After a few breezy days Thursday brought a change and once again we found ourselves out in the sunshine with the just lightest of breezes blowing off the marsh.  It didn’t look promising.  Still, rather than give in to the engine we decided to hoist the sail and see if there was enough wind to get us off the mooring.  Half way up the mast the gaff stuck. As we looked up struggling to free the jam we saw the unmistakable silhouette of two cranes directly overhead looking for all the world as if they’d just taken off from a Japanese print.  A good omen, we decided.  The rigging sorted and sails up we crept away from the bank and headed for Candle Dyke.  There was another small yacht about half a mile ahead but otherwise we had the water to ourselves.

The sound of birdsong from the reeds seemed far too loud to be produced by the tiny creatures we could see scrambling up and down the reedstems. As usual we failed to identify the culprits though I would have put serious money on a reed bunting.  The breeze and the last of the tide was just enough to keep us moving as we drifted slowly across the open water of Heigham Sound into Deep Go Dyke and after an hour or so emerged onto Hickling Broad.

Hickling from the Pleasure Boat Inn

On our previous trips to Hickling we’d turned round off the channel to Catfield Dyke. This time we decided to sail to the far end and investigate The Pleasure Boat Inn.  About half way across a breeze suddenly picked up from the south. One minute we were ghosting along under limp sails and the next Gypsy Roma had settled back and was making her way purposefully along the channel.

By the time we tied up at the Pleasure Boat staithe  the smooth water was being ruffled by the breeze and birdsong had been replaced by the sound of halyards slapping the masts of the dinghys in the sailing club pound.

Beer delivery, Pleasure Boat Inn

We had lunch surrounded by the pleasant clutter of boatyards, and some pink footed geese marshalling their goslings . We would have stayed longer but it was a little lumpy exposed to the wind and absurdly, the small waves were arriving just the right angle to slap against the hull and spoil the chance of a siesta.

Hickling boathouse

On the way out we’d resigned ourselves to using the engine for the return trip but the breeze was still blowing straight down the broad so we managed to tack our way – a little messily – back to White Slea where we tied up once more and got the kettle on.  When we were here in February the marsh harriers were stacked overhead riding a thermal. This time they were quartering the reedbeds and the woodland carr beyond. They came close enough for us to see the pale markings on the wings before turning effortlessly away and continuing their patrol. We saw one of the black swans too. It took off and with a conjuror’s flourish revealed a pair of snow white wings.

Disappointed with our tacking ability we decided to have another go in the confines of the dyke.  This time with the wind right on the nose we did better and managed to get ourselves out of the dyke and across the sound. By the time we tied up again we’d probably managed five or six miles under sail.  For us, that must be a record.

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