(not the one that was torpedoed!)

Laurie and Sandra are brand new to boating and joined the site the day after they bought "Compass Rose".

They posted a very recognizable tale of their "maiden voyage" on the forum and I reproduce it here with some very good pictures.

Thanks folks!

We had our maiden voyage on Compass Rose this weekend.
We planned to go to Jude's Ferry at West Row ( and then back before dark.
Firstly, we met another couple, Martin & Di with "Tarn", a Norman 23 and NBAS members. Chewed the fat for a while and we got cracking.
Installed the fresh new cushions and curtains into place. And they fitted perfectly. Filled the tank with fresh water, charged up with enough fuel to drive a Chieftain tank across the Gobi Desert, twice ! Loaded up with enough rations to hold a siege for a month. And off we went.
The "three point turn" off the mooring went very well. The boat seemed to turn on a sixpence. Felt a bit smug as fellow boaters looking on. Roared off into the distance at approx. 1 mph, turned out of our marina and we were faced with a lock. Not any old lock but our first lock! Now the fun starts, we said. Zig zagged a bit before we decided that a Norman 23 does not fit into a lock sideways. Thank god for fenders. Often wondered what they were for. Now, we both knew the principle but neither had a clue on the operation. Sandra, read the instructions, sorted it and we were away, again.
Can someone tell me what we give the EA money for. I assume upkeep of the waterways. Wrong. We came across more driftwood than water.
Even the lock had logs in it.
At 4 mph, or to the best of our judgement, we surged onward towards our destination, a mere 3 miles away.
Sandra then had a go at driving and immediately turned the boat into the bank. In panic, I trust the thing into reverse and elbowed her in the neck, in the process. The boat is again side ways in the narrow river. The current sorted it out, in the main, and we were off again. Sandra got the hang of it very quickly after that.
This end of the River Lark is such a beautiful stretch of water. Quite narrow with meandering bends and loads of wildlife.
We got to Jude's Ferry in about an hour. Parked up on the mooring and off to the bar for a few beers.
We got so settled in the pub and it was such a beautiful setting. We decided to stay the night.
We had a lovely meal in the pub and then a few more bevvies and retired to our boat for a night cap and a bit of telly. Battery run flat after 30 mins so bed time it was.
Set off for the return leg early morning. What a wonderful time of day. Solitude, beauty and water like a sheet of glass except for the fish jumping out of the way from the Pike.
Going around the bend, I heard the engine change note. Turned around to look for a second and we were beached on a shallow bit. The bottom hit the prop and the engine stalled! We were stuck. No poles just a mop. Lifted the engine to see the damage to our prop. A couple of scratches and a bit of weed only - well lucky. Restarted the engine, by hand as battery still flat, and flat out in reverse aiming downstream eventually the boat slowly turned to the sound of something scraping the bottom of the boat, a horrible grating noise. We thought this is it. The bloody boat is going to fill up and sink.
Done a twenty nine point turn and off we go again. Mistimed the steering around another bend and bounced off the bank again. Thankfully water depth ok so no problem.
Tried again to enter the lock sideways and failed. It would only go in "straight". I did the lock thing this time so Sandra could drive the boat.
Turned into our moorings without further incident and tied up with a large mug of tea.
We came to one conclusion.... we MUST join RCR. What would we have done if we had got stuck in the middle of nowhere?
We then said......where shall we go NEXT WEEK.
We love this boating lark.



Our First Voyage To Ely.

Sunday morning, we set sail for our second and longest voyage yet - Ely - 15 miles and about 3 hours cruising time, each way.

A very windy day but we decided to cruise cabriolet style with the canopy down, much preferable.

Just before Prickwillow the wind really picked up and the horizontal dust storm from the fields was hitting us broadside. No time to raise the canopy, just time to rope the canopy down and stop it kiting off into the distance. We were taking a battering and it took all my concentration to keep Compass Rose on the road. Alas failed miserably when suddenly the motor conked out for no apparent reason and we run aground for the second trip running. Still no boat hook yet so took the new mop we bought yesterday to eventually push off, motor restarted after a few minutes no problem (?) and off we went again.

