The wind was the same strength and direction in the morning, that is fairly brisk and blowing towards the mooring, so a bit of planning needed to get off successfully. Having prepared the boat for sailing there are then two options.
They both start by quanting away from the mooring into the broad. In the first (safer) method you then drop the mud weight again and hoist sails before setting off. In the second, as the wind was at 45 and not straight onto the staithe, if you could get some clear water to port and downwind, then you can raise the jib as you go and use that to help you sail into a more open bit of water where you can hoist the main rapidly. However, you do need to be certain about having the space to perform both manoeuvres and the crew coordination to ensure the mainsail goes up, otherwise it can all go horribly wrong.
Last away again we managed the more difficult method and set off after the others who were tacking up the cut. This is always tricky as the wind is fitful amongst the trees, although nowhere near as bad as it was before some tree felling was undertaken some time ago. We were pleased with our progress here as over that relatively short distance, we overtook two of our colleagues and were within a bowsprit’s length of a third. Then, having turned right onto the open river, we caught and passed the other boats. Hustler 2 was really going well.
On past St Benet’s Abbey, Windy Corner and the Lion at Thurne and we peeled off into the yard at Womack to see Graham for the jibboom repair. We had called ahead so that Graham knew we were coming in. The broken piece was replaced and the cooker controls gently greased as they were sticking, and we were on our way again, now at the back of the fleet once more.
Tacking up to Potter Bridge through the bungalows is always a challenge as the wind is fluky and the width of the river varies constantly with moored craft. The skill here is to make the maximum use of the river’s width and take advantage of every favourable puff to get up to windward. The problems are trying not to get stuck on a leeward bank when sneaking that last yard or two and then getting a puff that prevents you tacking away and keeping a safe distance from the bank and moored boats. Lots of thirst-making concentration required.
Arriving at Potter we were greeted by news both good and bad. The good news was that Tim & Damian had already taken their boat through and walked back with a quant pole to help us through against the wind, the bad news was that there was no drinkable beer in the bar adjacent to the bridge.
So, a quant through the bridge followed by a quick dash to the shops and a sandwich on the bank and off we set for Hickling Broad. Now that we are above the little bridge at Potter Higham there are virtually no large boats at all. A few dayboats chug up and down the river, but otherwise sailing is undisturbed.
Once on the Broad, the wind enabled us to reach up and down the entire length with the bows cutting crisply through the water in the bright sunshine and making a wonderful noise.
The wind was directly into the Staithe and so another “lowering sail on the move” activity was required. So again we drifted into the Staithe with the jib alone lowering that and turning hard into the wind to come to a gentle halt against the Northern bank. Tea and yummy Eileen’s homemade fruitcake was called for.
Meanwhile, Tim had been reading the paper he bought in Potter Higham and came running over with a report for us to read. A person who was said to be running a pub on the Norfolk Broads had been arrested in connection with a murder committed in 1980s. Although no name was given, the photo was unmistakably that of the head honcho at the Lion at Thurne.
We went into the Pleasure Boat for a couple of drinks and then set off for the walk down to the Greyhound in the village where we had booked our evening meal. Tim and Damian ate in the bar as Liverpool were playing Chelsea in the first round of the semi-final of the Champions League. Apparently the evening was ruined for them by a last-minute own goal by a Liverpool defender; the rest of us enjoyed a great meal.