A Fine Broads Yacht
We escaped from the River Yar with only one bit of damage. On the Broads, motor cruisers are rented out to all and sundry, even those with no previous boating experience and who drive them like cars. They can be hazardous when required to give way to sail and especially, we learnt, on tidal waters. We were woken up on Monday by a big thump as the cruiser moored up-tide of us tried to motor out down tide across our stern. Fortunately the damage to us is only a paint job for next Spring.
We had an exciting sail back across Breydon Water in strong winds and torrential rain before passing out through the bridges into the sea port, where we waited until Wednesday for winds to ease. It was a very early start at 4:00am but with an excellent easterly breeze we had a good passage to the Walton Backwaters, just south of the busy ports of Felixstow and Harwich. This is an extensive area of islands, salt marsh, mud flats and channels. We tucked up down a narrow channel behind Honey Island, much helped by our shallow draft. At low water we were surrounded by mud flats, some with steep banks. There are many wading birds combing the mud , especially the curlew with its evocative rippling trill. One evening we watched a seal close by as it hauled itself out onto a steep mud bank before sliding back down into the water. It seemed to enjoy tobogganing.
An evening of mud in the Walton Backwaters
For Tony, it was interesting to visit the backwaters as it was the location used by Arthur Ransom in his novel Secret Water. Ransom’s books were a huge influence on him as a youngster and he got his feel for sailing from them. Interestingly, on this cruise we have visited all the UK locations Ransom used: The Lake District (Swallows & Amazons and its sequels); Isle of Lewis (Great Northern); Norfolk Broads (Coot Club and The Big Six); and we sailed close past Lowestoft (Peter Duck) and the River Orwell (We Didn’t Mean to Go to Sea). Tony’s son Richard had given him a biography of this complex man and his double life during the Russian revolutions and we have both read it during the cruise.
Stefan re-joined us on the Friday and on Saturday we made an early start southwards across the Thames estuary. We had to pick our way around wind farms and sand banks and through shipping lanes. We had a fair wind but it was stronger than forecast, mostly F6 and F7 at times when we had all three main reefs in and a much rolled-down genoa. Once we rounded South Foreland and entered the Dover Straights we had the wind and big seas on our nose. We had made such fast progress that we were now ahead of our plan and had contrary tide and a weakened wind. Faced with a three hour wait in big seas for the tide to change, we resorted to the engine for the last hour into Dover.
In Dover we waited three days for a fair wind westwards. Apart from the magnificent castle, there is little to see here and we had a restful time. Stefan marked his birthday by taking us for an excellent meal in a hotel on the sea front. Finally on Tuesday the wind went to the east and we set out for Portsmouth. Having Stefan as extra crew meant we could sail round the clock in watches. We set off in the evening and sailed into the night. It was warm and clear and the gentle sail under starlight was amazing. The following day was also beautiful and we made full use of the spinnaker all the way to Portsmouth – covering 104nm in 23 hours.
We have now arrived back home after our two season odyssey. It has been an amazing and extraordinary experience and we have learnt so much about the British Isles. Stefan has departed and we are still on the boat – not quite ready to go to the house yet and tackle the post etc. We will sleep aboard tonight. We have brought Antipole back to the Camber Dock, where we did a lot of the original fitting out, as we have various jobs to do. But all has changed here. The small businesses have been swept away and it is now a vast construction site building a prestige facility for Sir Ben Ainsley’s America’s Cup Challenge. This is all a bit of a culture shock after the quiet and wild places we have become used to.
That’s the news for now
with love to all
Ynskje & Tony