Sailing with Tim - 1975

Page updated 1 September 2013

Go to TopIntroduction

In a report I wrote a while ago, about a Cruise in Jemima in 1976, I told of how Jemima, my father's boat, was bought it to encourage the children to visit. After I moved from Northampton to a new job based in Kings Lynn, I did that quite often, sometimes with friends in tow. As in that earlier report, what follows is mainly a collection of photographs. Unfortunately, this time, the collection is of rather blurry ones. As I write this I am assuming that this cruise took place in 1975, during my first summer based in Norfolk and when I was still maintaining my contacts from Northampton.

This report is much delayed, partly because I did not feel the photographs were of a quality worth sharing and partly because it took me some time to get round to searching for Tim, who it turns out, these days, is a full-time professional artist based in North Wales. I wanted to see if he could remember anything of the cruise to make extend the fragments of memory that I have. The one advantage this time has given me is a little time to do my best to improve the shockingly deteriorated colour slides that form this record.

Go to TopUp The Thurne

Our cruise will have started from Dilham, where Dad had bought a mooring when he bought the boat. The first image is a typical shot from me. With little space to get some distance from your subject, the obvious solution to to shoot from the cabin and this one shows that Dad's boat had the rare flocked finish inside. As for where it was taken and how long we had taken to get there, I do not know. However, the following photograph shows that Mike, my brother, is aboard at Thurne Mouth, so perhaps he joined as for a day's cruise from Dilham or, maybe, he joined Tim and I Ludham Bridge. Mary would sometimes use trips to Norfolk to go shopping in Norwich, so it is quite possible that he was dropped off a at Ludham and picked up from Potter at the end of the day.

Outside my Parents HouseTim on the tiller and Mike looking after the fourth member of the crew.

Leaving my Parents House

On the Bure with Thurne Mouth in the background.

I do remember the event of hopping ashore in order to get a photograph of Jemima under sail, from off the boat. It's one of those strange memories, disconnected from everything else about the trip. It's similar to my memory of the crop spraying aircraft seen in the tale of the Cruise in Jemima, in 1976. That too, is a disconnected event. I only know that it took place during that cruise because of the photographic evidence.

It was an inelegant exit from the boat and a struggle in the long rough grass to get to a position where anything like a decent shot could be achieved. I recall being annoyed that they kept racing on. However, I don't remember the return to the boat. Why I didn't take a shot of the boat approaching the bank before I jumped aboard again, I do not know.

Looking at the image now, I think how it might have been quite a good one had the old transparency film held its colour and not suffered from poor storage over almost 40 years.

As to what the photograph shows, I am surprised to see how high the outboard motor is raised. It appears practically horizontal and, as ever, when I look at old photographs of SeaHawks, I wonder when Jeckells stopped placing the class emblems in different positions on each side of the main sail. More recent sails made by the company have the emblems placed back to back, with only the numbers offset. Having the numbers offset is a reasonable idea. You can see the outline of the number on the far side of the sail quite easily. If this was back to back with the number it could create "shadows" that, in some lighting conditions, would be difficult to read.

Go to TopPotter Heigham

At Thurne Mouth we turned off the Bure and up the Thurne. The next photograph shows our approach to Potter Heigham bridge. The mast is already lowered. You can tell that because there are no shrouds in view. The angle suggests that we are either still moored or have just cast off after dropping the mast.

Morning on Barton BroadAfter dropping our mast we catch up with a yacht from Hunter's fleet making towards that famous bridge.

Several things date the view.The boat sheds on the left are now gone to be replaced with a much more open area with dykes where day boats may be hired. Also intriguing is the mesh screens seen covering the lesser arches under the bridge. What were they for? Perhaps to stop canoeists making their passage under the bridge that way? (Equally intriguing is that I see that my photographs of Potter Bridge taken in 1966 show the woodwork in place although the netting was missing back then.) Passing under the bridge I take a shot back to see the yacht still some way from the bridge. Apart from more of those screens across the smaller arches in the bridge, another thing that dates this view is the forest of masts. Herbert Woods no longer hires yachts at all.
Driving to the Boat

Quanting, and making very little progress, the Hunter's boat struggles against the current!

