With 120 miles of navigable waterways all waiting to be discovered, there really is no better place to hoist the mainsail, than the Norfolk Broads. Learning to sail in these parts requires the help of someone with skill, knowledge, patience and above all experience. Imagine my delight in meeting Mark, an RYA Instructor (from Norfolk Broads School of Sailing) who in one evening provided me with basic knowledge in how to handle a beautiful half decker yacht, and left me with a thirst to learn more, together with a strong belief that it is never too late to try something new.
Let me briefly introduce myself, I am a 37-year-old Mummy of two. I spent most of my childhood days watching Swallow & Amazon’s on video (!) and I love an adventure.
My evening’s sailing came about in rather an unexpected way. Having been offered the opportunity to feature in a forthcoming Norfolk Country Cottage campaign, which will showcase a family enjoying an evening afloat on the tranquil waters, I jumped at the chance. The brief was to turn up at pretty Eastwood Whelpton boatyard in Upton, and jump aboard a yacht. No more! When skipper Mark asked who had sailing experience I started to panic. I need not have worried. From the moment, fellow crewmembers and I boarded ‘Wood Argus’ I knew this experience would be one to treasure.
Raising the mainsail on a calm summer’s evening, the lesson began. I didn’t really have any concerns, other than to make sure my head didn’t get in the path of the boom, and to make sure I stayed dry.
The first important piece of knowledge we were told was that, conveniently, the half decker is keelboat, designed not to capsize - brilliant news for one not wishing spend an evening in soggy clothing! Capsize it does not, but what it does is tilt at a thrilling 90 degree angle and provide an exhilarating experience. You certainly feel the wind in your hair, and more importantly in the sails. Having been offered the opportunity to take my turn at the helm I cannot put into words the feeling of the moment where the wind fills the sail. The sheer strength and power of gliding through the water and tacking along the serene surroundings of the River Bure is something I will never forget.
Marks knowledge of the Broads is quite something. During the 4-hour lesson, my fellow crewmates and I learned many interesting facts about these wide expanses of water and how to tame them, there were wind shadow and tacking tips aplenty. With the friendly and encouraging approach of an RYA instructor it really is possible to live out a childhood dream, I think Arthur Ransome would be proud.
If you are holidaying in the area and fancy giving it a go, there are a number of options available.
For further information do take a look at .norfolksailingschool.co.uk of whom I would recommend to anyone who has read this and thought I wish I could do that... you can!
By Emily Greves