Hints & Tips

First time on the Broads on a Hunter’s Yacht?

Or, been a while since you last sailed on one of our boats?

In either case, the hints & tips below may help in explaining what’s what, how things go together, or maybe just serve to refresh your memory!

These Byelaws govern the behaviour of all vessels navigating the waterways of the Norfolk and Suffolk Broads. They are an essential read for anyone skippering one of our yachts!

Download Navigation Byelaws

The Broads Authority have produced a clear and compact booklet containing useful information and safety tips for any vessel looking to transit beneath any of the Bridges in the Broads Authority area.

Download Bridge Information Booklet

“What qualifications do I need to hire a Hunter Fleet Boat?” is a frequently asked question. 

We don’t ask for any ‘formal’ qualification but you must have the ability to safely sail a keelboat yacht without an engine.

If you are a new customer you will be asked about your sailing experience.  Please answer questions honestly and heed advice when you take over the boat.


Our main concerns are the safety of you, your crew and other waterway users on the Norfolk Broads, and of course the safety of our boats.

Good Dinghy Sailors

We find that very good dinghy sailors usually have no problems transferring their skills to Hunter yachts on the Broads.  Hunter yachts are often described as ‘sailing like dinghies’!

Sea Sailors

Those with sea sailing qualifications and experience, however extensive, sometimes experience problems, usually caused by having to sailing close to other boats and in confined waters.  The wind on the Broads is never as consistent as at sea:  trees, and even bushes and the reeds, make wind direction and strength very variable and so constant adjustment is needed.  Broads boats carry much more sail for their size than sea-going boats and, remember, our boats have no engine so thought must be given on how to come into a mooring safely.

Motor Cruiser Hirers

Many of the hirers of motor cruisers that you will meet on the rivers are not used to boats and have scant understanding of the rules and etiquette of boating so one must be careful and tolerant.

Instructional DVD

When you hire a yacht from us, you will be sent a DVD with guidance on sailing Hunter yachts on the Broads:  this is also on our website under ‘Useful Info’, ‘Instruction Clips’.

Help from one of our Experienced Skippers

If you are new to sailing on the Broads we can arrange for one of our competent skippers to accompany you for the first two hours or so of your cruise until you get your ‘Broads legs’ (there is no extra charge for our ‘Help a Hirer’ service).

We look forward to seeing you at Hunter’s Yard and wish you an enjoyable sailing holiday.

Areas for yachts to lower and raise masts/sails are currently signed at A, B and C. A is good, but there is no footpath to the shops and toilets. B is far too close to the bridge to be used safely. C is marked as ‘Demasting Area’ but there is no sign to reserve for yachts and so motor-boaters are unlikely to understand and take notice.


Ludham Bridge is always busy, particularly at lunchtime on Sundays. There is often a confusion of motor cruisers trying to moor at the water point and near the shops. Try to pass the bridge early or late in the day. The current can be fast so watch the tides. Sailing North towards Barton Broad. Moor up at A or as soon as you see a space on the bank opposite (but watch for uneven ground), depending on wind direction. Don’t try to go round the bend because you are unlikely to find a mooring and it is often congested with boats waiting to go under the bridge. Once through the bridge, quant to the far end of the moorings and drop a mudweight in the reeds if no other mooring is available. This may mean a long quant but with wide motor cruisers on both banks, the available space to set off and sail safely is limited.

Sailing South towards the River Bure. Moor at the north end of the quay heading or drop a mudweight in the reeds if the moorings are likely to be crowded. It is not possible to see round the final corner to the bridge – the channel between moored boats is narrow and there is often confusion near the bridge so it will be unwise to sail closer to the bridge.

Once through the bridge quant on to the designated mooring at A or the bank opposite (but watch for uneven ground), depending on wind direction. Note – there is no path to the shops and toilets from the mooring at A.

This may mean a lot of quanting but the alternatives could result in bumps and scrapes.

Areas for yachts to lower and raise masts/sails are currently signed at A, B and C. There is no designated area to the SW of the bridge. Watch out for motor cruisers entering or leaving the Herbert Woods basin under the footbridge next to A.


Potter Heigham Bridge is awkward and the current can flow fast in either direction so a careful look at the tide tables is in order. Hustlers and Woods can usually negotiate the bridge at high slack water but Lullaby Class might have problems – low water is fine for all. There is often a confusion of motor cruisers trying to moor at the water point or to pick up a bridge pilot just SW of the bridge.

Sailing North East towards Hickling. Moor up at A if at all possible. If the wind demands mooring on the South bank, you may be lucky to find a space. Otherwise you might have to stop quickly by the water point or hang temporarily off a moored boat but take care. Be careful when quanting through the bridge because just before the bridge, at the point where you want to get a bit of way on, there are lumps of masonry (quant slips) or deep holes (quant disappears). Once through the bridges there are designated yacht moorings although you might have to upset an angler – they are supposed to keep out of the way of yachts wishing to moor.

Sailing South West towards Thurne Mouth. There are suitable yacht moorings on both banks so there should be no problem. Once through the bridge quant to the mooring at A or as far from the confusion at the bridge as you can. There is good mooring between the bridges on the north bank for a stop for shops and toilet or if you find the current is too strong to quant through the old bridge.

