During the weekend of 10/11 September 2016 Maud made history.
Do you know anyone who has witnessed a wherry being loaded in the traditional way using her mast as a crane*?
Well, now there are some Heritage Open Day visitors to Thurne who have seen that skill demonstrated.
The crew removed some of Maud’s hatches and stacked them either end of the hold, then they lowered the gaff and sail down onto them. That left an area of the hold open for loading and unloading. The mast was then lowered to a suitable angle for lifting from the centre of the hold.
One of the crew operated the winch and heavy sacks and a large bag of reed were (almost) effortlessly transferred from wherry to bank and back again throughout the day.
It was skipper Kim Dowe who taught the crew how it was done in preparation for the event. He learnt his skills from his father Vic who was a wherryman and who sailed Albion in the 1950s.
*Note that the block at the mast head is suspended from the crane iron.
July has been a very busy month for the trust. Having moved Maud onto the southern rivers – the first leg Womack to Acle then Acle to St. Olaves – we then set sail for Beccles, as part of the Beccles Charter Weekend, based at Hippersons yard. With a prime mooring spot it was lovely to be there amongst so many historic boats gathered together for the public to enjoy. On Sunday in particular people turned up in great numbers – with a hot day, good food, live music – it all added to the mix in what turned out to be a super weekend.
Leaving Beccles on July 10th we returned to Hardley Mill, taking a group part way to Somerleyton. That first leg was a great sail but in the afternoon the wind got up and from the wrong direction, together with the tide against us it made sailing tricky, but still skipper Kim guided Linda through the New Cut sailing “scandalised” (with the peak of the sail dipped). We arrived quite late at Hardley Mill.
The following weekend we sailed to the Ferry at Surlingham with new members from the friends of Hardley Windmill on board. At Surlingham Sonia, landlady of The Wherry House pub and her team made it a memorable weekend and looked after us so well – thank you Sonia for all you did.
While moored up Maud was open for viewing and, with the four up-stream short taster sailings we did over the weekend plus the return trip to Hardley Mill, it was financially the best weekend to date for the trust.
During the week ended 24 July Maud was open for viewing at Hardley Mill on two occasions, providing extra interest at their AGM and also at the Coldham Hall Sailing Club barbecue.
So the last weekend of the month is here and we are setting sail for home. Don’t worry, with the warm welcome we received and the new friends we have made we WILL be back next year.
article and photographs by Neil Thomas, July 2016.
The message is out that Maud is on her way to southern climes for a short time. Is anyone interested in sailing her from Acle to St Olaves? As it so happened I was at somewhat of a loose end (gardening can only go so far), and so I volunteered to assist in the passage. What I was hoping for was the chance to do some helming, especially across Breydon.
A good start is finding that Kim will be the skipper so the chance of some action increases. Come the day there are some 11 or 12 of us on board, and a dog in a bag. At first I thought it was someone’s pack up but no, it was a very sweet dog. Kim kindly tells me that it is for me to give the safety briefing and to sort out the departure of Maud.
I discuss with him the best way of doing so bearing in mind we are on a lee shore and a motor cruiser is about 30′ in front. One idea was to go straight through it and take it with us, but on reflection it seemed better to leave her where she is. I decided that the way forward is to lower the mast to cut down windage and motor off. Kim points out that I can also use the tide to my advantage by turning the rudder to 90 degrees which will take the stern out.
Safety briefing is completed whilst we have our first hot refreshment. The weather is overcast and it is quite breezy, and again in consultation with Kim 2 reefs are the order of the day. The crew put them in.
We cast off and sweet as a nut Maud moves into the middle of the river being pushed gently along by Nigel in the “naughty boat”. The mast is put back up and the sail is set. The wind starts off North West in the teens with some gusts into the 20’s. I am helming and Maud is travelling as some speed and enjoying herself.
There is a lot of work to be done and I have to be aware of potential gybes. It is good to be able to talk things through with the skipper. Somewhere just down river of Stracey Arms Kim takes over and Maud goes even better. The plan is to sail almost to the yacht station at Gt Yarmouth lower sail and mast hopefully hitting low water.
