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Ship's log 2008

I leave for England tomorrow. As such, it's probably about time I post my account of last year's adventures....

Friday 18 April 2008

A fairly uneventful day at school. The kids as excited as ever for vacation but SJ so busy jumping up and down herself that she hardly noticed.

Lunch unexpectedly provided by the special education department so packed lunch remained uneaten and forgotten. Remembered just as the bus to the airport was about to leave so quick call to a coworker to have it taken care of. A week old curried chicken salad sandwich is not a smell one wishes to return to.

Ended up on the early bus to Logan for the simple reason that Air Canada is notorious for changing their flight times at the last moment.

Very early arrival so made phone calls and wandered around in the terminal for a while before heading to the gate. Not a single other person in line for security. SJ had been lent what turned out to be a very good book, so quickly immersed in it, only barely looking up as she shuffled from the terminal to the plane and back again.

Forced to claim baggage and navigate immigration and customs in Halifax but still only 15 minutes from gate to gate. Suspect the process will be less streamlined on the way home.

Amused to see one of those painted fiberglass sculptures that SJ finds so amusing (this one a lobster) at the airport. Brief confusion going through security ,"What in the world is that in your luggage?," Brief explanation about the evils of RFID enabled passports ensued, much to the amusement of the security agent. Clearly not enough people are aware of the chips as it seems SJ the first person they'd seen with a passport wrapped in tinfoil.

Immigration officer at Heathrow similarly amused.

SJ too engrossed in her book to manage any sleep on the flight, though she did try, alas too late, no sooner did she switch off her light than they switched on the overhead lights and started serving breakfast. Still 2.5 hours away at that point.

Saturday, 19 April 2008

On time arrival in Heathrow and due to the later arrival time (most international flights get in around 7 AM, SJ's flight arrived at 9:30) the immigration hall was mostly clear and she collected her baggage and made it through only moments after CJ and RS had arrived.

Car quite easy to locate in the car park due to the bright yellow kayak strapped to the roof. Ship's parrot quite pleased to see SJ and to be given another chance to drool down the back of her neck.

Pillows and covers had been thoughtfully provided so that SJ could sleep in the car. Alas with the rest of the luggage there was not quite room for her. As a result SJ ended up quite well buried under a mound of blankets.

Clearly nothing for it but to take a nap.

Off to Horning, SJ quite amused to notice that CJ's new car had come with a satellite navigation system and that CJ insisted on carrying on a conversation with it. Sat nav turned out not to be the most optimal method and as it hadn't yet been switched to BST trip ended up being an hour longer than expected. The sat nav (who turned out to be a guy because, "who wants to get directions from a woman") was also quite insistent that we arrive at the time it had specified and was more than willing to lead us astray when we threatened to arrive a tad early.

Despite such machinations made it to Horning and located TW and LE. They had picked up the boat the night before and spent the night on it. They'd just made a cup of tea and were setting down to drink it in the stern of the boat when we arrived. Headed to the pub instead.

TW quite keen to point out that he was listed as the skipper on the ship's articles. Not the boy this trip! It seems he'd been asked about the makeup of his crew and replied that there were 3 experienced sailors and 2 others (to say nothing of the parrot) and he'd actually listed SJ as one of the experienced members. It seems book knowledge counts for something. He'd also met Jenny and wonder of wonder's she'd even been in her office.

Quite impressed to discover a pike over the mantel at the pub. But at only 19.5 lbs clearly not the monster we'd hoped to find. Equally excited by the bag-it-with-maggot

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vending machine in the parking lot. Clearly the different bait flavors were the secret to the pike's capture.

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Sat out on the porch and ate lunch before picking up the cottage key. CJ and RS to the cottage by car. TW, LE, and SJ to shift the boat.

Not quite ready to raise the sails on an unfamiliar boat in the middle of a populated area so headed out under power. Lure of sailing proving too much for us however, compelled to unfurl the jib.

Directions to the cottage by boat just as simple as those for arriving by road. Third dyke on the left and straight on till morning.

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Cottage turned out to be quite large so no need for anyone to sleep on the boat unless desired. Unpacked quickly. CJ sent off to Wroxham to acquire supplies and then put together a lasagna dinner.

American visitor passed out on the couch, quite unaware of these proceedings however, and indeed only vaguely aware that the rest of the crew had abandoned her for a trip to the Ferry Inn pub. CJ and RS heading over by kayak after CJ first taking the kayak out,

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with the ship's parrot,

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for a trial run to ensure it was seaworthy. TW and LE walked over by road.

SJ only really aware that she'd been abandoned when her nap was rudely interrupted by a piercing alarm. It seemed the lasagna that CJ had left cooling had managed to trigger the smoke detectors. In her sleep-deprived state, quite difficult to make the screeching stop but finally managed it by the simple expedient of pulling the battery.

