The day brought another cold dawn, not quite as severe as the previous day, but cold enough for a light frost. Overnight the wind had fallen calm leading to a low lying fog The wind had veered so the initial part of our continued journey down the Ant was a very close fetch rather than a beat making for an easier start. Towards the end of the Ant the wind got light and tricky and,as the river is very narrow there, we held up a couple of motor cruisers for a few moments until we managed to get free of the end of the river. Then a left turn and the Bure is well wide enough for all manoeuvres.
Good progress towards Windy Corner past some workmen adding new wooden or rubber tops where the existing ones had rotted away, and then turned towards Acle. We noted that some works had been undertaken since last year on the corner. The rusty vertical piling had been cut out and the bank resculpted with a slope so as to reduce the wave echoes and it had a reinforcing close net cover to prevent it being washed away. Once the grass and reeds get hold it will look much more pleasant, a more fitting resting place for Peter. Down the main Bure towards Acle we were beating along and the measured ¼ mile took 6m 38s, a speed of 2.26 mph, 1.96 knots.
At the point was a floating crane as part of the dredging works. The dredging was being done lower down, by the last turn before Acle, and here the crane was moving the sludge onto the bank.
As we approached Acle the wind was dying and there were a couple of dozen swans on the river, most unusual to see such a large gathering all together.
As we tacked across the river towards them they swam forwards until we got an extra puff and made more ground splitting the pack, then they all flapped together and what a sight as a dozen or so all took off at once.
Then the wind seemed to by dying right off so we turned back for Upton Dyke sailing close to a balanced lugsail dayboat.
It picked up a bit and we got there just as the others were secured and came in to lie alongside Wood Sorrel. Having secured ourselves to the bank we all set off for the White Horse in the village. It was noticeable that the number of boats in the dyke had reduced. It used to be jammed full, now around half of the moorings were empty. The yard was busy, though, with the smarter yachts gleaming in the sun having been prepared for the season’s sailing.
Two surprises awaited us at Upton. For the first Chris had turned up guessing that we would be there. The second was the news that the White Horse was threatened with closure. Ray Norman, the licensee, wanted to retire after 40 years, and no buyer had been found. There was a local movement being formed to see if it was viable to purchase the pub from the current owners and run it as a a local enterprise. We await developments. As for the pub itself, it s fabric had not changed, but there were a couple of young barmen working there who were very friendly and cheery. Beers included ‘Sharpie’ from the local Humpty Dumpty brewery and several well known ones. The fish and chips was legendary as usual. It’s not quite certain wheter Richard is trying to cope with the size of the fish & chips or the amount of beer still to be drunk.
When we returned to the boats the wind had changed so that we were now on a leeward bank. Brian and Alec, having the benefit of an engine, set sail and cast off with a push to windward driving upwind for a short distance before cutting he engine and turning downwind. We fed our selves backwards round the corner until we were only about 20 degrees off the wind and hoisted the jib and prepared the main. We then waited until the wind veered a bit so minimising the onshore angle and pushed off turning immediately downwind and scooting out to the middle of the river. Once there we hoisted the mainsail on the run. Richard and Mike, meanwhile, quanted across the dyke to the windward bank and hoisted as normal. The wind was delightfully fresh and we completed the measured ¼ mile in 2m 22s, 6.33 mph, 5.33 knots. So enjoyable was it that we went most of the way to potter Heigham before relucantly rurning back for the yard.
The wind was blowing practically straight up the main dyke towards the yard and Womack Water so we elected to turn in with the sail up and to scandalise on the run in. The topping lift was tightened and the gaff dropped reducing the power to somewhat less than half which allowed us to travel the distance without a gybe and also to arrive at a gentle speed and so make a perfectly smoot and controlled landfall. The sails were neatly furled and we drifted downwind in the dyke to our final mooring place returning Hustler 2 safely under Graham’s watchful eye.
After an invigorating shower and an unloading of the bulk of our stuff from the boat we prepared our beds for the night and set off for the delights of The Falgate and their St George’s day special event. They had tried really hard, and were rewarded with a good turnout. The restaurant (and the bar area) were full of diners and the ‘Chas and Dave’ style act was well received. At this time in the week we find a considerable amount of ‘springs running down’, and tonight was no exception, so relatively early to bed, once we had managed to extricate ourselves from the packed car park. A special report was that at 19:19 Brian reported that he was not hungry,even though he had not eaten since lunchtime and did not eat all of that. A First for the week.
Some accolades were dispensed after discussion. The ‘Pub of the year’ award went to the White Horse as Upton; although it was a close run thing with the Falgate’s improvements.
The ‘Most Closed Pub of the Year’ was awarded to the Lion at Somerton. Although it must be said that we heard it had been open later in the week.
And the ‘Pub with no Beer’ award went to the Dog at Ludham. The beer we had drunk was good, but the sight of all pumps being cleaned out at the same time was almost enough to make one cry.