Wednesday 4th June Ref: 2008/01
An excellent well-planned very long trip in calm weather and seas, early enough to use the tides down the Thames estuary from London to allow sufficient progress even at low speed to make the afternoon Great Yarmouth Haven bridge lift and pass under the Bure Bridges at low Spring Tide in late afternoon and then to continue a complete passage up the River Bure to arrive at Horning before dusk
Another cunningly timed passage on what was a truly successful day and a wonderful achievement to be starting out in a London Dock and then finishing off by arriving at Horning, right next to my house without stopping or being delayed at any point. Della was a great help as my crew and Diana had helped with the shopping and by making the sandwiches so that it was a good team effort. Despite the very early start and late finish, they had also both enjoyed the experience immensely and did not mind getting up so early but then they had both taken the opportunity to have sleeps and naps en route to get their sleep. I managed quite well, but was obviously very tired at the end having not had any rest at all for I had to stay vigilant throughout in view of the inexperience of my crew.
The weather was raining off and on all day but light drizzle such that there was hardly any wind and the sea was from slight to glass-like with smooth being the norm. I got us locked out at 3.30am and dawn was delayed in the gloom but, though dark to start with and misty at times, visibility was never an issue and the boat ran well. There was vibration, which made cruising above ten knots impossible, but we were early enough and had a good plan and feedback on progress to know how fast to go to arrive at Great Yarmouth on time and I was actually able to slow down as we approached Lowestoft to save fuel and wear and tear. I even called them to say that we could make the Haven Bridge for 4.00pm, so they could bring the time forward then if it suited. They then referred to the bridge lift on the VHF as the 4.00pm/4.15pm opening and managed to organise communications with the other vessels accordingly. When cruising through the Harbour, I got Della to take the helm whilst I got the covers down and removed the flag staff and winch and then, once through the Haven bridge to Diana’s surprise, I lowered the mast with all of its mounted equipment and adjusted the pulpit height gauge for windscreen level and headed for the Bure bridges. It was a very low Spring tide low water and so I could easily get under the bridges but my main worry throughout was the depth of water under the bridges. With the ebb tide still fully running, I edged against it and could maintain very good way and control of the vessel and we emerged unscathed and ready to cruise up the Bure. By this time it was raining again and so, having got as much of the stuff off of the bridge and inside as possible, I stayed up there and let Della and Diana go inside as I cruised up to Acle. On this journey, depth was a continuous issue but we did not ground at all, even though just 1.3m showed on the one working echo sounder from time to time. I stopped at the defunct shop moorings just upstream of the Acle Bridge and moored up so that Della could help me put the bridge back together. I then cruised steadily up the Bure as the family watched a film on the DVD.
Ropes Hill Dyke was quite shallow and silty at the entrance past the sailing club as the water level was rather low but I managed to carry on without grounding and found my own dyke of sufficient depth to allow me into it bow first.
V3-N4/5; seas smooth to slight; 16-24degC, 81-50%RH, 1015-1017mb steady, with the slow speed necessitated by propellor damage