Lasagna looked OK so never occurred to her to turn down the oven. CJ, who loitered at the pub for a second pint, quick to cast blame for any burnt bits on her.

No use trying to go back to sleep so SJ curled up with her book while she waited for the rest of the crew to return.

Dinner quite good despite the slightly singed corners.

After dinner treat involved CJ's unveiling of "Pike Corner," and the ceremonial distribution of pins.

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Never mind the Coot Club, pike were the thing!

Bed soon after.

Sunday, 19 April 2008

Cottage did not come with a coffee pot so CJ and RS off to Wroxham to acquire one first thing.

Plan for the day involved finding a wee open space where we could set our sails and learn the boat, not to mention teach the more inexperienced crew members the basics of sailing, so headed off to Ranworth Broad, a large open expanse of water to do just that.

Had packed a picnic lunch and laid it out as soon as we were underway, much to the consternation of TW who seemed incapable of eating and skippering at the same time. Lots of coots on the river, and their eggs had already hatched, so no need of the Coot Club to protect them. Some discussion as to what exactly you're supposed to call a baby coot, finally settled on Cooticle. Either way coots clearly in no need of our help though they might have liked a bit of our lunch. Indeed one particular coot with a lot of "front," (a chav [council housing and violence] expression for aggressive and demanding). Either way, nest #7 quickly located.

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TW and LE had received a few minutes of sailing tuition when they picked up the boat. This has basically involved a quick overview of such niceties as how to raise the sail and how to lower the mast (not at the same time).

When TW, who had by then made use of the facilities on the boat, pointed out that the toilet didn't appear to have been pumped out since the last group had left the boat, he was cheerfully informed that that was the norm and the facilities in question a sea toilet.

All of a sudden nobody in any hurry to get wet.

Found a nice clear area in the middle of Ranworth Broad and dropped the mud weight. Fussed about with various things while we waited for her head to come into the wind and then raised the sails and were off. Didn't get the gaff quite high enough, so had a wrinkle in the sail but unable to fix while under way and all soon having far too much fun to bother, "we'll fix it tomorrow". Olive oil also needed for the morning as the block and tackle soon proved particularly squeaky.

TW first at the helm, tacking back and forth across the broad until we'd reached the far end, then jibing and sailing goose-winged all the way back.

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Took turns at all the various tasks for the next few hours, and were well content with Twilight Teasel by the time we were done.

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Even managed one particularly fast reach which had the water frothing under the bows and Twilight Teasel leaning over on her combing. (LE secretly relieved to learn that all she had to do was let out the main sheet if it got to be too fast.)

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In the course of eating lunch someone's beer had ended up sitting inside the life ring on the cabin roof and one particularly strong gust had the life ring and beer can overboard.

Life ring proved fairly easy to reacquire (finally a life ring that actually floats!) but the beer can proving somewhat trickier and several passes had to be made before the man overboard drill was successfully completed.

Pleased with our success we headed back to the cottage under sail.

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The wind which had been quite useful on the open broad turned somewhat more problematic in the narrow dyke and we quickly ended up having to tack against it.

Not all that bad but not quite certain what the approaching hullabaloos were going to do and despite a lifetime's certainty that steam gives way to sail, went about a bit too early to come around them and ended up tangled in a tree.

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Hullaballoos quick to grab their cameras to document our misfortunes. Where were the photographers when we were having such success in Ranworth?

Attempts to extricate ourselves from the tree proved fairly hopeless so turned to the engine to get us free. Tree #1 to TW.

Headed back to the cottage under sail without any further difficulties.

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SJ being so brave as to go forward and sit before the mast so she could take pictures.

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Tea and biscuits when we made it back and all quite tired after a day in the fresh air. Pizza for dinner, a different fire alarm set off this time. Disabled it, permanently.

LE dragged TW off to take photos at the, "golden hour," while RS and SJ read a few chapters of their books.

Lots of fascinating conversation over dinner, Sj well and truly grilled by RS and LE on the state of her love life (much to the horror of TW) and the new boy given the somewhat dubious nickname of "Eric the Pike" for no apparent reason though in retrospect LE would like to claim it's because he's, "a good catch,".

Called it a night fairly early, or rather TW, LE, RS, and CJ did. SJ, who had foolishly removed her watch and as such had no idea what time it was, stayed up reading most of the night.

Monday, 21 April 2008

Fortunate for SJ, a fairly late start due to the need to head to Wroxham for food and shuffle cars, so some opportunity to catch up on the sleep she'd missed the night before.

Set out under sail this time, wind against us of course but an excellent opportunity to practice tacking. Lunch under way once again and as tacking quite a lot more difficult than steering under power, TW once again excluded from eating much for lunch. Ship's parrot more than willing to eat his share.

