Pathfinder Broads Cruise

Leander's meanderings, fond memories of Paddy Gleave

"I've got a sinking feeling...."

Well you have all sailed round the "Leander Meander" on your way to that legendary place of sailing panache - Barton Broad. Whilst passing the meander has it ever crossed your mind as to why it is called such a odd name? I know that you are all screaming "why, dear sir, why" so pull up a chair and a steaming mug of hot chocolate and I will enlighten you...

Easter Cruise 1995 (my goodness I'm getting on a bit...). T'was a year filled with much joy and much sadness. I was a humble trog on that sailing vessel situated at the apex of sailing evolution - Leander 2. I can see you all turning green with envy already. The crew was composed of past cruisers. Steve Kinder was the skipper and he provided the crew with what he thought was a touch of coolness. Jonny Cory and his golden locks was the source of the morning porridge. Piltch decided to be the cruise bad boy and I added an interesting hair cut to the proceedings. I was a member of Neil Kennet-Brown's squadron and in those days of yester year each squadron has a cruiser as well as the usual assortment of Martham's finest collections of wood and canvas.

The first few days of the cruise were the usual jolly affair with much mirth and rosy cheeked caperings. Morning inspection heralded the usual anarchy from the keano girlie boats and Magic Johnson's Jap 1. However, the Leander crew were recognisable for the seemingly lack of activity around these times. We did perfect some good inspection gaffs. One was to hide all the plates and pans in bushes on the bank and the other was to hide the sleeping Piltch beneath blankets (he was never found during inspection...)

So one morning we woke up disturbed by the daily duck visitation. The previous night had seen each of the noble Leander crew plagued by some dark dreams. However spirits were lifted by NKB's cheery chat. Apparently he had had a very nice dream involving a naked lady cooking sausages for him... Must have been from the Lord as he met Aike (his future wife) that year although she is veggie so perhaps not. After the usual inspection shenanigans we headed off bound for Ludham to water up. Little did we know that watering up was not going to be necessary on this particular day.

After Ludham we kept the mast down and unrigged the jib halyard. It was very kinked and Kinder hit on the idea of unrigging it and running along the bank with it to get the kinks out. All was proceeding along quite nicely when a stiff breeze starting blowing against Leander's bows. Now Leander's engine barely deserves the name "engine". Indeed I think its rating is 1/3 of a horsepower. Presumably this means it can generate as much power as a third of a horse. Now I know that a horse with only one and a bit legs is going no-where quick and that was the case with Leander. Our frustrated male gruntings were soon allayed though by a shape coming out of the mists. Marky Barky Peersy was steaming to our rescue upon his trusty steed - a cruiser. Quick as a flash he tied up alongside the stricken Leander and proceeded to tow us along and there was much rejoicing.

All was well. I was standing on the back of the boat talking to a certain Sarah Day never once thinking that I was speaking to my future wife! Leander was quite near the bank and suddenly the boat rocked slightly. I saw some bits of wood floating by the side of the boat accompanied by that smell of freshly snapped wood. Time suddenly slowed down in my mind as the drips of realisation became to chill my heart. I turned to Kinder,

"Steve I think we have been holed".

"Paddy, just chill, and ride the surf."

"No Steve, I've got a sinking feeling...MAN THE BILGES!!!"

With that last somewhat desperate war cry I leapt into the cockpit and opened the cabin doors to be confronted by floor boards beginning to float upwards. Desperately I turned to the bilge pump and started to pump at warp speed. In fact so fast that the pump almost broke in my hands. Panic issued. Somehow Jonny Cory leaped 2 metres to the bank. I rushed into the cabin in an attempt to remove the draws which were full of our clothes. True to the form the draws had all jammed. I did manage to get Jonny's guitar, all of Steve's stuff (he didn't unpack) and a bag of my own stuff (this turned out to be dirty washing - curses!). All this lasted about 30 seconds after which Steve said that he thought I should get out of the sinking ship. I waded out of the cabin to find the cockpit underwater. Leander was still tied to the Cruiser which was now tilted rather alarmingly. All that could be seen of Leander was the cabin roof and mast. The sails and ropes all started to mischievously escape and every now and then socks floated out of the back of Leander. Needless to say we were gutted. What a disaster.

Jonny Cory immediately ran off to ring for help (no mobiles in those days...I know how did we survive?) A few Easter Cruisers ambled by on their yachts with Jeremy Nunns asking which boat it was before disappearing towards Barton only to return later on with a boat load of paparazzi pathfinders! Jonny Cory then returned from his quest to find a coherent Norfolk farmer with a telephone. A palpable sense of disbelief settled on me as I watched the ducks gobble up my Mums fruit cake (the varmits.) Eventually the boat yard arrived with a turbo charged cruiser accompanied by Cuddly Dudley/The Dark Knight/Dudleyrog (delete the appropriate) in his cruiser. The boatyard put one cruiser behind Leander and two at the front and then using some pulleys raised Leander slightly so that they could motor her back to Ludham.

Ludham was packed with yachts, large cruisers and those funny little day cruisers you always feel like mowing down. Loads of people were watching our shameful progression back to Ludham. As we approached the bridge the cruisers in front were snaking around trying to avoid other river users. Unfortunately the cruiser as the back of Leander could not match their course and Leander was smashed into the side of Ludham bridge followed by lots of expletives from the various Martham greasers. Leander was really bust this time with massive cracks down the side of the hull. Anyway, a crane was used to raise Leander from the water. It slowly spun round exposing the original hole. To my astonishment a pair of Jonny's boxer shorts hung out of the hole! Jonny quite enjoyed the jeers from the on looking public.

The boatyard were really kind and gave us a cruiser for the rest of the week. In fact they gave us the turbo charged cruiser which Dudley immediately swapped his cruiser for! Compared Leander living on the cruiser was the height of luxury. The boatyard also washed and returned our clothes. All that was left was to bare the humiliation in Logs 'n' Shanties and give our �3 breakages money to the Commie! To think I was ever asked to be a skipper - the mind boggles!

PS - As an aside about four years ago I had the honour of partaking in the sale training weekend. The trainer was telling me about some chaps who under full sail has wrapped their main sheets round a post causing the mast to go through the bottom of the boat! He said it was only the second time in 30 years that a yacht has sunk and that the last time was a bunch of idiots near Ludham in April 1995. I remained silent as this point...