Wandering Rose 2009

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River Cruiser: Wandering Rose (2009)

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From The Norfolk Broads Forum
Posted by Pizzalover, 4th June 2009

Technical Info.
Craft:Wandering Rose
Class:River Cruiser
Author:Pizzalover
Year:2009

Friday  - The 3RR preparation 2009

This is a special weekend in Horning, and I happily abandon my car at the sailing club (with a sweet little note on the dashboard with my phone number on it). We set about searching for Wandering Rose and find her bobbing happily on the staithe. Work is under way to strengthen the long pole thing that holds the topsail up. The skipper is about to apply resin to some lashings, in the hope that it will strengthen the bonding. He's reluctant to do this on the cabin roof, so I suggest that we do the work on the green.

Wandering Rose on Fleet Dyke

We take over one of the bench seats... for evermore, I will think of that bench as Wandering Rose's work bench. Crew arrives, but soon heads off on various errands, including the purchase of gas - something which will give us a nice mug of tea during the race. Crew member Jake declares hunger. I seize the opportunity to nip over to the deli and grab sausage rolls, some cola - oh, and a bottle of wine.

Strangely, the sausage rolls don't have the zing that they usually have. Are taste-buds sleepy? I put that worry aside. Skipper, Jake and I tuck into lunch. We are joined by a friend who thankfully helps us to finish the bottle of wine.

There are various comings and goings. Among those is one of the more interesting broad’s events that I've ever seen. There is a woman on the staithe, gently negotiating a mooring for a motor cruiser. Over a period of about 30 minutes, she manages to actually get one boat to leave its mooring. Then, with a space barely able to contain the cruiser, manoeuvres begin. I'm really twitchy about the vulnerability of our bowsprit.

We continue to add to the farce by shuffling boats to create an impossible extra foot of space. As soon as the motor cruiser ties up to the staithe, his friend moors alongside. I don't think that I've ever seen someone SO determined to get a mooring space, and so good at negotiating for it.

We set off from a crowded staithe for a sail on Blackhorse Broad. There is a bit of fussing about tell-tails, and we practice tripping over each other in the well. Then something happens, which will repeat itself so much over the next 24 hours that I won't repeat it again: Slantendicular sails across in front of us so close that we can easily exchange complements and/or cheerful abuse.

Upon return to Horning Staithe, moorings are scarce. Personally, I'd struggle to moor a yacht which doesn't have an engine in Horning on a fine day in January... so I'm full of respect as we come alongside.... the two motor cruisers who had muscled their way onto the staithe earlier.

We dine at the Swan. The retrospective joke is that we should have ordered our evening meal at lunchtime... that way it might have been ready within an hour of our arrival. There is then some logistical stuff. I get my car from the sailing club, stop on the staithe (which is full of cars) to transfer stuff across two motor cruisers to Wandering Rose. There is a cry from the staithe, "Somebody appears to have PARKED their car here" was called out in a voice that had many plums. I reverse off the staithe. Jake and I go to our B&B.

In the morning, Jake complains vigorously about my snoring. (Much later, I learn that someone from the motor cruiser finally gets fed up with seven sailors tramping back and forth across his boat, but I hope that was not a serious issue for him. Actually, I'm amused at the irony that their slot, so vigorously won, wasn't quite as idyllic as they expected.)

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Saturday - The 3RR

We pit-stop into Roys to buy supplies. I tear the shopping list in half - Jake gets his half, I get mine - and we virtually run around Roys. The atmosphere in Horning is superb.

Gary sends us our 3RR shirts - Jake immediately changes into his.

I pop into the stores – Wandering Rose might have several gallons of beer on board, and some wine, and a sensible amount of soft drinks.... but this is not a sensible time. The sun is hot, and I buy a carrier bag full of cola.

We sail down the reach and find a slot in the reeds.

There is much twitching, when there probably should have been much lunching, and we're off into the sailing throng. After the race, someone made a comment about delaying a start. I can confirm that from about 30 minutes prior to the start, a process begins... and builds. Something significant would need to happen in terms of communications to adjust start times.

We enter the X zone, and I try to keep time. My watch is about 1 second adrift of the gun, so we know that when I get to "one" there should be a bang.

"Four, three, two, one/bang." The commentator announces that we have performed an awesome start. Darn, drat, blast!

I've been in front of bigger audiences... but have never felt so good at being part of a performance - I take a break from my position (where I wasn't doing anything) to take a theatrical bow on behalf of the crew (who WERE doing something.) This silliness caused distraction, and we lost more than a few places as others creamed past us. The crew settles down to a steady bit of work.

We wave to several friends along the way.

(This would be a good point to thank the many, many people who cheer on the race boats.... it's REALLY nice to have smiling faces along the route.)

We're on the Ant - a surprisingly easy run up. I'm mindful that Wandering Rose once did not make the turn, so the pulse rate is high. But we clear cleanly, and are on the run back. I nip below to record our time. There is a bang.