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In an effort to let TW eat, CJ took over as skipper and promptly ran us into tree #2. Similar difficulties getting out of this one and finally had to roll up the jib as it was heading us right back into the tree as soon as we edged out far enough to catch the wind.

Wind dead against us and tacking proving quite difficult, hardly making a boat length on each pass and CJ fearful that we'd never make it past the yellow bag tangled on the shore of the river.

But the white house on the curve grew gradually nearer and RS and LE as Port and Starboard

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in their matching hats alternately pulled in and let out the jib sheet each time we went about. Before you knew it we were a well oiled crew. Mostly.

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"Ready about," said TW. "Hang on, just a second," said RS who was cutting a piece of cheese for her lunch. "It wasn't actually a question," she was quickly informed. TW having some initial trouble judging how close he could take her before having to go about, this led to some interesting commands to the rest of the crew. "Ready about, get ready, be ready, keep ready, stay ready," all fired off in rapid succession.

Not all the other boats on the river quite sure what to do with a boat under sail in the way and one man in a small powerboat seemed absolutely perplexed as to what we were doing and tried to pass us for a good 10 minutes before turning around and heading back the way he'd come.

"You'd think he'd be able to figure out the pattern," said TW. Clearly not.

Plenty of time to admire the scenery as we tacked back and forth, the white house in particular had been visible for well over half an hour so lots of jokes made about how much we were looking forward to admiring the ruins of an old abbey that were marked further up on the map.

In the end, barley even managed a glance at it as the river shifted just before we came to it, putting the wind directly behind us, and oh what a wind it was.

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We flew down the reach gaining ground and nearly overtaking a handful of power boats who had overtaken us earlier in the day.

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TW pleased to find that there was a reason for what he would have otherwise considered an unnecessarily long tiller, as with the boat up on her combing it was necessary to have it right out in order to have any control over the steerage.

The rest of us on the sheets were starting to run into difficulty. The jamming cleats for the jib sheet weren't functional and as such it was necessary to hold the sheets taut the entire time instead of merely pulling them in and releasing them down.

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As such our hands were quickly starting to object to the hours of hard work and it was all LE and SJ could do to keep the jib taut enough to keep from flapping as we raced along

Our fast reach came to an end as we made it to the juncture of the river Bure and the river Thurne and headed up the Thurne towards Lindham.

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Ended up tacking again for quite a while before ending up on another good reach as we turned off again, this time up Womack Dyke enroute to Lindham.

As things didn't require quite as much concentration on this stretch (as we weren't moving nearly as fast as we had been earlier) the GPS was examined and we watched as we hit a high speed of 7 MPH. No wonder we'd been in danger of overtaking the motor boats.

Passed the Wherry Albion moored up just below Lindham. This important of course because Albion had played the role of the Wherry Sir Garnet in the Coot Club movies.

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Moored stern in to the staithe in Lindham, a rather tricky maneuver to do under sail and left her for the night.

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Amused to note the chavs on the next boat tormenting the swans with a radio controlled boat.

Tea room on the staithe and quite tempted to stop until we got a look at the public bathrooms. Dire. Quick nose around the gift shop. LE unable to resist buying a dreadful captain's hat for TW.

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Headed back to the cottage for that cup of tea for the ladies, but the men in want of a pint so CJ and TW off to the pub by kayak, the rest of the crew soon following by road.

Pub turned out to have free wifi and TW had brought his laptop so SJ dragged it along to the pub in hopes of checking her email. It should be noted that TW's device, while portable, was not actually a laptop as it lacked one very important item that all other laptops possess: a battery. Weighed nearly a ton despite this.

Found a table with a conveniently located outlet and set about trying to get online. No problem connecting to the router, but the connection to the outside world appeared to be down, and the pub employees unwilling to believe that anything was wrong and that there was anything they could do about it. No email for SJ.

CJ sent back ahead of time to finish cooking dinner so SJ and TW into the kayak for the return trip. Shepherd's pie for dinner, TW doing an excellent job getting the lumps out.

Another early night though not a quiet one as great laughter broke out in the early hours of the morning. It seems TW, whose room was right next to the bathroom, had gotten up to go wearing only the captain's hat, and had promptly run into CJ on the way back.

Tuesday, 22 April 2008

The morning trip to Roy's of Wroxham becoming a daily venture for CJ and TW.

Headed over to Lindham and crew left to ready the boat while CJ and TW shuffled cars so as to leave one at our next destination.

Not sure what readying the ship was supposed to entail but in SJ's case it involved reading her book,

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and for LE and RS taking a great number of photographs of ducks.

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Set off as soon as CJ and TW returned with a fair wind back down Womack Dyke. All hands set to photographing the Albion as we passed and dead pleased to see an actual Teasel on the river, albeit a plastic one.

