Broads 1994

Lullaby - Broads 1994

  • Captain and Chief Cook - Mike Rowlands
  • Chief Engineer - Dave Rowlands
  • First Mate - Chris Rowlands
  • Cabin Boy - Andrew Roberts

Day 1 - 20/8/94

Place: Bank of the River Bure (near the Thurne Mouth)

The Rowlands family rolled up at 8.20 already 20 minutes behind schedule. This was one of the things their computer print out did not take into account when it claimed we would be there by mid-day. Another was the temptation the driver could not resist, to stop and eat a sausage burger the size of which would put a McDonald's to shame, and make a Big Mac look small. To work off the lorry drivers stomach he had just gained from consuming the afore mentioned item of food and thereby living up to his name, Dustbin did then clap and press-ups in the middle of the road. Next was a loo stop. Norfolk being Norfolk there are no hills and so the highest prominent landmark that one could alleviate ones bladder, behind was a road sign. And so with only the bottom 18 inches of his legs showing he proceeded to leave his mark.

Finding Hunters Yard was not a problem, and after the boat was fully laden with all our gear, Dave, Chris and I went to the shop to buy some postcards. 3 hours later after the shopkeeper had counted each card five times and then a sixth time because by then he had forgotten how many he counted. Next he realised that some were 12p each and some 20p. This meant a 7th count was now necessary. Eventually we made it back to the boat. A quick explanation by the man from the boat yard followed explaining some of the differences between this and last years boat "Wood Sorrel". We left the yard without remembering to ask what the clearance was on standby going under bridges. Still never mind. Stopped for lunch on the River Bure this consisted of new potatoes and stew (very nice). Then quanted for about an hour and a half up river, and arrived at our present mooring spot. I look a picture of Chris rowing, unfortunately I did not have the camera handy when Chris lost both of the oars and had to paddle the boat back with his hands. Still the rest of the week will be full of moments like that.

Day 2 - 21/8/94

Place: Same bank of R. Bure, but further up

I woke up at 7 o'clock to the not so distant ringing of Chris's hourly chime, which he had forgotten to turn off last night. After I had thanked Chris for waking me up an hour early, we set off on a full stomach of cereal and toast with a cup of tea to wash it down. About half way into the journey, just as we were getting used to waving the 'cheats' past in their motor boats, some idiot had to break the routine. Most of the time we would wave them in front of us and rely on the fact that they would wave them on front of us and rely on the fact that they would be scared witless when we were heading for them broadside, then they'd open up the throttle and engine out of harms way. Well this time the pilot lost his nerve ( he was in fact the first pilot over the age of eight we had seen all day) and eased off the throttle for a second too long. With much shouting and after some delay the message relayed itself to the driver that they weren't going to make the gap, so he slammed it into reverse, without checking the position of the boats which by this time were gathering around his stern. We were all aware of the impact but didn't realise its severity until we saw the offending boats bow sprit has notched up another casulity. With much frowing and examining of the hind quarters of the boat the motor crusier found the throttle and slunk off after loosing a poorly fought jousting match.

After the river had cleared again and the portions of debris had floated off forth the tide, we resumed our port tack. A few minutes later our rubber dingy was clearly seen bobbing up and down with out the usual child in tow. We ser a collision course and when it was about six inches away Chris stooped out of the water single handed. We informed the now dinghyless boat and a swift change over followed involving Dave throwing it onto the cabin top of the motor cruiser.

Despite going round a near right angle bend, soon afterwards we still needed to tack to move at all, and even then most of the motion was supplied by me, pushing us out of the reeds. After a very quick lunch stop which lasted no more than 20 seconds and during which we consumed some quiche and stick 'n'butter. We ghosted back down the river, having to adjust all the time to the constant wind shift. When we finally realised that we still had about 13/4 thumbs more to travel and we were only moving at 1 thumb an hour anyway. We stopped off at a pub just inside Horning. Along with another motor crusier, we both found a convenient mooring spot, unfortunately we both found the same spot. The pilot summoned us up, a bunch of incompetents sailing a boat less than half the size of his, but 10 time the weight. No he thought, I won't interfere with them so her motored off and found another space to moor. We has a small scrape with him as he grudgingly slammed it into reverse. Getting into our now vacant space proved equally as difficult. Despite perfect control by Chris the space was just too small. With a little untieing, pushing and shoving and the forgetting to retire we made ourself some room. The meal at the port was good: Roast turkey, veg and gravy. And was much enjoyed by all the crew. It was worth rowing across.

