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Norfolk Broads: Day 4 – 21.04.16……….The Ghost of South Walsham Broad makes an appearance!

Maice and I decided a lie in was the order of the day so we rose at 6.10am and set off to the shower block to warm up. After a lovely stop start shower we headed back to Neil's boat for breakfast. Deciding to add a bit more pizazz to his porridge Neilly Mou decided to offer up his nuts, which actually went down very well except they do tend to get stuck in one's teeth!

Stephen was leaving at ten that morning, something about a cocktail and tapas party he had to attend that evening in Bournemouth, but we believe he was carted off by the river police after his savage assault on the poor defenceless tree. The police presence was certainly up since all these 'unreported' incidents.

Admiral Sir Timmy took it upon himself to allocate crew to boats to limit the usual time spent deliberating about who was going where and with whom so Graham, Lindsey and Richard were on Leda, Timmy, Claire and I were on Lutra which left poor Maice with Roger and Sir Neily Mou. For some reason they decided to assume the name 'the Dream Team' all I can say is, dream on the dream team', dream on!

The wind had got up by this time so to avoid the boats capsizing we sailed straight through Barton Broad. Maice took control of, or tried to control the tiller but seems it had a mind of its own and she almost collided with the bank. Neily Mou was on tenterhooks thinking his skills with the quant pole would be needed again. Luckily Roger dived to the rescue and another crisis was averted.

We were soon at Ludham bridge where some of us took the opportunity to use the facilities and then set about lowering the masts. It was here on the way through that Timmy almost lost an argument with a tub boat......fortunately the only casualty at that time was the flag pole at the top of the mast. We took the boats through the bridge with no incident and set off to South Walsham Broad. It was at this point that Maice realised she needed the loo, not having been at Ludham and was forced to use the onboard extremely tiny loo. Strict instructions were given to Roger and Neily Mou to not misbehave with the tiller and keep the boat in a straight line. Or course being as mischievous as they were they promptly veered the boat this way and that leaving poor Maice clinging for dear life to the tiny throne! What possessed her after was anybodies guess but she promptly reappeared doing the can-can through the cabin, legs a-kicking up ten to the dozen. It's quite obvious she's spent far too long in the company of Roger and Neil.......will she ever recover her sanity! Only time will tell!

With cadavers still on her mind Maice took charge of the tiller and the main sheet and tacked merrily up the river desperately trying to decapitate her two crew members. Calling 'ready about' after the event causing both Roger and Neily Mou to 'duck' many times before the main sail came hurtling across, it seemed she was possessed by the Ghost of Walsham Broad. After a grapple, Roger prised the tiller from her hands and a safe environment was once again restored, Maice banished to the lower deck as penance.

It was soon time for lunch, my doesn't time fly and Sir Timmy suggested the three boats hook up in South Walsham Broad out of the wind. Maice was given, what one would have thought to be a simple task, the task of throwing the rope over to Timmy on the other boat to secure the two together. She really is looking for a cadaver as after three failed attempts at drowning the rope Timmy managed to catch it and pull us together. The mud weights came out, dropped to the river bed and there we were. All we needed now was the third boat and we'd all be snug as a bug on the Broad.

All was not as it seemed however as we sat bobbing about on the water. The temperature dropped and with it came a chill wind out of nowhere and an eerie presence descended on the boat. Someone or something had appeared and was sitting between Roger and Neily Mou. But who or what was this strange being?

Suddenly we all looked a-yonder and found to our horror the third boat heading for the river like it was possessed, Graham standing ramrod straight at the bow. It seemed the Ghost of South Walsham Broad had pirated the boat away, but to where. We sat and watched this spectacle wondering what we should do. Would we ever see our three amigos again. We decided to mull it over over a couple of glasses of wine, gin and tonic, whisky and scrambled egg with salmon. It seemed the more we drank the more we forgot what we were pondering and all rescue attempts to find our lost amigos dissipated and an enjoyable afternoon passed all too quickly. We did however all agree that Ready About Roger looks quite fetching in orange!

Hours later, Richard, Graham and Lindsey were returned to the Broad and the strange 'being' on the boat disappeared. With a reunited crew we brought up the mud weights and headed off down the river.

It was a lovely sail back to the boatyard at Upton and we were fortunate to see Cranes circling up above, hearing them first before we saw them with their unique bugle sound. We were really quite thrilled. We had decided to return to Upton that night and try out the local pub and before long we were manoeuvring the boats into their spaces. Stephen, on arriving at the boatyard earlier had told the owners we were returning that evening so they were waiting for us on the quayside. Next in was Roger, Neil and Maice. Reversing in, once again Roger got confused with his forward and reverse and managed to crash into the quayside right in front of the owner who must be wondering how we all survived out there all week. And then we waited for Richard, Graham and Lindsey to appear. After half an hour with still no sign of 'the three' we began to wonder if the Ghost of South Walsham Broad had spirited them away again.....we couldn't even see their sails in the distance.

Meanwhile, back on the river, Graham at the helm, the three were wildlife watching and fortunate to see an otter and a kingfisher. Tacking gracefully up the river they were suddenly confronted by two tub boats, who obviously didn't know the rules of the river, forcing graham to cut short a tack and run straight into the riverbank where they stuck fast. They had to act quick and take the masts down and after a quick burst of activity they succeeded. What was needed now was the 'fastest quant' in Norfolk to prise them away from the bank but Neily Mou was enjoying some alcoholic beverage back in Upton, oblivious to the plight of his fellow crew. With an audience watching them trying to prise the boat out of the clutches of the riverbank and an offer of help to be towed out by the very tub boat that put them there, Graham 'politely' told them where they could stick their help, and finally they managed to free themselves and made it back to Upton. And so it came to pass that Richard and his crew were last in once again. Better luck next year! Thankfully the only casualty was Graham's pride which had been dented somewhat.......and to think he had only been exonerated the day before!!

Whilst Graham regaled the rest of the boys about his exploits on the riverbank, which of course became more and more exaggerated as more alcohol was consumed, Maice and I made our hot water bottles so we’d have warm beds to come back to. Lindsey noticed that my water bottle was a bit wet at the bottom and took it back to the sink where it suddenly sprung a leak and then subsequently disintegrated, boiling hot water surging out into the sink. Luckily I hadn't put it in the bed else it could have been a soggy night! Eventually everyone headed off to the White Horse pub in the village. Apparently it's a community pub which HRH Prince Charles opened not so long ago. You can even admire a picture of him pulling a pint behind the bar. The crew sat down to a mainly fish supper.......well it was Friday after all. We decided not to partake in the usual perudo but played a game of UNO, having first to play a dummy round so everyone new the rules. I'm sure there was some cheating going on but we finally had a winner and then went on to play for second and third place. If anyone can remember who they were please come forward so we can put your name in lights!

Finally everyone was back at the boatyard, in their respective boats and tucked up in their little beds. Another great day had been had by all and it was sad to be going home tomorrow.

M&A and the motley crew xx

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