Wind dead against us as we headed into Potter Heigham. No matter, quite good at tacking at this point and without a bow sprit we could edge significantly closer to the holiday cottages that line the bank than we might otherwise. TW also became quite adept at utilizing the private dykes that lined each side of the river to sneak a few extra feet on each tack whenever possible. Only twice did this end in near disaster, once when he failed to see a floating pontoon and again when he missed the chain that had been strung across the dyke to keep people out.

Did manage to tangle ourselves in the shrubbery one more time, this one too small to be counted as a real tree, so bush #1 it was. Boat was sadly lacking a proper quant so CJ sent forward to quant

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with the mop instead and SJ leapt for her camera, "just in case".

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Moored in Potter Heigham and set to lowering the mast so we could get under the bridge. Mast featured a counterweight located in the forward cabin coffin which allowed it to be lowered fairly easily.

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Trial and error determined that this was what the smaller crutches had been supplied for and that we had to loosen the gaff in order to get it all the way down.

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A scary moment in the cockpit for SJ as the mast came down towards her at great speed. But other than a fouled halyard on the starboard side, the lowering progressed without issue.

Hire craft were required to acquire a pilot to navigate the Potter Heigham bridge so dead pleased with ourselves we headed over to the office only to be told (when they looked up the boat's dimensions) that she wouldn't clear the bridge with the current tides, and we'd need to wait three days as we were approximately 5 inches too tall to make it through even at low water. "What?" asked CJ, amazed and secretly sure this was another example of Norfolk humor. (It seems they'd run into said humor just that morning when inquiring about the pricing for overnight moorings at Horsey Mere, our current destination. "10 pounds to moor on this side," the man had told CJ pointing to the side of the dyke on which they were standing. "5 pounds to moor on that side, but 15 pounds by the time you make it there!")

But the pilot was adamant so we turned to go, TW remarking that at least we'd gotten to take the mast down. "What, she's a sailboat?" asked the pilot. It seems there was a motorboat of the same name elsewhere on the river.

As we had a small bit of shopping (to encourage foreign trade) that we wanted to do in Potter Heigham, we arranged to do that first and return in about 30 minutes, which would also give the tide (which had just turned) a chance to leave us some extra room under the bridge.

As Dorothea had remarked some 75 years previous, there wasn't all that much in Potter.

CJ and TW quite amused by the name of the local pub, The Broad Shaven Tavern, only belatedly did they realize it was meant to be Broads Haven.

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Postcards were acquired and CJ nipped into the food store to acquire potatoes. Ices for LE and TW then all gathered under the Potter Heigham sign for photographic proof that we'd made it to a foreign port of call.

RS took the photo in landscape orientation but as the sign was tall, the crew suggested she turn it round.

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Clearly not understanding at all what we meant, she turned round and snapped a picture of the bridge behind her.

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The crew tried valiantly to refrain from laughter but to no avail. Headed back to the boat and were soon joined by the pilot. RS and LE of the opinion that the navigation of Potter Heigham was an event that needed to be photographed so they stayed behind to do just that.

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Quite an impressive sight to see the boat head through the arch with scant inches to spare. "They'll never make it," said an American couple standing on the bank but from our perspective onboard there were bags of room and we were all distracted by an "impressive sign," of another type.

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"Do you think he realizes how big the holes in his trousers are?" asked SJ. Noticed that CJ had a bit of a hole in his trousers as well but at least he was wearing something under them.

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Stepped the mast and continued on our way.

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Wind still dead against us and now the ebb tide to contend with as well so slow going. The first few tacks particularly worrisome as we actually lost ground bringing us rather too close to comfort to the Potter Heigham bridge and reminding us just how many boats had lost their masts and been wrecked in just that way.

Eventually started to make some headway albeit not even half a boat length on each tack. No matter, lots to look at including an impressive pike standing guard over someone's boat house

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and a family sitting on the steps of the cottage with their laundered knickers waving merrily above their heads. As we weren't moving fast enough to flee should they take offense at our amusement on their behalf, overt photography was out of the question and more subtle ploys failed utterly as LE had no idea what I intended when I asked her to take a photo of me.

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Fortunately TW well versed in the use of a photographic decoy and the requisite photo was eventually acquired.

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Continued in this manner for quite some time until the ebb tide and contrary wind proved too much. Got well and truly tangled in a willow tree (tree #3)

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and brought great branches crashing down on our heads before we managed to free ourselves.

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As the bridges were back in sight by the time we'd sorted ourselves, fired up the diesel powered quant instead.

As the wind was dead against us no need to lower the sail simply shut off power to the quant when we made it to the Kendall Dyke, as the wind was behind us once again.

Had a nice sail up the dyke and across Heigham Sound before turning up Meadow Dyke and ending up with the wind dead against us once again. SJ helmed us through under power.

