Last Wednesday 19th Sept 2018 was the day scheduled for taking Maud from Reedham Ferry back to our winter berth at Womack, Ludham. As you will no doubt remember the weather forecast was not very promising due to Storm Helene. It was touch and go up to mid-morning on the 19th, would we make the trip or not? As the days get shorter it becomes more difficult to find a date with the tide right for going through Yarmouth and getting back to Ludham before nightfall. We really wanted to make the trip if we could.

At Reedham Ferry in the morning, deceptively calm. Photo by Mike Nicholls

Jimmy James was our skipper for the day and we all gathered together at the Reedham Ferry Inn. Jimmy had made careful preparations, including alerting staff at the Yacht Station in Great Yarmouth to the fact that we might need to moor there and wait for the tide to turn. In that case we would probably need someone to assist with mooring. Given the wind strength it would not have been prudent to raise sail. We had two tenders with us, “The Gem” with its inboard Yanmar diesel engine and “Silver Star” with a 6.5hp outboard, both useful but not very powerful..

With skipper, three crew and 11 members on board we departed Reedham Ferry at 1145hrs, were at Berney Arms at just after 1300hrs and arrived at Breydon New Bridge at 1402hrs. By Jimmy’s reckoning that made us 2 minutes late. We forgave him for that! He had a good excuse. He had anticipated having the stick (mast) up all the way from Reedham but the wind was too strong. There are some tight bends near Polkey’s Mill and he didn’t want to risk going aground. The wind on Maud’s mast is always a significant factor.

Everyone enjoyed the Breydon crossing and it was fine to sit on the hatches or stand on the steps in the hold to watch our progress. A small shower just as we departed soon cleared. There were ample quantities of hot drinks and cakes to eat and some interesting conversations about boats that members had sailed in the past.

Trip to Breydon (2)
Trainee skipper Malcolm Duffield on the foredeck on the approach to Breydon Bridge. Photo by Mike Nicholls.

Helming up the Bure with the wind coming from astern was hard work for the person on the tiller. Scenery from the boat was quite spectacular. My best memory is seeing Ashtree Farm Windpump through a mist of spray whipped up by the wind. It cleared just as suddenly. Wish I had had a camera in my hand.

We arrived at Acle Bridge Inn and moored up at around 5.30pm and the decision was made to continue up to Womack before dark. At that point Jimmy decided that it would be good to try some sailing, with certain precautions.

Trip to Breydon (3)
Sailing from Acle Bridge to Womack, Malcolm Duffield on the tiller. Photo by J. James.
Trip to Breydon (4)
Sailing from Acle Bridge to Womack, Malcolm Duffield on the tiller. Photo by J. James.

The technical details for sailing safely in such strong winds were as follows:

  • The sail was very scandalised (the peak of the sail was only lifted about 5ft – see photo – and was controlled with the gaff line).
  • The throat was tied down. Throat block was hooked onto ring on spen (peak) block.
  • Rope around gaff close to peak block to keep belly of sail under control and sail ties between this line and throat.
  • Main block on clew of sail and cleated in hard (we put it on third reef cringle).
Trip to Breydon (5)
…And this is how the rig looked! Photo by artist Adrian Wincup.

Jimmy’s comments on the experiment “Worked well down wind, but would not be any good other than down wind or broad(ish) reach. It pushed us along nicely with no horrible stresses on boat in the gusts“.

A big “thank you” to Jimmy for his expertise and to crew and members on board for making the trip a really special experience.