Saturday, 31 May 2008

Rowing boats at the Museum of the Broads

Please don't get the impression that Gavin Atkin at intheboatshed and I are in some sort of battle to post as many pictures of the Broads as possible. This is completely not a contest - it is simply that we've both been there in the last week and we want to share our experience of this fabulous area for boating.
But seeing as Gav hasn't got round to putting up pics of these boats at the Museum of the Broads at Stalham yet, I'll nip in and blog them first.
On the right is a rowing skiff, a hull shape very similar to Thames skiffs but somewhat more stern-heavy and having a slightly bigger transom. She was built about a hundred years ago.
Next, a reed lighter. These wide and low boats would be almost completely invisible under their load of reeds (in the winter) or sedge (in the summer), carrying three quarters of a cartload. The marshman would either row from the bow (note the holes for the rowlocks or crutches as they were known locally) or quant from the stern.
Quant poles have a hook at the lower end to get a purchase on the river bottom and a button at the top to push against, although the button is really only of use when you can walk the length of the boat rather than just stand at the stern as you would when punting. It does, however, give you something to grab when you suddenly realise that you are about to leave the quant stuck in the mud. This is possibly the most embarrassing thing that can happen to yachtsman, especially if it occurs when approaching Potter Heigham bridge under the eye of a large and appreciative audience.
By the way Gav, you didn't get a picture of the very nice thatched boathouse at the southern end of Barton Broad, did you? If you did, please post it - I stupidly deleted the shot I took of it during transfer to the PC.


Anonymous said...

I'm afraid I didn't get one of that particular boathouse - and I'm ashamed to say that I didn't take any photos of wherries either.

In addition to the boat sheds and boathouses, I managed to bring back a few shots of nice sailing boats and old wooden motor cruisers, my kids paddling a Mouseboat, and more museum shots.

The big surprise, though, was running into a couple at Potter Heigham who were using a boat built to my Dogsbody design for birdwatching. I was bowled over when they were kind enough to let me have a ride and even more pleased when the boat turned out to be just as I'd hoped: a solid stable workboat that makes good use of a small engine.

Btw, the kids tell me that next time we go to the Broads they fancy a change and that we should have a motor cruiser with a couple of smaller boats in tow. I'm very relieved the bad weather last week hasn't put them off for life.

Met Chris P on the Thursday, by the way, and spoke with Tit Willow.


Chris Partridge said...

Your kids have a lot of good sense. I've long felt that the best combination of mobility and fun for a family would be a cabin cruiser with a bunch of small boats on the deck or in tow. Each day you could go to a different location, and everybody would then get some sailing or paddling in instead of just watching Dad hog the tiller on endless passages.
And congratulations on the Dogsbody success!

Anonymous said...

Dad doesn't hog the tiller, let me tell you - with my two he doesn't need to! So naturally I've been getting a lot of practice with the foresheets... Arm-wrestling anyone?

As they get older Ella and Ewan also seem to need to be around other kids even more than before - or maybe it's just that dad seems even older and out of control than he used to be. Whichever it is, I'm starting to think that a humungus cruiser with a couple of families of similar ages with at least two small boats may be the way to go.

Ditto holidaying on the canals, though in that case I guess canoes or rowing skiffs might be better.

Hey ho... back to work writing about some lovely diseases ;-)