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Log of The Mandarin II

The Norfolk Broads - May 1964

1960s History 1960s Memories 1960s Gallery

Crew: E. Neighbour & K. Ransome

Log kept by E.Neighbour

The following is a transcription of an original cruising log for a holiday on the motor cruiser Mandarin II which was hired from R. Richardson Ltd of Stalham in May 1964. Mandarin was a 24ft wooden, 2 berth cruiser with an open aft well and inside forward steering position. Sadly, I know nothing about the two friends who took this holiday, but the log mentions returning to London at the end of the week.

Saturday May 9th

15.45 hrs

Arrive Norwich Thorpe station – no sign of K.R. Decide on light refreshments.

16.45 hrs

Pleased to greet K.R. who talks of being delayed by puncture.

17.20 hrs

Arrive Richardson’s boatyard, Stalham. Load gear and stores into Mandarin, take car to garage. Settle small matter of paying for the cabin cruiser and 16 galls. Of petrol. Mechanic takes us on a short test run along the river – then the boat is all ours. Moor immediately to sort out gear and partake of much needed meal. Eggs & bacon, bread, fruit & cream.

19.30 hrs

Shipshape and ready to get under way but engine fails to start. Row back to boatyard in dinghy to report difficulty. Mechanic starts engine first time – learn not to choke it.

20.40 hrs

Get under way in failing light, decide to make for Sutton Staithe for the night.

Sunday May 10th

05.30 hrs

Get up, did not sleep well owing to excellent snoring ability of crew, threaten to make bunk on deck in future. Breakfast on grapefruit, porridge, bacon, bread & butter & marmalade, coffee.

07.15 hrs

Leave mooring and proceed down Sutton Dyke towards river Ant. Weather bright but wind fresh to strong S.W.

07.50 hrs

Reach Barton Broad with engine overheating, decide to seek advice at the first Blakes boatyard we pass. This plan fore-stalled by failure of engine in middle of broad. Drop anchor weight. No sign of a living soul. Inspect engine, decide that probable cause of trouble – closed inlet valve on water filter – but reluctant to tinker with engine it being one of the ‘Do not’s’ in the handbook. Consult charts to ascertain position of nearest Blakes boatyard, learn that it is at Neatishead, some distance up Lime Kiln Dyke on the other side of the broad, about a mile & quarter from our position. Decide to row to Neatishead for assistance.

8.25 hrs

Throw lifejackets in dinghy and set off in choppy conditions. Wind is against us, but the sun is shining and we feel full of the joy of living. We both feel a little apprehension at leaving Mandarin anchored in mid-broad with all our gear, have yet to discover the toughness of the task we have set ourselves. Take it in turns to row, but eventually K.R. has a brave wave, we take an oar each.

09.45 hrs

Arrive Neatishead, exhausted. Impressed by beautiful scenery along banks of Lime Kiln Dyke, but dismayed to find boatyard closed. Apart from cruiser ‘Halcyon’ whose skipper is also looking for help, (failure of gas supply to stove) there is not a soul about. Halcyon skipper says this is his first venture on the broads and finds boat a bit of a handful, while unhappy wife says she would like to get a bus to Yarmouth!! As they are about to move off, we ask for a lift back to Mandarin. Halcyon skipper glad of competent crew to extricate him from awkward harbour onto open waters of Barton Broad. Crew of Mandarin give lesson in seamanship. Transfer to dinghy in mid-broad and row to Mandarin.

10.30 hrs

Engine now cool, decide to return at slow speed towards Stalham. But we are only just leaving the broad before engine begins to overheat. Moor to trees along bank of river Ant. Hail passing craft to report our distress to Richardsons boatyard. Decide to have dinner while awaiting assistance. Meat pudding, potatoes, butter beans, etc.

11.30 hrs

Mechanics boat arrives in the middle of dinner. Mechanic diagnoses closed water valve, as suspected. Says that we will be O.K. for the remainder of the day, but a new water gasket must be fitted in the morning. Excitement caused by mechanic’s boat breaking adrift, secured again after a ‘chase’. Decide that if the rest of the week continues as exciting, we shall require a second week to recover.

13.00 hrs

Wash up and get under way for another attempt to cross Barton Broad. Weather fine, cool fresh wind. Cross broad and navigate the winding River Ant leading to the River Bure. Pass two sea-going yachts.

14.45 hrs

Turn off Bure into South Walsham Dyke and moor for general clean up and refreshment. Surprised to find stores at S. Walsham open on Sunday. Purchase cards.