Day 3 - 22/8/94

Place: Malthouse Broad

Set off at just half past six, the two youngest members of the crew, the boss, and the chief helmsman both awoke late and got up whilst the boat was moving along. This early start was necessary so that the tide would aid us in our journey up the river. In fact, to get started was a higher priority than having breakfast. So as we entered the river ant we were all desperate to eat. The skipper thought that our aped was a bit excessive so as we went about and glided found the corner into the Ant, we dropped the peak, thus spilling all the wind and slowing the boat down. This manoeuvre would have been perfect if we has wanted to moor to the left hand bank, unfortunately there was already another boat there. So with no wind in the sails we drifted aimlessly up the river. To keep the speed up, the skipper thought it necessary to poke about with the quant, The quant went in deeper than the skipper has allowed and, with the tide blowing the boat over the quant, the chief helmsman helpfully commented "Dad are you loosing the quantpole?", and the words "Bloody am" were clearly audible above the laugh of the crew. The nimble actions of the chief engineer saved the day. He leaped across the boat and just hauled out the quant. In the process he lost his grip on the pole and it floated away. It wasn't much of a problem to wait until the tide brought it closer, and then lean out and catch hold of it.

After that it was a pleasant enough trip down the river to our eighth decision about where to moor. It seemed wherever we decided , as we got close to it we saw another space. We changed out plans here as the skipper decided that it would be pointless going up the Ant for no reason, so by lunch the new timetable said we'd be on South Walsham broad. Which we were, thanks to a sudden gust of wind, that made us stop towing, rowing and quanting, and start sailing. In fact by the time we reached the broad it was blowing a merry breeze.

We took the opportunity to sail Lullaby around the Broad. The skipper had somehow got it into his head, that this would be an ideal time to practice the man over board drill. But I realised what he was going to do, as I did last year. The chief helmsman and engineer managed to persuade him that the water was cold and he'd probably die of pnemonia before we would get to him. So we substituted the skipper for a rolled up life jacket and threw it over board. On Chris first four goes he missed it completely, it was just as well the skipper didn't jump in, because in the end he would have been in the water for about half an hour.

Next we dropped the mud weight and had lunch it consisted of pitta bread with ham and cheese. Unfortunately we assigned the apparently simple task of opening the tin of ham to Chris. Whose scars will demonstrate how inept he is at handling anything sharp. After Chris had cut the tin to shreds and failed to remove any ham, he passed the shreds of metal and the ham back to the skipper who promptly cut two of his fingers off. After they had been stuck back on, and banaged up, the skipper rowed off to collect supplies, to leave the rest of the crew to wash, dry and put away all the dirties. We finished quite quickly so by the time the skipper had started to row back we had set sail and lifted the mud weight and we picked him up on the move, to save time. We literally flew up the dyke and then along the river, making very fast time. Overtaking motorboats all the way to Malthouse broad, sailed around for a bit and then stopped for tea. This was con carni as the skipper omitted to pack the chilli. Still it was very nice. And I think it was spicy enough. A miracle also happened I actually finished first, before Dave and Chris. And I had seconds.

Day 4 - 23/8/94

Place: Stracey Arms

Towed Lullaby around Malthouse broad. After Chris requested that he could try and pull it closer to the bank. It worked and we found ourselves 40ft closer. Afterwards we realised that the true purpose of us moving nearer was so that the skipper had less distance to row to the shops! After they had written a list of what we needed in the back of his log, he rowed the now shorter distance to the shops.

David tool the helm to start with, tacking back up the dyke turning left and accelerated town the Bure for a few minutes. I took the helm from him then and continued all the way down the R. Bure until we got to Acle bridge. By this time we were all pretty hungry as our lunch on the move didn't suffice to cease our hunger, so the ships biscuits were broken open again. They've lasted longer than last year, perhaps its because you break your teeth each time you take a bite. Going through Acle bridge was completely uneventful. Pushing off on the other side of the bridge was a dodgy operation, luckily we didn't have a repeat of what we had seen a boy in a motor cruiser so two minutes before he seemed not to realise that the boat was four feet away, he took a step forward and went thigh deep in water. He didn't react he carried on walking. Another step took back onto the bank. We continued on down the Bure with a strong wind that took us there extremely quickly. I had a good chance to sail and, for the first time, I had a chance to tack in a fairly high wind, which made a change, as the boat actually goes about.

We moored at the Stacey Arms at about four o'clock, and we all walked up to the shops, Dave bought some sunglasses and I bought a bar of chocolate. The meal at the pub was very good my 8oz sirloin steak was very nice, and I finished it easily and even has some room for some chocolate fudge cake, whereas Chris didn't like the look liver from his huge mixed grill, and many an argument has resulted from that since then. A band was there who were called "Beano", they were actually quite good. Whilst we were in there Dave was always saying "I'll do an impression of them when we get outside." So by the time we did get outside he had a huge long list to perform. As we were walking along the tow path back to the boat, some girls shone a torch on us. This meant war - so we got our fleet (?!) of Maglites and blinded them. This started a whole chain of events ending in everyone on our boat wearing sunglasses. As we later found out, they were Holly and Sally from the "Fair Entrepreneur 40". Tragically we had an early start the following morning, so we made our excuses and hit the sack, hoping they would still be moored there in the morning.

