In this month’s Confession, a cruise on the Norfolk Broads goes from bad to worse
One summer we decided to trail our Fairline to the Norfolk Broads behind our trusty 4×4. It was twenty minutes into our journey when I noticed the temperature gauge needle going into the red.
By the time we had pulled onto the hard shoulder, steam was coming from the bonnet. I didn’t have any spare water to check for leaks so I called the AA.
An hour later a nice man put some water into the radiator and it came straight out again via a loose jubilee clip on a Y section. Remedied, we set off again on our adventure.
Four hours later we reached Oulton Broad. We wasted no time in preparing the boat for launch as it was beginning to get dark. We tied on the fenders and filled the boat with our clothes and provisions for the week and reversed it down the slip into the water.
I parked the car, chained up the trailer, picked a mooring spot and got ready to set off but when I turned over the engine there was nothing. Despite the batteries being left on charge for a week, it was flat.
I got the jump leads from the car and connected the boat’s engine battery to the domestic batteries. This gave enough power to kick the engine into life but it was now too late to navigate unfamiliar waters so we overnighted on the slipway, surrounded by ‘no mooring’ signs.
The next morning we started the boat and took her around to the moorings 10 minutes away and paid the harbourmaster our fee for the week.
Later that day we cast off on the first leg of our adventure to Great Yarmouth. We reached the estuary at lunchtime and as we travelled towards our mooring we noticed two low bridges in our path.
As we approached the first bridge it became obvious that our VHF aerial was too high so I quickly lowered it, allowing us to pass safely under. All was going well, until there was a crunch.
We looked up to see the anchor light smash into a hundred pieces… thankfully no serious damage was caused. After mooring up we lit a barbecue and settled down for the night, just as the heavens opened.
The following day we headed to Norwich, a good six hours away by boat. Yes it rained, it was overcast and horrible but we were on a voyage of discovery.
Lots of reeds and windmills later we arrived, found a good spot and tied up for the evening. That night we were awoken by a loud banging. I put it down to us hitting the bank and went back to sleep.
The morning dawned bright and sunny until I noticed that 6ft of rubbing strip had ripped off the side of the boat. Apparently, an unusually high tide during the night had lifted the port side above the concrete walkway and as the tide had lowered the rubbing had been stripped off.
A couple of days of persistent rain later, we were heading back to Oulton Broad when I was caught speeding (doing 9mph in a 6mph zone).
I explained that my plotter was in knots and I had no idea how fast I was going and the warden let me off and asked me to follow him for a spell to illustrate the correct speed.
On tick over, with my bow trimmed down as far as it would go, I only narrowly avoided riding up his transom. In hindsight I don’t think that a 5.7lt V8 is suitable for the Broads, unless you take out seven spark plugs.
After a week of mishaps and rain we were relieved to be heading home. We got the boat onto the trailer with minimal effort and I thought our good luck was here to stay, until our 4×4 pulled the boat off the slipway and the rear suspension went.
I phoned the AA again, safe in the knowledge that I had the right cover, only to be informed that at 9.5ft wide my boat was above the AA’s 7.7ft limit. I was told they could tow my car home but not my boat: that would be an additional £750.
I now fully understand the adage about boats and money – I have no money because I have a boat rings much truer than I have money because I have a boat.
The author of every confession we print wins the original Stephen Shaw cartoon artwork (above) and an Icom IC-M23 Buoyant VHF Marine Transceiver handheld VHF radio worth £165.
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