Norfolk Broads

Wroxham Classic 2017

CVRDA and Broads YC Classic week and week-end Aug 2017. Club looked after us very well - good facilities and big turn-out on the Saturday for the CVRDA Merlin Trophy. Tried a 'quick' sail along the River Bure but the trees are to TALL. This is a busy part of the Broads for big boats as well, which makes it interesting.

The Norfolk Broads

Wroxham to Potter Heigham - River Bure and River Thume – Return with hope and joy in your heart, the same way

Mileage 13.5  Journey Time 6 hours with lightish winds  Rise and Fall 4 inches (10cms)

If leaving from Wroxham – leave at high tide (3.5 hrs after HW at Gt Yarmouth). You have 6 hours before tide turns.

This may look on paper (and on the map) a ridiculously easy trip to do. I have, however, tried this twice and failed. Once, starting from the Potter Heigham end. I hired day punt from Hickling Broad. I was doing OK up until PH then the tide turned, I did not have enough hours in the day nor enough water/wind in the right direction. Still was exciting as it was a Saturday, and the river was busier than the M1 with nasty little day boats.

The second attempt was in a GP leaving from Norfolk Yacht Club. This time I blame the time of year, it was August. The trees were in full-leaf and no wind, meant we took nearly an hour to do the first mile. We clearly were not going to make it! Particularly annoying was the fact I purchased a sailing permit (expensive, I think it was about £22). If I had stayed in Wroxham Broad, it would have been free of a Broads Authority permit as this Broad is privately owed. The reason for this route is that there are no bridges, GP’s have a 22’ mast and its not easy to ‘dip’.

Hicking Broad and the Thurne at Ludham

Southern Rivers

I have had a day sail out of Oulton Broad and turned left on to the River Waveney. The first section is quite interesting – mainly jealously looking at the amazing houses by the river. The Waveney section was quite boring as the reeds were nearly as high as my mast. I must have tacked a thousand of times as the wind was in my face. Eventually it does get out into open countryside, but you cannot see anything for the height of the riverbank. I was down here for the week – but spent most of it pottering about Oulton Broad.

Top tips

1) Don’t just think about where you are trying to get to on your current tack, think a few tacks ahead. There’s no sense in taking a risk or losing speed by pinching to get upstream of something if it means you’ll have to bear away to clear an obstruction next tack.

2) With all the excitement of avoiding objects at water level and planning three tacks ahead, it can be easy to forget not to look up – tree branches, particularly. Eyes under the water as well, close to where there are trees, as bank erosion will have exposed underwater roots. With your spare eye always look behind you before tacking, don’t rely on hearing the engine, a lot of boats are now electric, and you also are probably not the only quiet sailboat out.

3) Despite what the colregs say – do give way to the passenger carrying, ‘scenic cruise’, pretend Mississippi paddle steamers, – especially the ones coming out of Horning and Wroxham.

4) Saturdays are surprisingly quiet as this is change-over day for hire craft. What hire motor- cruisers that are out have had a week’s practise! Not quite the same can be said for those out on Sunday. ALL hire-skippers cannot judge where and when your next tack will be. Use hand-signals to indicate what your intentions are – I point to myself and to direction I am next going in. Give a wave of thanks. Where its particularly busy no harm in shouting ‘ready-about’, even if on your own. Do not use sound signals – you will just confuse everybody on the river.

5) Buy a Broads permit. There is no way you are going to sail between Wroxham and PH without meeting the Broads Authority Rangers boat. Do not unpeel the boat permit number and stick it on your boat, it is an absolute bugger to get it off. Keep it in the boat and wave it with carefree abandon when approached. Also, the length of the boat includes bowsprit and rudder eg. a GP14 is more than 14’ in this case. I don’t have an engine but if you have a petrol outboard – you have just doubled the price!

Useful Links

Below images of Blakeney and Wells - I have not sailed a small boat out-off these places - nether should you, unless you know how you are going to get back!