The day started still grey, but with an apparently very light wind. Then we remembered we were in Horning, sheltered by tall trees to the west and the sharp height rise behind the village fored the winds to rise anyway. A check with the treetops alerted us to the strong wind still blowing there that would catch us in the open. Decision made – three reefs. Over breakfast the sky lightened and the ducks turned up for thier feast.
Next decision was the plan for the day. The forecast was for strong wind all day, rising in the afternoon and with rain. Direction, staying in the south for the foreseeable future. So that ruled out a trip up to Barton Broad. It would be quick geting there, but very difficult getting back beating most of the way.
We considered Cockshoot Dyke, but he mooring there is not good for boats without power. The Ranworth, but the wind direction and strength would make for a tricky landing, especially if the moorings, which are stern on only, were busy. So we diecided to go to South Walsham where one of the mooring spots there would be sheltered and leave us not on a lee shore for Friday.
The distance is not great so it is a morning’s sail. The afternoon was to be spent walking to Ranworth to see how the Maltsters is getting on. It’s a while since we have been there as you do need some favourable weather to get in and out under sail alone. In that time there have been several changes of landlord, so time for a review.
So we packed away the awning and busied ourselves putting in the reefs. Richard & Mike D quanted across the river to the opposite bank as it was the windward one and they had to turn their boat round anyway. We decided to put in the reefs where we were and see if the wind co-operated when we ere ready. As we were busy knotting away a big cruiser called us from the river to ask how long we would be as he needed to land and pick a marine engineer up. We told him 10 to 15 minutes so he cruised up and down guarding his mooring spot as we worked away.
Just as we finished and were making the final preparations for departure the marine engineer arrived and two other cruisers tried to grab the empty space behind us left by Wood Sorrell. We hoisted the jib and fortunately the wind did cooperate so we were able to push off into the stream and run downwind toward the bug bend in the river hoisting our main on the way and avoiding the cruisers. We sailied on towards Salhouse Broad for a couple of hundred yards so as to allow the cruisers to resolve their differences and then turned back.
We made good, but slow progress through the village past an extraordinary metal sculpture of a heron until we came to the right hand bend in the river where we were caught in a nasty gust and blown onto a riverside house’s quay heading. Not too bad so far as we still had some way and were starting to turn out when one part of the mainsheet caught on a mooring cleat and the boat came to a sudden halt with its bow nudging into the bank and breaking off the head of our quant pole.
Now pinned to a lee bank we lowered the main and were able to push off under the jib and run back upstream to hoist our main as before. This time we approached the corner with a lot more water to spare and made it round OK.
Not more than another quarter mile and we emerged into the open to be reminded why we had put in three reefs! But we arrived at South Walsham on good order and moored as planned.
Once the boats were secure we set off on our walk and, whilst in the middle of a field on a path the heavens opened so quickly we were not able to get out our waterproof trousers that we had so carefully brought.
On through South Walsham, and its two churches in one churchyard, past the Ship and a right turn to Ranworth – walking now in brilliant sunshine.
The Maltsters was looking fine, with a new coat of paint and neat signwriting. The mooring was busy and we would have been pushed to find a space, let alone manoeuvre into it. We went in to find the old ‘ship’s prow’ bat had gone as the children’s play area it was defining had been cleared as well to be replaced by a pool table. At the other end of the bar was a welcome sight for four lads with damp trousers – a real fire. So we plonked ourselves down and steamed gently as we supped some good ale drawn from barrels behind the bar.
During our return Richard received a message from his wife that he had just been presented with a grandson, six weeks early. So with no more ado we retired to the Ship in South Walsham to wet the new baby’s head. The discussion turned to the pubs we had visited and the Maltsters was voted ‘most improved pub’.
On our return to the boats we cooked up a BBQ with the provisions purchased at Horning and remained on board for the evening. The sunset was worth seeing, it being the only one we had seen all week with the others lost behind cloud cover.