Monday morning dawned and we were up bright and early in order to carry out the final checks and packing of our possessions and the final ‘wrapping up’ of Heavy Metal to keep her safe and protected during her journey to Norfolk on the back of a lorry. It was quite exciting and all went well, the lorry arrived spot on time, the boat was loaded easily and we set off on our car journey to Norfolk, with waves and good wishes from the Redhill Marina crew, to start a new chapter of our lives.
We had, early the previous week, rung the Norfolk marina where we had booked the lift to take the boat off the lorry and put her back in the water, to check that all was good. When Martin spoke to the woman in the admin/reception office she confirmed the lift and also said that they had a mooring available for us if we wanted it. Now we did have a temporary mooring agreed with a boat yard just over the river from the marina but this new mooring would be in a marina, have all the facilities of a marina, and would be long term, so we said ‘Yes, please’. Moorings around the Broads for a boat of our size and draft are few and far between so we were really pleased to have secured this one. In order to be fair we called Steve at the boatyard and thanked him for his offer of a temporary mooring but that we now had the promise of a permanent ‘home’, or so we thought!! He was fine with this and wished us well.
On arrival at the marina that Monday morning we booked in at the office and asked to look at our promised mooring berth, it was then that the bombshell was dropped, ‘Oh no it isn’t vacant yet. We are waiting for the current person to let us know if they want to keep it or not. They have paid for it up until April, and although we don’t think they will be back, we can’t let anyone else have it until they give us proper notice’.
This was not what they had told us over the phone, and each of the two women in the office seemed to be saying that it was the others ones fault that we had been misinformed – not helpful or apologetic at all. They said they would try to ring the gentleman and try to get an answer from him re his future intentions and let us know.
It was like your worst nightmare, we had arrived in Norfolk, the boat, all 30+ tonnes of her, was on its way on the back of a lorry and we had nowhere to moor it. Basically we were mooringless or strictly speaking homeless. As I said the staff at the marina were very far from helpful, neither of the women would take any responsibility for their mistake. I felt physically sick and very upset. The yard man at the marina, who by the way, was very helpful, advised us that he did not even know we were expected and he was currently moving boats around to facilitate some dredging in the marina basin. Brewery and p..s up came to mind!! Martin, bless him, assured me it would all be okay, but I couldn’t see how. A few deep breaths later we decided we needed to go and speak to Steve who had previously offered us a mooring, throw ourselves on his mercy and hope he hadn’t let the spot to anyone else in the last week.
Steve became our saviour and my hero, in the matter of minutes, he was wonderful. He said the temporary mooring was still free and ours if we wanted it. We agreed that we would stay on a temporary mooring at the marina overnight and move to his pontoon the following afternoon, tides permitting.
We were very relieved but I still struggled to see how the staff at the marina could just say ‘Well, we haven’t been able to get in touch with him today, but we will keep trying, and let you know’ Not sure what they expected us to do as a 30+ ton boat needed a home and would need to come off the lorry as soon as it arrived, in about an hour!!
This whole scenario thoroughly spoilt our first day in our new home county and has most definitely clouded my view of the area since.
The following day we were to move the boat to Steve’s mooring, across the river. Some of you may recall that we had a new engine fitted at Redhill and we had been unable to test it until now, so it wasn’t silence we wanted to hear when Martin turned the key, but silence we got, as nothing happened when he did; only tumble weed and silence! At this point we did begin to wonder if it could get any worse. Luckily Martin had a contact at the engine suppliers who advised him of a couple of things to try and eventually, the engine began to make the right noises. During the maneuver to reverse out of the temporary berth Heavy Metal came into contact with one of the plastics boats close by. You have thought we had almost sunk Royal Yacht Britannia rather than just scratching the deck of a small pleasure craft. As I said my state of mind and mood was not good due ; due to the unhelpful attitude and shrugs we had received from the marina staff and the uncertainty of having a home mooring, consequently when the man whose boat it was started shouting and glaring, I did feel I had to point out, politely, that it was an accident and that no one had died!! We moved the boat, sorted out insurance details and proceeded out onto the Broads. We needed to take a longer route round to Steve’s to avoid a low bridge and coincide with the tides. The weather was terrible, rain and mist, looked like December not September, my mood was about on a par with the weather, maybe not that good actually! Usually Martin and I are good together, we don’t tend to get upset over the same things and so compliment each others moods generally, not today, we were both upset about the slight accident, some of the people we had encountered and the general experience of our first days in Norfolk. Few words were spoken on this trip.
We arrived at Steve’s (my hero) and with his help, got safely moored up, he made us very welcome, which was amazing had we had really messed him about. Suffice to say we have been happily ensconced here since. Unfortunately this is only a temporary mooring and we will need to move in April. This in itself is a worry as I’ve said mooring for boats of our size are rare.
I have had a couple of big time melt downs in the the past couple of weeks and have probably not given Norfolk much of a chance. The weather has been mostly wet and miserable so far and so we haven’t had much opportunity to get out and explore. Just need to wait until it stops raining……….
Suffice to say we have still to hear anything from the Marina about the promised mooring.