There were conflicting weather forecasts so we made the decision to do it anyway. The Snowflake Sailing Club Tri-Icicle race from Horning down to Acle, then up the Thurne, was taking place on Sunday and having enjoyed watching last year, we decided we would find a quiet spot to watch and maybe get a few photos.
After pottering around for a while on Sunday we set off around 11.00 am to find the quiet spot! Not much luck with the ‘wild’ moorings, with the bank work going on and the public moorings were mostly full. As we came towards Ranworth entrance, we saw sails in the distance so decided to drop into a small bay at the river side and drop two mudweights to hold us steady.
One large mudweight went over the stern but as the skipper went up forward to drop the other one, the boat started to turn in the wind and tide. Dropped the bow mudweight but with both down, the boat was still moving at quite a rate of knots! The mudweights were obviously not holding!
The skipper decided to abort the plan, as by this time the river was getting very crowded – not with the yachts which were still quite a way away, but with hire motor boats, obviously totally puzzled by what we were trying to do. One or two asked if we were ok (thanks Craig!) but all in all, it was a bit embarrassing! To make it even more embarrassing, when the skipper went to pull up the stern mudweight, he lost a shoe overboard! He has mules which he wears on board and, despite my reminding him (!) he went on deck in them. Inevitably, one came off and floated into the reeds! So there he was, fishing around with the boat hook, eventually managing to hook the mule back on board. He put it on the roof, to dry off! I couldn't stop laughing!!
We got going again and managed to take a few photos of the Tri-Icicle – not quite as imposing a spectacle as last year as the yachts were more spread out but still a lovely sight. As the last one went past, we turned and slowly followed them down river. I started to review my photos and realised that I had the camera set up wrong (I forgot Lord Paul’s reminder on ISO!) and most of them were a bit over-exposed. Damn and blast! What was going to be the third thing to go wrong!
The sailing boats were going much faster than us due to the brisk wind and by the time we got to St Benet’s Abbey,we saw one of the Norfolk Punts coming back! He was quick, we thought – it transpired later that this boat retired after a major fill-up at Upton and was making his way back home. We got down to the Thurne Mouth and the skipper positioned us at the side of the river so I could take a few snaps as the boats came up from Acle and went on up the Thurne before turning on the homeward leg.
I managed to take one or two but we were suddenly hit by a squall which made boat handling difficult and blew the saved mule off the roof into the water! Despite my efforts with the boat hook, it raced off downriver, bobbing about in the waves! If anyone finds a smart Dunlop Premier Collection size 10 mule, would be grateful for a message! ;)
We decided to abort at this stage as there was quite a long gap until the next boats came through and with very black clouds approaching fast, the weather looked a bit ominous. We got back to our moorings safely and were tied up before the next rain squall hit.
Some friends came on board for a cuppa and we pottered again for an hour or so before starting to pack up for home. There was a lot of activity on the Broad, with a large number of sailing cruisers manoeuvring, with parties of young people on board and a few rowing dinghies intermingling with them, obviously from the same party. There was also a dinghy with an outboard which kept roaring around, up and down the dyke, until the skipper got fed up and shouted to him to keep to the speed limit – especially important as the tide was so high and there was a big risk of fenders on moored boats ‘popping’ over the quay in the wash.
We were watching a couple of yachts coming off the Broad under power and one appeared to be coming in to moor on our moorings. We had our eyes on this boat (Trade Wind) when the skipper suddenly noticed another one (High Seas) heading straight for our stern. We had our canopy up so he had to rapidly undo the zips and jump on deck, onto our stern platform and just managed to fend off the metal bowsprit, which would have gone through our stern. He was shouting ‘go astern, go astern’ to the young person in control of the boat, which she eventually did. Phew, a nasty accident avoided!
We were understandably upset by this and the person driving the dinghy with the outboard came alongside and apologised, saying the skipper of ‘High Seas’ had gone overboard and the youngsters on board didn’t know what to do. We felt (and told him) that they should have been briefed on what to do in this circumstance, one of the most important things for the ‘skipper’ to do was to keep a lookout for obstacles – like our boat!! We had heard no splash, no shouting of ‘man overboard’ or any indication that there was an emergency or we would obviously have tried to assist, even with verbal directions. He was hauled into the dinghy, which turned out to be the ‘rescue boat’ and put back on board the yacht.
One of the reasons given by the rescue boat driver, responding to our comments was that they were a party of youngsters from a Christian charity on their first day out! We felt this was totally irrelevant and in our opinion they had not been fully instructed on what to do in an emergency; it seemed irresponsible that there appeared to be only one competent person on board each boat! These are big, heavy boats, not dinghies and need to be respected as such. Photo is of the two boats involved, finally leaving the Broad.
Just after this we saw another incident by the same party, where a dinghy being rowed by a young person, side swiped a small sailing dinghy and both nearly capsized! Another example of not being aware of who else was on the river.
The commodore of this sailing party came down to our moorings and took on board our comments about briefing the youngsters. As we said to him, it was lucky we were on our boat as we wouldn’t have been happy to find a hole in the stern on our next visit and we felt sure the last thing the boatyard would want would be an insurance claim!
All in all, a fairly incident packed weekend but one we could have done without!