Latest News: Forums Introductions Greetings from Sunny? Norfolk

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  • #3609


    Thought I should introduce myself. I am Gary, have sailed Wayfarers for more years than I care to mention.

    Not interested in round the cans racing, but give me a distance race and I’m game.

    Took part in, and completed The Three Rivers Race in Norfolk this year for the first time. Approx 50 miles in less than 24 hours.

    Dont own my own boat, I borrow them from an organisation I assist with!!



    Sounds like a volunteer crew – see you at Brancaster. Welcome.


    If you have the time, please add LOTS more details about the 3-rivers race….. I remember these happening from 35 years ago, and I would be interested to know whether its worth the effort in entering….

    Which classes? how many boats? swap crews? how to do food? how to do lights? how to sail in the dark? how to shoot bridges? how did you get on for the first time? will you do it again? where do you start? what is the course?


    This was posted on The Norfolk Broads Forum within a couple of days of finishing the race, and I have re-jigged it for this forum.

    If anyone would like to know anything else about this race (over 50 miles in length) feel free to ask

    1 week to go, and my crew (Bish) finally arrives back in Norfolk from Uni in Surrey. Things are starting to take shape.
    Moved the wayfarer from 1st Blofield and Brundall Sea Scouts base at Brundall to Decoy Broad, approx 1 mile up river from Horning and our starting and finishing point on the appointed weekend.
    Finally got the boat into the water on the Saturday afternoon, rigged and ready to go.
    After the light rains!! Of the bank holiday weekend I spent an hour on Wednesday and an hour on Friday bailing the boat and ensuring we started with as dry a boat as possible.
    Also on the Friday, was fitting of Nav Lights, racing sails as opposed to cruising sails and generally ensuring everything is available. Went for a quick sail to practise taking the mast down on the move as we hadn’t tried it yet, and promptly bent the mast step. So, mast down, paddles out and paddle our way back to the jetty. Mast step in hand we find a nice big hammer (I find the bigger the better), and we straighten the step. Realising what the problem is and why we bent it (the pin was on the small side), we now know to lift the mast as it slides into place.

