This year’s Broads Adventure was one of the more enjoyable as the weather was warmer and dryer than for several years. Challenges remained as always with this adventure holiday as our programme was challenged in that it was not possible to pass through the historic bridge of Potter Heigham due to the high water level. The crews were challenged to consider and discuss the difference between being religious and having a living faith, both in the morning quiet times and evening ‘Squash’ when we met on one of the larger yachts for a time of Worship.

We set out to collect the four yachts making up our fleet, two from Upton and two from Martham. The crews arrived promptly and everything went well with the two largest yachts navigating under Potter Heigham bridge without difficulty to rendezvous for the first night rafted-up in a back-water off South Walsham Broad.

Sunday was our first full day and the fleet moved a short distance to moor adjacent to St Bennett’s Abbey for morning Worship, We first gathered around the huge timber cross to consider what obedience had meant to Jesus, this was followed by a time of singing within the old windmill building actually constructed within the Abbey ruins. Then back to where the fleet mooring with a dinghy on the bank to hear that to follow Jesus’s instructions, as the disciples did, can lead to unexpected results.

Our route then continued under Ludham bridge and up the river Ant to moor at a quiet staithe off Barton Broad. Our sleep was disturbed overnight by a huge crash of thunder followed by torrential rain that continued on the Monday morning and so our reserve of ‘Wet weather games’ was deployed with an inter-boat quiz over the radios. A skipper’s meeting to discuss the day heard that the rain was due to stop at 11.00am and to the minute it did and the weather cleared. We had a great sail for the remainder of the afternoon on Barton Broad where the young Nelson learnt to sail!

We moored at Barton Turf that evening, the next morning setting off back down the Ant with the yachts staying close for some inter-boat exchanges in the gentle breeze. Back under Luham bridge and then sailing down the rivers Bure and Thurne to moor at Hunter’s Yard for some welcome showers. Wednesday the fleet sailed down the river Thurne and Bure to arrive safely after a sudden squall at our night mooring at Eastwood Whelpton Boat Yard. Arriving early and between rain squalls, we had time for games ashore on the village playing field.

The fleet was due to pass under Potter bridge on Thursday but due to the high winds the Pilot reported that the water level remained high. The two large yachts were dispatched to check out the water level but the decision was that it would not be possible to pass through. The fleet sailed north instead, with an additional half-decker joining the fleet for fun, retracing our route to rendezvous in the River Thurne, and we then had a great sail to Malthouse Broad, tacking all the way, where we moored on mud-weights. The afternoon consisted of a variety of activities, including transferring the crews ashore by dinghy for a walk ashore to the RSPB nature reserve, ice creams and climb up the Church tower in Ranworth and sail training in the half-decker.

Friday was a quiet day (in terms of the weather,) and this was taken advantage of by organising an inter-boat dinghy regatta, always great fun with fierce rivalry to achieve a good result (!) followed by an enjoyable if challenging light wind sail back into Womack Water for our last night’s mooring. In our memorable squash (meeting) several of the young people witnessed to how God had impacted their lives during the week.

Saturday morning is always a rush to pack and clean the boats. The two large yachts had no trouble clearing Potter bridge, leaving the other two to travel south back to Upton.

So with the leaders feeling rather fatigued but thankful to see the way God used us and impacted these youngsters’ lives, and reflecting that we had sailed a greater distance than for a number of years, we made our various ways safely home, thankful for His protection and grateful for a warmer week that overall had been a most enjoyable Cruise!

Philip, & all the BA 2016 team.

- By Philip Cooke (Aka Skipper Grandpa)