Sarah: a windy weekend in Norfolk?

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A bank holiday fell at the end of May, meaning a 3 day weekend. We love our bank holidays, time to relax, catch up at home, laze around. We wish. We took advantage of the long weekend by going to Norfolk looking to practice in winds on the Broads.
It had been been a hectic week, I went to Jersey for 2 days for work and Dan spent most of the week in Belgium so getting ready for a 3 day trip away was in itself a challenge – we rose to it and were safely on the train.

We arrived in Hoveton and Wroxham, walked the kit to the river. I went to the supermarket for supplies, whilst Dan built the boat. The put-on is right in town with plenty of space waterfowl to keep an eye on us.

We headed east along the river Bure and north on the River Ant, gaining a opposing tide as we went downriver. Crossing Barton Broad and on up to Nettishead, where we were staying.  On the way I spotted an otter on quite a busy stretch of the Bure but once again my ‘otter, otter, otter’ warning wasn’t quick enough for Dan to spot it.

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It was good to be on a completely different bit of water. but we didn’t get the wind we planned for. Barton Broad, which we remember as a huge sea-like bit of water, has shrunk. It used to take forever to cross – now its about 10 minutes. No comparison to Lake Laberge.

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Day 2 started off by walking the boat back to the river, then a paddle across the broad. We were going north, further along the Ant, heading to an old canal that can no longer be accessed by motorised boats. A lovely piece of water to paddle. Testing the steering as opposed to the speed. When we reached a derelict lock we stopped to practice our cooking. This time gnocchi and frankfurters. It’s never going to go down as a culinary delight but it was warm fuel.

On the way back we stopped to deal with team issues, having a good long chat about communication and what we need to do to complete the race successfully.

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On Sunday we needed to paddle back to the train station and we played with speed and effort. Using the new GPS to track ourselves. Working against the tide most of the way we were banking on it taking us 5 hours, but we were faster even with breaks arriving in 4 hours. In celebration of that we shared a tray of chips before putting the boat away!

We have worked out that lots of little breaks mean that we can keep going strong. Its a key thing to remember: during the race, with the speed of the water, when we take a little break we will just keep on drifting down the river.

We both had unhappy bits of shoulder, neck, and arm and we wonder if the unforgiving nature of the carbon paddles is creating this – wood bends and absorbs the impact, carbon fibre doesn’t. We have one trip left now before we leave the UK and we are taking wooden paddles to see if it’s easier on the muscles. There is a fair bit of organisational stuff to get finished and both of us have work trips away from London so we expect a busy few weeks. It will be worth it.

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