And now for something completely different
Regular viewers of these pages will know that from time to time they can see the latest sailing pictures – usually from the Norfolk Punt Club. Possibly not all those (I use the plural optimistically) who are addicted to the blog will be familiar with the old trading wherries that used to sail the waters of the Norfolk Broads.
These rather lumbering wide beamed, shallow draught boats carried goods from the coast up the rivers and then returned bringing cargoes such as cloth from Worstead to ports for export. A great deal of internal movement of goods in Norfolk also went via these vessels. Until the Second World War many wherries existed although not all of them carried cargo.
A few of them were built as pleasure wherries – wherries such as Olive, Hathor and White Moth – even so a wherry is a wherry and despite internal differences the shape of the wherry and the pattern of its sail is very distinctive.
Earlier this month we had a trip from Womack Water down to Horning on the river Bure on board Olive – one of the wherry yachts. Quite a different sort of sailing – much more stately and silent than the sort of thing I am used to in sailing races.
Gently floating along all that could be heard was the flapping of the sail, the odd rattle from the tackle and the creaking of the mast. In addition though there was much puffing from the crew who, when the wind dropped were called upon to push the boat along manually with a “quant” (long pole with a rounded end which must not get stuck in the mud). Other boats on the broads definitely noticed us on our wherry when they passed by.
For one thing the wherry is very big, it moves slowly but in all other respects sails like any other vessel – including tacking, which on narrow rivers requires skill from the skipper and patience from other river users.
Conversely the wild life had no problem with us – possibly they didn’t hear is coming – but it was a hot day and they like everything and everyone else they were disinclined to expend valuable energy. So they simply watched us and assumed – correctly – that the threat level was minimal.
A terrific trip and one which I can recommend as quite a different way to see the Norfolk Broads at a gentle and leisurely pace.