Norfolk Broads

Why sail on the Norfolk Broads?

This incredible area of water is suitable for a variety of different sailors. From the beginner to the more experienced boater, everybody can enjoy what the Norfolk Broads has to offer.
With 125 miles of water to sail on, it provides much more than a small day out for the family. Many people from within Britain and abroad enjoy holidays of one week, two weeks or even longer periods, sailing the waters to their hearts content.
From June to March, the fishing season is a wonderful way to combine hobbies in both sailing and fishing. These popular water sports can be enjoyed on the Norfolk Broads, as long as you go at the right time. The fishing season starts on the 16th June for rivers and runs until 14th March, a Fishing License is also required for coarse fishing. Mooring on one of the Broads that branch off of the main river and getting out your fishing pole or Pike rod has never been more relaxing or enjoyable than in this remarkable area of the world.
For avid boaters, the Norfolk Broads provides a fantastic location for sailing during the warmer part of the year in England. Located in the South East of England, ‘The Broads’ are split into two areas - the Norfolk Broads and the Suffolk Broads. However, the whole area is often called the Norfolk Broads, even though technically this term only refers to the area of the lakes and waterways which is located in Norfolk.

Hiring a Craft on the Broads

Since the Norfolk Broads are so popular for sailing holidays, local boatyards have begun offering more and more in the way of Cruiser boats for families to hire and cruise the waterway at their own pace. Recent years have also seen various new boat hire businesses set up, to cope with the demand of the many novice and experienced sailors that visit the area. With sailing clubs galore, the complete beginners can learn the basics or more advanced sailing skills from RYA-qualified instructors on the Broads.
Those with little boating experience can hire a day-boat and take to the waters for the day at many different places along the Broads, such as Wroxham, Horning or Potter Heigham. The daily boat hire facilities are very popular with holiday-makers and visitors, and you can choose from a wide range of vessels, including canoes, rowing boats, paddleboards and dinghies. Those staying in the area for several days have the opportunity to try out every single kind of boat available for hire during their stay!
Even those with no interest in sailing can enjoy the view and beauty of the Norfolk Broads. With regular boat trips taking place up and down the Broads, visitors have the chance to sit back and relax as somebody else takes the helm. Regular tours are conducted along the river on various types of craft, and you can even cruise the Broads on a large 100 person paddle boat (especially designed for use on the Norfolk waterway), as well as other large double deck style tour boats.

Launching your own Craft on the Norfolk Broads

Just because you have your own boat doesn't mean it's all plain sailing on the Norfolk Broads (pardon the pun). In order to sail your own boat in this area, you need to ensure that you fulfil several requirements beforehand.
Whatever kind of boat you bring to the Broads, you need to pay a toll to the Broads Authority. The money gained from tolls paid by sailors and boat-owners is used for the upkeep of the area and ensuring that the waterway is kept suitable for sailing throughout the year. You can pay a toll for short-term sailing if you're planning a short holiday, or you can pay to sail for a much longer period, such as if you live in the area or regularly visit at the weekends for boating purposes. You must also have insurance in order to sail your boat, and you’ll need to prove this before you set sail. Be sure to bring along an insurance certificate and all other necessary documents. If you are hiring a day-boat or a holiday Cruiser from a boatyard, they will usually arrange all the required insurances for you.
Finally, the BSS safety certificate is an important part of sailing on the Norfolk Broads, and without this, you won't be able to keep your craft in the water for long periods. If your vessel will only be in the water visiting on a short-term toll then you are not required to have a valid boat safety certificate.

Navigating around the Waterways

As any good sailor will know, planning beforehand and navigating your way around the waters is a crucial part of boating. Even before you arrive at the Hire boatyard or at Broads with your own boat, you need to start doing some simple planning.
Before you do anything else, its always a good idea to check the latest notices posted on the Broads Authority website http://www.broads-authority.gov.uk/ to ensure that there is nothing which might affect your navigation or get in the way of your trip. If all is clear, you can start to think about the next step in the navigation and planning process.
Be sure that you know the rules of the river which you need to adhere to, for example always drive on the right-hand side of the river. Another important rule is that motorised craft must always give way to sailing craft and always adhere to the posted speed limits (marked clearly throughout the Norfolk Broads navigable waterways). These rules are extremely important to ensure the safety of everybody who is sailing on the Norfolk Broads, and they are all in accordance with the International Rules for Preventing Collisions at Sea. If you've not been out sailing for a while, it's definitely a good idea to read up on the rules of the water to make sure that everything is fresh in your mind.
Apart from keeping the general rules in mind, ensure that you know the rules which are in place and specific to the Broads. These may include speed limits and other laws which sailors are required to keep. If you have any navigation experience already, you will be fully aware of the fact that the tides play a very important role in the planning of your boating journey. The Broads are tidal rivers and you must check the Tide Tables, and then you will be able to plan your trip around the tides, also make sure to leave ample slack in your mooring ropes if mooring at high tide.
Lastly, you need to discover where the bridges are and the various heights of the constructions in order to plan ahead and choose the best route for the boat that you're sailing. Some bridges may only be passed under at low tide, so you may need to plan the time you reach the bridges according to the tides, and some bridges such as Wroxham and Potter Heigham bridge require a Bridge Pilot to take your boat through for you.

Sailing on the Norfolk Broads has long been a sport and leisure activity which many people have enjoyed, and with so many people taking regular holidays to this beautiful English location, new and old sailors alike have every reason to go and try it out for themselves.