    Saturday 2nd June 2007. Well the big day has arrived, up early as had arranged to meet Neil (Bish) at 0700 down at Decoy so we could be through to Horning by 0900.
    Arrived at Decoy and emptied the car, stored it all onboard. It is amazing how much equipment is required. Full foul weather kit, change of clothing (including shoes), Food, Drink, Paddles, “A” Frame for mast under bridges, and not forgetting the single gas burner or the chilli. Oh, and the bailer!!
    Everything stored onboard, sails hoisted and slowly made our way over Decoy to the back exit onto the river. Said to Neil, “would like to drop the mast to go down the dyke, just so we are happy with it”. Went through our procedure, Kicker off, Jib down, “A” frame up, lower mast. Ooops, who forgot to take the gooseneck off?? One broken Gooseneck from the boom side, but luckily it slotted back into the boom so not a showstopper.
    Down the dyke, out of the gate and hoist the mast again. Nice pleasant sail down river to Horning, found a place to the left of Southern Comfort and luckily one of the “scrutineers” was checking the boat beside us and she came straight over and ensured we were up to speed, had everything except the pencil.
    Paperwork all sorted, bacon and egg butties well received and back to the boat for an hour’s relax and possible sleep. Bin the idea of a sleep after a few people decided to chat, had a good chat and then wondered into Horning to find a Hot Chocolate and the elusive pencil.
    Back to the club and time for the briefing. And the all important news of where is the mark on the Lower Bure? Up to this point our route was one of two, Hickling, down the Bure, South Walsham and Ludham or South Walsham, Hickling, Down the bure, Ludham. Well, the briefing went well and good old Mr Facey informs us that we are off to find Six Mile House. A few groans but most seemed to be of the opinion that it was the Bure and then Hickling as the route. This followed what Neil and I thought and we had decided on South Walsham, Bure, Hickling, Ludham.
    Back on board, sails hoisted and clear the X zone. Racing is about to commence. 5th start with five other wayfarers. Decided to hold onto the bank on far side for a while and at 1210 start sailing ready for 1220 start. Crossed the startline a few seconds after the start so not bad really, making our way down Horning Street. Will be glad when out of Horning as we can then relax and get into the rhythm of sailing without all these people watching. Past the New Inn, there’s the boss enjoying his pint (afternoon Richard) and away. Got to Woods Dyke before the “A” raters caught us. We were having a slight problem going into the wind and couldn’t get as close to the wind as we would have liked to. This saw us drop back slightly but we weren’t too bothered, as long as we were back by 1219 on Sunday.
    Out of the trees and away we go. Change of mind straight away and turn left up the Ant. Stern passes over the line at approx 1400 and spin round and straight back down. 1 down, 3 to go. Out of the Ant, Turn left and immediately right and down Fleet Dyke. Spinnaker hoisted and we are making good progress. Onto the Broad and found the buoy, round the buoy and Neil drops the token into the basket. Right where’s the dyke. I can remember the hire cruiser that came down the dyke doing about 15 mph. Shouted at him and got the response “who the hell are you, do you own the broads”? “No, but I do respect them and their rules”, at which point he slowed down. Pratt. Uneventful rest of passage back to Bure, passing the big one “America”, halfway down Fleet Dyke.
    Turn right and get going towards Acle, right again at Thurne Mouth. Up with the Spinnaker and making good time in the breeze. As we head down river we go through the routine for dropping the mast, as we will attempt to “shoot” the bridges. Simple really, “A” frame up, Jib down, Kicker off, Gooseneck off, undo forestay and lower mast at last moment with mainsail still “hoisted”. Approaching Acle bridge, quick hello to Torty and give them our race number then line up the approach to the bridge. “A” frame was already in place, jib down, kicker off, I pulled gooseneck and dropped the boom onto A frame, Neil undid forestay which was led back to the mast and lowered the mast. Grabbed and placed on the A frame. Paddles out and a few good digs saw us sweep under the bridge and off down towards the mark. For the first attempt at “shooting” a bridge, we could not have done it any better. Huge round of applause from the assembled public and everything was re-hoisted. Passing a few boats that were tied up hoisting their masts and sails, we had obviously saved ourselves 5 – 10 minutes by shooting the bridge. We were now on a high after the applause and not quite believing we had managed it so well the first time.
    Being swept down river on a fairly swift tide we were soon getting towards Stracey Arms where Mrs GC and the three little GC’s were congregated. I hadn’t seen 2 of the little GC’s since Thursday morning (another story), but was more than pleased to see all four of them on the bank. Sailed wide and down the pub side of the river so we could have a quick chat. Mrs GC asked how long before we return and I had a guess at 30 mins in that wind. However, Six Mile House must have moved as we had just left Stracey and there was the buoy. Rounded said buoy and up with the spinnaker as we headed back to Acle. Another quick chat with loved ones, they are heading to Acle bridge to watch us going back up stream. Making good time we got back to Stokesby when someone flicked the switch and turned the wind off. Finally crawled past Stokesby, 3 abreast with 2 cruisers. We stayed 3 abreast for some time with us “jockeying” for position on the river. Interesting to see what the stinkies would do if they came across us. Not too long to wait for first stinky. Thanks to stinky who held back while we attempted to make a gap for him to pass through. Round the corner onto last straight before Acle Bridge and the wind went to bed very early. Thought the bailer should be used for the first time, now that feels better!! Speed over water was about 2.5 mph, over ground about .1mph. Pulled into the reeds as sailing at this point was not great. Held the reeds for about 5 mins while we had a sarny and quick drink and we decided we could stay there all night, or let go and eventually get back through the bridge and up river. Mrs GC had given up waiting for us by now and I don’t blame her. However, Rusty (Group Scout Leader and owner of the boat we were using) stood on the bank with a pint in his hand. Had a chat as we made our way past the moorings and then to the bridge. Shot the bridge, sails up and then the chilli came out with the stove. I must point out