It has been rather damp summer and as expected the Norfolk Broads were full of water, but to our surprise the sun shone too. Enough for sunscreen and ice cream.
In total we were five boats, the smallest being Albatross and the largest Wagtail. There’s an irony in that. In between there was the Edwin James, Elizabeth and Celandine. As always with the EBA there were never two boats the same, there were never two motors the same and there were never two batteries the same.
We started from Landamores Slipway in Wroxham promptly at 10.30ish, enroute to the Swan Inn at Horning where we lunched. There were dramas enroute as our small fleet became separated at the first broad. One of the issues with the Norfolk Broads is the amount of traffic and if that traffic is powered by a smelly diesel motor there’s a real urge to overtake. I’m a little gung-ho but at less than a metre wide I can afford to be.
The long and short of it was that I was separated from the larger group and was unaware of some ‘technical issues’ being faced by Albatross. In the car park before launch we were all marveling at the very excellent fit out that Myles Lubbock has carried out on his ‘compact and bijou’ watercraft. The Albatross is small but is actually capable of towing a water skier at high speed. Now we’re all nice people in the EBA but schadenfreude is a legitimate human emotion as is admiration and jealousy, so it was with a great deal of joy when I saw The Albatross eventually turn up she was being towed by Elizabeth. More about this later.
Perhaps the most famous boat amongst our small fleet was Wagtail now owned by John Puddefoot and she was looking splendid having just been refurbished by the very capable team at Landamores, the work included varnishing, antifouling and reworking of the cabin roof. She really did look a picture.
I was travelling in my 20ft canoe with a cannibalised Minkota Motor whirring away underneath me. It was a beautiful day and the scenery on the Broads is stunning. The downside of this trip however was having to put up with Stuart James, who proceeded to tell me about his holidays abroad and how well he feels being able to go to his country club now he is semi retired. I’m still very much part of the workforce, Bah Humbug.
And now for probably the most travelled boat amongst us, Celandine owned by John Derby. She is a towable sailing cruiser that gets latched on to the back of John’s estate car and towed all around the country. He’s a member of the EBA but also the Cruising Club (not sure of its actual name) where they have meetings of up to 20 boats and stay onboard over a weekend. After our rally John continued his travels for a couple of days on the Broads being powered by an e-propulsion motor with batteries being topped up by solar panels fitted to a framework over his cockpit.
We arrived at The Swan Inn, beautifully situated on a bend in the river with views across the countryside beyond. Prior to decimalisation, our country was used to dealing with the duodecimal system, dividing by 12, then we progressed to the decimal system which is dividing everything by 10. The Swan Inn in Horning, being so advanced, has moved to the Octal system, dividing by 8. What this means in reality is that even if we wanted a table of 9 by adding a chair to the end of the table, it wasn’t possible. Fire regulations, ordering software, eccentricity of owners, most likely the Norfolk interpretation of the Riot Act.
Once you’ve moved forward to the octal system, there’s no going back. I don’t know why it created such an issue with the staff and their ordering system but in the end it just turned out to be funny. However the food was good, they had beer and wine and the company, as always, is a lot of fun. It was also lovely to see Linda Landamore who is a little unwell at the moment but has the spirit to keep on going and like all Landamores enjoys the water and a drink or two.
At lunch we always seem to spend much longer chatting than is scheduled, so on settling the bill we jumped in our boats and headed back to Wroxham at full speed. I’m pleased to report that the Albatross was again soaring having overcome its technical issues. Water Pump.
I like the return journeys because there’s no worrying about batteries and range and overheating and its a full-out dash to get back to the slip and if the boat breaks it doesn’t matter. But the boats don’t break and having a bit of a razz on the way home makes us all feel a little bit younger.