Meadow Dyke quite straight on the chart but wiggled all over in point of fact. "Not surprising," said CJ, "after all it's difficult to find a straight dyke".

Made it to Horsey Mere and RS quite keen to see the wildlife that Dick had filled 3 pages of his notebook with 75 years hence.

"Watch for bitterns," CJ told her, adding that they had a sharp end. "Which one?" asked TW. "Both," replied CJ from which we can only assume they look rather like a rugby ball.

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Some difficulty approaching the mooring under sail and CJ tried to cut things a bit too close, ending with us momentarily aground in a reed bed (reeds #1).

No matter, that's what the mop is for. Off again and no sooner did he do it again, this time from the opposite side on the other tack (reeds #2).

Finally made it to a mooring only to discover it was a private mooring once SJ was already ashore with the painter. Finally an opportunity to see what she looked like under sail.

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Fired up the quant and headed further in where SJ walked along the tow path.

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Moored for the night and headed back to retrieve the car in Lindham, then back to the cottage where the girls insisted on tea and the guys on beer.

LE with a bit of a headache and RS wanting to read. So CJ and SJ off to the pub by kayak and TW and the laptop following on foot.

This time the wifi was working so SJ made it online long enough to send a few quick emails then turn back to the house (TW and SJ by kayak, CJ on foot) for ham and haggis (not together) for dinner.

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

Horsey to Thurne, 7.8 miles

Day dawned bright and sunny. RS who had been offering "sun cream for bald heads," each morning, was finally taken up on her offer.

Left a car in Thurne. Headed back to Horsey Mere once TW and CJ returned from their morning trip to Roy's of Wroxham. CJ of the opinion that he should join the National Trust as it would save him mooring fees. Quite determined up to the moment we stepped out of the car into a gaggle of geriatrics waving their bird books in one hand and their National Trust cards in the other.

Admission charged to visit the wind pump at the end of the dyke so TW took a photo from the open door instead.

Just enough room to turn the boat in the narrow dyke and SJ taking advantage of the moment the boat was broadside to the cut to jump ashore from the opposite bank so as to save herself from having to walk all the way around to use the toilet.

SJ with only a few pages left in her book so snuck into the cabin to finish it

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while everyone else set sail.

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Quite a nice jaunt around Horsey Mere with LE on the helm then back down through Meadow Dyke. It seems the wind had shifted 180 degrees overnight, so once again sailing straight into it and as such unable to make any headway. Fired up the diesel quant once again then back to sail for Heigham Sound and Kendall Dyke.

Gardening gloves had been purchased from Roy's garden center in hopes that they would help hands sore from hanging constantly on the sheets.

Quite pleased to note the eelman's cottage on the shore with the big light up sign to indicate when the nets were set.

Made a valiant attempt to continue sailing and tack once we cleared the dyke but once again completely unable to make any ground as the river was far too narrow to get any distance before it was time to come about again.

CJ seemed determined that we should continue the attempt at least past the yacht club, probably due to the presence of the Margoletta moored outside, but with only a foot or two to show for each tack, and some with no ground gained at all, we once again fired up the quant.

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Moored up above Potter Heigham and lowered the mast in preparation of taking her through the bridges. Nipped in to inquire about a pilot and watched a landlubber attempt to moor a hire boat. The man clearly had no idea how to tie a basic knot as he was quite determinedly attempting to put a tiny premade loop around a bollard. Alas, the bollards were spaced slightly too far apart, so to get close enough so he had to shift his fenders.

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"What does he think they're for?," TW inquired in a tone of wonder as we watched him bring his boat right against the staithe. This time our stealth photography was better executed.

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No trouble getting a pilot when we were ready so headed towards the shops. By this time it was raining lightly so RS and LE in want of tea and CJ in want of a chandlery to acquire a mud weight for use on his mill time dock.

So CJ, SJ, TW, and the parrot headed off to find a chandlery that turned out not to exist. Then TW and CJ back to the boat while SJ dithered and tried to decide if she wanted tea. Decided against it in the end but would never make it back to the boat in time to make the bridge passage, so ended up watching from the downriver side of the bridge. Wow, that is a tight fit.

Stepped the mast despite having a parrot tangled in the sheets and were all ready to set off when RS and LE returned. By this time it was raining steadily, so RS, LE, and the parrot sent below while the rest of us set sail.

No wind. Nothing for it but to quant. Got out the crutches and tied up the sail and tidied the sheets. All quite soggy by this point and certain that the cabin must reek of wet dog parrot so all content to stand in the rain.

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Opportunity to take official holiday photo duly seized.