16.00 hrs

Cruise round South Walsham Broad, regret to find no mooring allowed on the Western broad as this would seem an ideal place to spend a night. Leave South Walsham Dyke and cruise along Bure to River Thurne.

17.20 hrs

Moor in Thurne Dyke. Very hungry, decide on another dinner! Watch inexperienced crew of a large cruiser (mostly girls) trying to moor ahead of Mandarin. Nearly fall in water in our hurry to show them how it should be done. Wave aside many thanks, return with big heads to Mandarin.

20.00 hrs

Walk into village to post cards.

22.00 hrs

Supper and turn in.

Monday May 11th

06.20 hrs

Woke to find conditions wet and windy. Slept well. Breakfast on grapefruit, porridge, Bacon, bread & butter, biscuits & coffee.

08.00 hrs

Don waterproofs and walk into Thurne village, phone boatyard to report our position. Collect stores on way back.

08.45 hrs

Mechanic arrives to renew gasket.

09.10 hrs

Mechanic finishes job and says we should have no more trouble.

10.00 hrs

Leave Thurne Dyke and proceed north towards Potter Heigham. Still raining but it fails to dampen our spirits. Safely negotiate extremely low bridge, easy to see why many larger cruisers are unable to get through. Turn into Candle Dyke and cross Heigham Sound to Hickling Broad, a wonderful sheet of water which we have almost to ourselves. Cross broad and turn round, returning to Heigham Sound. Turn off into Meadow Dyke. Very narrow, but open out into Horsey Mere a lonely and enchanting expanse of water, less than half a mile from the North Sea. Cruise right round broad, Mandarin tossing about in choppy conditions, and round again for the sheer pleasure of it.

12.30 hrs

Back to Meadow Dyke, moor to trees for tiffin. Still drizzling but sun trying to break through. Enjoy a row in dinghy, but fresh wind makes steering difficult.

14.00 hrs

Leave mooring in improving weather, retrace track through Potter Heigham, Thurne and into River Bure. Pass through Acle and moor at Stokesby for snack. Go ashore to get bread, milk and stamps. Assist inexperienced crew of large cruiser having trouble leaving mooring in strong wind. Help not appreciated, but necessary to protect Mandarin from damage.

16.45 hrs

Get under way again to tackle the long voyage through Yarmouth across Breydon Water and along the Yare past Reedham to Langley Dyke, a distance of approx. 22 miles. Weather now fine, but fresh to strong wind to give a chop on the water.

17.45 hrs

Reached Gt. Yarmouth yacht station occupying the only stretch of unsightly water on Broads. Set off across the 4 ½ miles of Breydon Water, always an exciting experience, with its grand feeling of space, much appreciated by both members of crew. K.R. enjoys himself with camera. Prepare dinner.

19.20 hrs

Sight Golden Myth at her owner’s moorings, brings back memories. Pass under Reedham swing bridge. Enjoy beautiful sunset as we cruise towards Langley Dyke. Dinner cooking.

20.30 hrs

Moor in Langley Dyke, almost deserted, tired and hungry, but dinner all ready to eat – potatoes, fresh beans, tongue, apple pie and custard.

21.40 hrs

Walk into village to post cards.

23.00 hrs

Supper and turn in.

Tuesday May 12th

05.00 hrs

Awake and up with the lark! Decide on a row before breakfast, weather perfect. Dinghy half full of water, result of choppy ‘seas’ on Breydon Water. Row dinghy to end of Dyke and beach it. Bale out with jug. An absolutely glorious morning, we have the world to ourselves, neither of us felt so fit for years. Row for half an hour along River yare, return for breakfast. Grapefruit, porridge, bacon and eggs, coffee and biscuits.

07.45 hrs

Leave Langley Dyke, cruise up Yare towards Brundall, not a soul to be seen. K. and I very happy. Pass one of Everards cargo steamers going down river, take photos.

08.40 hrs

Reach Brundall & moor. Top up water tank, obtain stores. K.R. takes photos from bank of Mandarin and E.N. cruising on river.

09.30 hrs

Get under way again, cruise up river towards Norwich, admire some of the best scenery on the Broads, with cocoa and cake to refresh. Turn about half a mile from end of navigable waters, not wanting to get too close to civilisation. Return through Brundall.

11.45 hrs

Enter Rockland Broad reputed to be very shallow. Proceed slowly in anticipation of running aground, get across safely, moor suitable spot for tiffin. (Egg & cheese omelette, tea and cake.) Take photos of meal table in cockpit.