Day 5 - 24/8/94

Place: Horsey Mere Broad

We all woke up early this morning. Most of us becuase we knew what a huge journey we had ahead of us. But Chris got up early in case the girls were still there. They weren't so we ate a quiet breakfast and Chirs sulked and mourned the lss. Our journey to Acle was very fast, and Chis cheered up at the prospect of catching FE40. He even took the racing line on every bend to try and increase the chance of meeting them again.

Quanting through Acle was completely incident free as well and we made good time right up to Womack Water where we stopped for lunch and a shower. It was nice to have running water without having a tank to conserve. As we didn't let Chris undo the tin we had corned beef sandwiches without shards of metal in them. We set off again after words of encouragement from Chris. After checking of course that the boat can go under Potter Heigham (which it can). He also gave us advice to put a reef in "becaaarrrrs, its gooooing to bee a birrrt blewwwwy arrrrn the Horrrrrsy Braaaaaard". We waved goodbye to Ludham sailing base, personal hygene and decent sanitation, and went on our merry way.

Sailing up to Potter Heigham was uneventful as well, at the bridge itself we had to double park as ignorant motorcruisers had parked in the "yachts only" space, intended for the lowering of masts... They grudgingly allowed us, as we scrambled aboard. Going through the bridge wasn't much of a problem and we were careful to remember that there was a second bridge to get through before raising the mast again!

When we got to Horsey Mere we sailed round, which gave us a good opportunity to take photos of the boat in action. Several showts were taken with an assortment of lenses and cameras. We had curry for tea, and it was very tasty. I finished second, trying hard to keep up with the turbo eating of the rowlands boys...

We talked into the night, about, amongst other things, walkmans and other items of audio equipment.

Day 6 - 25/8/94

Place: Hickling Broad

Woke up at the usual time. And we had quite a usual breakfast. It was only until the skipper went ashore for supplies that strange things started to happen. Dave went to the loo, to evade the eagle eye of the washing up rota, and in the process managed to block it. - don't ask what he's been eating... As soon as the dinghy got back with the skipper and the supplies, Dave and CHris rowed to the staithe, after being issued with several 10p pieces and the phone number of the yard - to call up and ask for assitance. Unfortunately the phone box was a good 10 minutes walk from the Staithe and Dave wasn't wearing shoes... a top,.... or a T-shirt. Only Shorts in fact. Apparently the best place to walk, is along the white line, which i suppose would be the smoothest. After Dave had arranged that a man would come out and fix it, Chris ran back to the boat and rowed to tell us. In the 40 minutes that had gone by since they had left, we had washed up, cleaned the decks, windows and cockpit. Chris said that the man was on the way and that we would have to take Lullaby to the staithe so that he could get aboard to work on the bog.

Chris decided that the best way would be to tow us there. This made life easier, as we didn't have to ruin a neat stowage of the sail. It turned out to be dodgy that came to our rescue, and within an hour it was fixed and working. The problem lay in the fact that the pump was jammed solid. Now whether this was becuase reeds had been sucked in from outside, or whether it was (as Dodgy suggested) it was the Shredded wheat Dave has been eating for breakfast, is anyones guess. Either way the pump was replace with a new one and everything was hunky dory. Except that a man came round collecting pounds for a mooring ticket, thinking that we had stayed the night. The excitement was getting too much so I rowed off to the public convenience. On the way, i was accosted by some bloke who was trying to catch a duck that had some fishing tackle stuck in its mouth. I chased it around in the rowing boat for 20 minutes trying to catch the thing, but with no luck as it ended up flying off. So it was half an hour before i made it to the loos!

When i got back to the boat, we set off with our new loo pump and prepared for the long quant up the dyke. At this point as momentum was too precious to give away, we hoisted sail on the move, so as not to loose what little speed we had. Once we got to Hickling Borad, Chris insisted upon checking whether FE40 was moored there. But she wasn't, so with nothing to else much to do, we sailed around, and i had a small sailing lesson. Quite a wind was brewing so we sailed round for a bit trying to make the most of it. Dustbin was in need of some grub, so we dropped the mud weight, opened the only remaining tin of corned beef, and made some sandwiches. After this we set sail again, this time with the weather giving us a little more wind. Infact it looked like the mother of all storms was just about us to hit us. Daves bet still stood, that he would make it the whole day without putting on another item of clothing. Unfortunately for him, when the bet was made, he was only wearing boxers and some shorts. Meanwhile everyone else was readying waterproofs. Even his goose bumps had goose-bumps and they were trying to do exercises to keep warm.

