Boating for Pleasure

I have been on or in a boat of some description every year since the age of six. My sailing started with my parents on the Norfolk Broads - initially in hire cruisers. For a time my summer holidays were spent camping on a farm in Thurne and sailing by day in an Enterprise. Our family broads cruiser followed - Mancuna, built in Wroxham in the 1920s.

As the broads became more and more popular and more crowded, we moved to an estury cruiser - Ardeola, a bilge-keeled MacWester, and then to a motor-sailer - Porsana a Fisher30. Porsana took us across the North Sea and around the canals and into the fishing ports of Holland and Belgium. During a 'year out' before college I worked on a Salters Steamer, doing the daily scheduled run from Windsor to Kingston and back. Handling a 80 foot steel pleasure steamer into and out of the locks was a new experience which would come in useful later.

While our children were young, sailing was restricted to day trips on my parents' open boat out of Walton Backwaters, offers of day trips on Thames Barges were eagerly snapped up. Once both children could swim we took a holiday on a narrow boat on the Grand Union Canal. The whole family took to it like ducks to water [...sorry!] and canal boats are now one of our favourite relaxations. As well as the Grand Union, we have ventured onto the Shropshire and Llangollen canals, the River Lee and the Regent's Canal.

We now have our own boat "Flora Dora", 57ft. narrow boat, built for us by Sandhills Narrowboats on a shell by Reeves. She was launched at Watford in July 2009, and after trips down the Grand Union, around the Regents Canal and the Lee and Stort Navigations, we ventured up the Thames to Oxford for the winter. The tideway trip back was fitted in between the Boat Race and London Marathon, on what turned out to be the best weekend of April 2010.

After three years with Hallingbury Marina at the top of the River Stort as our home mooring we tired of the two days to reach London and thence to other parts of the system. We moved to Cow Roast Marina on the Grand Union for a year then were offered a berth in Limehouse Basin [ideal for our favourite cruising up the River Thames]. Finally, after five years on the waiting list we were given a mooring in the St Pancras Yacht Basin, home of the St Pancras Cruising Club.

We have cruised the lengths of the Lee Navigation and River Stort, completed the Thames and Warwickshire Rings and reached the upper limits of navigation on the Thames and River Wey.

In 2016 we joined the flotilla from SPCC and on a couple of calm days headed to the lower estury of the Thames turning right opposite Southend and into the Medway. Over six weeks the flotilla cruised the navigable length of the Medway to Tonbridge and back, gathering on the concrete barge at Queenborough before an early morning start to catch the tide back up to Limehouse. An amazing cruise for a group of narrow boats.

Over the years I have been a member of the Yare Valley Sailing Club, the Cruising Association, the Royal Harwich Yacht Club and the local town club - Wivenhoe Sailing Club. We are now members of the St.Pancras Cruising Club and Cruising Association.

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Flora Dora

Flora Dora