As a season ticket holder at Norwich City, I am used to some supporters travelling long distances to watch their team. Mostly, of course, these are the away supporters, but there are some such as the Hampshire Canaries, Capital Canaries and the guys who come over from Scandinavia a few times a year who travel for a long time just to get to a home game. Now it normally takes me only about 30 to 40 minutes to get to the ground from my home, so how come in late September it took me two days to get to Carrow Road?
For those who do not know, Norwich City Football Club is very close to the River Wensum in Norwich, indeed travelling upstream you get a very good view of the stadium and I decided it might be fun to travel to a game by boat!
From my mooring in Potter Heigham this involved the usual tide calculations for a crossing of Breydon Water, coinciding with a Saturday 3.00 kick off. With that in mind I finished work early on the Thursday arriving at Potter Heigham for about four o’clock and getting underway by five, giving me around two hours cruising before dusk. Even at this time of day the Thurne was fairly busy, I suppose boats getting into their overnight positions, perhaps ready for change over day on Friday.
Once onto the Bure good progress was made and I arrived at Stracey Mill just before dusk. With plenty of room to moor up, I popped into the shop to pay the £4 overnight mooring fee only to be told by the new owner that it was now £4.50 despite loads of signs saying £4.00! There was plenty of activity on the Acle straight with emergency vehicles attending an incident. Talk about home from home! The next morning dawn broke with a glorious sunrise (see picture). I was ready to set off soon after, but waited as I wanted to catch slack water at Gt Yarmouth. The current was quite strong from Runham Drainage Mill onwards, so better than expected headway was made at a little more than tick over revs. Good for the fuel consumption.
Through Yarmouth at bang on slack water, Alan (Maudie would be proud), and once over Breydon I decided to tie up at Berney and make some lunch. The old pub looks sad and neglected and I wondered what it’s future might be. I guess it’s not commercially viable as a pub anymore. Shame.
By the time I got going again the tide was starting to flood and I got the benefit of a push heading upstream to Reedham. I would have liked to stop there, but unbelievably, there were no moorings to be had, so I continued towards Norwich. Another little stop at Hardley Cross where I made a complete mess of mooring side on! Luckily there was no-one about. Must remember to concentrate and work with the tide. As I passed Cantley the sugar beet factory was busy with staff getting ready for the start of the season. The river is wide here and there were more boats than I had expected. It was nice to see hire boats from yards that we don’t see so much on the northern rivers. Boats from Brooms, Pacific and Silverline as well as the usual smattering of Richos and Herbert Woods etc. Everyone seemed very friendly, but as the weather was lovely and I’m sure that helps.
As late afternoon crept towards evening I began to think about my overnight mooring. I had decided not to moor in Norwich on a Friday night and once through a busy Brundall, was pleased to see Surlingham Ferry hove into view – guess what - full! Luckily there was one space opposite at Postwick Wharf and I gratefully squeezed in and made some dinner before catching up on my book. Although we have a TV on board I am quite happy, if on my own, to read or listen to the radio.
I slept well and unusually woke after dawn to the loud conversations of some sailors at the Ferry pub getting ready to set off. The pub was open and serving breakfasts and several hire craft were leaving heading to Brundall to end their holiday. Those I spoke to were mostly regulars returning year after year and were by and large good company. After a leisurely start, I cruised with no hurry on the last leg of my trip to Norwich. Around Thorpe and Whittlingham there were lots of rowers and boy can they go fast. I guess the speed limit doesn’t apply to them!
Midday, and Foundry Bridge is in sight. There are loads of people on the riverside walk soaking up the sunshine, eating, drinking, walking or just sitting. Lovely. Plenty of spaces to moor at Norwich Yacht Station, but the river was much lower than I expected and it was quite a stretch to the heading. A couple on a Richos were just returning from a shopping trip (Morrisons from the bags!) and were trying to work out how to get back on board! They obviously did and told me when I returned from the football that they had heard the crowd cheering from their boat. Norwich won 3-1 against Burton so I and most of the crowd were happy. The time was already 5.30 and again I had decided not to stay in Norwich overnight in case of any anti-social behaviour from the 10,000 or so expected clubbers from the night clubs just up the road.
I headed down river as fast as I dared trying to beat the rapidly approaching dusk. Moorings at Whittlingham, Thorpe and Bramerton were all full. You really do have stop early to get moored even on the quieter southern rivers - oh well. Rounding the bend just before the Surlingham Ferry there looked like a fire at Postwick Wharf.
As I got closer it was a big BBQ in full swing! There is room for about three boats side on and two were already in place, but as I got closer it was clear there were about six fishing rods set up in the last mooring spot. I indicated as best I could that I needed to moor, but struggled to make myself understood. Eventually a young chap realized what I wanted and they (reluctantly) reeled in the rods and helped me tie up. It turned out they were two Russian families planning to BBQ, drink and fish all night. And they did! No complaints though they didn’t disturb my evening or night. Although I was surprised to see them still drinking at seven in the morning! Nearly as surprised as when one couple had changed into swimwear and dived into river and did a couple of widths – and yes, the Broads Authority sign says NO SWIMMING and for that matter NO FISHING between March and October!
Again, the timing meant I had the benefit of the ebbing tide on my journey back. My GPS reading was 6.8mph with the engine at 500 revs going through Reedham (still no moorings!) On reaching the Berney moorings I needed a break and to kill some time to get slack water at Yarmouth. I was pleased to see three BA (yes three) rangers on the bank as a solo mooring was going to be tricky. I turned into the fast running current and got alongside hoping for a helping hand, but NO! Luckily a hirer on a Broom boat took a rope for me and all was well. After an hour or so I reckoned it was time to get going again, but this time there was nobody around to help. The tide was still ebbing, so I decided to release the bow rope and let the tide turn the bow out. Now I was holding the stern rope with the boat at right angles to the bank and still moving and the stern deck about six feet below me. The was nothing for it but to jump. As I did the headlines for the following day news flashed before me. It made Norwich look easy. The journey across Breydon and through Yarmouth was nice and smooth and I started on the long trek up the Bure. Why does it always seem uphill? I thought I might stop again at Stracey, but decided to press on past the Thurne mouth in order to go into Boulters in Horning the next day. I like mooring at St Benets, but no spaces, so I eventually moored at one of the two spaces at St Benedicts church. Pleasant enough apart from the many speeding boats – rocky experience!
I got to Boulters for about nine o’clock and topped up with diesel, gas and water and emptied out the waste. All ready for the next trip whenever that might be… Jim on Bluebell