We were almost going backwards in the headwind at one stage, had to gun the motor a bit and could feel the prop cavitating in the waves. Talk about life on the ocean waves, the spray was hitting the windshield and it felt like we were at sea.

Turned onto the Great Ouse itself and the wind died off a bit. To our amazement, there was not another boat in sight, except for a couple semi submerged in a grave yard, and we pretty much had the river to ourselves.

Cruised through Ely and everyone including adults waved at us, we waved back and it all seemed rather civilised. The world can be a friendly place! Eventually moored up near to Ely Rail Station and wondered off into town and Tesco's.

Set off for the return leg, clouds darkening so canopy up this time, but still tied down just in case.

Turned into The Lark and motor conked out again. Luckily, we drifted conveniently onto the EA moorings and tied up to investigate. Found we had run out of petrol. Topped up the fuel tank with reserves (left overs from last week), decided to have our tea before setting off again for home. 

Caught up to another cruiser, a Broom, leaving Prickwillow Museum and followed at a distance all the way home. Wife thought my driving was better than his which had a nice feeling and raised a smug smile. Now put your claws away dear !

Heavens opened up and the rain was torrential for a few minutes but got home without any further ado!

It was quite an adventure, good boating experience, and tested both boat and us crew.

Must say we are both very much looking forward to summer cruising with fairer weather.


This is our overhauled engine complete with the new prop and the new add on rudder we made. Looks good and works a treat. No wind today and steered like an arrow at all speeds, during testing.

Look forward to the next instalment

My thanks to The Baron for providing the all essential logistical assistance, carting me about from Boathaven to Hermitage and for being a most adequate crew member, who worked the locks efficiently and provided valuable information and knowledge of the river.

Set off from home early, to ensure a good start. Met up at Boathaven and after a quick coffee on "Number Two" we went off to sort out "the paperwork" with the marina owner, then off to Hermitage.

Cast off without so much as a backward glance. Hermitage seemed eerily quiet for such a lovely cruising Saturday. Lots of empty berths now starting appear. Wonder why? In stark contrast, Westview was busier with a hive of activity going on from boat crews and even the caravan park was showing healthy numbers.

Assisted by two types of tail wind up to Brownhills. Oliver, you really must sort out your waste gas exhaust function, if you going to be accepted by the better class boating fraternity, gracing these parts of The Really Proper One and Only Great Ouse River!

There is a burnt out, semi submerged wreck, buoyed off at Browhills. Threatened Oliver that he would end up in the same state if he didn't stop harping on and on about geo-caching. After that, from Brownhills to St Ives, he didn't stop moaning about my comprehensive range of windlass tools, so I very reluctantly purchased another suitable instrument to his approval and standards at Jones's, along with a new mooring stake and new camera batteries. Thought we might have spotted Ian & Jo on "Mon Bateau", but they were not about. Either that or they were hiding away. Commented on Jones's unleaded at 99p per gallon. Not many were queueing at the pump and then off to the Dolphin where we heard a voice call out, "you can't moor there!". It was Dave with Ali with beer. One more Norman member and we would have a mini gathering! Dave took us out to demonstrate his new "brakes". The Haddock don't 'alf stop quick! Well impressed.

After lunch, set off upstream. Never cruised this far up before and it is always special to cruise a stretch so beautiful as this for the first time.

After Hemingford lock we came to Houghton Lock. Shared the lock with three other boats. All of them were lock shy. They made no attempt to assist in the lock operation at all and they left Oliver to do it all by himself. These so called better class of upstream boaters are so damn idle! Or is lock operation beneath them?

The back water ditch crawling was excellent. Tests the bottle somewhat! At a fallen tree, blocking the way, we tried to turn about. Wind blew us hard against the tree and bank at one point and between the engine and the boat hook and the pushing and the shoving, we managed to escape. Cockpit was showered with flowers, scraped from the branches of a tree. Made the boat smell nice which was a break from Olivers' back side burps! Indeed the fishing potential looks promising. Can't wait 'till June 16th! Must get a couple of mud weights for anchorage for future visits.

Progressed upstream and arrived in Boathaven at tea time. Moored up, cleaned up, and tucked up Compass Rose in her new home. Oliver ran me back to Hermitage to pick up me car and then off home.

A fabulous days' cruising!