While our Yahama seems to have propelled us easily through the bridge, it would appear that the guy on the quant pole is struggling to make any progress. It's always difficult to judge these things from a single still photograph, but it seems to me that the pole has been thrown into the water at some distance from the boat and that is not a good idea.

Once under way, the quant needs to dropped into the water as close in as possible to the side deck. As the pole hits the river bed the bottom should move aft as the boat goes forward. Hanging on to the pole while letting it slide through your hands, the button at the top will soon reach shoulder level. It should then be pulled in and caught in the cup you make with your shoulder as your outer arm goes forward to hold the quant a comfortable distance down its length. Then, with the button held against the shoulder, you walk down the side deck of the boat pushing the end of the pole with your shoulder. As you walk it is down to the helmsman to steer the boat so that the quant remains close to the boat and the thrust is directly aft. Steering manoeuvres should only take place as the quant is recovered and dragged to the front of the boat again.

But so much for the theory of quanting. I wish I could recall how far we got above Potter. Did we get to Hickling? Did we overnight by the Pleasure Boat Inn. I have no memory. All I can say is that there are no photographs.

Go to TopThurne Dyke

Next in the sequence of images is one of Jemima in Thurne Dyke, well below Potter Bridge. There's a lot of sail on her foredeck so it looks as if she has been flying her genoa. I don't know whether the plan was to stop for lunch at The Lion, at the head of the dyke, or whether the trip up the dyke was made simply to make a phone call.

Tony at the Helm by Cox's Boatyard

Moored at Thurne Dyke, the famous white windmill in the background.

Leaving my Parents House

Tim makes a call. These were the days long before mobile phones.

The phone call is another of those disconnected memories. I do remember Tim being anxious to contact someone, but whether that was in connection with work back in Northampton, something to do with repairs to his own boat, or for some other family or domestic reason completely escapes me.

Of course, the old style phone boxes are rapidly disappearing but, unusually, this one still exists. I recall being told once that BT are no longer allowed to replace this style of telephone box with the more modern kinds as they are all treated as listed buildings. I have no idea if that story is true, but I have just looked at Google's StreetView and can confirm that this one was certainly there until quite recently. It's directly opposite the end of the dyke outside what then would almost certainly have been called the "Public Conveniences" (What a wonderful euphemism that phrase is, but it's so taken for granted that you barely think about it!).

Whatever the need for, or result of, the phone call, it seems that after leaving Thurne Dyke we continued the quarter mile down the Thurne to its mouth and then turned back upstream on the Bure, the way we had come.

Another of my disconnected memories is being taken to see Tim's boat and inspecting the cork sheeting he was installing as decking. I suspect that the boat was at Upton Dyke. I also have a feeling that it was not on this cruise that I saw it. My memory says we drove to it rather than go by boat. Whether it was during this visit of Tim to the Broads or another occasion, I cannot recall.

Go to TopThrough Horning

The next photograph shows a Herbert Woods yacht tacking down the Bure. I suppose Herbert Woods historians would be able to identify the class if not the individual boat. Taken together with the following photographs I suspect that this one was taken on the approach to Horning.

Tony at the Helm by Cox's Boatyard

On the Bure again, we encountered a hired yacht from Herbert Woods.

Herbert Woods was fond of the Bermudan rig. It does have the advantage that it only requires a single halyard to hoist, rather than the separate throat and peak halyards that the more traditional gaff rigged yacht needs. It makes it easier for the novice crew to hoist.

However, their Bermudan rig does mean that Woods' yachts had much taller masts than boats in other hire fleets. I have always wondered how many of Wood's tall masts were damaged by hirers while they lay on cabin tops, hanging many feet behind the cockpit.

I could be wrong but I believe that the next photo way taken while moored at the Ferry Inn in Horning. The quay heading and row of boats moored on the opposite bank is in keeping with this location. The shrubbery is also about right. Not that I have any recollection of a visit to the place. It just seems likely.

