Keith Darby 2015

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Wayfarer: Keith Darby (2015)

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Posted by Gary Howes, 25th June, 2015

Technical Info.
Craft:Keith Darby
Class:Wayfarer
Author:Gary Howes
Year:2015

Wayfarer 6204

Was due to meet with Neil at 10 on Friday to sort out the boat, he arrives at 11. Boat sorted, towed to Horning, we bid farewell to each other and I’ll pick him up in the morning at 0745. During the afternoon, I realise that we don’t have the spinnaker pole on board, quick text to Neil to get him to check I have it with me when I collect him. Collect Neil at 0745, pole in the car, we head for Horning. Normally, I would have sailed the boat from Decoy yesterday so it would be in the water, nearly ready to go. The boat was still on its trolley, in the car park.

Dropped Neil and all the kit at the boat, I head up to park my car in a garden (pre-arranged!!). Arrive back to find Neil sorting things out and stowing bits of kit here and there.

Weather Forecast – something like Westerly, 15mph, backing South early evening and getting stronger. This could get interesting.

Met with lots of people I knew, Tony, Rads, Miriam, Keith, Pauline and finally Tim Wildman with Thomas – more on them later.

Finally launched at approx 0945, just in time for the briefing at 10. We hear that we are going to the lower Bure mark “the mill past Stracey Arms”. I queried this with those around me and was told it was not the mill at Stracey Arms but Six Mile House. Never been there before on the race and a long way down. We had our plan though, that was for a bacon butty and a cup of tea, duly had. Finally onto the water and tied up awaiting our start at 1120.

Underway and first over the line by a mile but a screw up with the spinnaker saw us lose places which were gained/lost throughout Horning. We finally turned right out of Horning in 3rd place but nothing between most boats.

The Start

It was a reach/run start and we were moving well, down to the mouth of the Ant and we turn left, reach up to the buoy and reach back again, this is looking good. Down to South Walsham and the trees are affecting the wind, finally onto/off of the Broad and back to the Bure in 2 hours 40 from our start.

Fleet Dyke


Entering the Broad













We had reckoned on 3 hours to here so stuck with the plan to go up to Hickling. Off along the Bure to Thurne Mouth and we are having a chat whether to go North to Hickling or South for the long trek to Six Mile House, North it is. Just passed the Mouth “big blue”, the spinnaker comes out again, this time with lots of success and we are really motoring towards Potter bridge.

Wind behind, sails full and sandwiches in hand. What more could someone want for a Saturday afternoon sail – possibly a change of wind to blow us straight back down through Potter (more on that soon).

Onwards towards the little hole in the wall, big blue comes down as we approach the guardship. Had a chat with Gilly Foulds and Steve Roper (don’t forget the thermostat for my car Steve!!) and we are at the bridge. Neil has mast in hand and drops it with plenty of time to spare. The Cubitt’s on top of the bridge giving us a good cheer and quick hello.


Where's that camera
Ah, there it is


Mast back up between the bridge and a quick drop to get under the new bridge. Pandora (169) is ahead of us, having seen them earlier in the day, it was good that they were still in sight. Through the second bridge, mast up and I’m sailing with Neil putting things together.

Spinny up, Martham here we come. Just short of Martham the wind dies, 30 seconds later the wind is coming from in front of us, spinny down and a couple of tacks later until we turn left towards Hickling. This is nice, we are now reaching down the dyke and sound but with the wind on our Starboard side, not Port. It was getting colder with the sea breeze but we were moving. Finally at the entrance to the Broad we give our race number to the guard ship and charge onto the Broad, ignoring the channel markers (us dinghies don’t need deep water), spinny is up.

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Token found, spinny dropped on approach to the mark, gybe round, drop token and we’re off. Sheets in tight, it must have been windy 'cos with Neil on the helm (he’s been there all day except bridges), I’m sat on the side with him keeping the boat flat. Four very long tacks, ignoring the channel again and we are back at the guard boat. Race number handed over we ask what time we entered the broad, 1615, it was now 1635, 20 minutes to get on and off is impressive in anyone’s book. We rounded the buoy at 1622.

Pandora is just ahead of us at this point and we are determined to catch her before the bridge. Heigham Sound shows, Pandora is about halfway over and suddenly goes left, beyond the channel markers. Must be a problem we say, found out later that they were carrying out a depth survey on behalf of the BA!!!! Well, that was the excuse I got given. We still didn’t quite manage to pass them, we’ll get them though.

Right turn at Martham, big blue is flying, as is the boat. Bridge in sight, life is good.

Finally just before the new bridge, Pandora emerges from the side under paddle, think this is the first time I’ve seen Keith Luxford do any work. We sail past, upto the bridge and drop the mast at the last moment. The breeze is getting lighter so we paddle between the bridges. Through the old bridge and nearly down to the guardship before righting the mast and getting big blue flying.

