Tuesday 3 September 2013

A "Moth" In The Moonlight.

The phone rang on Sunday morning.
"Would you like a trip on White Moth?" asked the person at the other end.

"Would the cat like another goldfish?" I thought to myself.
Too right it would.

"White Moth" was moored at the Cantley "Reedcutters"  She had just completed a weeks charter and was on the way home.  The volunteers, who had put in some really hard work over the  last twelve months, were being offered the trip from Cantley to Acle in appreciation of their efforts.

Slack water at the Vauxhall bridge in Great Yarmouth was expected at about four thirty in the afternoon this determined that the days sailing would end at Acle bridge.
During my unspectacular career afloat I have only crossed Breydon on three previous occasions.    This trip would be my first time under sail and I was really looking forward to it.

I joined "White Moth" on her mooring just before midday on August 20th.  Gently rising and falling in the wake of passing cruisers she looked a picture of Edwardian elegance. I stowed my cameras and equipment below in one of the cabins.  The whole interior of the Wherry yacht consists of varnished wood panelling and brass fittings.  Forward in the main saloon stood a five octave piano.  The piano would have provided the evening entertainment in the 1920's and cost an extra few shillings per week  as an optional extra.

"White Moth" may be coming up to her 100th birthday but she is still, most definitely, a working boat.

Just after midday we cast off, a stiff breeze carried us swiftly past the sugar factory toward Reedham. We glided past the "Ferry Inn" and through the open swing bridge toward Breydon.

Through Reedham Swing Bridge
A freshening wind on a beautiful summers day.  Sailing through a never ending carpet of rural views stretching out in every direction and coloured in shades of green, gold and blue.  The silence only broken by the sound of water rippling along the hull and an occasional flapping sail.
Absolutely priceless!

A Beautiful Summers Day

Past Polkeys mill and the Berney Arms, as we reached Breydon the wind dropped dramatically, hardly enough strength to fill "White Moth's" sail.  The people on board who knew what they were talking about assured us we would pick up the sea breeze once we were out on Breydon.

The Wind Dropped Dramatically.
There was barely a breath of wind on Breydon, we kept station with two of  Hunters "Hustler" class sailing boats who like us were hardly making any headway.
Conditions were so still we were able to hold a conversation with them.  Then as predicted the wind began to freshen and fill the sails. gradually the little "Hustlers" pulled away.

The "Hustlers" Pulled Away.
In the strengthening wind the "Hustlers" decided to enjoy themselves and turned about to make the most of the conditions.  They sped past us creating a substantial bow wave.  "White Moth" continued on her way between the mud banks with feeding Lapwings and Avocets on either side.

Enjoying The Conditions.
With the sail and the mast lowered we passed under the Breydon Road bridge, and turned into the Bure.  The tide was running very fast under the Vauxhall bridge, it was quite clear we would have to wait for slack water.  "White Moth" was skillfully moored against the quay. The gas was lit under the kettle there would be more than enough time for a brew while we waited. 

It was early evening by the time the flow of water slowed to a trickle and we set off again.
"White Moth" was fairly gliding along the Bure on a stiff breeze.  It was now much cooler after the heat of the day, with very little sound save the rippling water, a flapping canvas and a dog barking somewhere in the distance.

Gliding Along The Bure.

The sun was getting ever lower in the evening sky.  Swallows swooped and dived in and out of the reeds, an unseen fish made rings in the calm water ahead of "White Moth's" bow wave.  Bemused cattle watched from the bank as we silently passed by.

The Setting Sun.

A warm glow lit the Western sky and detailed shapes stood stark against the setting sun.   "White Moth" sailed past lines of cruisers moored for the night.  In the gathering gloom nature's night shift was clocking on.  An owl skimmed over the marsh while the last of the swallows made best use of the fading light.

Shapes Stood Stark Against The Setting Sun.

A full moon was rising astern of us, casting a silver light on the water that rippled in our wake.  The reed beds were now black silhouettes lining the margins of the river.  The lights of the Ferry Inn at Stokesby lit up the darkness as it drifted by on our starboard.  Then gradually the old wherrymans pub receded  into the darkness as "White Moth" continued on her way.

The "Moth" In The Moonlight

The night air was turning cold  
It was quite dark when we arrived at Acle bridge, "White Moth" turned through 180 degrees and gently drew alongside the quay.  I had been on board this wonderful old vessel for ten hours and I was sorry we had reached our journeys end.   I shall always remember the "Moth" in the moonlight.

To see "Albion" making a similar journey click the links below.


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