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The Log of “Moonbeam” August 1939

August 26th - 1st September 1939

1900-1949 History 1900-1949 Memories 1900-1949 Gallery

The following is a transcript of the log of the sailing cruiser “Moonbeam” which was written into a copy of the 1939 edition of the Hamiltons Map & Charts Of The Broads. It was purchased recently at a jumble sale by long term Broads visitor Andy Harrison and submitted to the archive by Mark Ladley.  During the 1930s, Hamiltons ran an annual competition for the best boating holiday log - the 1st prize in 1939 was £2 and 2 shillings! The account of their weeks trip on Moonbeam ends on Friday 1st September when the couple return to London having heard the news that Germany had invaded Poland. Two days later, on the 3rd September 1939, Neville Chamberlain broadcast to the nation that Britain was at war.

Moonbeam was built by Ernest Collins and Sons of Wroxham c1924 and was a 3 berth, Una rigged (mainsail only) sailing cruiser which was advertised as being suitable for beginners. She was 20’ in length, with a beam of 7’ 6” and came equipped in 1939 with a primus stove in a locker in the well. The hire terms for August 1939 were £6 per week.

Hamilton’s Map & Chart of the Broads

1939 Annual Revision

 Official Log

 Name of Ship: Moonbeam (Yacht)

Account of all the voyages made between: Wroxham the 26th day

 of August 1939 and the 1st day of September 1939

Master: Walter  Mate: Biddy

Number of passengers: None

Saturday 26th August: Wroxham. Collins & Co

2.45 pm When we arrived we were upset to find a note from Dick & Peggy saying that they had waited for us until 1 o’clock & had then left as Dick and Gerald had been called up & so their holiday was off. We decided to stay on although we were very   disappointed that Peggy had not deigned to wait for us. The only knowledge we had of sailing was gained by Walter with a model yacht on the Round Pond when young. After buying a few more things we got a man to help us get away from Collins and raised the sail for us and we pushed our way very slowly down the river from Wroxham until we came within a few yards of the first entrance of Wroxham Broads were we moored.  It was a warm night.  

8.30 pm Made tea but nearly burned boat to bits with primus.

Sunday 27th August

7.00 am  Got up at 7 and cooked a large breakfast with no mishaps to primus. Finished eating and cleaned up and soon after 9 am left and entered Wroxham Broads where we spent the whole morning practicing sailing. A glorious sunny day with lovely photographic clouds & a light breeze.

1.00 pm  Left Wroxham Broads & at once ran intwas involved with 5 other sailing boats in an awkward calm on a bend. Spent an hour just moving over the next half mile but a little more wind arrived later although at one point a swimmer passed us very rapidly. Had biscuits & lemonade fare. Just after we had left Wroxham Broad the “Perfect Lady” passed us and entered it. She came through Horning again while we were there.

3.30 pm  Nearer Horning the wind improved very much & we arrived there in a great flourish at 3.30 and had tea at the Swan. We decided to moor there for the night and tied up at the public mooring opposite the village landing place. We did a little shopping, cleaned and tidied and cooked a large merry meal. Rowed over to the “Swan” and listened to the radio off somebody’s boat, discovered that we were not at war and returned very sleepily to bed.

Ernest Collins Moonbeam

Monday 28th August

7.00 am  Awakened by much noise of motor boats to a beautiful day. We shopped before and after breakfast and spent the morning mucking pleasantly about at Horning. It was very hot.

11.45 am  Left Horning and had a gusty breeze for 1½ miles & sailed along very pleasantly until suddenly on turning a corner we ran into a head wind and could not move forward at all, in fact we went round in a circle and ran into the bank and had to take the sails down and Walter had to pole for ¾ of a mile. We got a wind again eventually and I took a photograph form the dinghy which I cast off in order to get further away and had to row like stink to catch up. At the entrance to Malthouse Broad we stuck fast in mud and row the dinghy in bumps against the boat to get off.

3.45 pm  We tied up and lunched, not having time before and spent the afternoon pottering and playing with 4 year old twin boys called Michael and John who provided much local amusement. We liked this mooring very much, there was much less “tourist traffic” atmosphere and hardly any village of Ranworth but looked as if it had been there for centuries and had not just sprung up over night. The Perfect Lady moored here for the night too. A full moon & cooler night. Good beer at the “Maltsters”.

Tuesday 29th August  

Ranworth really is a lovely place. After getting up rather late we looked around the village and inspected the church which was lovely, with a rare rood screen. All around here is completely agricultural and at Ranworth there is none of the weekend cottage-boathouse atmosphere but a rural village with lovely little thatched cottages and nice people. We met a delightful old man called Frank Jackson who is a master furniture maker. We were sorry to leave but decided to go back on our way home.

3.15 pm  We left at 3.15 and found a difficult wind and water had to pole about 2½ miles. The Fleet Dyke is very long and there we got practically our only piece of sailing, but when we got there the place did not seem particularly exciting after Ranworth. We listened to the wireless from somebody else’s boat by sitting outside it in the dark.

Moonbeam layout

Wednesday 30th August

In the dinghy to S. Walsham Broad moored dinghy there and walked to S. Walsham village. Interesting plan of churches St Lawrence’s & St Mary’s. Pleasant village. Bread and Cheese and Beer and Darts for lunch at the “Ship”. Back to Fleet House mooring by dinghy and then away. Much sailing up Fleet Dyke, this reasonable though slow  sailing when the Bure was reached – along to Ranworth for the night. Uneventful, good progress. News bulletin at the “Maltsters”

Thursday 31st August  

Left after lunch sailing along Ranworth Dam wind then freshened and moored facing the “Swan” for tea. Much quanting from the Bure to Salhouse Broad which was reached at dusk. Very tired. Moored alongside a primeval forest (B44R) full of   smell and mosquitoes. (Note: B44R is a Hamiltons map reference)


Friday 1st September

While getting ready to leave, hear from passing yacht that war has broken out between Germany and Poland. Decide to cut out days sailing on Wroxham Broad and get straight back. Do so – very slowly until Wroxham Broad then a very slight wind and sluggishly get some last sailing back to the boatyard.

2.00 pm Tidy up. Pack up. Retrieve Joey from his kennel – and our holiday is finished. Leave for London 5pm.


MIRACLE – Suddenly realised we have had a whole week of   perfect weather.

The layout for Moonbeam