For me the interesting bit in the photo is the large royal blue cushions, seen in use in the cockpit. When it was decided that "Jemima" was to be the name of the new boat Mary, Mike's wife, made a number of cushions embroidered with "Jemima Puddle Ducks". This is probably the only photograph showing them in use.The two seen here are the large ones. Much smaller square ones were also made.

Tony and Annette

Tim takes a doze with Bess. This is probably the only photo in the Chapman collection to show the
cushions that Mum and my sister Gil embroidered with Jemima Puddle Duck motifs!

You'll have noticed that all the photographs show people with jumpers or anoraks on. In spite of Tim apparently sun bathing, the weather can't have been that warm. Perhaps keeping warm was the reason for hanging on to Bess like that?

Go to TopSalhouse Broad

Going South under Acle Bridge

Stowing the sails after mooring at Salhouse Broad.

There are no pictures of the village of Horning in this collection. That is surprising as most of my cruises aboard Jemima went no further than Barton Broad and I would have expected to have taken one or two whilst passing through it as it would have been quite novel for me.

In a typical weekend cruise, I would leave the mooring at Dilham and motor down to Wayford Bridge and, once the other side, would hoist sails. I took pride in managing the passage down the Ant, past Hunsett Mill and onto the main channel from Stalham and Sutton without using the motor. I would overnight on Barton and and then cruise around the Broad for most of the day returning before the wind dropped.

Unless I could take the Friday off work as well, in the time available at a normal weekend, it often did not seem worth attempting the passage to Ludham Bridge. Even with a favourable wind, the business of dropping the mast to go under the bridge, knowing you'd have to go through the same procedure on the return, made the attempt at Ludham itself seem barely worthwhile as, to be able to make it home again, you'd have to turn back on reaching Ant Mouth.

Because of all this journey's beyond Barton were relatively rare and I would have expected to have views of the main landmarks passed.

The next two photographs are very clearly taken at Salhouse Broad. It's the only one I know with that kind of shallow sandy beach. Ten years earlier that wasn't the case. I recall that the area around the site of Hickling Broad Sailing Club's Club House had a similar shallow and sandy bank. However, when the cub house was built, there was quay heading installed and the mooring was no longer available to non-members boats.

Collectiong belongings at Stracey Arms

Tim poses for a photograph. It's such a shame that it is so grainy.

It's a shame that both pictures have suffered so badly in storage. Although conditions appear quite bright the with a lot of blue sky in the view across the broad, the foreground is so dark that I have struggled even to get this quality in the image.

However, the obvious question is, was this the site of an overnight stop? Normally, I would have opted for a mudweight over the bows. This remains my preferred way to spend the night, but with a dog on board it is likely we'd have taken the opportunity of mooring by convenient open fields for the necessary trips ashore.

Go to TopTowards Wroxham - and Beyond?

Crop Spraying Aircraft by Runham Drainage Mill

The best guess is that this is approaching Wroxham.

The next photograph is of Tim at the helm. It seems we are under motor as the strip of shadow across Tim's chest must surely be that of the boom. Even without the shadow evidence, being under motor is quite likely, as in the height of summer the river near Wroxham gets extremely busy. Back then there were far more hire craft than there are now. Traffic generates wash and what little wind to be found between the trees that line the river tends to be shaken out of the sails. Progress then becomes very difficult, especially for a short masted sailing boat, such as a SeaHawk.

The next three photographs present me with a problem. My memory of moorings in the river as you approach Wroxham is hazy. I do remember being desperate to find one, perhaps Bess needed to be put shore, and I remember passing the moorings in the next photograph and finding they were full.

In the end the only possibility was in the space beyond the end of the quay heading, but with overhanging trees access for a yacht was difficult. That's why we had to drop the mast in order to get in. Even then we could only reach the shore by stepping on the log in the water.

I assume that these moorings are those marked on current Ordnance Survey maps on the narrow island separating the river from Wroxham Broad. The fact that the scene is in full sunlight I suspect that this was not the site of an overnight mooring. In any case it is rather close to Salhouse, a much more likely spot, given the approach from Thurne Dyke. It seems more likely it was a mooring where lunch was taken and Bess let ashore.

Close up of the crop sprayerThe only mooring left was one with trees overhead, so to get in we had to drop the mast!

