the sails as it was the windward one. As you pass through the bridge there is a boatyard on your left called Ludham Bridge Services, and then the river turns sharp left for 20 yards or so before we can get to the bank. This meant quanting directly into the fresh breeze, a tough job. But we made it OK and tied up in the only empty spot, where the Nancy Oldfield Trust’s boat is normally moored. We raised the mast and were putting in a reef on the mainsail when the Trust’s boat turned up wanting the mooring. The cox’n was quite happy to wait a few moments whilst we moved along the bank and we helped him moor up as he was single handed with a long boat. However, one passenger walked along to us and started having a go about us being on a reserved mooring. Some people do not understand the friendly give and take of the boating world.

With the wind still freshening, and wishing to avoid another bank contact we carefully inserted another reef and off down the last of the Ant to Ranworth. The mooring at Ranworth is stern on and, with the wind in this direction, downwind at 45 o blowing from the left over our port quarter as we approached. The boats who had arrived before us were moored on the right end, actually around the corner of the staithe and behind a motor cruiser. A tricky approach. We sailed into a position dead upwind of the corner of the staithe next to the motor boat and, without pausing, dropped and furled the mainsail and then turned downwind under the jib. As we came close to the landing spot we dropped the jib and turned upwind coming alongside Chris who was just in front of us. With help from others we slid the boat round the bow of the motor cruiser and into the berth, dropping the mud weight over the bow to hold us in position.

The staithe at Ranworth was repaired and rebuilt in 2006/7 and now offers an excellently kept mooring spot. There is water and – Arrgh! – electricity as well as garbage disposal. There is an information office and two shops, mainly catering for tourist bits and pieces and public toilets 50 yds from the mooring opposite the pub. The pub is the Maltsters and is a large pub serving good beer and a range of pub meals. Tim & Damian, on their first Broads trip, went up the hill to take in the view from the top of the church tower, a spectacular view and well worth the short walk and steep stairs and ladder climb.

Malthouse Panorama

Malthouse Panorama

To the extreme left of the picture you can see the right edge of Ranworth Broad. This large Broad is now a Nautre Conservation Area and no sailing is allowed. Next across, heading in line away from the camera, is Ranworth Dyke, the relatively narrow approach to Malthouse Broad from the main river. Malthouse Broad, the main sailing area, runs across the whole of the centre of the picture with the mooring area, pub & shop near the white boats on the right hand side.