….well, Topher Dawson and his wife Jan did. Firstly a punishing cycle ride through the mountainous North Norfolk countryside to Nelson’s birthplace, then an exhilarating row in Hoi Larntan to sample the delights of rowing in the Pit.
For those, who may not know, Topher was one of the driving forces behind building the first St Ayles skiffs and ‘Ulla’ in particular. He then spearheaded the organisation at Ullapool that culminated in the wonderfully successful World Skiffie Championships that we competed in and enjoyed so much back in July.
His trip to Norfolk was mainly to take part in the English sail and oar Raid, but the opportunity of seeing Hoi Larntan in her native setting was added to his schedule.
By way of a complete contrast, Hoi Larntan was invited to join the Norfolk Skiff Club (a.k.a. Adrian Hodge) and fellow ‘members’, for an outing on the Broads.
Launching at Cox’s Marina, Barton Turf, we joined Adrian’s lovely Edwardian (1903?) Thames skiff ‘Cherub’, Andy and Katy Marczewski brought along the coracle Andy built, Philip Waring launched his recently completed and beautifully finished Annapolis sculling wherry. Lynne Hodge, Peter and Sarah Cranness, Robin Forrest and Ian were joined by James to make up the required crews.
A perfect day of bright sunshine, but with a breeze freshening to Force 5, made for a challenging row across Barton Broad. Half way, by the Norfolk Punt club’s floating clubhouse, we were intercepted by the jovial, bearded figure of The Reverend Neville Khambatta – who, by coincidence and among his many other energetic activities was finalising his preparations as organiser of the English Raid that Topher and friends were about to embark on. Incestuous, the world of rowing!
We stuck our noses into tiny little staithes with near overgrown entrances and rowed round the edges of the Broad before stopping for a picnic lunch and a chance to stretch legs. Suitably refreshed, Andy coxed us back to the middle of the Broad where in traditional style we were treated to the Norfolk Punt Club’s renowned hospitality of tea and cakes. A gentle row – for once with the wind behind us – Katy coxing and Andy rowing, and suddenly it was all over. A great day showing how adaptable Hoi Larntan is, and we may have sown seeds of a St Ayles skiff for the Broads too.