We’ve been boating on the Norfolk Broads and only crashed the boat once. You can’t say that the Norfolk Broads is renowned for its excitement, crack houses or prostitution rings, as far as I’m aware anyway, but this is surely the most middle aged thing I’ve done so far. But honestly, we’ve really liked this. So much so that I’m close to shunning my old RAF uniform instead adopting a full Royal Navy uniform and eye patch or pirate outfit. Let’s face it, there are a lot of pirate impressions in the video below.
This is the nearest I’ll get to owning a boat, save perhaps except a blow up kayak from Lidl. A kayak is not that suitable for sleeping in overnight or for navigating 120 miles of waterways. Not all the waterways from Wroxham are navigable for us because we’ve had to choose a boat to haul our dog, Lord Nelson, on, and that suitable boat will not fit under all the bridges.
What was the boat like?
I see boats going past that look super sleek, sexy and optimised for pure luxury. These boats look like they were lifted straight from the set of Miami Vice. Then we see our boat. Sleek, streamlined and seaworthy, she was none of these things, our boat could not not be described as beautiful, more budget boat like a bathtub. Her years spent sun bleached on the French Riviera have faded her looks, but that’s OK, the years have not been kind to me either.
After a short introduction to the inner workings of Boaty McBoatFace, we are let loose. The Brinks Jazz boat is a fine enough model but I couldn’t help but notice she was missing a few things, mainly sea defences, flight deck, surface to surface missiles, torpedoes and anti air missiles. Granted the anti air missiles may be overkill, but this is Norfolk so you never know. It does have dual steering though, inside for when its raining and outside steering on the sun deck.
The weather has been changeable, one minute sunny, then stormy. It’s been raining so hard at times with fist sized drops of rain attempting to punch through the hull. Of course, it starts raining 5 minutes after picking the boat up.
Questionable maritime manoeuvers?
Add the pressure of trying to steer on the wrong side of the river, navigate and moor while being blinded from the rain when using the sun deck steering while being chased a by a rather large pleasure boat and telling yourself it’s all part of the adventure. The steering, more art than science, steers like a supertanker, I was barked orders from the wife to not to use too many revs as its scaring the dog and told to dodge the ducks at the same time.
A nuclear submarine captain does not receive as many orders as these and leads to some questionable maritime manoeuvers. In other words we crashed it but only once after a certain someone abandoned their post and the stern smashed into the moor. Convinced that the loud crack was the splitting of fibreglass and plastic with the back of the boat broken, she sounded like she was about to go down like the Titanic. But thankfully not. Considering that our only other boating experience is on Lake Windermere in the Lake District, I think we’ve gotten away lucky.
Is it relaxing?
Retiring to the cabin, we rename it the Captain”s cabin, it’s about as comfortable as a coffin and just as big. With a paper thin mattress and and all those stones of awesomeness pressing down on it, we’re in danger of compressing our own internal organs on the plywood base. If this is what you have to lie on for the rest of eternity, then it’s no wonder the dead are so miserable.
With random bird noises during the night, either mating calls, the shrieks of wild unknown creatures or perhaps just Delia Smith drunk again or Norfolk’s most famous resident, Alan Partridge, being murdered. All of this doesn’t contribute that much to a decent nights sleep, and as we lay awake, we wonder why hammocks went out of fashion.
Chugging down the River Bure, even at a heady 5 mph cruising speed, the element of danger is never far. Will salty sea dog Lord Nelson, pirate of the pavement, attempt to mutiny and take over the boat? Will I fall in the water? That’s a distinct possibility with our mooring skills.
Would we do this again? A sleeker bigger boat with bow thrusters, hell yes. It’s been very relaxing boating on the Norfolk broads, just people cruising down the river watching the world go by and waving at each other. And not one bit of road rage.