Captain’s Log 2009 – Tuesday

We all noticed dawn today. Several loud mouthed geese seemed to be having a very active and noisy dispute over territory just after first light. It was not just a quick spat, as these things frequently are, but a full scale battle for several minutes with loads of flapping and sqwaking.

Hickling Chris V Smiling

Hickling Chris V Smiling

The skippers’ meeting discussed the options for the day based on an almost non existent wind. A lunchtime visit to Somerton had been mooted, but with the wind so light and the direction later in the day in much doubt that was discarded in favour of a hop to Horsey and probably an overnight stay there.

Quiet morning on Hicklig Broad

Quiet morning on Hicklig Broad

Hickling broad was almost mirror like as we set off. Being the last away we had the pleasure of a beautiful view of the others as they slowly drifted/ tacked up the channel in the almost breathless draft. Once underway there was just enough to keep us moving, but you had to watch for the shifts or you could easily get headed and stop; then it would be difficult to get started again. We overtook Wood Sorrell on the last stretch of the broad and followed some distance behind the others round the south cardinal post and into Meadow Dyke as the wind picked up a bit.

Meadow Dyke - Hustler waiting for a lift

Meadow Dyke - Hustler waiting for a lift

This is the narrowest river we pass along. Not much wider than the boat is long in places, so a head wind is certainly not what you want. Although the dyke meanders its general direction is north east. As the wind had some east in it we were on a close fetch for the initial stretch until the dyke turned right. As we pulled out the quant pole to help us up this stretch we saw the three boats from the advance guard moored up at the side making a brew.

Our assessment was that there was sufficient east in the wind to get us up to Horsey Mere without too many problems so we sailed on. The judgement was spot on. After the stretch past our companions we only needed to quant occasionally, basically in lieu of a tack onto port where the river was too narrow for that.

Then onto an almost deserted Horsey Mere for a great free sail and a check of the wild life on the small ‘island’. Then, as we saw the others approaching the head of Meadow Dyke and lunchtime was calling, we sailed into the mill dyke and moored up. One or two other boats were running a bit low on supplies and went to the small shop run by the Trust near the mill. There and enterprising man saw them looking round and seeming disappointed, asked what they wanted. He then arranged for the goods to be collected and brought to the shop later that afternoon. Also he was full of information about the local items of interest for visitors such as the new thatch on the church and the 70 seals on the sea shore.

Horsey Nelson Head in the Sun

Horsey Nelson Head in the Sun

Off over the fields to the Nelson Head for an excellent pint or two of Woodforde’s Nelson’s Revenge and a sit outside in the sunshine.

Horsey Seal Snout at Sea

Horsey Seal Snout at Sea

Having made a very late ‘lunchtime’ arrival with the morning’s light winds it was decided that we would also spend the evening here. Some made the walk down to the sea to view the seal colony. On arrival, having passed over the gap in the sea defence sand dune they were initially disappointed to see only a few seals’ heads bobbing about in the swell.

Horsey Alec by a Groyne

Horsey Alec by a Groyne

But a short walk down the beach past some hefty groynes…

Horsey, Seal pup on the sand

Horsey, Seal pup on the sand

…revealed the seal colony resting up on the shore. Big seals up to 10 feet in length and some seal calves born this season, over 60 in all, were basking in the sun.

Horsey, Black Seal

Horsey, Black Seal

They were happy to be approached, only showing signs of nervousness when approached closer than 6 feet or so.

Others returned to the boats some to go fauna watching as Horsey mere is well known for rich bird life, some to postcard writing and some to use the excellent shower facilities. Several of us visited the parish church and its new thatch. A magnificent job on a very old and very interesting church.

Horsey, Chris V & Dave

Horsey, Chris V & Dave

After a relax in the late afternoon sun we retuned to the Nelson Head and had a great evening meal prepared by Babs and her helpers.

But how the life of this pub has changed. In the old days the pub would close its door at official closing time and operate a lock-in until very late. Now, with the drink driving laws, all local trade has finished by 9pm and the pub normally closes shortly thereafter. Early doors for us.

Another magnificent, star studded, night sky on our walk home.

To see maps of this year’s voyage visit the Maps category.