On the way we play I spy birds (Marsh Harrier, Harnser, crane, egrets), and Kim plays the where are we and where is this game. Strange thing he lost, as we were in fact looking at Runham church.
As we reach Gt Yarmouth I moved to the bow to deal with the lowering of sails and mast. All down neat and tidy ready for the bridges. More local history is pointed out including the remains of the Bure railway bridge and where the old suspension bridge was. Even though it is close to low tide there is not too much clearance, especially under the railway bridge (Vauxhall).
We turn onto Breydon and it is like someone putting a brake on. The decision is made to stop and wait the tide and so we stop at the pontoon. I ring Liz. “Hello, where are you?”; “I am sitting outside Asda (or as it is known locally Asbo’s)” “What are you doing there?” “On the dolphin waiting for the tide.” “What time will you be home?” “Don’t know so look after yourself for food etc.” “Will do”
It was then time for coffee and a bacon sandwich, before setting off as soon as the tide had slowed. We go under Breydon bridge and put the mast up. The wind had gone round to north eastish. Sail back up and Maud roars back into life. Some of the gusts are quite lively. I get to have a helm whilst Kim has his sandwich. Having never sailed a wherry on open water in a decent wind I have to say that it is very hard work, even with the wind on the beam. Before too long Kim is back on the helm whilst I take the opportunity to look listen and try to learn.
There is a photo opportunity for our friends, having made sure the tender, Gem, would be able to keep up with us.
In what seemed like a blink of an eye we are across Breydon and heading to the mouth of the Yare and Waveney, where the wind seemed to have eased a bit. It never ceases to amaze me how far you travel by river to cover such a short distance on land. The evening wears on and Linda rings our berth point for final directions. The plan is to sail to the beginning of the 24 hour moorings, drop sail and moor up.
The tide is now flowing which means it is pushing Maud along with the wind. The decision is made to go past the mooring, turn and come back against the tide and wind. This means lowering the mast to go under St Olaves bridge so we can turn by the New Cut. The mast is safely down and we pass under the bridge. By the time we have turned and gone back upstream the level has risen a few inches and we have to dip the top of the mast to get under again.
We gently come alongside and after some 7 plus hours of sailing the journey has ended. I for one had a great time and so did my friend Harry who came along as a birthday treat. I understand from his wife it took him about 3 hours to tell her all about it, and then his friends on Sunday. All in all a great day which even the weather could not put a damper on.
On Saturday 7 May John Cook took the following four photos :
And Martin & Lynette Taylor took some photos on Sunday 15 May when six new members came for a short sail as part of a joint event with the Wind Energy Museum. Two mill enthusiasts had come from further away than the others, in fact from Florida. All look a bit chilly, but happy.
Well, who would believe such a change in the weather since our last trip on 17th April?
The 17th April photo of people on the foredeck showed us all in nice, warm clothing, but 3 weeks later there we were in brilliant sunshine, wearing tee shirts and even with a touch of sunburn by the end of the day.
We left Womack at about 10.30 and had a gentle sail round to Ranworth, arriving on the Broad sometime after 1pm for shore leave. Soon we heard the wonderful sound of the bells of the church ringing out for a wedding and learnt that Neil Thomas’s wife Nikki was one of the team ringing.
On the return trip to Womack we were helped by the tide but hindered by a head wind on some reaches. We left the sail up and used the engine in the tender to push us when needed. As often happens we had a fair wind on the last reach before the entrance to Womack and were sorry to have to lower sail.
There was an experimental element to the trip. We do have quite a few members who are dog owners and whose pooches are quite happy on board boats. So, with the consent of all those on board, Tom was allowed to bring Pip and Mollie with him.
Mollie the Collie (above) enjoyed all the attention from dog-loving members and didn’t tire of chasing a stick thrown a short distance for her in the hold.
Pip, a much larger dog, was quite happy as long as Tom wasn’t far away.
Other members will be sending photos and they will be put onto our website once received. Watch this space.
Keeping Broads history alive…