13.40 hrs

Leave Rockland Dyke, proceed down Yare towards Reedham. Weather warm enough for shorts. Pass ancient chain vehicle ferry. Take photo of cruiser ‘Golden Myth’ at Pearson’s boatyard, Reedham.

15.00 hrs

Enter New Cut, a long straight, rather monotonous canal.

15.25 hrs

Reach junction of River Waveney, cruise towards Somerleyton. Ideal conditions for this type of holiday. Decide to make for Geldeston Dyke, beyond Beccles, for the night, preparing and cooking dinner en route. Owing to distance yet to go, forced to take sustaining snack of coffee and cake.

19.35 hrs

Arrive Geldeston Dyke, ravenous. Not thrilled at first sight of mooring, but eventually get to like it. After dinner, walk into village, very quiet. Find stores open at Discover interesting preserved steam-roller in boatyard workshop. Return to Mandarin after walking several miles. Interested in behaviour of reed warbler whose nest is nearby, seems worried by our presence.

21.30 hrs

K.R. decides on a row along Dyke while E.N. organises Mandarin for the night. Discover toilet flush pump has packed up. Take same to pieces. K.R. tries, unsuccessfully to clear outlet with mop. Pump fails to work, will have to bale water in future

23.00 hrs

Supper and turn in.

Wednesday May 13th

07.00 hrs

Awoke to find weather close and overcast. Decide on a row while K.R. prepares breakfast. Find rowing wonderfully relaxing in these peaceful surroundings. See many interesting birds.

08.00 hrs

Breakfast on grapefruit, porridge, bacon, bread & butter, coffee. Check contents of petrol tank, appalled to find only 3 ½ galls left, had not realised how many miles we have travelled. Decide to make a late start this morning as an economy measure. Walk into village for milk, but unable to get any. Change our minds about economy measures, not going to spoil the holiday for a few galls of fuel, this being the only extra expense.

09.30 hrs

Get under way for nearest petrol pump (Beccles).

10.00 hrs

Reach Beccles, moor at awkward spot to take on 6 galls petrol. Move along to good mooring outside Beccles Harbour, a fee of 2/- being charged to moor inside. Have a stroll into Beccles for stores etc. Too civilised, glad to get back to Mandarin.

12.00 hrs

Tiffin time, fried eggs, spaghetti, bread & butter, cake & coffee.

13.00 hrs

Get moving in drizzle, bound for Oulton Broad. Very few craft about, pleasant cruising. Almost certain identified cuckoo in tree close by the river.

14.15 hrs

Turn about on Oulton Broad, found it too busy & organised. Moor at peaceful, outside broad for snack. Decide to return to the northern broads today, going through Gt. Yarmouth at slack water (17.17) this evening.

15.30 hrs

Away again, proceeding towards St. Olaves, where we stop for short break, weather dull and showery, but not cold.

17.00 hrs

Off again, under St. Olaves road bridge and along the winding river Waveney. Begins to rain hard, does not bother us. Have difficulty in finding buoys marking entrance to Breydon Water. Get through more by luck than judgement. Conditions wet but full of interest. Heavy rain whilst crossing Breydon Water. Nearly rolled over by passing French patrol boat, doing 20 knots perhaps. Turn into Bure at Gt. Yarmouth and set course for Stracey Arms. Stomachs getting M.T. Prepare dinner. Weather improving.

19.45 hrs

Moor Stracey Arms, ravenously hungry. Temporarily sustained by cream pea soup and bread. Get under way again for Acle Dyke.

20.15 hrs

Find Acle Dyke almost deserted and moor for night. Dinner at last. Steak, new potatoes, carrots, butter beans, fruit pudding and sauce.

21.30 hrs

Walk 3 miles to post cards. Have difficulty finding post box. Weather now fine.

23.00 hrs

Supper and turn in.

Thursday May 14th

04.15 hrs

K.R. wakes ship to investigate call of nightingale, not appreciated by crew, get to sleep again.

05.50 hrs

Get up to find weather bright but colder than of late. Go for strenuous row along dyke, while K.R. prepares breakfast. Grapefruit, porridge, boiled eggs, bread & butter.

08.00 hrs

Owing to fresh wind, have some difficulty in turning Mandarin, receive unsolicited advice of Old Man from nearby cottage.

08.20 hrs

Moor Acle Bridge, pick up stores. Prominent member of crew volunteers to walk long distance to M.T. rubbish bin.