Passing througn the open Somerleyton Swing Bridge

The only way ashore is to use a log as a gang plank.

While I don't remember too much about the why or the when of our stop at the Wroxham Broad moorings, I do remember taking the two photographs here. The first shows a wriggling Bess who was anxious to be put on the ground and the second a remarkable relaxed creature happily sniffing the log with no concern about a slippery curved surface that might have easily dropped you in the river.

What happened after we made this landfall and left the mooring is another mystery. When I first looked at the next photograph it was the bottle of wine that took my eye. I don't recall there being screw cap bottles of wine back in the 1970s, although I do recognise the label - a cheap red plonk!

Given the overhanging trees in the foreground, I first assumed that this was another view from the Wroxham Broad moorings. However, thinking about it more I realise that having another boat tight on our stern doesn't tie in with my memory of the area by the quay heading and log. Then there is the puzzle of the twin pylons in the trees on the opposite bank.

I now think this photograph was taken just upstream of Wroxham Railway Bridge. There are very similar pylons there today, taking cables to the major electricity sub-station beside the railway station just 200m beyond the river. That only leaves the puzzle of the Hunter's yacht quanting towards the bridge. These days the river's edge is quay headed with a waterside walk along this stretch. A boat could moor up anywhere and drop its mast to pass under the two bridges at Wroxham. But that doesn't account for it being a Hunter's boat, with no engine. They have probably dropped the sails a short while back, to ensure they don't approach the bridge too fast, and are now trying to get as close to the bridge as possible, perhaps near a quay headed bit of bank around the bridge supports, to moor and lower the mast..

At Oulton Broad Yacht Station

Am I seeing things? Did they really have screw cap wine bottles in the mid-1970s?

The bottle of wine in the photo also suggests that we could be preparing lunch. I say that because it still appears to be unopened! Lunch just beyond the bridges at Wroxham would fit in with an overnight mooring on Salhouse and a coffee break at Wroxham Broad. I don't know if there is access from the bank near the railway bridge back into Wroxham, where we might have chosen to buy provisions. Perhaps the wine had only just been bought in Wroxham and this is why it is unopened. Nor are there any photographs of us going further upstream. It seems strange to have taken the trouble to pass under the bridges yet not take advantage to go to Coltishall.

Of course it may be that I was keen to visit Bridge Broad. I only remember visiting it a couple of times in my life, and I believe one of those was in the the 1960s, either when hiring a day boat or when aboard Buzzard or Siesta. Initially, I assumed that would have been the year the family was aboard Siesta, as I recall being in a lug-sailed dinghy at the time, but on the photograph of we lads passing through Potter Heigham bridge you can clearly see the tan sails and lacing round the yard in the dinghy we were trailing, so it could have been on either of those trips. Was this trip that second occasion, or as I pondered in my log of the Cruise with Tony and Annette, was it when I was with them? There again, I have a feeling that the second trip could have been much more recent, the time I was aboard an electric picnic boat in the early 2000s.

Go to TopNeatishead

In another of those disconnected memories I remember taking the photo of the thrush. (Is it a thrust? I'm not a bird man - and if it is a thrush why should it have been there. I don't think of it as an aquatic bird.) I am sure it was taken as we got up, around breakfast time - that might tie in with a yacht with boom tent erected. However, to show just how disconnected my memory is with everything other than the subject of the picture, I have no idea where it was taken.

Passing back agin througn Somerleyton Swing Bridge

It was crowded at Neatishead and we had to breast up for the night. We woke to find company of a different kind.

Being breasted up overnight suggests that it was rather busy at our chosen mooring the night before. Only the following photographs suggest the venue in Neatishead. That's a fair way from what I assume was our lunchtime mooring above Wroxham Bridge but, of course, on Jemima I was less concerned about sailing everywhere and more prepared to use Dad's outboard motor, so it is definitely not an impossible voyage.

Passing back agin througn Somerleyton Swing Bridge

I used to claim I only had one photograph showing Jemima with her Genoa is use. This appears to be a another.

