Wind or no wind…

These pins are made for breaking!

‘Hurricane’ Storm Imogen with its predicted rain and winds of 29 gusting 46 mph did not put us off.  The reality was, we undertook a careful safety-check on our window of opportunity to row before Imogen reached the Norfolk Broads.  We had a strong crew, sturdy boat and as mentioned in a previous blog, excellent oars!

We decided best not to row across the open broad but slip down the River Ant to Sutton where we did a three point turn in a “hammer head”.   Refreshments were not until we reached Stalham.  (Note to the interested; the sign on the door of the Museum on the Broads at Stalham, states it opens 10 o’clock Thursday 24th March 2016, though the website says 23rd March!)

The après-refreshment row was uphill, or so it seemed.  In fact we were now rowing against the wind with gusts we estimated at 35mph.  The wind catching our oars made us think of feathering them!  Some powering up with lovely long recovery phases soon sorted the little question of forward propulsion.

Tom’s hat blew off and had to be rescued; thank goodness for the boat hook –  unfortunately the camera was not to hand!

Neither was the camera to hand when Richard tested the metal (sorry, no metal in St Ayles Skiffs) of our Beech thole pins.  They broke perfectly each time he caught a crab.  He was a good sport and posed, later, with both pins; one a greenstick break and the other clean in two pieces.

Richard Andrews thole pins.jpg

Thanks to our correspondent Alan for words and photo.

Winter works…

A successful afternoon on Saturday saw a first coat of gloss white paint on the hull of Bluejacket (Ian and Barrie had applied a good primer/undercoat layer earlier in the week). As an experiment, paint-rollers were used as well as brushes, causing some scepticism among those who had not tried them before! The result was a pretty fair finish but maybe, to provide the thickness of protection we are looking for, a second coat will be needed.


The main topic of conversation centred round the chances of getting an enjoyable row in all this stormy weather. It was nice to be in Barrie’s warm, dry workshop/barn, sipping Andrea’s tea-time treats. Thanks to her and all who helped.

Next Saturday 13 Feb it would be great if a few more of us could spare half an hour again to come and assist with turning Bluejacket back upright so we can start on the interior and the varnish. (We might try weighing the boat too…).

Meanwhile, three or four volunteers have been helping Rob to cut and shape the Sitka Spruce for the next set of oars. These are to be hollow like the recent set which a number of people have used now, and which have received the thumbs-up for their better balance.

Next step is to start glueing the sections together and turning the oak end-pieces to make handles.  We’ll try to add up all the hours that have gone into making these oars – once we’ve finished them!



St. Benet’s Abbey

Another windy day didn’t prevent today’s outing to St. Benet’s Abby going ahead: hard work on the outward leg, much of which was into the SW wind, especially across Barton Broad, but easier for much of the return leg, where we averaged 3.9 MPH with a peak of 5.2. Total trip was 11.8 miles, some 3 1/2 hours of rowing.

Tomorrow, back to oar making, second set to the new design are coming along, we’ll have matching oars in both boats for the coming season…..


26 January 2016…

Our Barton correspondent, Alan, tells the tale of today’s row:…
“Today the wind was predicted to gust to 41mph by 12 O’clock.  We figured we could get to How Hill and be on our way back by that time and the wind would be on our stern for the return leg of the row.  Confidently we launched and were immediately impressed, to a man and woman, with the new oars.  Skiffie World Championships here we come!  The oars are beautifully crafted, balanced to perfection.
However, we did need them to be as good as that; as we reached the open Barton Broad the waves were noted to have white crests of spray (sea state 4).  Rowing against the wind and waves made for a good workout.  Coffee break at How Hill was well earned.
The return journey was by comparison a walk in the park!  We detoured on the way back to look around the Broad but did not see any otters though they may have seen us first.  The rain only started to fall as we were putting Hoi Larntan away – and we were back by midday.
Promised not to mention Chrissie falling over twice in the boat, so better not!”
Coffee break:
This is fun:
Thank goodness for the winch:

Pulling together…

Many thanks for the great turnout yesterday – for the great turnover. Bluejacket was whisked off her trailer and lifted on to the building frame in Barrie’s workshop. Then one quick heave and over she went, to rest upside down ready for her full re-paint. As we stood back to admire the effect of our labours, Tom, Roland and Robin had already grasped sandpaper and were starting to rub down the paintwork.

