Captain’s Log 2011 – Monday

Despite being in the pub garden the overnight was quiet but we were woken relatively early by an unthinking motor boat user running a noisy engine. Being in Horning village we were within easy stroll of the shops for supplies and a paper. Boats like ours were able to use the showers at Southgate’s yard next door, many thanks for that.

The morning was beautiful and clear with warm sunshine and wind in the tree tops. A walk up the hill behind the pub to the recreation ground at the top revealed a wind that was getting to be as fresh as the day before, despite appearances at river level.. As we were preparing to set off Buff Tip from the Hunter’s yard sailed past with three young lads on board.

The yacht Buff Tip under sail

Buff Tip under sail

Being a Bank Holiday there was a lot of traffic. It seemed that quite a lot of them were about early as they had to get back to their yards for handover time so we had hopes for things to quieten down later. We caught and passed Wood Sorrel. Then, half way up the next tree lined beat, we had to put in a quick, short tack to avoid an obstructive motor cruiser and so slowed right down. Unfortunately this was a point in the river where a couple of trees caused the wind to eddy and, despite there being a reasonable breeze, we found it very difficult to get going again sufficiently to make progress up wind. Wood Sorrel, with way on, just sailed right through us as we tacked back and forth trying to get that vital little lift. Then, just a little extra puff got us out of the place and off we set again.

We caught Buff Tip and spent a little while in their company as we took it in turns to pass each other. They pulled forward in the gusts and we did so when it was lighter in the trees. Eventually we sailed clear as the trees faded away near St Benet’s.

Wood Sorrel passing St. Benet's abbey moorings

Wood Sorrel passing St. Benet's abbey moorings

Heading for the Lion at Thurne for lunch there was more excitement. The wind picked up quickly and we were enveloped in overcanvassed Broads racing yachts screaming along at a vast rate with no quarter given.

Broads racing boat under full sail

Broads racing boat under full sail

For us, having been severely tested it was more friendly across Windy Corner at Thurne Mouth.

View of Thurne Mouth

Thurne Mouth, also known as Windy Corner

A long discussion about whether to carry on beating up to Potter Heigham in the exposed areas or to take the opportunity and hope for a traffic reduction and go for the River Ant. We decided to go for the latter as the wind showed little sign of easing yet, but the forecast indicated a drop later in the week.

We set off downwind with the two reefs and had to gybe on a bend in the wide river. To ease the strain on the boat we pulled the main in but, immediately the boat gybed, the wind increased and caught the sail. The sail would not run back out to its full extent so the boat was forced to broach despite two hands on the tiller, running up the soft bank. Suddenly all was quiet.

LESSON – do not attempt to ease a gybe in strong winds, just go for it, the boats are strongly built.

Fortunately Wood Sorel, who was a distance in front of us, spotted our predicament and came back. The boat was too firmly on the bank for we two to shift it back into the water on our ownwhen rigged so we dropped all the sails and tried to push her back into the water, but she was stuck fast. Danny explained to us that the long keel gets stuck in the soft bank and forms a suction making it impossible to lift or push back. The way to break the suction was to take the end of the gaff halyard and ease it so that it would reach the bank to the side of the boat. Then, tying off the other end, pull the halyard so as to cause the boat to rock. The intention here is to cause the keel to move sideways and open the soft bank allowing water to break the grip of the mud. Then we all got to the bow of the boat and, lifting and pushing at the same time, shifted the boat so it began to slide back towards the water. Once that first inch of movement had been achieved the rest was easy.

Back in the water we reset the rig to jib only. And set off downwind again stopping at the St Benet’s mooring for tea and cake – and to put in the third reef! The latest forecast was for a very windy night and, as the mooring at Ludham Bridge is exposed, the plan was changed and we went for South Walsham turning left off the Bure.

The South Walsham turn off the Bure

Turn left for South Walsham

Here the mooring is somewhat sheltered.

South Walsham main mooring

Sheltered mooring at South Walsham

We found a couple of berths at the main mooring. Shortly after arrival we received a visit from the proprietor of the ‘Kings Arms’ Chinese restaurant and take away in South Walsham. They operate a delivery service direct to the moorings and also a lift to the restaurant for boat owners.

However, we had already decided to eat on board. The early evening turned colder but, when we were walking home after a visit to the Ship, the temperature had risen and the wind eased. Good news as Mike D was much better and was coming to join us tomorrow.