I recently had the pleasure of chartering one of the 4 berth cabin yachts from the famous Hunters Yard in Ludham. What might seem like a busman’s holiday was actually far from it… Hunters Yard offers “The authentic 1930’s broads sailing experience” and I can confirm it was exactly that! With no engine or electrics, the traditional gaff rig and quant pole was all we had to propel us through the water. With winds blowing between 5 and 25 kts, gusting and veering, it took all our concentration to safely navigate the twisting and winding rivers of the Broads. Initially we headed into Potter Heigham, a truly amazing and unique village with ramshackle houses and sheds lining the river bank. Accessed only by boat, craft of all shapes and sizes could be seen; from modern speed boats, canoes, sailing dinghies, narrow boats and even the renowned Wherry all jostled for position in a strangely contrasting yet harmonious manner. From there we headed south west along the Bure to Ranworth. The Malthouse Broad provided a welcome bit of space to spread our wings and sail with some much needed freedom. As we moored up on the lee shore our thoughts were more focussed on beer and food than an exit strategy for the next day. Despite knowing that the forecast was for the wind to increase and stay in the North I hoped that somehow things would be better in the morning… Sadly it was not to be! For any onlooker I imagine that the graceful old gaffer would have looked a picture of serenity. Little would they know of the internal discord as three seasoned ocean sailors tacked furiously against the wind and tide all the way out of the narrow cut and back onto the Bure. With two very young children in tow it was at times more challenging than any sailing I have ever experienced. Hats off to all the sailors of the Broads, tacking to windward in an extremely narrow river onboard a heavy old gaff rigged yacht is far from easy. Progress can be extremely slow and the banks can be uncomfortably close. Quanting in itself is a very respectable skill and it seemed more luck than judgement that we didn’t have a man over board to add to our excitement. A glorious couple of days all thanks to the lovely people at http://www.huntersyard.co.uk/ Long may they continue providing us all with such wonderful working pieces of history. A joy to see and a real treat to sail!
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