The Norfolk Broads: Life On The Water
Take a look around the web and you’ll find plenty of articles that describe how unique and boat-friendly the Norfolk Broads is. Read just about any blog post on a travel site and you’ll discover how:
- The Broads were created by pits dug for peat back in the medieval era
- It was officially named a National Park in 1989
- It’s Britain’s third largest inland waterway
- It contains seven rivers
- It’s banks are home to 13 ancient monuments
In short, the Broads is a destination that’s steeped in history and lends itself perfectly to both seasoned and first time boaters.
But what about a more personal account of the Broads and the benefits it offers to boaters? What about a look at the finer details that goes beyond- forgive the pun- the broad strokes? What about, for example, the story of Graham and Debbie Eames and their experiences of boating around its 125 navigable waterways the whole year round?
Whilst most boaters reserve their cruising on the Norfolk Broads for the summer months, Graham and Debbie can be found on board their boat Hyperion- a 1985 Broom 10-70- even when there’s ice forming on the surface of the water.
The advantage of cruising when many others aren’t? Well, as Graham explains, it provides an altogether different kind of tranquility. Recalling a recent wintertime escape, he describes how “we had a day at Ranworth in January – there was only one other boat moored up with us. It was a cold night, and when we woke up the next morning it was sunny but frigid”.
A world away from the sun kissed cruises sold by travel brochures, this side of the Norfolk Broads is nevertheless an attractive proposition for boaters.
As well as peace and quiet, the Broads in winter is also an excellent place for budding astrologers. As Graham goes on to describe:“the absence of light pollution allows us to sit on the deck at night and enjoy the stars- we’ve found ourselves doing this until 4am in the past. It’s beautiful.”
Clearly, it’s not essential to be boating on the Broads in summer to experience something unforgettable.
While Graham had owned several boats over the years, the couple bought their first boat together from the Norfolk Yacht Agency in 2013. A classically styled Freeman 27, she was named Wild Rover after a popular folk song that was played at their wedding.
After enjoying the boat for a couple of years, the couple realised that they needed something a little bigger if they wanted to share their time on the water with friends and family. Returning to NYA, Debbie and Graham purchased their Broom 10-70 that sleeps up to six guests. A 35ft cruiser powered by twin Volvo engines the boat serves as a veritable bolt hole on the Broads. Or, as Graham likes to think of it, “it’s like having a two bed-room cottage on the Broads riverside that comes at a fraction of the price, you can move it, and you don’t have to mow the lawn”.
As well as making for a fantastic Broads cruiser, Hyperion also has some impressive seagoing capabilities. Elaborating on the performance of the boat, Graham describes how “idling along the river with the engines burbling away is all right, but the challenge of the sea is far more fun”. Remembering one particular cruise that took him and some friends out of the Broads to the North Sea, he goes on to remark how “she’s undeniably smooth at higher speeds and she absolutely flew across Breydon Water!”.
This is another aspect of boating on the Broads that’s so often overlooked- due to being in such close proximity to Great Yarmouth, it’s easy to explore more adventurous waters with no difficulty whatsoever.
Great in winter, close enough to the North Sea to stretch the sea legs, and home to rare and friendly wildlife, the Norfolk Broads has plenty going for it that might not be so immediately obvious.
But what of the warmer months that the travel brochures like to yell about? Well, as Debbie puts it: “in summer, you can just sit back and watch the wildlife. We’ve even befriended a goose we’ve come to call Limpy on account of his damaged wing. he’s been around for years and if we don’t feed him he taps on the side of the boat with his beak!”.
Summer time on the Broads is also one of the best places in the world to simply “mess around in boats”. Recounting stories of summers gone by, Graham remembers how one stag do ended up looking an awful lot like a Carry On film. Between laughs, he described how “there was a boat full of men in these ridiculous looking onesies, all cavorting about and generally having a good time. As if the whole scene was scripted, the stag- dressed as a chicken for one reason or another- fell off the back of the boat. In their attempts to reclaim their friend from the water, a number of the partygoers ended up going in with him! Eventually, the guys responsible for steering the boat had to abandon their posts to join the rescue mission and the boat started to veer off into the bushes.”
Hen parties on the Broads are just as lively. Thinking back on a time when he observed how a hen party were struggling to pull up mud weight, Graham describes how “three hens simply couldn’t shift themselves from the mud. All of a sudden, one of them had a lightbulb moment and decided to run back to the helm, put the boat into reverse and release the anchor from the mud that way. Of the two remaining hens still holding onto the anchor rope, only one had the sense to let go, the other one was pulled straight over the bow!”.
Evidently, there’s no place quite as fun and as rich in variety as the Norfolk Broads. The Norfolk Yacht Agency have created a buying and selling empire on the Broads over the last 50 years. They offer the very best in buying, owning and selling knowledge along with qualified training, excellent after sales care and a range of warranties and services.