09.10 hrs

Sail up river for Horning. Weather sunny, but considerably cooler than hitherto, glad of warm woollies. Fresh wind makes a welcome chop on the water. Enjoyable cruising.

10.30 hrs

Find good mooring at the eastern approaches to the sophisticated but very beautiful village of Horning. Take photos of Grey Lag geese, at the cost of a slice of bread. Take a nice easy stroll into village to obtain films and postcards. Very pleasant surroundings, far from the madding crowd.

11.45 hrs

Tiffin, boiled eggs, bread & butter, cake & lemon tea.

12.20 hrs

Large cruiser with noisy crew arrives to take mooring just ahead of ours. Decide to move. Call at boatyard short distance up river for 4 galls of petrol. Proceed up river, scenery very beautiful.

13.00 hrs

Turn off river into Wroxham Broad, a wonderful sheet of water, approx. 1 ½ miles long, by ½ mile wide, with no shallow places to avoid. Cruise around enjoying the freedom of movement. Continue along river Bure through picturesque Wroxham village, under very low bridge and moor to trees at pleasant spot about a mile beyond. Weather still fine, but cool wind. Feed on tinned lobster, bread & butter, coffee. Not thrilled with lobster. K.R. returns remainder of tin to place of origin. K.R. feels energetic, decides on exploratory row in dinghy up river. Remainder of crew tidies ship.

15.10 hrs

Leave mooring and proceed up river. Stop to take photos of swan with cygnets. Unsociable couple in other cruiser doing the same. Further up, get fine view of partridge nesting on bank.

16.00 hrs

Arrive Belaugh, not an impressive place, river too narrow. Decide there is insufficient time to go on to Coltishall, as we plan to return to Salhouse Broad for the night. Turn round, cruise back through Wroxham to Salhouse Broad.

17.45 hrs

Arrive Salhouse, inexperienced member of crew drops anchor weight overboard and gets soaked from the resulting splash. Dine on Scotch broth, steak & onions, potatoes, cream rice & jam.

18.45 hrs

Decide to move anchorage, discover force of drop has embedded anchor two feet into mud bottom, anchor must be lowered in future, not dropped. Not happy with new anchorage, direction of wind carries sound of other craft moored near shore. Find ideal spot and anchor. Get ready to row ashore to post cards. Honking of geese bodes ill for a good night’s sleep. K.R. takes photos of impressive sunset.

19.40 hrs

Set off in dinghy, E.N. takes the oars, K.R. navigates. Half an hour later finds us up narrow creek with no place to get ashore, banks too reedy. Row back to broad, beach dinghy and set off along footpath, which rapidly becomes impassable owing to mud. Forced to make detour through fields. Observe white owl.

20.40 hrs

Reach road and walk in direction of post box as marked on map. Walk ¾ mile but find no trace of P.B. Resolve to write to map makers, if we can find somewhere to post letter. Consult map for alternative post box, discover this to be in Salhouse village, about one mile further. Seems a long mile but eventually find post box. Wonder whether we shall reach our respective homes before the cards. Start to retrace steps in gathering dusk, resolve to write no more cards. Reach footpath, almost dark, have difficulty in picking our way. Find dinghy almost high and dry, did not allow for falling tide.

22.00 hrs

Row back to Mandarin, drop onto bunks dog tired, but happy. Supper and turn in.

Friday May 15th

07.15 hrs

Awoke after 8 ½ hours coma, K.R. also. Weather bright, wind S.E. fresh. Loosen up with a row on the broad, perfect enjoyment. Light breakfast – grapefruit, porridge, bread & marmalade – as anxious to get moving to make most of last day.

08.45 hrs

Lift anchor weight and leave Salhouse Broad for the Bure, heading down river.

09.00 hrs

Turn off Bure onto Hoveton Broad, an impressive sheet of water nearly a mile long by half a mile wide. Have whole broad to ourselves and enjoy a wonderful cruise. Take photos. No mooring permitted here, it being a nature reserve. Return to Bure and proceed through Horning.

11.00 hrs

Turn off at Ranworth Dam and drop anchor in middle of Ranworth Broad. Bright sunshine but cool wind. Row ashore for provisions. Very attractive view of broad from top of hill. Return to Mandarin. Crew hungry, partake of coffee and cake.

12.10 hrs

Leave Ranworth and cruise down river Bure towards Thurne. Turn into river Thurne and moor near mouth of Womack Water for Tiffin. Good mooring here.