It turns out that we collided with another RC, nipping a chunk out of her sail with our cross-tree. Our skipper fears that it has ended their race, and feels bad about it. I'm back in the cabin, in what will be referred to as "the tumble-dryer effect." Everything is everywhere.

Our next stop is South Walsham, and I'm digging out the token. But there is only ONE token... and we'll need another later. I work methodically among a pile of clothes, crutches, beer, bacon, pies, sailbags, for a token. Phew, it's lodged in a dark place. I tuck it, with the paperwork, under the sink. The first token goes into the bucket with ease (why was it so hard several years ago?)

There's a long tack for a long time. We're approaching Potter Heigham bridge. A Faircraft Motor Cruiser gets totally in our way. Its skipper tells us that we are behaving illegally by "cross tacking." I won't report the exact transcript of the conversation between the two boats, since I can't remember it, and it would breach several rules. Later, I suggest that we misheard, and were actually being accused of cross-dressing.

I look forward to the Faircraft boat arriving at Potter Heigham, where I am sure that he will find one or two other illegal cross tacking boats - but when we get there, we are far too busy to think of him.

Our upward transit of the bridge is - well - normal (for a 3RR.)

Hickling is fantastic. It's a bit like unleashing a rampant stallion. While Rose stretches her legs, we rest ours. The second token goes in easily, and we're charging back. Our downward transit of the Potter Heigham bridge is again as normal as it could be for the 3RR. Rose has enjoyed sailing in a straight line so much that she puts little strain on the crew, and before I know it, we are at Acle.

The transit of Acle Bridge is textbook - at least it is from where I am kneeling. I can see the mast rocking in the tabernacle, held up only by the foresail, as the shadow of the bridge falls over us. The mast drops, we glide through, and the mast comes up. If a team tried really hard with several attempts, they might be able to shave a second off our time through.

A good run down to the mark. I kick myself, and I was down here only a few days back, and didn't even think about it in racing terms. The skipper calls for a gybe around the mark. The crew prepares for it. The skipper pulls the tiller towards himself. Not much happens - and what does happen is scary. The skipper changes his mind, and we crash tack through 360 degrees to pass the mark on the correct side.

Back to Acle Bridge, upstream. It's harder work, but we are through without any problems. More importantly, the topsail rigging - which came adrift earlier - is quickly reset, I'm at the helm, and am treated to a sail that is up there in the top five of a lifetime. The raising of the topsail is noteworthy - as I peer under the boom to try to find a good sailing line, I can feel the extra pull. The whisker pole comes out, and again I feel the extra power.

Eventually, all good things must come to an end. I have to hand over the tiller as it is getting dark, and I must switch from sunglasses. But I've had the best, and as darkness falls we lose speed. We are on Horning Street. The lights of the Swan are in clear view. We tack past the New Inn several times. I'm not sure how long we are there for - a couple of hours? The only high spot is a low spot when we connect with the branches of a tree. Finally, we break free from the doldrums and thunder at 1mph for the finish line.

As we moor, it is clear that Jake's battery has finally run out. Later, he says that it wasn't just a case of the dial showing empty --- there was a red warning light flashing too. But I'm a proud dad. For more than 12 hours, he has worked his socks off - a first rate cabin boy. It's only just gone midnight, so it seems too early for breakfast! But we tuck in.

In case anyone involved reads this, can I take this chance to thank the many, many people who make the 3RR happen. It is said that there are more people in the organizing team than there are competing, and I believe it. The breakfasts are great, and thanks must go to the crew who provide them - but thanks are also due to everyone - including the guy who repositioned the loudspeaker during the briefing. Somewhat guiltily, Jake and I drive off to a B&B to get some sleep.

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Sunday - After the 3RR

I'm expecting a major mining expedition to dig out the interior of the boat. But it's all pretty tidy by the time we show up. The skipper offers us the chance of a sail to take Wandering Rose back to her mooring. Heck, the sun is shining and there's a good breeze - and we haven't got anything else to do. We'd be fools not to accept the offer. We storm through Horning, and take a detour to Ranworth, because we can. Back on the Bure, we run almost down to Acle, because we can. Things get slightly silly, because we can't work out whether we are cruising or trying to practice at racing.... but we have a darn good time anyway. I'm sure there is some cross tacking as we approach Rose's mooring.

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Monday - Time to remember

Jake is bunking off school. I remember a time that he did that before - I told Tim Whelpton that Jake should be at school, and Tim said, "He'll learn more on the river than he will at school." Well, today is related to that memory. There is a very good reason for Jake to excused lessons. We arrive early at Upton church to join with a vast number of people in paying tribute to Tim. I love the totally inappropriate moment, which is totally appropriate, when several hundred people call Hurrah three times, and blow cobwebs from the church roof.

And finally, because there is no reason for us to make swift progress home, we make it back in near record time


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