Infact in the height of the storm, the boat must've heeled over a bit too much, becuase the mudweight, which stowed on the foredeck - was now dragging in the water, and probably had been for the last 20 minutes. For the sake of the boat, its lucky it was.. least we had something slowing us down! And the days first major incident was just round the corner.

When sailing those on Port tack give way to those on Starboard. And so a general unwritten sub-rule is is that the boat who is on Starboard takc yells out which way he'd like the other to go - if he is in any doubt they will get out of the way. Well on this occasion a yacht coming the other way, was right on collision course. Bearing in mind this was on broad, we expected him to head away to either direction away from us. But he didn't. At the last minute he yelled out "STARBOARD". Dave immediately obliged (although if he had chosen to play chicken, i feel confident we'd have got away with just scratches, and he'd be needing divers, cranes and a dry dock for a while...) Our skipper, who had gained an immediate dislike to him and so as we were passing he yelled "Don't you know your Port from your starboard" - which probably was the case. The surprising thing was that he looked like an old sea salt, the type born in a crows nest in a force 9 'breeze'.

The strorm cleared remarkably quickly and we drifted to our present mooring spot with the aid of the quant pole, when a bit more power was needed. Dave, the Chief Quantaneer and muscle flexer nearly lost our extra power when he was waving it about to see how deep the water was - luckily he escaped dry!

We rowed over to the pub on the opposite bank and enjoyed a good plate of scampi and chips and and enjoyed a sing song with the worst singer in the norfolk. He was there last year, and had a similar routine then. Although it was quite amusing, Dave, Chris and I decided to row back and pick up the skipper later. We killed some time and mozzies, by chatting about walkmans and setting fire to the boat. Well nearly.

Day 7 - 26/8/94

Place: Womack Water

This morning we got up late. Chris was in no hurry to move anywhere, and I always have my log to write, so we just lay there. Chris had read one page of his book, but couldn't be bothered to turn the page so he just pushed the book to one side, and went back to sleep. In the end we were in bed for the whole time the skipper preapared breakfast, ate his, rowed to the shops, did some shopping and came back. He wasn't best pleased, but we moved the necessary limbs, and soon all but Chris was bright and cheerful. In fact all that morning Chris wasn't too lively. Once we had washed an breakfasted, and Dave had told us that he didn't have any world records in his sights, and he had THREE items of clothing on - we hoisted sail. I leared a bit more about the movements of the mainsail. Remembering that when you move the tiller towards you, you pull in the sheets. And also learned how to avoid colliding with a 200 ft steel barge. We decided now, htat although the wind was against us, we had the tide in our favour, so it would be worth trying to sail up the dike. We stoppped for lunch about 100 yards from the end, before it joins the River Thurne.

Dave decided that it was his turn to jump ashore with the stern warp. Chris wanted to operate the Peak, and then topping lift, which left me helming. I made a bit of a hash-up of it, even though i followed the instruction of the skipper to the letter. Dave had jumped ashore, but chris was delayed on the Peak. This meant the boat was moving quite smartly and Dave was chasing along the bank trying to stop us. In the end he fell down a hole for all his efforts. Lullaby stopped about 10 inches away from a motor cruiser also moored up. The skipper and the helmsman walked up the river to see what wind we would have, whilst Dave and I picked black berries. At about 4.30 after talking an writing a bit more of my logbook, we set off along the river. To enable the bow to clear the boat in front I gave a giant push, and took a step forward neatly landing in a hidden hole. To maintain my balance I took one more step forward, finding myself up to my knee in water. Despite the fact we were now in mid-stream, I clung on, and managed to swing my way back on deck. By the time we reached Martham Boatyard, I was dry and we were due for another incident.

When you reach the yard, the river narrows by about 30feet, and as we were tacking it proved quite a problem. So whilst on the move we lowered the sail, and Dave started quanting the mile and a half to Potter Heiham. We lowered the mast when we were about 100 yards awa and quanted through the double bridges with no worries at all. On the other side we witnessed a strange incident. It was between "Crestanova" and a small motor powered day boat. It started with the decrepid hiree of the day boat deciding the pace was a bit too slow, so he crept by on the outside The old fool must've completely mis-judged it, because he found soon found himself plastered across the bows of Crestanova. The boat slewed round at 90degrees and headed straight for the bank, where a large motorboat full of lads was moored. A fast banked corrective turn, done at full speed, during which he nearly lost his passenger overboard, brought the boat round and through the bridge. All this was caught on tow camcorders, by people standing on the bridge. After we had all calmed down we hoisted the sail and successfully completed the longest "shoot" of Potter, ever!