It was with the spirit of Swallows and Amazons adventurers that the Green Wyvern sailors cruised into Rockland Broad in 1952.

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The dyke connecting the beauty spot to the River Yare had just been dredged, allowing the first holiday boaters to enter the tree-lined broad since before the second world war.

Sixty years on, the club, which has introduced thousands of youngsters to the beauty of the Broads and its traditional sailing cruisers in the intervening years, is preparing to celebrate the anniversary with a return visit to Rockland, near Norwich.

Among those taking part in the cruise, which will arrive in the broad on July 28 will be David Valentine, 81, a founder member of Green Wyvern Yachting Club when it was launched in 1947.

It is planned to moor in the same place and try to reconstruct the original pictures taken in an event that will also mark the club’s 65th anniversary.

Jonathan Winterton, 60, who shares the role of club sailing secretary with his wife Rosemary, learned all about the first cruise from his late father Gordon – a teacher at Fakenham Grammar School – who went on it with a party of pupils “in the days when school trips were quite innovative”.

He said: “It must have been very exciting as the channel across the broad had just been opened. It even entered club folklore through the Wyvern sailors’ song, ‘We blazed the trail of Rockland on the cruise of ’52’.”

Retired teacher Mr Winterton, who lives with his wife in Marine Parade, Gorleston, said the club had been formed by a group of friends in Leicester who enjoyed sailing on the Broads; many were teachers who introduced a lot of their pupils to sailing.

While the club now had a far broader base, bringing aspiring sailors from all parts of the country on cruises, the focus remained on young people; however, Mr Winterton stressed the older club members had a vital role to play in passing on their expertise.

His wife, the retired head of Stradbroke Primary School in Gorleston, said: “It is all about cruising together and learning to get on together in a small boat.”

In the early days, six or more yachts were hired from local yards for the club’s three cruises each year, but nowadays club members use their own boats.

Mr Winterton, who sails a 32ft four-berth cruiser, Force Four, built in 1929 and bought by his father in 1966, said: “Many of our boats, such as Puck, Modwena, Sparklet and Insh’allah, will be familiar to people on the Broads.”

Six yachts will be setting off from Cantley on the Rockland cruise with crew members, ranging in age from 11 to 81, coming from as far afield as Hertfordshire, Hull, London and Birmingham.

Mr Winterton, whose two daughters, Catherine and Sarah, both sail, stressed that their goal of reaching Rockland was weather dependent.

“The tides work but we are in the hands of the elements; for example a stiff south-westerly would make it difficult to get into Rockland,” he said.

He said the Broads had far more of a wilderness feel in the 1950s and people even dressed very differently in their Sunday best.

Doubting there would be such a spirit of adventure this time, his wife said: “The freedom of holidays on the Broads in those days, after all the regimentation and hardships of the war, must have been incredibly exhilarating.”

The club, which has become an RYA training centre, giving budding sailors the chance to take RYA 1 and RYA 2 certificates, hopes their event will attract the interest of more youngsters.

Anyone interested in taking part in a cruise next year, for a fee of £130 a week, is invited to visit greenwyvern.org.uk

stephen.pullinger@archant.co.uk

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