Distant Horizon 2 - Day Six

I had an appointment to keep this morning, which when you are on the Norfolk Broads is a rare thing to have to do – but I was to meet Lord Paul – photography extraordinaire  and as it turned out pretty nifty with gadgets and electronics and the cherry on the cake an all round good guy and very welcoming too.  So what was the deal with meeting him on this sunny morning?

The previous evening I had a call asking where I was moored and would it be ok to meet and take some aerial footage of me on the river – since I was on the Ant and he was going to be coming down from Stalham it was ideal – in fact he came down just as dusk came and the sky does that beautiful transition from day to night and moored a few corners down the river from me.  I left my mooring and just a few minutes later I spied his trust Freeman moored by Clayrack Drainage Mill and kindly helped with the Rhonde Anchors and ropes and invited on board his boat.

He has taken an ‘off the shelf’ quad copter radio controlled flying machine – okay it is a bit more than that, I mean it has built in GPS and can using this know where it is and keep pretty still within an area of sky without user input.  But Lord Paul was not happy with bunging a camera on that and away you go, so he has rigged up a monitor and various bits of kit to downlink the cameras image to the screen – which even clips on a camera tripod so he can in real time see what the ‘Drone’ sees.  Absolutely amazing and I am sure he is the sort of chap who gets excited when the next Maplin catalogue comes out and can tell you what half the gizmos can be used for.

Back on Distant Horizon I set off towards Stalham, turned and came back – upon which I heard the noise of the rotors and then there it was – higher than I thought but holding station in the sky – it filming me and me filming it. I passed by then towards How Hill made a further turn and came back for another run, where very expertly Lord Paul turned the Drone 180 degrees as I passed by and then followed me.  After this back to the bank and review the footage.  I’ve no idea what the boat moored behind us must have thought was going on lol.

I left Paul and headed down the Ant – the water point was occupied with boats filling up their water tanks, so I instead head for the Bure and onward to Ranworth. 
 Not long passing the Bridge, I had a shout from the bank ‘did you just come through the Bridge?’ No I said, I went under it – the chap looked at me in a bemused state, the joke was lost on him but he was on Brinks Concerto and worried if he would get under, I assured him he could.  

Today seemed a little different, the sun was shining but it was not as warm as earlier in t e week, there was a lot more activity on the river – plenty of hire boats to spot and note how they looked ‘in the flesh’ and because of the breeze the sailing fraternity was enjoying the day too.  It does not take too long to get to a place I need to stop miss-naming.  Ranworth Dam (not Dyke) I will try harder in future.  Heading off towards Malthouse Broad behind a small sailing boat, under power.  I kept my distance and matched their speed and upon reaching the Broad looked through the Binoculars – hmm things were looking a tad busy but it appeared there was space ‘around the corner’ on the side of the staithe’s moorings.

The sailing boat went left then right then did a complete 360 degree turn and slowly put their fenders over and I could not really continue to stay where I was being pushed by the wind to the private moorings on the far bank from the Staithe, I gentle overtook them – perhaps passed them since they were virtually stationary – and then the woman in the cockpit told me off.  “Where did you think I was going?” I said, “Sorry I’ll back out if you wish” but as ever with comments on the Broads you never get an answer back in such situations – I am a calm person but if someone begins a dialogue like that again and upon me replying in a gesture of ‘Sorry you go then’ type response, and they ignore me I will not bite my tongue.

There was about 4 boats widths of space to moor, and a classic and beautiful wooden boat was already moored on the mooring closet to the pub – the name escapes me, she lives in the Wet Shed at Richardson’s though.  I knew I had enough space to turn and the wind was blowing me away from her so my heart was not in my mouth – but a friendly lady came out – offering to help – I was almost berthed and thanked her for the offer and she said “I think you’ve done that before” – tiss true I have,  but I still worry just how well it will turn out going, thankfully this time was perfect.

I spied Corsica (the beautiful private boat not the hire boat) and they were coming in to moor where I had just arrived.  I’d never met Simon or Sonia before, nor  they me – but I knew the boat and I knew it was they who would be join myself, Griff and Russ on the sea trip to Southwold the following week.  What timing to meet now I thought.  I introduced myself and before long Steve and Maggie moved from the front of the staithe’s moorings to the side – again I had not only never met them, I had not seen their boat Magellan so it was a case of meeting four members of the Norfolk Broads Forum in one afternoon.  We talked, Sonia made a lovely cheese and Ham toasty and I got to see both boats and hear of their history.  You are fine people with lovely boats and thank you for taking the time out to show me around and have a natter.  

While aboard Magellan there was an awfully loud crunch – a Fineway day boat with a group of women on had effectively gone at full revs in reverse into the bow of Pearl Horizon and done some damage too – but the day boat had simply engaged forward gear and departed – I think they moored where they should have all along at the moorings for day boats.  I know a group of people having a good time on a boat they have only a short while ago taken over, likely having never driven a boat in their lives – but it amazes me having clearly done damage they did not after mooring, come over and check – say sorry – something.  But no, it turned out the hirers were on board at the time and the chap came aboard and Steve provided some witness details – it turned out the chap on the hire boats wife, had just put their baby down to change it  when the day boat hit which was most lucky!

Time for me to depart and with good advice, and help from Steve with my ropes – for the wind had got up – I was able to leave the Staithe and head off over the Broad.  Today was turning out to be a lovely day not only in terms of whether but experiences and people I had met.  But, I decided equally that today and tomorrow were going to be lazy days – in fact tomorrow I felt I would do as little as possible – but where should I go to now? Fleet Dyke and South Walsham Broad – two places I have not been to for some time and so it was that I turned into Fleet Dyke and notice where some of the reeds have been pushed down and people are ‘rediscovering’ the wild moorings that were most popular on this stretch before the flood defence and bank works were carried out.  I suspect it is not for all craft, but if you are small and draw little water I can see it being a lovely place to moor.  Further down at the formal moorings there was very little activity and as I came into the outer Broad I can see why this is such a popular destination for people to put the mud weight over and swing around on a still evening and watch the sun set.  For me, today it was a mere in and out job, to see what was what and then head back to the Bure.

It was not at all late, early afternoon in face but I wanted somewhere I could have a stroll along the bank, yet not be sandwiched between other boats – I know, Womack Dyke was nice when I was there on the Monday so despite the time being early it was here I made for to overnight.  When I arrived the mooring in the cut away of the bank was free and since the wind was blowing me onto the bank mooring was a doddle.  It surprised me just how many boats will come down here – go around Womack Water and then head back out – it also surprised me how fast some boats will come down this narrow waterway – having had a week on the water and having been here many times previously, you truly do not need to rush anywhere and in fact being able to drive outside and take my time I have seen more wildlife and heard more birdsong than I think I had previously.  I went for a walk and took time to think things through, I remember as a kid with my parents saying how one day I wanted to live in one of the bungalows that lead into Potter Heigham – these days I just like the boating part and fear if I lived by the water but could not get on the water I’d go mad.  

There is plenty of rivers one can explore in this country – but for me there is something special about the Broads, something that captured my parents and then they bringing me has captured me and yet some may think I am obsessed – or mad to spend out what I do to visit – but if my drug is boating on the Broads, it sure could be a whole lot worse.  It is beautiful and as I walked back to the boat felt that excitement that this was and had been my little home and I had seen so much from it over the last few days it was a shame tomorrow would be the last full day to enjoy – I was going to be lazy I decided on Sunday.


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