Again, I guess that we chose Neatishead as an overnight stop for Bess's sake - or maybe it was to have access to the White Horse in the village. These days, if on my own, I'd prefer to be out on the Broad. On leaving our mooring we hoisted the genoa. Although we can't see the whole sail, the empty fairleads on the cabin top and sail outside the shrouds tells us that.
Passing back agin througn Somerleyton Swing Bridge

While others were motoring out of Neatishead, as ever, it can be seen that we were under sail!

The sun seems high enough in the sky, but there is little activity aboard the other yachts, which look to be on very temporary overnight moorings. Many a sailor would have motored out of Neatishead because of the trees and narrow dyke, but the tilted motor confirms that we are under sail.
Passing back agin througn Somerleyton Swing Bridge

There are times when I feel I ought to have a "ship's dog". She was no trouble and a joy to have aboard.

Approaching the Barton Broad, we find some activity on the last of the moored yachts in the dyke.It's good to be reminded that Bess clearly enjoyed being aboard. Soon we are out of the dyke and on to Barton Broad.

Go to TopBarton Broad and further up the Ant

As I said at the beginning, I am not sure exactly when this cruise took place. Given the number of boats we saw at the moorings near Wroxham Broad, it certainly seems likely to have been in August, in the height of the summer holiday period. It also seems quite clear that it was still relatively early in the morning given that the moored yachts still have their boom tents erected with only the youngsters out sailing small dinghies, perhaps while the parents are getting breakfast ready.

Passing back agin througn Somerleyton Swing Bridge

I think I can make out a large "Jolly Roger" flying from the moored yacht, still a regular site on hire boats.

Passing back agin througn Somerleyton Swing Bridge

Departing from Barton Broad and heading for Wayford Bridge.

The sun on Tim's right side as we leave the Broad and enter the main channel of the Ant confirms this is no later than mid-morning. There's only the gentlest movement seen on the surface of the water and Jemima sits bolt upright in the light airs. Tim is able to let the tiller look after itself while he plays with the jib sheets in an attempt to keep the genoa filled.

It would be interesting to know whether we continued to use the genoa all the way up the Ant to Wayford Bridge. Given the wind direction it is likely that we did, as up to the junction where the dykes to leading to the staithes at Stalham and Sutton leave the river it runs more or less north, where the wind would continue to be on our starboard beam, and then beyond Hunsett Mill, where it turns more westward it would have been on the stern quarter.

In spite of the fact that the wind direction might have allowed it, almost certainly, we would have motored the final one and a half miles from Wayford Bridge to Dilham. Only once do I recall attempting to sail up Tyler's Cut, the last half mile of the route. On that occasion the wind was in much the same direction and I remember wondering as I approached Dilham what I would have done had I encountered another boat coming towards me.

As we had been out for several nights, I expect we used the time that it took to reach Dilham from Wayford to begin to pack all our remaining provisions and gear so it was ready to transfer into our cars.

Go to TopDilham and Home

Once at Dilham we slide into the dykes that I believe had only been dug out shortly before Dad bought his mooring in 1973. Dad's length of dyke side was quay headed but the plot behind uncultivated. He did plant hedges along the boundaries but, until they were established, the weeds tended to grow faster than anything else. It seems that Dad hadn't visited the mooring with his mower in a while.
Passing back agin througn Somerleyton Swing Bridge

Tim's Fiat 500 and my MG Midget, bought after I started work in Norfolk from a garage in Northampton.

We load our gear into Tim's Fiat 500 and my Midget. Mike had previously owned two Autobianchi estate cars, which were based on the Fiat 500, so I guess thy had talked about them when Mike was aboard.
Moored opposite the new Wroxham Hotel

With more hair than he has these days, Mike helps empty my Midget. It is his Herald Convertible behind.

The final photograph in this collection was taken outside our parent's house at Lammas and shows Mike and our two cars. The house in the background was the old "Anchor of Hope" pub, at that time a single dwelling. It has since been divided into two houses. Just out of view to the left would be Buxton Mill.

I am not clear why this view would conclude the record of our cruise. The evidence is that Mike was only with Tim and I on the first day. I would have expected that Tim's Fiat would have been included. It's yet another mystery! If only I had written it all down 37 years ago!

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