Friday, 3 June 2016

Norfolk Broads cruise, 1-3 June

Camouflaged Drascombe on the River Ant
I wasn't planning a trip on The Broads, rather looking to launching somewhere on the East Coast.  However, when F8 features in the inshore waters forecast, it's best to take note.  The rushes and reeds of the Broads do a good job at filtering the excesses of the wind, although one still has to be careful.  For some time, I'd wanted to do some cruising on the Broads, specifically with the intention of scouting some potential alternative locations for a rally.  This mini-cruise began and ended with the familiar - Hickling Broad - and had the unfamiliar thrown in between - the River Ant, Barton Broad and Stalham.  Although I'd been to all of these places before, it wasn't in a Drascombe and I hadn't been planning.  I think there is potential for a rally based at Stalham, perhaps for 2017.  Barton Broad is too enticing, and there are plenty of nice pubs around!

Total track: 32.5nm
Wednesday 1st June - Hickling Broad to the River Ant
Crooked slipway at Whispering Reeds boatyard, Hickling
Launching at Whispering Reeds, with its crooked but manageable slipway, winds were northerly, gusting F7 so I motored round to Potter Heigham for the first of two 'mast down' pit stops.
Mast down for Potter Heigham bridge
The River Ant is a charming stretch, but it isn't wide and has plenty of bends; couple that with a marked increase in holiday traffic once past the bridge at Potter Heigham, and it is clear that the Ant isn't an ideal sailing river for Drascombes.  That having been said, as stated below, on the return trip, I sailed almost its entire length from Stalham using the Northerly breeze with jib and mizzen.

Most of the official mooring places were full, but Drascombes can fit into places other boats cannot.  Today's stop was tailor made for Daisy II with some handy trees as mooring posts.
Countryside mooring on the River Ant
Day 1, Hickling to the River Ant, 9.9nm
Thursday 2nd June: continuing along the River Ant to Stalham; return to Horsey Mere
Following a lazy start, due mainly to being kept alert by hefty overnight gusts, I continued to motor up the River Ant, through Barton Broad and on to Stalham.  I stopped here once before in mother's river boat.  It hasn't changed at all!

Mooring at Stalham
A growing gaggle...
Steam boat alongside Stalham's Broads Museum
After elevenses at Stalham, I had the opportunity to use the northerly breeze and set jib and mizzen making a return passage as far as Ludham where masts have to be lowered.  I then motored on to Potter Heigham and then on to Horsey Mere where coaster Marie Ellen was unexpectedly sailing - we both stopped at the wind pump at Horsey Mere for the night.
An unexpected but welcome rendezvous with coaster Marie Ellen on Horsey Mere 
Overnight mooring at Horsey Mill
It's always disconcerting to find the water level higher than the surrounding land.

The coast is a pleasant mile's walk from the moorings at Horsey Mere, all the more so for the excellent pub on the way back selling a fine selection of ale.
A short walk to the sea for the impressive, man-made sea defences.  This is taken from the landward side.  I understand the last time these defences were breached was during the great floods of 1953.
The other side of the dunes - the photo doesn't do it justice, but the winds were strong and it was bitterly cold for a June evening.
Day 2, River Ant to Stalham, return to Horsey Mere: 19.2nm
Friday 3rd June: return to Hickling
I planned to return home promptly so, having risen at 5am, I motor sailed back to base.
Day 3, Horsey Mere to Hickling: 3.4nm

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