Information detailing safe use and operating guidelines for Torpedo electric engines fitted to a number of our yachts.

Download our guide on Electric Motors

Helpful hints on taking off and putting on the awning.  This is the easy way to sort out your awning so you can put it back on quickly if needed.

Download Our Tips On Awnings

Lifting and lowering the cabin top is best done with two people.

Download our tips on cabin tops

The quant is the pole used to push the boat when there is no wind or you need to manoeuvre in a confined space.  It’s about 15-20ft long with a bott (knob) on one end to push on and a foot at the other end to stop it sinking too far into the mud.

Download our tips on quanting

The mast must be lowered to pass through bridges and sometimes it is recommended to reduce windage when quanting against a strong wind.

Download our tips on mast handling

We have gas cookers onboard the cabin yachts.  The Hustlers and Wood class have 2 rings and a grill.  The Lullabys being that little bigger has 2 rings, grill and small oven.

All Hunter yachts have now been fitted with Jabsco toilets. Please ensure all your crew know how to operate the toilet correctly.

Download our tips on our JABSCO toilets

There are two types of rig on the Hunter Fleet day boats – Gunter rig (2 sails) and lugsail (single sail).

Download our tips on sail handling

As with the cabin yachts the mast must be lowered to pass through bridges.

Download our tips on mast handling

Grid References are always handy – hopefully never needed for emergency purposes though.

Download useful list of OS Grid References


Whatever you plan, do not be over-ambitious and remember that, even if the weather conditions change, the boat must be back at the Yard ready to be cleaned for the next hire.

There are links on the Hunter’s Yard website to local tide tables (long forecast) and local weather (5-day forecast) and in the boat pack there is a section on moorings. Any reference on the availability of pubs does not imply a recommendation or even that the pub is still open – owners or chefs change too often to be certain. Broads Authority 24-hour moorings are free but there is a charge for some moorings owned privately.

The Yard staff can also advise during your hand-over brief on the best places to head for considering the conditions and time available.

Short Break – 2 day

However quick you are, you are unlikely to set off from the Yard before mid-day. Even if the tides and wind are both favourable (very unlikely), heading for Hickling through Potter Heigham bridge is too ambitious. Why waste much of your sailing time going through a bridge.

A recommendation for a first day is to head for Ranworth (Malthouse Broad) where there is a shop and a pub next to the staithe, a good nature walk to the Norfolk Wildlife Trust Centre and an interesting church. There is good open-water sailing on the Broad. Hunter boats may moor overnight in the dinghy dyke even if there is space on the moorings amongst the stink boats. Or try moorlng on a mudweight if you don’t want to go ashore.

If the wind is favourable make a stop at St Benet’s Abbey which now has very informative displays or sail on past Ranworth to Cockshoot Dyke where there is a good nature ramble. If the wind won’t take you as far as Ranworth turn down Fleet Dyke (opposite St Benet’s Abbey) for South Walsham. There are moorings on Fleet Dyke although it is a walk to the nearest pub in the village (about 1¼ miles) or use a mudweight on the Broad.

Mooring on the inner Broad is not permitted.

On Day 2 head back to the Yard and, depending on conditions, drop in to South Walsham where there is good sailing on the outer and inner broads. If there is still time sail towards Acle Bridge and back (popular pub next to the bridge) and/or sail towards Potter Heigham and back (but don’t forget which way the tide is flowing). If you want to stay on the boat for your final night, moor close to the Yard on the river or at Thurne Dyke – there is a pub at the end of the dyke. An early start should get you back to the Yard on time.

This should give you a good experience of river and broad sailing. The river above Ranworth has many trees and the wind can be fickle. Going up the Ant has the delay of Ludham Bridge soon after the start.

Frequently asked questions

We don’t ask for formal qualifications but expect you to have sailed recently as the skipper in charge.  Good dinghy helmsmen have no difficulty sailing our boats but experienced seas-sailors can find Broads sailing a bit different at first.

Our boats are provided with a quant (a type of punt pole) and instruction is given on its use.  We have a programme to fit electric flooding propeller motors to the cabin yachts and a number have already been fitted.  These motors are not designed for sustained motoring but just to use in awkward situations, like getting off a leashore, mooring and bridges.  Our day-boats are supplied with either oars or paddles.

Yes, and currents and tidal flows do affect sailing, particularly in light winds.  Tide tables are provided on the boats or on the ‘Aweigh’ app.  The tides do affect the clearance at some bridges too.  The tidal range in most of the rivers and broads is normally less than 10cm.

Each cabin yacht has two drawers under each bunk (capable of holding the contents of a reasonable sized suitcase) and further storage beside the bunk.  Storage space for suitcases/bags is limited so it’s best to unpack and leave bags in your car.  There are two large drawers in the well for food storage and bulky items can be stored in the forepeak.

Our boats have no power supply for refrigerators.  A good quality cold box will keep food cold for up to three days and we (and other boatyards) have the facility to re-freeze freezer blocks.

Enquire about our RYA Courses

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