at this point the chilli was made by Mrs GC and not Neil and was therefore excellent!! About 15 mins later there, in the middle of the boat was a steaming pan of chilli. Fork each and we were digging in, no need to mess up the bowls that had been packed, eat it straight from the pan. About half way down the pan we decided it would be a good idea to keep the rest for breakfast, if we were still out and the lack of wind told us we could still be out. Chilli packed away and Neil having a lay down on the leeward gunwhale, a slight breeze picked up and we started moving up river at a reasonable speed. I would like to point out that we were becoming acquainted with Waif and another wayfarer who had been “with us” since coming out of the Ant earlier in the day. Moving round Thurne Mouth, and Neil has now migrated to the floor of the boat. A good idea as he was snoring quite loudly and the thought of him sliding over the side did enter my head. How I love single handed sailing at night in a light breeze and mist. As someone has already said (Thanks Waif!) I did find the reeds a couple of times, oh well. Finally up into the bungalows that line the banks into Potter Heigham. After a long time we found the guard ship, Number 43 passing. No wind so as soon as in the paddling zone it was down with the mast and start paddling towards the “hole in the wall”. Slight problem though, due to the mist we couldn’t see the wall let alone the hole in it. There it is, get through it, under the new bridge five more big digs with the paddles and pass Waif once again who was hoisting mast and sails at a leisurely pace by the bank, before hoisting the mast and sails ourselves again. The next 2/3 hours were a nightmare. Finally found Martham and the turning to Hickling. This was my first time above Potter Heigham bridge as we found out the same was true for a couple of other boats that were around us. Down Heigham sound with a very light breeze pushing us along and onto the broad. It was light but very misty with a good breeze. Now this was my idea of an early morning sail. Now which way? Luckily there were some boats coming off so went the opposite way to them. Found the markers and flying down through the broad, nearly got onto the plane a few times. First Guard boat, Number 43, and onwards wondering how much further it could be. Finally got to the second guard boat and asked how much further, just there. Thanks, token dropped and back we go. Horning here we come. Think it was about 0530 when we rounded Hickling Mark so just under 7 hours to get back. Yep, all being well will be there by 10!! Another wayfarer was with us as we rounded the mark and we got away first, but only just. Attempting to follow the posts we thought we were in the right place until I saw a bunch of stakes in front of me. Done a quick turn to port and away to find the channel. Other wayfarer realised what had happened and done the same, they got past us but we weren’t too bothered as it had been proved over the last 18 hours they could go into the wind better than us but downwind our spinnaker made us the faster boat. Back to Martham and down to Potter, mast down and paddle like hell through the bridges, mast up and lets go. Its now approx 0630. Back through the bungalows and a couple of offers from the occupants for a cup of tea (politely turned down but thank you). Finally clear of the properties in Potter and we are in the open. Breeze is blowing a bit better and we are certain of reaching Horning without much bother. Bailer gets its second use. As we passed Fleet Dyke the wind dropped again. Damn, or words to that effect were said but then the tide changed and started to take us back to Horning. Made it into Horning and could see a rebel and Yeoman in front of us as we passed Woods Dyke. Would be good to pass one of them before we finish. Passed the rebel just after the ferry and then managed to get a breeze to take us down the street and passed the Yeoman. Passing the New Inn was a bit narrow and I had a stinky behind me. I would like to say thank you again to the stinky who stayed behind me while I navigated the narrow area, once passed I waved him through and thanked him personally. At 1145, 23 hours and 25 minutes after starting this gruelling marathon, we crossed the finish line.
    Swung the boat round and into the first available mooring I could find. One of the safety boats was coming out of the dyke and asked him for a tow back to Decoy, he will be about 10 minutes before ready. Just time to get into club house and finalise paperwork, forgot to ask my position but finishing was the best achievement of the 24 hours. Out of 105 boats that started and the 48 that finished, we came 43rd.
    Back to boat, tied onto safety boat and dragged back to gate at back of decoy. Thanks to safety boat. Gate unlocked, boat through, gate locked and paddle down the dyke. Finished last bit across the broad on jib only. Couldn’t be bothered to hoist the main.
    Finally alongside the jetty, still no sign of the other GC’s. started emptying the boat of all our rubbish. Little GC’s arrive and moved all kit up to our cars.
    Highlights of the race.
    Having a rethink of the route and going up the Ant first!!
    Getting the most out of a little wayfarer with full sail up.
    Shooting Acle bridge and the round of applause we received kept us going.
    Stracey and seeing the family.
    The Chilli
    Keeping Mrs GC awake with my text updates!
    Moving at speed over Hickling, not knowing where we were going and not being able to see the next marker at times.
    Crossing the finishing line within the time limit.

    Would I do it again?? Well, its now Monday and my body is telling me not a chance. Give me a few weeks and I may change my mind (what’s the date for next years?).

    As you can see the above was written within 24 hours of finishing the race. A lot of the info was kept by the missus as I was texting her roughly every hour with our progress.

    In 2007 there were 105 boats that started, from River Cruisers through to Wayfarers and an RS Vision. This was the first year that an Enterprise had not been entered.

    There are strict rules covering entry to the race, but once done once, you are in.

    Food, take your own. You can stop at the various pubs if you wish but the clock keeps ticking.

    You get 24 hours from the start to get back over the finish line, if not you are timed out.

    Nav lights must be carried and used, a torch is also allowed.


    THANKS, Gary.
    A great read….



    Once we were back in Horning the fears of getting back on time had almost disappeared.

    Around 9ish on the Sunday Morning, when we were still down by Fleet Dyke, the fears were real.


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