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Stopped raining just as we got to Thurne. Trouble mooring despite the fact that we'd gone in under power. This because as we'd just discovered, she was completely unresponsive to the helm when reversing under power. Suspect the keel interferes somehow. Either way TW sent forward to fend off. Alas, the mooring he was fending off against moved at the worst possible moment and a patch of white paint was left on the dyke's pilings.

CS and TW off to fetch the car while RS, LE, and SJ headed to the pub. RS pleased to learn that Josie would have been allowed in but too late for that as the very smelly parrot had been sent off in the cars.

Another round of drinks once CJ and TW returned and the two of them quite taken by one of the vintage advertising posters in the toilet.

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TW attempted to take a photograph but set the self-timer instead resulting in some lovely pics of the slightly less than pristinely clean floor.

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Back to the cottage. CJ started putting together the rabbit pie. As LE remains leery of rabbit, one corner was done with turkey only. Pie decorated with a giant pike reaching up out of the center to eat a small fluffy bunny. Bunny spot marked turkey corner thus ensuring that everyone had to eat rabbit of some sort.

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Thursday, 24 April 2008

Another day, another trip to Roy's of Wroxham for CJ and TW.

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This time they were in search of a chandlery and quite disappointed to discover that while Roy's empire included 14 different emporiums (including such highlights as Roy's Garden Center,

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Roy's Toys,

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Roy's Childrens World,

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Roy's Zone,

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Roy's Medicines,

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and Roy's McDonalds)

he did not in fact have a chandlery, and the guy at the actual chandlery laughed when CJ inquired as to whether this was Roy's Chandlery. It seems we're getting the hang of Norfolk humor.

SJ up slightly earlier than her usual that particular morning so took a short walk into Horning proper while CJ and TW were gone.

Weather looked a bit iffy as we set out and CJ once again foregoing his titanic hat, an event in combination with TW using sunscreen that had condemned us to rain the day before.

Very leery to discover that this time CJ had put on sunscreen. No one surprised when it started raining soon after we set sail.

This time there was wind, however, so crew got out the rain gear and hung on.

Light rain soon turned to steady rain, and from there it was only a matter of time until it reached downpour and then deluge.

We were already wet and no way back but forward so continued sailing, even going so far as to lay out our picnic lunch in the pouring rain.

"This beer tastes a bit weak," CJ remarked conversationally, and a puddle had gathered at the bottom of the hummus container. A proper British holiday with crew huddled down under multiple layers of clothing. RS and LE hanging on doggedly to the jib sheets despite gloves that were soaked through and causing their hands to clench in the cold.

For her part SJ buried her hands and the main sheet in her sleeves and hardly looked up to note each time we went about.

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A few fair reaches, but quite a bit of tacking required. Rain at its absolute worst as we passed the abbey so this time everyone too busy hiding from the rain to pay it any heed.

Passing hullabaloos in their waterproof cockpits with windshield wipers going full tilt clearly thought we were insane.

Rain let up as we approached Horning and the sun made an appearance. Some good reaches as we made our way past the Ferry Inn but then the Southern Comfort, a god-awful looking boat that purported to be a Mississippi riverboat swept by and took the wind out of our sails (quite literally).

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Continued past the dyke for our cottage with the intention of tying up at Horning Staithe only to discover all the moorings were taken. Turned around and ended up mooring stern in in front of the new inn. Guys at the neighboring boat yard from where we'd hired Twilight Teasel watched with consternation as we bolloxed it. She just doesn't respond under reverse quant power and we struck a motor cruiser (lightly) as we moored. Made good work of furling the sail and setting the awning. CJ coming quite close to falling in to SJ's delight.

Headed in to pay our mooring fee in beer. Soaked to the bone and quite cold, SJ of a mind to walk home and acquire dry clothes first and RS and LE in agreement that this sounded like a good idea. SJ, L, RS, and the parrot back to the cottage while CJ and TW drank their beer.

Warm dry clothes quite lovely, and nobody wanting to return to the pub. All quite eager for a cup of tea instead. But back to the pub as we were expected.

Arrived back and ordered drinks only to discover that CJ and TW are now all set to go fetch the cars. SJ to accompany them and LE and RS left sipping their wine and wondering why they'd passed on that tea.

Headed over to Thurne to pick up the car and stopped into the Thurne Lion for a quick pint. Both TW and CJ of the opinion that this was the best pub we'd been to yet.

Decided we'd do fish and chips (and mushy peas) for dinner so back to the house to alert RS and LE then SJ and TW into Wroxham to acquire the chips.

TW quite keen to photograph

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all of Roy's

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various emporia

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and to give SJ the full tour.

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Quite disappointed that Roy didn't have a chippy. Clearly he's missing a business opportunity, both suspect he will soon be expanding into pizza and kebabs however.

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Ended up at Ken's Fish & Chips

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instead if for no other reason than that SJ refused to buy from the Chinese fish & chips place.