13.15 hrs

Tiffin – 3 eggs, beans, bread & butter, cake & coffee.

13.50 hrs

Move up Womack Water and drop anchor in basin at top end. Row ashore to get milk we forgot to get at Ranworth. Return to Mandarin and call meeting for crew to decide best course to take during remaining time of holiday, making a sufficient allowance for a return to Stalham by 10.00 am tomorrow (Sat). A decision is made to have another look at Hickling Broad and Horsey Mere.

14.45 hrs

Up anchor and get moving down Womack Water. Turn into river Thurne towards Potter Heigham. Pass safely through bridge with very little to spare. Very few craft beyond bridge, one of the attractions of this run. Weather fine.

16.00 hrs

Onto Hickling Broad, one of the largest broads and a truly magnificent stretch of water. Discover stowaways, a pair of mallard on the cabin roof. The problem of what to do with a packet of uneaten Weetabix is solved. Ducks very tame. Have exciting time trying to take photos and steering the boat at the same time. Sail across broad and back, turning off for Horsey Mere. River very narrow here, in contrast to Hickling Broad.

16.50 hrs

Receive SOS from party in launch stranded without fuel near entrance to Mere. Several girls in party so hasten to rescue. Take aboard member of party (male) with MT can, set off across Horsey Mere to Horsey Staithe. Attempt proves abortive, learn that nearest place to obtain fuel is 4 ½ miles away. Return to launch (which requires two-stroke fuel, a mixture of petrol and oil) decide to try a mixture made up from spare petrol and oil on Mandarin. Surprised to hear launch engine start, arrange to follow launch back to Potter Heigham in case they need a tow. (Wishful thinking)

17.45 hrs

Get under way for the long voyage back to base, preparing dinner en route, launch going too fast for Mandarin. Through Potter Heigham Bridge again, receive acknowledging wave from launch party who have reached their cruiser safely. Put on speed having fallen behind schedule. Pass Thurne Dyke and turn into Bure.

19.30 hrs

Turn into river Ant and moor just before reaching Ludham Bridge for dinner. Steak, butter beans, potatoes, fruit pie & instant whip.

20.15 hrs

Proceed through bridge and up the winding river Ant. Morale of crew sinking fast now that end of holiday in sight, week not long enough. Decide to go right across Barton Broad to Sutton Staithe for the night. Seems as though we have the whole broads to ourselves there are so few craft about.

21.20 hrs

Moor to trees at entrance to Sutton Staithe. Almost dark. No craft of any kind in sight. Begin packing.

22.00 hrs

Take footpath to road and enjoy walk before turning in for last time.

Saturday May 16th

06.20 hrs

Get up after good night. Try to pretend we have another day on the broads, but this is impossible – too much packing to do. Weather perfect, sunny, light S.E. wind Breakfast on grapefruit & porridge. Shave in readiness to face the so-called civilised world.

07.15 hrs

Get under way in perfect conditions – not a soul about. Observe reed buntings and swan on nest. Decide to spend an hour on Barton Broad as a finale.

08.10 hrs

Drop anchor in middle of Barton Broad, appreciate the wonderful peace here. Hearts heavy as lead as we pack gear. Make up mind to settle down in this area when opportunity offers. Finish breakfast – eggs, bread & butter, marmalade, cocoa & biscuits.

09.05 hrs

Up anchor and under way for last run back to base. Cruise slowly up river towards Stalham. Double back for short distance to allow two other craft into basin first, one being the cruiser Halcyon whom we encountered a week ago. Exchange greetings. Wife looks more cheerful, probably looking forward to the television and regretting the programmes she has missed. Find boatyard crowded, experience some difficulty getting alongside. Not in the mood to exercise skill.

09.45 hrs

Hand over Mandarin to boatyard. Put on ‘going home’ clothes and ties (a real hardship). Load gear into car. Make last search of Mandarin, set off by road for Norwich. Make detour to admire some of Broads scenery.

11.35 hrs

Norwich station. Say farewell to K.R., catch the 12.20 for London.

Distance covered   220 miles

Petrol consumed    20 gallons

Miles per gallon      11

The Log of the Mandarin II

21.15 hrs

Moor to trees at entrance to Sutton Dyke. Fine evening. Take footpath to road, walk to post box to send ‘arrived safely’ letters.

22.45 hrs

Supper, make bunks, turn in.

The original Log of The Mandarin II from 1964

Top Mandarin from Blake's 1965 brochure

The entry for Mandarin from the 1965 edition of Blake’s Norfolk Broads brochure