After discovering the boat has been sitting in the water over winter instead of resting on blocks in the boatyard I needed to get down and check it over. I picked a grey misty day with drizzle hanging in the air but it felt good to be walking along the bank again. She seemed quite happy where she was so I got the cover off and let some air into the cabin for the first time in a couple of months. The motor started without any fuss so I cast off onto a deserted River Thurne and motored up to Candle Dyke. With hardly any breeze there was little point in getting the sails up so I settled for a run under power to charge the battery.
Heigham Sound is a large expanse of water at the best of times but in the winter it seems huge. The reeds that mark the separation from Duck Broad have almost disappeared and as you leave Candle Dyke you enter an expanse of water that must be half a mile wide. Today it was entirely paved with geese. Duck Broad itself is one of the areas set aside as a wildfowl refuge during the winter months (Horsey Mere is another, and parts of Hickling). But no one seems to have told the wildlife. The flock ahead of me stretched from Duck Broad across the channel and to the far side of the Sound. As I approached I expected the birds in the channel to fly off but the effect of my arrival was much more dramatic. As soon as the first goose took to the wing the entire flock was on the move. A slight breeze was following me down the Sound so to get airborne they had to head in my direction. Suddenly the world was whirl of crying geese lifting off the water in formation and filling the sky around the boat. It was breathtaking. The cormorants lined up on the channel markers got caught up in the excitement and flew off low over the water.
I motored down to the far end of the Sound and then turned and pottered very slowly back to the mooring. First time on the water this year. And already something to celebrate.