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No pike on the menu but quite pleased to see eel. Seriously considered acquiring one for CJ but decided he'd just make us eat it and unwilling to take the chance.

Fish and chips well received and some discussion of plans for the morning before LE and TW off to spend the final night afloat in Twilight Teasel

Friday, 25 April 2008

SJ up oddly early and into the kayak for a pre-breakfast paddle. A tad disturbed to see that according to the GPS it was only 3:17 AM when she started out.

Headed up river into Horning to see if anyone was stirring on the Twilight Teasel. No sound of movement so further upriver, past the staithe and up past the bend.

Passed two men in a rowing boat who asked for a tow and as it was getting on toward 9 AM and she hadn't told anyone where she was, headed back.

Considered hailing the Twilight Teasel on the way past but in the end slipped by silently instead. A few minor detours to investigate various dykes then back to the cottage.

Installed on the couch with a cup of tea and slice of toast long before TW and LE arrived. For their part TW and LE had been unpleasantly woken first by an idling boat engine and then by the sounds of the arcade. Fortunately, back before the 9:30 AM deadline to discover news of our exploits had preceded us. "We hear you've been all over," Jenny commented to which TW replied by praising our little ship and how well she sails. "Yes, our little lady does like to lift her skirts up every now and again," was the reply.

Headed out to find the Museum of the Broads as they had a small Arthur Ransome exhibit. Stopped first at the Museum of Norfolk, but they'd never heard of Swallows and Amazons so didn't linger.

Museum a bit tricky to find and wandered all around a boatyard searching for it before alighting on the correct trick. Admission paid and RS pleased to discover that the parrot was to be allowed in. A fairly small museum, but some interesting things including a recreation of a wherry stern which you could climb into and sit on the wherryman's bunk and listen to them speaking. CJ and SJ quite enamored by the ceramic eels being smoked in the chimney and disappointed that they weren't for sale in the gift shop.

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The second building featured information about the ecosystem of the Broads and as we turned the corner, mounted on the wall were two lovely stuffed pike.

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A gratuitous photo op promptly occurred. One of the pike had been caught by a 6 year old in the 1950s and the other by a 12 year old in the 1920s.

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As this was the very pike that had hung in The Swan Inn in Horning for many years,

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It was understandably the very one that inspired Arthur Ransome to write The Big Six.

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An old collection of blown eggs also on display in this section.

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The Coot Club would have been most displeased to see it. Meanwhile, TW quite amused by the stuffed bird holding a dead fish in it's mouth.

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Headed down to the water to admire a series of lovely wooden sailing dinghies and eventually arrived at the old provisions boat that had once been stationed at Acle bridge and from which Mrs. Barnable had once bought all manner of offerings.

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Also happened across an article about Roy's of Wroxham which had started off as a small village store provisioning pleasure boats out of Wroxham, it had been in business for years, making it the place that Tom Dodgson himself had shopped for Teasel's stores.

Next to these treasures the actual Swallows and Amazons display (which basically turned out to be a board with quotes from the books) was very dull indeed. Concluded our tour of the museum with a room of tools and motors and various boaty bits.

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TW quite amused by the selection of boat toilets

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and SJ quite pleased with the weed cutting boat that had once had cutting blades in front and in back.

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Got a recommendation for a pub lunch and ate steak and mushroom pie on a picnic table in the sun while Josie sat at our feet and hoped for leftovers. For once, CJ refrained from feeding her.

Decided that since we were only a few miles from the sea that we should visit the beach so drove to Sea Pallings and went for a walk.

Quite a nice beach though relatively little wildlife as offshore reefs had clearly only recently been installed. As such, new sand was still being deposited by the tide daily.

SJ and TW quite enamored by the danger signs and as always doing that which they advise against

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while CJ drew pikes in the sand.

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Set off for a walk and RS promptly lost Josie's lead. This quite OK with Josie who was having a grand old time chasing sticks and wallowing in the water.

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Alas as the beach was so new and clean few sticks to be found, so Josie soon ended up chasing a log and the people throwing it for her forced to fake her out lest it conk her on the head.

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In between tossing the log for Josie,

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TW skipped stones

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and provided piggy back rides.

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CJ and TW distracted by a very nice length of rope that had been washed ashore and tangled in the rocks. Alas CJ had left his knife in the car and finally forced to conclude the rope had been left there by the construction guys as a prank on a certain type of beachgoer.

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CJ also found a lovely length of wood suspended over a rock pool and TW lifted it and very nearly had him in. Clearly we're getting desperate now.

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Managed to find the lead on the walk back and so back to the car but not before acquiring ice cream as such things are a necessity for beachgoers.

Passed a butchery on the way back to town and as they had a large sign advertising sausage rolls, stopped for a few. Turned out to be a very nice butchery and acquired beer and molasses bacon for dinner.

