lady helen – back on the norfolk broads

lady helen

back on the norfolk broads

I have just sold my lovely Hardy Pilot 20SE “Felice” and have bought Simon Kidd’s Hardy 25 “Lady Helen”, largely because age suggests that my wife Lois and I probably ought to go over to the dark-side as fair-weather sailors and confine our boating to inland waterways.

So having been brought up in Cromer, and having first learned to sail on the Norfolk Broads more than sixty years ago, we’re about to relocate our boating activities from the English Channel to the Broads and a Hardy 25 offers more comfortable accommodation for longer stays than “Felice” could.

clive edwards - lady helen

Lady Helen at MNA Boat Club (courtesy MNA Boat Club)

We bought “Lady Helen”, one of only a very few Hardy 25s designed with a large outboard well, from Simon without an engine and will fit her with a brand new high-thrust 50hp engine as soon as we’ve completed some fitting-out work on her here in Weymouth before moving “Lady Helen” to Cox’s boatyard at Barton Turf next spring.  Not only are Lois and I going back to our old stamping ground but so is “Lady Helen” because her first home after leaving the Hardy works in North Walsham was on The Broads!

We had something of a challenge in terms of moving “Lady Helen” from her mooring afloat on the River Dart to a berth ashore at the Weymouth & Portland National Sailing Academy (WPNSA) last week because the various arrangements and people involved were at the last moment confronted with the latest lock-down of course!

The exercise involved Simon navigating “Lady Helen” from her mooring on The Dart to Darthaven Marina, having her craned out before removing Simon’s outboard, loading her on to a trailer towed by a highly professional and very cost-effective boat delivery company operated by the ever-helpful William Bird.  The exercise at the marina took longer than anticipated so that William’s departure from Dartmouth enroute to Portland was delayed nearly two hours which meant that he arrived at the WPNSA about 16.00 only an hour before the yard was due to close. Fortunately, the team at the WPNSA were as helpful as usual and managed to get “Lady Helen” lifted off the trailer and on to blocks with 15 minutes to spare!

So now we are waiting once again for lock-down to end so we can start work, fit the new engine (delivery of which is delayed by Covid 19 until late January) and hopefully get “Lady Helen” up to Norfolk by early March…

Well, the Covid 19 lock-down delayed us for a further month but on 9th April Lady Helen was transported by road to Barton Turf, thanks to William Bird’s excellent road transport operation, and thanks to Eric Bishop, Cox’s Boatyard manager and our MNA Boat Club Vice Commodore Captain Chris Woods, she was launched and made ready for her Boat Safety Cert inspection the following day.

lady helen on permanent mooring

Lady Helen on her permanent mooring on the Norfolk Broads

Apart from an issue regarding the gas cut-off tap behind the sink which needed some attention, Lady Helen satisfied the inspector and was duly awarded her Certificate and transferred to a permanent mooring.

For various reasons my wife Lois and I hadn’t been able to go up to Norfolk at the same time as Lady Helen was taken there, but we did manage to spend a long weekend aboard, along with our two elderly Westies later in April.

So now we are looking forward to spending several weeks staying on Lady Helen and using her to re-visit all those parts of the Broads that I knew long ago when I was still in short trousers!

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About Clive Edwards

Clive was a Coastguard Rescue Officer for 23 years before being appointed Station Manager of the NCI Lyme Bay Coastwatch Station in Dorset. He left the NCI in 2016 and is now RNLI Water Safety Officer at the Weymouth Lifeboat Station. Clive is Commodore of the Merchant Navy Association Boat Club and is a Member of the Honourable Company of Master Mariners and of the Hardy Owners Club.