After almost constant use on the water and many miles of being towed, since she was launched, Bluejacket’s hull is in remarkably good condition – just a bit grubby. Even the first sanding, everyone else by now having taken the hint and joined in rubbing and scraping, she began to show signs of her former pristine white finish, minus the gloss shine.

Andrea made countless cups of tea and coffee as we stood back to let Catherine show us how it should be done!

That’s just the start. Saturday afternoons for the next few weeks will require plenty of effort – first finishing sanding, then undercoat/s and top coats, before turning the boat up-right again ready to start on the interior.

Preparing to turn Bluejacket over…


Barrie’s barn is warm and everyone is welcome!

As ever, thanks to Andrea and Barrie.

Boat swap…

Hoi Larntan is safely delivered to Barton with her paint and brightwork shiny new again. Thanks to all who took time to help with the sanding and painting. Bluejacket, somewhat wet and bedraggled is now back in Barrie’s barn ready for a full re-paint – starting with:

Saturday (tomorrow 23rd) 2 p.m. at Bayfield Brecks, could a good few come please to help to lift and turn her over?  With plenty of hands the job is easy and takes no more than a few minutes. Thanks.

Before we collected BJ, Tom/Alan/Catherine/Amanda and John had had a great row. Alan tells the tale:

“At last the ice cleared so we could row Bluejacket out of Barton Turf.  The predicted rain was expected to fall at midday so a quick get-away was necessary.  Since the forecast wind was gusting 41mph from the South we decided to hide ourselves by setting off up the sheltered River Ant towards Stalham.  We were enjoying the row when the shout went up “black ice”!  Where the water was flowing, the ice had melted but by the riverbanks there was sheet ice.  If we had had a sat nav, I am sure we would have heard “perform a legal u-turn”.

The open broad was clear of ice but had the predicted wind head on.  The effect of the wind could really be felt on the oars during the recovery phase of the stroke let alone increasing the work required to make headway across the broad.  Shelter was gained in Limekiln Dyke where we shared coffee and home-made flapjacks.  The return leg was brisk, not only because the wind was now in our favour, but for fun, we did a series of pyramid power up sessions – just because we could!

As we rowed into Barton Turf, we found the land crew had already secured Hoi Larntan on her pitch and were waiting to tow Bluejacket to Bayfield for some winter care and attention.”

And yes all was completed before the rain fell. (just!  Ed.)

Limekiln Dyke_1.jpg

Limekiln Dyke_7.jpg

Limekiln Dyke_8.jpg

Thanks to the crew who helped after the row and to Rob and Barrie who travelled with me to load and un-load, then re-load the boats.

The Dilham Run…..

Alan writes:
‘We had a most enjoyable row in Bluejacket this morning to parts of the Broads I had not been to before.  Had we rowed across Barton Broad to How Hill, we judged the wind would be against us as we returned to base, therefore we rowed in the opposite direction and elected to keep bearing left when facing a choice.  Hence the title of the pictures “the Dilham Run”.
We only saw two other craft on the move, a fishing boat (see photo) and a cruiser who asked if we had rowed all the way from Blakeney!  What a gorgeous place to be rowing in the middle of January. I hope the photos go some way towards showing the pleasure we had.’
Dilham run_06.jpg
Dilham run_04.jpg
Dilham run_07.jpg
Dilham run_11.jpg
Dilham run_10.jpg
If you haven’t yet been down to Barton Broad and the surrounding waterways, this is what you are missing! (Ed.)