The forecast for the day was an initial south westerly, but gentle, wind but with the direction backing round to the south east or east during the afternoon. This is ideal conditions for getting up and down Meadow Dyke to Horsey Mere. Rain was forecast at 20% for the
morning and 70% in the afternoon. So we dressed in our wet weather gear again. With the light wind blowing across the dyke placing us on a lee shore and so directly down the Broad we hoisted the jib and quanted out of the dyke. Just enough breeze to move us gently forwards with steerage way and just enough angle to allow us to reach the open broad. Then we hoisted the main underway and set off after Wood Sorrell. Under light conditions like this the Hustle is the faster boat and so we wanted to catch and pass them before we got to Meadow Dyke or we would then be trying to get past them on the very narrow stretch of water.
We succeeded, as we reached them at the far end of Hickling and so got past and led the way up Meadow Dyke. Once on the Mere we went to the downwind side and tried sailing upwind without steering. As the boat has a natural weather helm she obliged, making distance to windward on the tacks but sailing across the wind between them; more a flat S shape than a classic zigzag. We then tried easing the main until she would hold a line across but toward the wind. It was a very delicate balance that needed constant adjustment as the wind varied.
Playtime over we headed for the dyke and sailed in, scadalising on the way and executing a tight turn to fit into the only mooring spot available. John, the bailiff, was there to collect his fees in less than five minutes. He informed us this was his 57th year of doing it.
And so to the Nelson Head for lunch. It was very busy, with a huge log fire to keep us more than warm. It seems that the seals on the sand nearby have helped the pub over the normally quiet winter months. Many of the traditional boating nick nacks seem to have disappeared over recent years rather spoiling some of the ambience of this unique pub. The menu was identical to that perused at the Pleasure Boat as the Nelson Head is now owned by the same person but is under management. Five good beers were available.
When it was time to cast off we found we were on a windward shore but with the wind a right angles. On the opposite bank, just behind us, were four Eastwood Whelpton yachts on the leeward bank. Ahead the windward bank had several cruisers making for a tight exit. As we started to hoist sail we became aware that we had attracted an audience from the yachts opposite. Like the morning we hoisted jib only and pulled the boat a bit forwards to give some steerage way. We were then just able to glide out along the dyke without quanting to a round of applause. Reaching the Mere we ran downwind a bit and then rounded up to hoist the main. We noted that four or five of the sailors had come to watch us and gave us a cheery wave on our way.
The wind had moved well into the east and was holding so we had a clear sail down Meadow Dyke and along to Potter Heigham. As we sailed on we looked up to see the ice crystal ‘rainbow’ around the sun heralding a change in the weather. Mast down, through the bridges and on to Acle. We had checked the weather forecast and the following day was due to blow strongly in the afternoon with a good chance of rain, making sailing then look almost impossible, so we wanted to be able to get to Horning and the shelter of some trees. The temperature was noticeably dropping, but it stayed dry despite the morning’s forecast.
The approach to the mooring at Acle was interesting as the current was strongly downstream so we had a little rehearsal in mid stream before making our final approach. This worked well as we took off the power a lot earlier than normal and so managed to get down to a very slow pace as we reached the mooring point. Once moored the current then swung us across the stream meaning the sail furling was more difficult that we would have wished. Safely moored the tent went up and cooking began as the rain started. It then rained for about 15 hours, some of which was passed in the Acle Bridge Hotel very pleasantly.