Page published 30 May 2023
Last October as we began to consider buying a boat we explored various options about where we should keep whatever it was that we would buy. A few phone calls and emails suggested that all our preferred placed were full or had waiting lists.
We had already been in touch with Dave Hann who maintains the Hampton Safari Boat Club site and learned his boat was moored at Coltishall. That led us to visiting Anchor Moorings on 12 November, before we had viewed any boat. There we had a chat with Frances Howard, the owner. Diana and I both warmed to her and she certainly seemed enamoured with Hampton Safaris, of which there were a number at the site. She particularly mentioned David Hann's which she described as being so clean you could eat off the floor, adding that his cars were equally clean.
The Aerial Photo on the Home page of the web site shows, in the background, the village moorings further upstream and beyond them The Rising Sun and Kings Head pubs are just visible 500m from the moorings.
We ended our conversation with Frances saying she would reserve a mooring for us for next season which she would expect would include access to shore power as most of her bank-side moorings had them. She was reluctant to suggest one of her dyke moorings as they tended only to be suitable for smaller boats.
We kept in touch with Frances via the contact form on the web site. Perhaps we should have become concerned that we received no response from any of the updates we posted and it is certainly unfortunate that the form does not provide a copy of what it sent to the writer as we have no record of what was sent when and no idea of whether it was read.
After months of keeping Frances informed about the delays in getting our boat to Anchor Moorings via the contact form, making a visit, and occasionally leaving a phone message, I finally managed to speak to her on the phone on 1 April. The reason for that call was that Diana and I had visited the moorings the previous night, after a having a meal locally at The Rising Sun, and we were a little alarmed at the lack of space at the moorings.
Our fears were confirmed. We were now told there was no space left. Frances did moderate that a little to, "Well, there is space in the dyke but you wouldn't want a 25ft boat there". She seemed, perhaps, a little embarrassed as she did confess that she didn't read the messages from the contact form and told me the best way to contact her was by phone, landline or mobile.
As I had the feeling that Anchor Moorings was not run as a life-depends- on-it business I took it that Frances would prefer to deal with emails as phone calls can be intrusive, especially in the evenings or at weekends, as with emails you have a record and don't need to rely on memory.
Taking advice from Dave Hann, I began to communicate with Frances by text every couple of weeks. That worked! Replies were prompt. At first I asked if the annual invoices have been sent out, as Frances had said that often a response would then come that someone wished to quit their mooring and bank-side space would become available.
By mid-May I was explaining that our boat remained at Buckden and still hadn't got a working gearbox. It had been returned and re-installed but on re-launching the boat to test it the fault was found not to be cured. In the final weeks of May there was still no confirmation of any vacancy so I asked about the possibility of a mooring in the dyke and it was suggested that Diana and I visit and take a look for ourselves. This we did on 29 May.
We arrived mid-morning to find Frances busy re-coating a picnic table with stain. After a brief chat we began to explore the dyke and quickly found a couple of possible spaces. We asked a couple who were aboard a nearby boat whether the empty spaces were vacant, or whether they were empty because the boats were out cruising, but they did not know as they'd only had their mooring a couple of weeks.
We should be within area marked with a red square area. Being away from the river does keep us out of danger from the wash created by passing boats, or even contact with them.
We requested a side-on mooring where indicated.
We returned to Frances to check and she came with us to take a look at the space we'd found. She asked whether we were expecting to moor stern on, but we said, "No"!
While it would certainly be physically possible to get a further boat beside us if we moored stern on, I believed it would put all the craft in the area in unnecessary danger of unwanted contact. Certainly, manoeuvring around additional craft, and the pontoon opposite, would be tricky for us all.
One disadvantage of the moorings in the dykes is the lack an shore power. That could affect our plan to keep the boat in the water and usable over winter, rather than winterising her. However, its position does place us close to the entrance so loading the boat with weekend supplies should be easier than with some of the bank-side moorings. We shall just have to see how things turn out.
Two views of the mooring that should be ours. It lacks shore power but is close to the entrance so loading the boat with supplies should be easier.