A lovely, clear, bright morning greeted us. After a hearty breakfast we decided that, as the rivers were likely to be busy with motor cruisers because of the combination of holidays, and the strong wind was blowing we would not try the River Ant, as it is narrow in places, and we would also avoid the exposed eastern broads. So we decided to see if we could get to Salhouse Broad for lunch. As the wind was still from the North East we both set off under jib only from our mooring which gave us sufficient power to get out of the dyke without risk to anyone else and set off downwind towards Thurne mouth with Richard and Danny in the lead. When conditions allowed we raised the mainsail.
It was very busy with cruisers on the River Bure as we sailed upstream, but largely downwind, heading for Horning passing St Benet’s cross.
As we passed Ant Mouth we looked up the river from the cabin top and could see more than six cruisers on the move between here and Ludham Bridge, a recipe for problems had we attempted that route. On one occasion, looking along the stretch of river immediately visible, we could see ten cruisers on the move. We made our way steadily to Horning with the wind largely pushing us along. Here we wanted to pause for a few minutes so as to visit the delicatessen so as to purchase a Hornish Pasty for lunch. The deli makes half a dozen interesting pasties, all of which are very tasty. The problem was that the village staithe was fully occupied and we did not want to block the pub’s mooring as lunchtime was approaching. But, as there was no other choice we landed there anyway and found a very helpful person from the Swan who helped us tie up for our short shopping trip and was quite happy that we should moor there for a short while.
Just around the corner of the river Horning Sailing Club were finishing their Sunday morning race. A guard boat was stationed at the rear of the fleet holding back the motor cruisers as the racing proceeded towards its end. This kept the river largely clear for the tacking Yeomans but built up a big backlog that was flowing past as we prepared to set off for the last stage of our trip.
Richard and Danny had reached Salhouse before us and had moored up on the northern side of the Broad under the shelter of the trees. We sailed past thenm slowly and agreed that we would pick them up, with a Quant pole, so that we would only have one boat on a leeward mooring and, with two quant poles, should be able to get off OK. We sailed in a loop and, when about to tack back to pick them up being at the eastern end of the broad, came slowly to a sticky halt as the water became too shallow. Out with our quant pole and we managed to get ourselves free after a bit of pushing and shoving. Phew!
Now, with all abord, we had to find a suitable mooring spot. The eastern end of the key heading looked favourite, but it is ‘stern-on’ mooring here nad there was a cruiser moored fairly close to the end. Mike was on the helm and took a practice swoop close across the bows of the cruiser turning back into wind, but a bit fast this time. So round again and this time the speed was perfect. As he rounded up the boat came gently to a halt, the mud weight went over the bow and we drifted slowly back to our allotted space. The guy from the motor cruiser was, by now, on shore to take our mooring line. “I didn’t think you could miss us twice” he said, “most impressed”.
So we moored up safely and walked up the path to the road and along to the Fur and Feather, Woodfordes brewery pub. We sat outside in the sunshine and wind enjoying a pint or two at this very busy pub.
On returning to the boat we made tea and had lunch before quanting across to Wood Sorrel returning their crew.
As the wind seemed to have eased and the return route was very tree lined we took the time to shake out a reef before setting off after the others. As we tacked back toward Horning we were feeding boats through on each tack. One impatient boat decided not to wait his turn and accelerated so as to overtake another who was passing us. This left the river far too narrow for us as well and so he received a glancing blow on his port side as we took avoiding action. As the day was drawing on we decided to stop at the New Inn in Horning for the night. We sailed past but the frontage was almost rammed full with motor cruisers. However, the pub’s frontman, Gus with the earring, always tries to find a space for yachts like us and so guided us into the small dyke that it right in the pub garden.
So we were able to enjoy our first evening beer seated in the pub garden within a single stride of the boat.