Out of the bungalows and going well, left at Thurne Mouth for the long, long slog to Six Mile House. We are about an hour behind where we thought we might be, tide has turned and is now against us. Out comes the stove and water boiled for a cup of tea, in china mugs. Not sure the crew of “Ziggy” could believe we had a stove on board but seemed envious that we did.

The wind is getting lighter and we struggle down the Bure with about 6 others. We are on the back of them and by the time we get to the corner at Acle, any chance of getting round it has gone, along with the wind. Tide against us, not a chance of moving forwards.

Ziggy is with us, along with half decker from Norfolk Punt Club, being sailed in aid of charity along with a good fleet of Punts and other half deckers. We swap places as we all try and go forwards but drift back. The other two make it to the right hand bank and moorings, we are on the left by the 5mph sign. Half decker crew decide that if they can’t sail the 3 rivers, they will walk them and head for Acle Bridge on foot.

Peter and Sarah, Neil’s mummy, comes to have a chat. It’s now about 2030. We talk between ourselves and suggest that with the offer of a lift standing on the bank we will give it til 2100 for the breeze to return, forecast was for 1900. At 2050 we notice a fire in or abouts Acle and the smoke is going upwards. No chance of getting that breeze by 2100, arrangements made, we’ll see Peter and Sarah in Upton where we can bin the W overnight. We’d had a good days sailing, one of those things, we are about to retire.

We push off the bank and drift down on the tide, informing Ziggy of what we are doing. About half way there I felt something, I sheeted in and Neil moaned. Bear with me, let’s give it a go. We’re moving forward but the corner will be the teller, if we can get round there, we’ll be off. Call made to Sarah to wait at the bridge for a few minutes. Neil isn’t convinced and is questioning my sanity. We’re round the corner. Arrangement made that we will go through the bridge, tie up at the pub and go get changed in the warmth, I’ve also promised Neil a cup of coffee.

Plan followed, we walk into the pub and there are the crew from the half decker. This is a first for us, to visit a pub during the race. Coffee ordered and we are wrapped up ready for the night. We leave the half deckers to walk back to their boat, we may see them later. I agree with Neil that once we are at Acle Dyke and turn left, we’ll eat the chilli, have a cup of tea, then he can get his head down on the bottom boards for an hour.

Acle dyke passed, Neil hits the bottom boards and is soon snoring.

I’m enjoying sailing single handed, in the dark, nothing else near us or in sight. It didn’t take long before I announce we are entering Stokesby. Guardship passed and we receive a round of applause from some on the bank who were round a campfire. Tacking South the boat is moving well, very soon we are entering the straight at Stracey Arms. Up to this point we had been told by a number of people that the mark was at Stracey but they were not believed. Once again, I announce the arrival at Stracey and see the flashing lights of the buoy in the river. Thank you, we aren’t charging down the Bure towards Yarmouth. Round the buoy at 0008, Neil did at least sit up while I gybed the boat. I made him change sides before hitting the bottom boards again. It’s good to sit on the mainly windward side of the boat.

Back we came, arriving at Acle at 0140, through the bridge, round the corner and finally the chilli sees the stove. Canister changed and then the chilli gets hot. Spoons handed out, chilli still in the pan and we are digging in, 0225 and the chilli is eaten, this should be supper!!

Left at Thurne Mouth, we’re going home. Boat is moving well as the wind is building, kettle has now found the stove and cup of tea is made and drank. Passed St Benets, shouted at Tony and, despite texting him from Thurne Mouth and getting a reply, he’s not out on deck to cheer us on. We wouldn’t have stopped anyway.

Just passed the Ant and the rain starts and the wind drops. Manage to get to the stretch before Cockshoot and we are going backwards. After lots of time and being caught by other W’s we get out of the top and we are away. Reaching/running into Horning, we had also left on a reach/run, and we are charging towards the finish. I think this is the first time we have finished with both of us awake and concentrating.

Finally crossed the line at 0555 Sunday morning, 9 hours after “retiring”, 3rd in class and somewhere around the middle of the pack overall.

Thanks to all at HSC and the staff on the guardships. Thanks to Alison for putting up with a grumpy bugger on the Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, etc…… Thanks to Neil for looking after me and letting me talk him out of retiring. Lastly, massive THANKS to Tim Wildman for recovering the boat for me. I’d asked him before the race if he would recover it back to his and I’d get it during the week. I had a phone call on Sunday afternoon to say that the boat was back in Brundall.

NB I didn’t manage to get many photos of W6204 round the course so if anyone has any photos please get in touch with me and I will add them to the report. Sue (supine39@live.co.uk)

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