One last trip to Wroxham to visit our friend Roy.

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RS sat in the car to guard the sausage rolls while TW and LE acquired a teapot and CJ dinner ingredients (including gin and orange juice). SJ took the opportunity of being in a store to acquire chocolate but while they had the dark chocolate her mother so likes, of chocolate buttons and flake bars there was no sign.

Dropped off the food at the house and set the potatoes to boil while we headed to the pub. CJ and TW both quite keen to acquire one of the wherry glasses they'd been admiring all week and SJ for a final check of email. Quite amused to see all the boats going by with inexperienced crews at the helm, Friday being turnover day and the people we were watching had only just picked up their boats and did not yet know what they were doing.

Also amused to note the gaggle of pirates BBQing on the far bank and using their dinghy to ferry their crew back and forth to the pub.

Sad to note that none of the coveted wherry glasses were in evidence and realized that the entire selection of glasses had been swapped over, clearly in anticipation of added breakage over the weekend.

SJ quite please to get a mini pint glass as a half pint and insistent of stealing it and CJ of the opinion that while not as nice as the wherry, the new glasses would serve his purposes and nicked one.

Back to the cottage where CJ rustled up dinner and SJ drank rather a lot of vitamin drinks. Sausage rolls as a pre-dinner snack and another very nice meal.

Latest night yet.

Saturday, 26 April 2008

10 AM deadline to vacate the cottage and all up and packed with time to spare. Just doing a final check of the cottage when TW discovered a vacuum. Looks like we were supposed to clean after all. Managed it in record time. CJ and RS to return the key while TW, LE and SJ back to the boatyard to acquire maps and to walk the staithe.

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Some initial trouble getting out of town, ended up turning into a farm yard instead of a road.

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Clearly CJ's sat nav is not to be trusted.

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All satisfied off to find the eelman's cottage. Eelman turned out to be more than just an eelman, cutting reeds and doing any number of other things throughout the year. House quite nice, not at all the derelict hut sunk into the mud of the river bank.

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Still quite good and afforded us the opportunity to walk the bank once more and see one of the many wind pumps close up.

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The engineers in the family easily recognizable.

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TW and SJ quite exited to see a Swallows and Amazons flag on a passing boat even if it was a plastic boat. Occasionally nice to know what there are other people who share our passion.

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Off to Acle bridge next, the prior location of the provision boat we had seen the day before.

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Acle bridge also the bridge that the wherry the Sir Garney had shot in the books.

Shooting a bridge involves taking the mast down without stopping. Basically someone planning to shoot a bridge would approach at high speed and rather than stop to take down the mast and tow through they would only dip the mast at the last possible moment so as to retain as much speed as possible and return it to its full upright position the very second it was clear.

Even in the 1930s when Ransome was writing this was not a task undertaken lightly though CJ insists that there's a yearly race that involves shooting a bridge. TW understandably hopeful to see shards of broken masts littering the ground beneath the bridge, but the bridge was a modern one and all disappointed.

Did visit the bridge shop on the far bank as this was the replacement for the provision boat, but no real provisions to be had, just another tourist trap. Do people really buy these things?

The ice cream looked good, however, so a pre-lunch snack all around.

Back to the cars and started heading west with plans to stop at a local staithe for a picnic lunch. Wandered lost for some time with CJ's sat nav instructing him to "drive to the nearest road".

Made ourselves comfortable along the river bank

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and broke out the leftovers from the last few days. SJ overjoyed to find a sausage roll among the rest.

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Back on the road and this time bound for Catslide. Not such a bad journey, but all glad to arrive, Josie pushing everyone out of the way to be the first inside.

CJ had lots to show off. He'd finished the restoration of the upstairs since TW, LE, and SJ had been there last, and even incorporated clever little details like a ceiling mount doorstop.

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His new doorbell,

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the first of his retirement projects,

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also duly admired then out to the garden to admire the new metal lathe and have a cup of tea.

Stuffed the cars in the driveway and got out the power washer which appears to be LE's very favorite toy.

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LE and TW happily distracted washing their car for the next hour.

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Combined the photos from all 5 cameras on TW's computer and set up the big monitor in the living room to view them.

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A very different selection of pictures taken by each crew member, and lots of good natured teasing as a result. All told 45 minutes to view them all. TW quick to point out that a good 10-15 minutes consisted entirely of blurry ducks.

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Headed out to a local curry place once the slide show was done and had a lovely meal. All amused at the sign that read "Clean hardcore wanted". CJ and RS noting the number as they have stuff to get rid of.

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Sat around the fireplace for a while chatting and recounting the events of the last few days and making a list of birds seen.

Had to look up a few of them such as the Egyptian geese which were disturbing looking birds that rather resembled zombies.